Listen to Your Gut

Listen to Your GutIn the fall of 2013, I attended “An Evening of Inspiration“, a fabulous benefit put on my non-profit, Epidemic Answers, to benefit our Canary Kids Film Project, a film in which we’ll be documenting the potential recovery of 14 children from autism, ADHD, asthma, atopic dermatitis, juvenile RA, mood disorders and type 2 diabetes as they receive free healing and recovery services for 18 months.

My fellow board member and friend, Patty Lemer, the Executive Director of Developmental Delay Resources, was interviewing people on film at the event about how they got involved in the project.

I told Patty my story of how I originally started blogging for Epidemic Answers four years ago after I heard our Executive Director, Beth Lambert, give a presentation about her just-published book, “A Compromised Generation:  The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children” at the Wilton library.

I found myself finishing Beth’s sentences and was astounded that someone else was on the same page as me and had also recovered her children.  Of course, I immediately asked to volunteer for them, which is how I started blogging for them.

If you don’t know my story, I’ve recovered my sons from sensory processing disorder (I call it “autism light”), asthma, acid reflux and eczema, and they also have had or continue to have developmental delays, hypotonia, hypothyroidism, mitochondrial dysfunction, immune dysregulation, methylation defects and failure to thrive.

It has been a long row to hoe, but it has very much been worth it.  Along the way, I discovered that many of my own health problems were related to and/or contributed to the health problems of my children.

I would not have achieved this level of success in our health if I had listened to what my western, allopathic doctors were telling me.

I would say, “My son barely eats; he eats 2 spoonfuls of yogurt and 5 Cheerios, and it takes him an hour to eat, and then he throws it all back up”.  They would say, “He’s fine, don’t worry about it”.  They said that all the way from his beginning at the 40th percentile for weight until he fell all the way down to the 3rd percentile at 18 months, when he lost weight.  THEN they said, “There’s a problem.”  Really!?!

I would say, “He has poor motor skills.  His first crawling happened when he was 8 months old, and he slithered backwards.  Then, he army-crawled until he was 19 months old.  He cross-crawled for only a couple of weeks before he began to walk at 20 months.”  All along, they were saying, “He’s fine; don’t worry about it”.  Until he hit 18 months, THEN all of a sudden they said, “There’s a problem.”

I would say, “He projectile vomits, and my clothes, his clothes, his car seat, chairs and rugs are covered with it constantly.  He throws up after every meal.”  They said, “He’s got a weak gag reflex; he’ll grow out of it.”  They said this until he was 2-1/2 years old, and THEN they said, “He has acid reflux.  Give him some Prevacid.”

I would say, “He’s hypersensitive to sounds, lights and motions.  He cries all the time.  Something is wrong.”  They would say, “He’s fine; he’ll grow out of it.”  By this point, my son was 3 years old, and I had had enough of being told that, “He’s fine.  There’s nothing to worry about.  He’ll grow out of it.”

The truth is, there was a gnawing feeling inside of me that “something’s not right, something’s not right”.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  So, even though my then pediatrician du jour said, “Don’t worry about it; he’ll grow out of it”, I had grown a pair by then and learned to put my foot down for my child.

I badgered her with questions until finally she gave up and said that maybe we should see a developmental psychologist.  We did, and voila, we got the diagnosis (even though it’s not a DSM diagnosis) that my son had sensory processing disorder.

From then on, nothing could stop us.  I began to research WHY he was like this.  Therapy obviously helped, but there was more to it.

Why was he sick all the time?  Why had he had so many ear infections?  Why did he develop asthma?  Why did he have developmental delays and acid reflux?  Why was he so sensitive?

Nobody that I knew really knew, so I had to keep digging and digging until I got to the point where I figured it out.  It’s toxicity, gut dysbiosis, nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances.

Try getting THAT answer from your pediatrician.  Unless you’re one of the lucky few with an integrative pediatrician, you’ll never hear that answer, despite a multitude of peer-reviewed medical research journal studies out there that they just don’t have the time to read.

