Dealing with autoimmune conditions, pain, and inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s response to harmful stimuli such as damaged cells, irritants or pathogens. It is essentially a protective mechanism of the immune system and inflammation is initiated to clear out the attacking substance etc and begin tissue repair.
Different types of autoimmune conditions
Sometimes the immune system goes haywire and the body starts producing antibodies where it shouldn’t be, it goes into a frenzied overproducing state. This is what is happening in autoimmune diseases like MS, ME, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis to name a few. In all of these diseases, the immune system is on overdrive and is essentially attacking various parts of the body and its systems and structures. This is an inappropriate response that can produce horrendous repercussions if left unchecked.
My story in brief
After a terrible nine months of pain and immobility, I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune/arthritic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. The pain which at times rendered me pretty much immobile started in my sacroiliac joints (SIJ) as it often does with this disease. It then progressed into my thoracic spine and then into my neck and TMJ, and lastly, the inflammation went into my right eye.
AS is deemed an autoimmune condition whereby the immune system attacks the joints or rather the sites where joints meet cartilage called the enthesis.
My experience has prompted months of research into this condition specifically but a lot of the information I have gathered is applicable for other autoimmune conditions also. Using my knowledge as a therapist I have developed a treatment protocol that is working for me. I am currently pain-free and am not taking any medication, proper function is returning to all of my joints and both my Rheumatologist and Physiotherapist confirm that my range of movement is pretty much normal. I intend to remain this way.
My learning through this experience has been vast, not only the specific aspects of what can be done to get well but the emotional aspects of dealing with the diagnosis of a chronic condition. As a therapist, I want to help as many people as I can and ultimately empower them to better health. This experience has taught me a lot and I aim to share my knowledge as far as possible with those who can benefit from it.
My treatment “protocol”
My treatment protocol is a mix of my knowledge as a therapist, extensive research into what is helpful for this specific condition and my own experience of the application of these so far. As my symptoms disappear and or change, I will adapt what I am doing accordingly whether that’s reducing or cutting things out or adding other more appropriate remedies.
The overall aims of my treatment protocol are as follows:
Calm/halt the inappropriate inflammatory process
Treat any underlying infections / potential infectious causes
Begin (and continue) the process of repair
Support my body systems going forward
I want to make the important point that as a therapist when I work with clients, I test their body for their specific needs as these vary wildly from person to person. I also make sure that clients can digest and assimilate the foods, supplements, and remedies fully.
* I will add a disclaimer here that following this protocol is entirely at the decision/risk of the individual and I accept no responsibility for the outcome. The information provided here is based on my research and personal experience in dealing with this condition to date. You should always check with your healthcare provider.
I am on a strict anti-inflammatory mostly vegan diet containing minimal fruit and lots of vegetables which are mostly organic. I also consume celery juice most mornings. My current diet is minimal starch so very low carb. I am gluten and wheat free and have minimal dairy and when I do it is mostly organic. I do not consume sugar apart but use a little stevia and inulin now and again. I consume plenty of good fats in the way of nuts, seeds, coconut oil and plenty of avocados!
Supporting gut health is key for health in general, however, it is of paramount importance for people with autoimmune conditions. There is a multitude of information and support available on the internet concerning this and I urge everyone to do their research. I have recently read a lot of Dr Alan Ebringer’ work on AS, he advocates a no starch diet which starves a bacteria called klebsiella that he believes is the root cause of AS. I am also currently following Dr Steven Gundry’s Plant Paradox diet which in addition to no starch also advocates no lectins. Lectins are in many fruits, vegetables, grains and pulses and contribute signficantly to inflammation.
As with all supplements and remedies you need to make sure you get good quality.
My current supplement regime is as follows:
Vit D – I take this for its anti-inflammatory properties, implications for bone health and to support my immune system.
Vit B – I take a vitamin b complex to support my immune and nervous systems.
Magnesium – This mineral has to be one of the most important minerals on the planet. It is important as a co-factor to many other minerals, vitamins and as a precursor to lots of enzymatic actions within the body.
Mineral blend –are so important to support the body in many different ways and is a precursor to a whole host of processes that take place within the body including the absorption of other nutrients.
Boron – I have started to use this amazing mineral which has implications for assimilation and absorption of other vitamins and minerals. It’s very important for bones, tendons, ligaments and it has an impact upon inflammation and reducing this, especially the TNFa which is very much implicated in AS.
Curcumin – I have taken turmeric for a while now and noticed variable differences in my symptoms. I am currently using a product that delivers 6000mg of curcumin, so it is very high potency. I have to say that in a matter of days I felt a significant reduction in pain and inflammation.
