Tennee | July 7, 2020
Chronic pain interferes with the lives of over 50 million Americans. This is approximately 20% of the population or 1 in 5 Americans. Chronic pain is responsible for over 560 billion dollars a year in medical costs, lost productivity and disability services. That is a lot of money being spent on managing pain.*
This blog chronicles my recent experience with body pain, joint pain and swelling. My struggle lasted a little over 3 months so technically wouldn’t be considered “chronic”, however it was long enough for me to understand what chronic pain sufferers experience on a more prolonged basis.
I originally created the Radiant Reality blog to help empower people to find underlying causes for their suffering. I love sharing information and I usually choose subjects I have personally experienced in some way shape or form. However, I don’t tend to share my personal journey in detail in the blogs I write. This blog is more of a personal share than an information blog but it felt relevant so I hope it is helpful for those in pain.
Before going down my own rabbit hole of debilitating back pain, I did “feel” like I understood it due to my experience with close family members but the truth is, I didn’t really understand what long term pain does to the body until pain got up close and personal with me. A few weeks ago, I recorded a video for Facebook and Instagram in which I described what I had been going through, and would like to share a brief synopsis of my progress thus far.
The bigger picture
I have experience working with clients who come to me, stuck on a hamster wheel of allopathic anti inflammatories to control their chronic pain. The allopathic model works with symptom management, yet rarely goes below the surface to address root causes, thus providing no more than a band aid for the pain.
Both my father and my husband have dealt with chronic low back pain, and I have witnessed their suffering first hand. My father dealt with chronic back pain his whole life, and as a M.D., he turned to surgery which did not resolve the pain. At the end of his life we found out he had IBS which had never been addressed.
(IBS is now linked to infection and inflammation brought about by inflammatory foods).
My husband’s pain was directly connected to a chronic infection he obtained while travelling in his early 20s in India. His doctors recommended surgery early on, which he refused, opting instead to study yoga and bodywork. The holistic approach helped, but provided more symptom relief than anything else. It wasn’t until he addressed and eliminated specific infections, that he began to experience long lasting relief from his back pain.
This personal history has helped me appreciate a bigger picture when it comes to pain.
My experience both personally, with my family, and with clients, has taught me that where there’s pain, there is almost always a chronic infection brewing, and when specific infection is addressed and the microbiome remediated, the pain (which is ultimately a red flag signaling system!) resolves itself.
My story and how I moved from pain to pain free
In March due to the COVID pandemic, we moved somewhat prematurely into a house we have been remodeling, but is still not finished. Our house has a hand dug well which was previously tested to contain an algae that was not beneficial to the body. We shock treated the water as per the recommendation of our plumber but we had not yet installed a water purification system. When we moved into the house we all started drinking the water after filtering it through a Berkey filter system. Despite taking this measure I immediately noticed that something about the water didn’t feel right in my system. After a week, I could tell my liver and kidneys felt heated.
Due to my concerns, I opted to purchase spring water for my family to drink, but we continued bathing and washing our dishes in unfiltered well water.
By the end of May, I noticed the lymph nodes under my armpits and in my neck were swollen. In addition to the swelling I started waking up with swollen fingers. Additionally, my low back and knees began to hurt.
The pain in my low back progressed slowly from an ache into a sharp pain that could only be relieved by lying on a foam rolling pad. For the next month and a half, I was only able to sleep in a couple of specific pain free positions. In the morning I would have to lay on the foam roller and take herbal anti inflammatories to ease the pain.
After 3 weeks of swollen glands I conceded that my immune system was clearly overwhelmed. I noted the organs that required support and created a program involving supplements and dietary changes to address the overwhelm.
For me personally, I began to take specific formulas for my lymph to clear any stagnation. I started with topical thuja and homeopathic formulas for lymph. Eventually I changed to an herbal formula called “Clear lymph” and procured a customized formula from Bess Donley, LAC which was designed to stimulate my immune system to support lymphatic drainage. Both these formulas seemed to really help with lymphatic drainage. I also used our infrared sauna up to twice a day to stimulate my immune system. After a month of this protocol, it became clear to me that some sort of infection was creating an issue for my immune system.