The system is broken.  If you want health and recovery for yourself and/or your children, you will need to take your health back into your own hands and stop giving away your power to the religion of worshiping men and women in white coats as if they know everything.  They probably don’t.

You need to listen to your gut instinct when it tells you that something is wrong.

It’s so easy to push that knowing down and stuff it aside and listen to the authorities who tell you that nothing is wrong and don’t worry about it.  I’m telling you don’t do it; you’ll regret it if you do.

I teach my clients to become their own and their children’s own advocates.  If you don’t do it, who will?  You can’t expect that someone else will care more about you and your children than you do.

My children and I would not have recovered from our health problems if I had not listened to my intuition, that little voice that said, “Something’s wrong.”

 

THE “R” WORD

road to recovery signYou may or may not know my personal recovery story. I have recovered my 2 sons, now ages 5 and 7, from sensory processing disorder (SPD), asthma, allergies, acid reflux and eczema with a biomedical approach, which means correcting nutritional and hormonal deficiencies, removing toxicities and correcting gut dysbiosis.

I’m still working on failure to thrive, mitochondrial dysfunction, hypothyroidism and persistent eczema in my older son. In addition, they both had developmental delays, and my older son had severe hypotonia as a baby.

I have recovered from immune dysregulation, in which I had shingles twice, the worst case of poison-ivy ever, bronchitis (which I’d never had before), constant sinus infections and constant colds that would last 3-4 weeks at a time.

My older son had immune dysregulation, too, when he was younger: he would go to preschool, get sick and be out for at least a week at a time, then go to school the next week, get sick, and the cycle repeated ad nauseum (pun intended).

I also had severe adrenal fatigue, which was caused by dealing with my older son’s severe SPD.

Adrenal fatigue caused middle-of-the-night insomnia, in which I would be awake for hours at a time in the middle of the night and be so dead tired the next day that 3 hour naps wouldn’t help.

I later learned that adrenal fatigue was the cause of the onslaught of my “female problems”, which I’d never had before: a suddenly irregular menstrual cycle, a uterine fibroid and ovarian cysts.

I also found out I have two types of anemia: iron-deficiency (the more commonly known about kind) and folate-deficiency. I learned how these and most of out other problems can be tied back to gut dysbiosis and its chronic infections, especially Candidiasis.

I also discovered that I am hypothyroid and that this may have played a large part in my sons’ problems when I was pregnant with them.

I found out that I was loaded with heavy metals, especially mercury and lead, which are the most neurologically damaging. I immediately had my sons tested and found out they were full of them, too.

It’s been very hard going through this, as most people, even most doctors, don’t know about the causes of all these problems. They don’t understand that all of these problems are related, and they certainly don’t know that recovery is possible.

We got a lot of help from changing our diets and seeing a naturopath, a functional-medicine doctor and a holistic nutritionist, as well as from me doing never-ending research about how all of these problems are connected.

We’ve recovered from so much, although there is still more work to be done. In any case, we are so much better off now than we were 4 years ago, when all of these problems hit a crescendo.

I want people to know that recovery is possible, which is why I joined the non-profit Epidemic Answers. We seek to educate parents about the causes of these problems as well as let them know that recovery is possible.

In fact, we’re making a documentary film to show the world that recovery is possible because most people just don’t know that.

Most people don’t know that a child can recover from autism or asthma or that an adult can recover from an autoimmune disease, even multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.

If you want to learn more about our film, you can find out more by watching this video or by visiting our website. Please help us get this film made!

 

CAUSES OF NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES

apple with vitaminsNutritional deficiencies are rampant.  I believe many people are falsely lulled into a sense of security by RDA (recommended daily allowances) listings on food and nutrients.

What you don’t know is that RDA requirements are the bare minimum to stave off diseases of deficiency like scurvy or rickets.

