17 Years Under the Care of a Naturopath Doctor for Fibromyalgia
My purpose in sharing my experiences with a Naturopath doctor is to inform and empower all sufferers of FM & ME/CFS in not ever giving up hope. As we wait for the cure, my experience is that I’ve found many treatments available that have greatly improved my quality of life.
Before I begin, you should know that most people will have to pay out of pocket for most tests and treatments prescribed by a Naturopath Doctor unless your health insurer specifically covers them. My insurance covered about $500 a year. There may be a way to get around this problem however. There are M.D.’s that have become Integrative Practitioners (combining both regular and natural medicine) so you may be covered.
My fibromyalgia started 20 years ago on Valentine’s day after a spinal injury. Within a few months I felt tingling across the bottom of my face, my arms and then my legs. That tingling soon changed to excruciating pain and I was waking up in the morning absolutely exhausted. About a year later I contracted an enterovirus and pretty well lost the rest of my health at that point. Besides the fatigue and pain I had irritable bowel problems, my memory was shot and I was on Gravol (Dimenhydrinate) medication (used for car sickness) because of severe nausea. I was in bed much of the time.
My SED rate was high (a sign of inflammation) and the multiple tender points in my upper back lead medical doctor to suspect polymyalgia or fibromyalgia. After two specialists agreed I had fibromyalgia, I had a diagnosis within 2 years.
When it became obvious that my MD did not know how to treat this strange illness (although he did have me on pain medication -thank goodness!) I started to research.
Becoming a member of a FM support group with a fairly good library (for that time) was the beginning of a long education on FM & ME/CFS that continues to this day. (When I told my MD about the library, he asked me to see if I could find anything on medicines to treat FM. He then added sleep medications and an anti-inflammatory, which made my life a lot more bearable.)
Whenever I had a half decent day, I was in book stores buying any books I could find on FM & CFS and they were rare back then. The most interesting one was “From Fatigued to Fantastic” by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum. I noticed that he was using some natural treatments along with regular meds. His book was the spark that eventually led me to seek out a naturopathic doctor. (Dr. Teitelbaum’s new book is “The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution”. This amazing book has information and treatments gained from his years of practice treating FM & ME/CFS patients. I bought one for my M.D. as well. )
I had put myself on a multivitamin plus extra vitamin C and B and I felt somewhat better, but I needed more direction. I came across a lady I knew at the grocery store one day and remarked to her how great she looked, so she told me about a Naturopath doctor she had been seeing for stomach problem. I took his name down. I’m a big believer in “there’s no such things as coincidences”, and before too long I phoned for an appointment to see this ND. Long before I arrived for my first visit, I had developed 2 sores on the corners of my mouth, for which my MD had tried 2 different creams on, to no avail.
VISIT NO 1
I filled out the usual first visit health questionnaire, and we shook hands as I entered his office. The first thing he said to me was “the sores that you have on your mouth tells me that you have vitamin B deficiencies”. I reply “but I’ve been on B vitamins for quite a while already”. He said “then you are not digesting your food properly and will need to take digestive enzymes”. He then hands me a bottle of Panplex 2 Phase by Integrative Therapeutics and tells me to use one or two per meal depending on the size, and make sure I chew my food well.
(I can buy them from him or anywhere else I choose, so I bought the first bottle of 90 from him and later I found one that has 180 on a website. They are not available in health food stores. I just checked Integrative therapeutics in Canada; their website says that their products are only available from professionals, meaning like my naturopathic doctor. Sangsters in Canada has a good one also called Mega Digestive Enzymes, and there may be other good ones out there that I have not tried.
Back to my ND’s office. He draws blood samples from me and tells me that the results will be back in time for my next visit. He also tells me not to have any kind of scent on me like whenever I come to his office. I understand immediately that he must have patients that have chemical sensitivities.
I’m back at my ND’s office for my second visit and my first lab tests are back. I’ve been diagnosed with a bacteria called Klebsiella pneumoniae and at the end of the report it says that it is most likely caught in hospital. I had a bad flu a while back and my MD had hospitalized me because of low blood pressure. I felt like “death warmed over” and looked like it too.
So what came first, the chicken or the egg? Researching Klebsiella indicates that people with suppressed immune systems are at risk. My mother had been prone to all kinds of nasty things. She had TB around the age of 20 and polio when I was 13. She recovered completely, though. I can remember the doctor coming to our house and injecting us with the first polio vaccine.
We have no doubt that she had a compromised immune system and today four of us have serious illnesses. The sister before me also has FM, a younger brother has an autoimmune connective tissue disease and is only one drug away from needing a lung transplant and my youngest sister has a rare illness that involves a lot of arthralgia pain. Today, we are all doing well thanks to terrific MD’s, NDs and supplements and life-saving medications.
I’m not surprised to see the recent research on FM & ME/CFS pointing to immune system problems. In fact the last specialist I saw told me it was showing up.
To treat the enterovirus, my ND gives me a herbal preparation to take, and I’m soon feeling a bit better. He did not use an antibiotic! Another blood test has come back saying that I can’t tolerate dairy or sugar, so I’m told to eliminate them from my diet. Oh boy! That’s going to be hard.
My ND then hands me a stool test kit to do at home, and when done, mail it in a self-addressed envelope off to a lab whose accuracy he trusts.
The Special Diet
My stool test shows that I have a serious overgrowth of yeast. I’m not surprised as I had white spots in my mouth and I was sniffling all the time trying to breathe. My ND gives me a special herb preparation to help kill the “beasties” as I’ve heard them called before. Then comes the hard part “THE SPECIAL DIET”.