I ordered a GI map so I could get a read on what was going on with my microbiome. The GI map was especially of interest to me because it has markers for pathogens that can cause RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) like symptoms. Since that was something I was noticing in my body, I wanted to see if there was an overgrowth of bacteria that might cause autoimmune like symptoms. Since it felt like I was dealing with a chronic, low grade infection that was not resolving itself, I decided to bite the bullet and test.
I created a timeline with my symptoms and deduced that I was dealing with a a SIBO/SIFO infection. I came to this conclusion by charting symptoms which allowed me to correlate the symptoms with SIBO/SIFO symptoms.
I learned about the SIBO/SIFO connection while studying under Dr Grace Lui, founder of the Gut Institute. Dr Grace Lui was one of the first functional doctors to draw a correlation between SIBO and yeast and how to work with both infections simultaneously. She is a huge advocate for addressing both SIBO and SIFO infections in order to get off the hamster wheel of small intestinal infection.
It’s also important to note that I didn’t have the traditional SIBO symptoms of digestive discomfort and gas and bloating. I have worked with quite a few clients who were dealing with SIBO without any traditional SIBO symptoms of bloating and gas and I have noticed an interesting sub-category of symptoms that many practitioners dismiss.
I ended up choosing an antifungal herbal formula in tandem with a herbal formula that would address a hydrogen SIBO infection, and began to chart my progress.
- Within a day of taking 2 doses of SIBO/SIFO herbs, the swelling in my fingers subsided.
- After a week, the back pain completely disappeared.
- Within 2 weeks, the swelling in my glands was completely gone.
- After a month on the herbs, I was feeling back to normal. When the herbs ran out, I stopped taking my own advice and went back to a FODMAP rich diet.
This ended up costing me greatly.
Two weeks after discontinuing the herbs, I had a flare of pain in my low back which signaled tome that a SIBO/SIFO issue was in fact the culprit. I went back on the herbs and within 2 days, the pain dissipated. This confirmed that the formulation I used was the correct formulation for my body’s specific needs.
Moving forward, I will continue this protocol for 60 days and follow with a low FODMAP diet to help my terrain discourage the bugs from recolonizing my system. With SIBO, patience is important as flares can be common and SIBO tends to return if the GI terrain is not reseeded correctly. I am still awaiting the GI map results to identify specific pathogens while taking my antifungal/SIBO herbal formula.
We are continuing to research water filtration units and will soon install a whole house system.
I hope that my story is helpful for anyone in pain who may have been told there are no answers. I encounter these stories on a regular basis and wanted to share that there are ways out of the pain cycle.
While we all have bio individual needs, there is generalized support that can help decrease pain and inflammation. Below are four recommendations for moving forward.
Four pillars for pain relief
Supporting your detox pathways properly is essential. This requires supporting your detoxification organs, specifically lymphatic, kidneys and liver. While there are generalized forms of detox available everywhere, we all have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to our ability to detox. If detoxification is difficult, you may want to consider having your genetic snps analyzed so you can learn ways to support your system more effectively.
2.Anti inflammatory supplements and herbs
Put in place anti inflammatory support to help ease inflammation and pain. I personally prefer pro resolving mediators such as SPM factor and multilayered anti inflammatory support that contains, proteolytic enzymes, turmeric, boswelia and multilayered histamine support. These all work to support the lowering of inflammation which is reflected in digestive health and an alleviation of joint and muscle pain.
3. Embrace an anti inflammatory diet
Dairy, gluten, sugar, alcohol and soy are common inflammatory foods. Removing these foods can be quite supportive if you are in pain. Dr. Andrew Weil is a great source of information if you are looking to create an anti inflammatory diet. You may also want to do food sensitivity testing if you are looking to address your specific needs.
4. Assess and address infection and other causes of inflammation
This can be mapped out with GI panels and will help you to find the correct path forward regarding possible infection. It may also be worthwhile to look for food sensitivites. While there are a myriad of labs available online, it is recommended to work with a practitioner to help create a proper protocol given your needs.
We are living, breathing biomes. Our environment shapes our GI terrain, and the health of that terrain is foundational to our entire body’s health. The water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breath can promote health and longevity or sustain sickness.
I believe in the importance of finding and mapping out root causes of any health situation so they can be addressed from the ground up.
Wishing you a radiant reality!
/Source: JAMA Network
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