Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis Alternatives - FB Support Page

I'm excited because me and another Crohny have developed a new FB support page for those with Crohn's and colitis. This page is specifically for those seeking advise and support of how to manage symptoms without medication. Ultimately, medical therapy for Crohn's and ulcerative colitis becomes less effective with time. Up to 40% of us with UC will require surgery for complications at some point and nearly two thirds of us with Crohn's disease will require at least one surgery.

The longer we have Crohn's or UC, the more likely we are to develop complications that can be fatal. If you have UC for eight or more years, every year your chance of getting colorectal cancer increases, and cancer of the digestive tract is the leading cause of death for people with Crohn's.

Crohn's and Colitis Alternatives, my new FB page, is for people with an IBD that's fed up with their medical options and wants to improve their odds through natural holistic means.

Medicine is a therapeutic treatment in which an illness is treated by producing a second condition that is incompatible with the original condition. In other words, it creates another "illness" within the body that conflicts with the original illness, versus, removing the cause of the original illness.

Diet and nutrition, physical and mental health, and proper rest, as I have learned, can be ways to remove the causes of an IBD flare up and allow a C&C sufferer to learn how to live symptom free. This page was created for those who want support and want to exchange information that may help manage their disease in order to improve their odds and quality of life.

Whether the goal is to get completely off medication, extend the time between flare ups, or simply to be able to reduce the amount of meds taken. If you have C&C and this sounds good to you, or if you have a friend or family member with the disease, please pass on the page:  www.facebook.com/lifewithcrohnsorcolitis

The page has been up for less than a day, and we have 30 "Likes" so far. Yay! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Prayer Request

I have such mixed emotions associated with something that happened Friday, and I'm having difficulty expressing it...

Let me first give a little background.  I'm pretty convinced that I'm supposed to help people with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis live a healthy life without medication. When I was diagnosed and Dr. Sigmon told me that chances are that I'd have to be on medication the rest of my life, I just somehow knew I'd find an alternative. I was diagnosed with severe advanced Crohn's colitis, and according to Dr. Sigmon, in his over approximate 30 years of being a gastroenterologist, only one person could he recall managed a life without medication, and her condition was not as bad as mine.

I figured if one person could figure a way to get of the meds, then there must be a way for me to do it too.  That became my mission.  I found Dr. David Klein's Self Healing book by searching for ways to cure Crohn's online. Within his book, I connected with my holistic doctor, Dr. Zarin Azar, and sure enough, within a year, I was off meds and have been able to manage Crohn's without meds ever since. 

This blog has been a way for me to remember everything that has occurred with my journey, all of the advice I received from Dr. Azar, and the detail of what I researched. I envisioned that part of my purpose for blogging all of this was to eventually write a book that could help others, as well as have a venue for those suffering from the diseases to get ideas of things they could try to improve their lives during this journey and this seemed like a logical approach.

On another note, I used to frequent a Crohn's and Colitis support FB page, and had used it regularly to give me the will power to continue on the holistic route. Often when I was feeling tempted to eat something I knew was bad for me, I'd visit this site and read about all of the people suffering with these diseases, that eat the standard American diet, and that was all I needed to give me the will power to stick with my healing diet, and my holistic path.

One time when I visited the site, https://www.facebook.com/ItTakesGuts, Aaron, the founder of the site, had a post indicating that they were looking for another administrator. I don't recall exactly how he said it, but he was looking for someone with a lot of education on the different treatments available. Well, that wasn't me. But because of this desire and belief that I am supposed to help others live a healthy life in spite of Crohn's or ulcerative colitis, I messaged him and basically asked if they were ever looking for an administrator that managed the disease holistically, I'd be interested

He had a few questions and we went back and forth a little, and the next thing you know, he asked me to join as the holistic admin. I've been doing this now for about a month.  Being an admin on this site was really my first attempt at helping others.
I visited my parents in Michigan last week. I left on Wednesday afternoon and took my motorcycle up to the Port Huron area for the extended weekend. I arrived on the 4th and returned on the 6th. So as you can see, I wasn't there very long at all.
Rich had one of his sons with him. The other wasn't in the best of health and didn't make it. Ironically, he was scheduled for a colonoscopy the following Monday and they suspected that he might have Crohn's. I was involved with a conversation with Jan, when this was discussed between my mother and Rich. My mother responded to Rich, "Tammy has Crohn's." and quickly the conversation changed to discussing what life is like if his son, Josh, at only 11 years old, was diagnosed with the disease.

I have known in my heart that the knowledge and experience I have with Crohn's must be used to help others, and based upon my past history with authoring a couple of books, I assumed this is the way I'm supposed to do it, but based upon what happened in the past couple of weeks, evidently there's also another way.

What was pretty cool, is that my mother reconnected with a family, the Hughes, that used to live a couple doors down from us when we lived in Warren. We lived there when I was 4 years old, through the age of 10 I believe. What I am certain of is that we moved away when I was 10. There were three children in this family. 

Well, timing would have it that Rich, one of the kids, was visiting his mother, Jan, for the holiday as well. I'm pretty certain that my mother just recently reconnected with Jan, and had yet to see any of the kids. But things worked out that we could stop by and visit with them Friday night, the 5th. We stopped by and it was very cool to see them, and also kind of amazing how they were still so familiar. 

As we were talking, I heard my mother say to Rich, "Tammy has Crohn's." So of course I entered their conversation and learned that his son, Josh, was having some medical issues and he was getting a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy the following week. This lead to a discussion about how it is to live with Crohn's.

Unfortunately, I received a message from Rich on this past Friday, and Josh was diagnosed with a severe advanced case of Crohn's, earlier that day. His Crohn's has affected his entire digestive system from his esophagus through this colon.