- No SUGAR,
- NO FRUIT,
- NO JUICE,
- NO YEAST BREAD,
- NO JAM, HONEY, SYRUPS.
Not too interesting for a sugar addict! I so desperately want to get better though and I surprise myself by not cheating even once in the 4 months I was on the diet. I’m made of stronger stuff, than I ever thought I was. (Thank GOD for the baking powder biscuits and shredded soya cheese.) I found that before long my cravings were gone and I lost a few pounds. Thumbs up!
It took me a few years, but I’ve learned to finally eat a good breakfast every day. I had spent many year not eating till lunch. When I’m headed for the city which is 45 minutes away, I eat a 4 egg omelet and I’m good for about 6 hours till I get home again. The eggs are jumbo. The minute I add even 12 grain bread, I will lose a lot of my energy. The eggs add lots of cholesterol I know, but I only eat that many eggs for that trip only, and it doesn’t happen very often. (I also will cancel my trip if I did not get a real good night’s sleep. If you have FM or ME/CFS you know what I mean.)
Back to my ND. He also gives me a bottle of probiotics to help replenish the good bacteria in my stomach. It has to be kept in the refrigerator and I find that I’m forgetting to take it a lot of days. On a trip to my health food store, I spotted a new display of a probiotics that did not have to be kept in the fridge, so I bought one. I noticed almost right away that my mouth was not sensitive anymore, so I told my ND about how well it worked and discontinued his. The name of this product is Flora Smart by Renew For Life. It comes in different strengths. I’m on a maintenance dose of 6 billion a day now.
I have also added a “green” food mixture because of my problems with digestion. Again it stays in the fridge and I often forget to take it. Lately, I discovered another Garden of Life super green formula called “Perfect Food”, and it says just to keep in a cool dry place. I use a lot of Garden of Life products because they include enzymes and probiotics for easy digestion. There may be other health food companies doing the same thing. (Health foods are not regulated so beware of what you’re buying. You can google www.multivitaminguide.org. You’ll be surprised to see the lowest rated.)
I almost forgot to tell you, MY NAUSEA IS GONE and I am feeling a lot better overall.
A few years ago, I read a book written by Jordan Rubin (Patient Health Thyself) about him almost dying of Crohn’s disease. He recovered with the help of homeostatic soil organisms. He developed his own probiotic called Primal Defense (by Garden of Life).
What this product does, in plain language, is it returns your stools back to normal. You can take up to 3 a day. I only need 1 a day. Start with just one and see how it goes for a few days. Once you’ve reached the right dose, don’t go any higher because you’ll get constipated.
People who are always looking for a bathroom wherever they go or don’t take the chance to even go out anywhere, will love this product! While we’re on the subject of supplements, I don’t have a stake in any products I talk about (I wish). I am on the Primal Defense Ultra now.
I have now been cleared of the enterovirus and the overgrowth of yeast. The digestive enzymes are working super well, as I no longer have stomach cramps and the sores on the corners of my mouth have disappeared. I remain off all added sugars and dairy products, and my colon spasms are gone!!!
I just can’t thank my new naturopathic doctor enough for the excellent care so far.
I’m still feeling tired, though, and I report to him that I’m always cold, I’m losing some hair, my nails are cracking and my eyes look washed out. He had observed most of those symptoms before I even mentioned them and had suspected thyroid problems. He had already planned the next course of action even before I came through his door.
With my lab test results showing a low normal reading of TSH my MD had not seen a reason for thyroid medication. My Naturopath however gives me the following instructions: Take a mercury thermometer and place it under your arm pit every morning before you get up. Then take your temperature three more times three hours apart (for example at 6, 9, 12 and 3pm. Keep a chart every day of all readings. Add the last three temps, and divide by three to get your average and record that also. Do that for 14 days and bring the chart to your doctor. When I did that, he could see that my temperature was running too low.
He used T3 to bring up my body temperature and I had to cycle up and down on it several times until my temperature stayed normal. T4 circulates in the body ready to change into T3, the active form. My problem was that my body could not convert T4 into T3, even though my TSH was normal. That is the reason that I was hypothyroid. When I was able to keep my temperature at normal, my ND. took me off T3. My energy soared, I quit losing hair, my nails got strong and the spark returned to my eyes. I felt alive again!
I remember another woman writing to Cort with the same problem, and had been diagnosed with ME/CFS. After 6 years like this, she completely recovered with this same T3 method. HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE OUT THERE LINGERING MOSTLY IN BED WITH THE SAME UNTREATED THYROID PROBLEM! It makes me so sad to even think about it.
This thyroid condition is called Wilson’s Syndrome. DR. Teitelbaum writes about it and other thyroid problems in his book The Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Solution. (As you know I think this is a must have book for everyone who has FM & ME/CFS.)
I spent many good years without thyroid problems, but two years ago they showed up again. This time my Naturopath Doctor could not get the T3, so he put me on BMR, which DR. Teitelbaum also talks about in his book on page 282, and on page 91, he writes “The main blood test, called TSH is grossly unreliable in the presence of hypothalamic dysfunction” which many people with FM and ME/CFS have.
My ND. also gave me some information from a newsletter by Dr. David Brownstein MD., a practitioner of Holistic medicine, with more interesting things to say about thyroid problems. (The hormone T4 is called thyroxine and T3 is triiodothyronine.)
- Next up – Edith discovers her most helpful treatment