Glucosamine – I get my glucosamine from Cytoplan (mentioned previously) make sure you get a good clean source. Mine is vegan, a lot of glucosamine supplements are made from shellfish so be careful. You need to take a good 1500mg of this daily. Glucosamine is very important in repairing cartilage.
MSM – Where do I start this is a wonder product? Every person on the planet could use some additional MSM in their lives. MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane for short is very important for so many functions in the body. It reduces inflammation by impacting on the TNF part of the immune system. It also helps massively with repair and regeneration.
Calcium – This supports the bones, inflammation and pain levels.
Glutamine – I take this amino acid to help with digestion and gut health, I was taking this before my diagnosis but now knowing what I do about gut health and its relation to AS I make sure I take this a couple of times per day.
Acidophilus – I take this daily before bed to help digestion and gut health. Having good bacteria in the gut is very important. I have been using an acidophilous probiotic for years now and I believe it is another reason why my general health has been very good until this episode.
Garlic blend – I am taking a pressed raw garlic juice to support my immune system and kill any virus, parasites or bacterial infections that could be lurking in my system and causing problems.
Colloidal silver – Silver has been used for its anti-viral properties for centuries, as with the garlic I am using this to support my immune system and to get rid of any underlying problems with parasites, viruses or bacterial infections.
L – Lysine – Lysine is one of the 21 essential amino acids that are needed for various functions. Lysine is essential to many functions in the body, but I am taking it primarily to impact on any virus that may be lurking.
If you would like to know more about the specific vitamins, minerals or remedies please drop me a line. I offer online Skype sessions for people to test their individual needs for remedies and can also offer discounts from my suppliers.
Now that I can walk again, I am beginning to do more of this as it is a great exercise. I have started using walking poles and I think I will probably carry on using these as they are great for balance and for using the entire body when you walk. I think I read somewhere that they take around 20% of the pressure off your pelvis and legs so that must be a good thing.
Before this kicked off, I exercised daily on my rebounder or mini-trampoline. If you aren’t familiar with this exercise google it. It is excellent as it is very low impact and an excellent way of getting your lymphatic system working. I am back at doing very, very gentle bouncing. It will take a good few months to be using it to its full capacity again, but I am determined to get there. The lady who started importing the rebounder I use (Supertramp) into the UK alleviated her Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms by using this piece of kit! If you’re going to get one though make sure you invest in a decent one and please start very, very gently.
Stretching – When I was younger, I did about an hour of yoga per day! I have always stretched, and it’s always felt important to me. I stretch throughout the day, but I also have a specific routine that I do twice a day now.
There are so many fantastic resources on the internet regarding stretching. My best advice would be to start slow and listen to your body if it’s screaming at you stop or reduce the stretch to what feels appropriate.
Strengthening – Strengthening is so important too I am working with an excellent physiotherapist who has taught me some Foundation Training exercises to activate my posterior chain of muscles. I have been doing these twice daily for nearly 2 months and they have been a game-changer for me. The strength I have in that chain of muscles now is good, they also returned proper muscle tone and the appropriateness of how the muscles were behaving in conjunction with my body as an overall. They have a big impact on proprioception. Ultimately these exercises have helped me get properly mobile again. I can’t wait to learn more of these.
The Bowen Technique:
There are many reasons why I think this is a great therapy for anyone with autoimmune conditions. I have been having Bowen for the past 15 years and it has always helped my body. Throughout this “health crisis,” the Bowen I received (Bowtech) from my colleague was the only therapy that put my body at ease. Bowen administered correctly is incredibly gentle helps put the body into parasympathetic state. When in this state the body can rest, repair and healing can take place.
As a practicing Health Kinesiologist, I use techniques that balance the body’s energy system with clients and on myself daily. There are several techniques that I have been using to balance my immune system. More on this can be found on my website. I also recommend clients to check out Donna Eden. She has several books – Energy Medicine is one of them. I also run a workshop on useful energy techniques for those who are near me geographically.
Some of my favourite techniques and the ones that I have been using several times per day are as follows;
3 thumps routine;
1. K27- Points at the end of your Kidney Meridian, dents just below your clavicle. Tapping or massaging these points is a simple yet effective exercise that will:
· Energize you if your feeling drowsy
· Focus you if you’re having difficulty concentrating
2. Thymus – Tapping the area over your thymus gland will:
· Boost your immune system
· Stimulate all your energies
· Increase strength & vitality
3. Spleen Points – Tapping the Spleen Points below armpits bottom of bra (the spot is often quite tender to the touch) will:
· Lift your energy level
· Balance your blood chemistry
Sedating triple warmer;
· With your fingers bunched together either on your body or slightly off your body trace around your ear and down your arm to the end of your ring finger on both sides.
Triple Warmer is closely related to the immune system response. When the immune system is working overtime generally Triple Warmer needs to be sedated. You can do this easily by tracing the meridian backwards.