I don't know about any of you, but I consider this a request to me and Rich by God. Think about it? I reconnect with Rich after 39 years of no contact. My mother connects with his mother just recently, and Rich happens to be visiting Michigan when I'm visiting, and somehow we're able to see each other with such little time up there? I've been wanting to help others, and now I'm going to be given the chance. 

I must admit that I'm a little scared. I know I have been saying that I want to help people, but somehow I thought it would be indirectly by being the admin on the support site, and by writing a book. It didn't even cross my mind that the future of a young boy of a childhood friend may depend upon my support. I believe God hand selected me, which scares the bejesus out of me because I don't want to let Him down. Also, I never considered myself as someone God would call directly upon.

I can't imagine that we would be lead to each other after almost 40 years if Josh wasn't meant to have his condition improved due to my involvement. I ask you all for your prayers for this little boy and his family! Give his parents and brother the faith and commitment it is going to take in order for them to help him in this journey, and give Josh the wisdom needed to make good decisions for his long term health and happiness. And finally, give me the wisdom to advise the family in a manner that helps them the most.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Managing Fatigue

Fatigue! It's common with Crohn's and colitis sufferers, especially when they have a flare up since a significant amount of nerve energy is directed to healing, and often even when we're in remission we get fatigued for many reasons. Ultimately, anyone fighting illness or chronic diseases is more apt to fatigue and tiredness that a healthy person.  

So, what can we do to fight fatigue? Fatigue is often related to a lack of nerve energy, or lack of certain nutrients. 

Nerve energy is essential to our health and absolutely needed to fight illness, disease, and fatigue. With Crohn's and colitis, if you have a flare up, much or most of your nerve energy goes toward managing your symptoms, and sleep is the best cure for a lack of nerve energy. Sleep is the most effective way to replenish your nerve energy.

Stress management is crucial to nerve energy as well. If you're stressed, your solar plexus, which radiates nerve energy throughout your body, contracts, and you simply have less nerve energy. 

Also, because certain nutrients can be a factor associated with fatigue, a diet rich in vegetables is helpful. Vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, have the majority of the nutrients that when lacking, contribute to fatigue: iron, magnesium, B12, folic acid (B-9), and potassium.

Iron is a mineral needed for hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen. When iron levels are low, red blood cells can't carry enough oxygen to the body's tissues, causing fatigue. So if you're iron deficient, a whole food supplement, or green leafy vegetables will help. I'm a big fan of juicing, so whenever I have any issues with my gut, juicing is better because the leafy veggies are a little tough on the GI tract, and the nutrients of juice is absorbed very quickly while giving the GI tract a rest.

Vitamins B12 and B-9 (folic acid) are needed for the production of red blood cells. B12 helps the body use iron and is also required for proper digestion, the absorption of food, the synthesis of protein and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. 

Also, B-12 is produced in the GI tract, and it is difficult to get enough B-12 from Crohn's and colitis sufferers because B-12 is typically in protein foods that are the longest to digest and are acid forming, which isn't good for our GI tract and often triggers a flare up. I eat only plant based whole foods, but they don't contain vitamin B-12, So I self administer vitamin B shots. 

If you add supplements to your diet, shots are the best to administer if possible because they're more immediate and bypass the GI tract. If you take oral supplements, try to get the type that dissolves in your mouth or drops if you have Crohns in the upper GI tract. I don't like taking pills of any sort, even supplements, as I believe they aren't the most gentle on your upper digestive system. If you have UC or Crohn's only in the colon or rectum, a whole food supplement is fine to take, however.

B9 is needed for the body to produce red blood cells. Because it's easily destroyed during cooking, it is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. Eating raw vegetables, beans and nuts usually is sufficient for B-9.

Magnesium is needed for the production of ATP, Adenosine triphosphate, a coenzyme used as an energy carrier in our bodies' cells. It is the main energy producing molecule in the body. So, when magnesium is lacking our cells are less able to produce energy and this leads to fatigue and tiredness. Magnesium is easily obtained through fruits, vegetables and fish.

Finally, potassium is a mineral that is needed for organs to properly function. Low potassium is associated with cancer, digestive disorders, and chronic fatigue syndrome among others. Again potassium is found in fruits, vegetables and fish. 

Green leafy vegetables contain all of these nutrients other than B-12. No other food that I know of contain as many of the essential nutrients to fight fatigue as they do. But during a flare up, they are not gentle enough on the GI tract to eat, so consider adding a green juice to your daily routine. I drink about 16 oz a day of green juice that includes all of the required nutrients above, except B-12. It is my diet source for fighting anemia, fatigue and keeping my nerve energy strong. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Food Sequencing

I was juicing the other day, and the different items I juiced, stayed in layers in the container. It visually reminded me of how our stomach is supposed to look if we eat properly. 

Consider that different foods require different time frames to exit the stomach and enter the small intestine. 

Generally fruits takes 15-30 minutes to exit the stomach and meat takes about 3-4 hours.

if when you eat, you mix all of your food together, any quick digesting foods must wait until the slowest digesting foods leave the stomach before they too can leave.

Depending upon what you eat, this process can take up to 6 or 8 hours. And while waiting, the faster digested foods like fruits, vegetables and some of the starches undergo some decomposition and fermentation. This produces gas, acid and even alcohol along with indigestion.

My photo represents food sequencing, or layering. I know it's not as tasty to eat all of your fruit first, then your vegetables, then your meat. But if you do so, the food will layer in your stomach, similar to my photo, and exit your stomach on time. This keeps food from fermenting or putrifying in your stomach which can cause many issues.

Generally, eat the food with the most water content first, and food with the least, last. Simple food sequencing may resolve your acid reflux or heart burn, among other discomforts in your GI tract. This is particularly helpful for those with Crohn's or colitis.