RDA requirements do NOT promote optimal health!  [Read more…]

WHAT IS GUT DYSBIOSIS?

fungal myceliaGut dysbiosis — this topic is the motherlode.  It’s one of the two core (in my opinion) reasons for the explosion of chronic childhood illnesses we see today.

Gut Dysbiosis:  A Common Link Among the Epidemic of Children’s Chronic Illnesses

First, let’s discuss the numbers behind this epidemic:  How many kids did you know when you were growing up that had autism, ADHD, acid reflux, allergies, asthma, developmental delays and/or mental health issues?  [Read more…]

WHERE ARE MY HEAVY-METAL LEVELS NOW?

mercury rippleI’ve been chelating to remove heavy metals for a while now.  I had myself retested back in January 2011, and my levels of heavy metals had declined significantly.

“H” means higher than the reference range, and “VH” means it’s a way-high number.  My initial mercury levels were literally off the charts! Mercury is toxic at one part per billion, which is about the same concentration as one grain of salt in one swimming pool.  [Read more…]

HOW DO BAD BACTERIA TAKE OVER YOUR GUT?

stomach acheA recent study found that inflammation (there’s that word again) is responsible for bad bacteria gaining a strong foothold in the gut.

Intestinal inflammation produces nitrate, which then feeds these bad bacteria and thus worsens intestinal damage while crowding out probiotic bacteria.

When bad bacteria multiply and take over, a condition known as gut dysbiosis, they can cause a multitude of symptoms such as cramping, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

These symptoms are common in disorders like colic, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease.

Thus, learning to control inflammation is a key component of getting these conditions under control.

 

FAILURE TO THRIVE

“Failure to thrive” is when your child’s weight percentile falls to the 3rd percentile or below or when it crosses 2 or more major percentile curves.  When either of these (or both, as in the case of my older son) happens, it’s an indication that the child is not growing as he or she should be.

I could scream every time someone tells me that I’m not that big or my husband’s not that big, so my sons’ failure to thrive is something I shouldn’t worry about.  Or how about when I’m told to stop comparing my kids to fat American kids?  [Read more…]

Lyme Disease Symptoms in Children

A few months ago, my then-6-year-old son had a definite change in his typically sweet personality for the worst.

Given that he already been recovered from sensory processing disorder, I was confused.

This time, instead of crying at loud sounds, bright lights, fast motions, etc., he was ANGRY.  In fact, every time I would ask him to do something, he would yell back at me and say that I hated him and that I was yelling, when in fact I wasn’t yelling at all.

Almost every day he would look at me with total hatred and anger, stomp out the front door and tell me he was running away from home.

I was really confused because these are supposed to be the “golden” years of childhood when there’s not so much hands-on work to do with children this age and they are happy to be with their family.

I kept thinking “If he’s like this as a child, what the heck is he going to be like as a teenager?”

Could It Be Lyme?

This went on for a few months until I remembered about Lyme disease; this blog is about Lyme disease symptoms in children..  Lyme disease can cause sudden changes in behavior, and we live in tick-ridden Connecticut, so this wasn’t a far-out hypothesis.

Lymedisease.org lists the following common symptoms of children with Lyme:

  • “severe fatigue unrelieved by rest
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • nausea, abdominal pain
  • impaired concentration
  • poor short-term memory
  • inability to sustain attention
  • difficulty thinking and expressing thoughts
  • difficulty reading and writing
  • being overwhelmed by schoolwork
  • difficulty making decisions
  • confusion
  • uncharacteristic behavior
  • outbursts and mood swings
  • fevers/chills
  • joint pain
  • dizziness
  • noise and light sensitivity”

Here a few other symptoms in children:

  • Low tone
  • Clumsiness
  • Learning disabilities
  • Vision problems
  • Fear of heights
  • Rages
  • OCD
  • Heartburn
  • Achiness, especially in the knees

Uncharacteristic Behavior

It was the uncharacteristic behavior, outbursts and mood swings that really made me suspect that it might be Lyme.

I did more research on it, especially about Dr. Charles Ray Jones, a Lyme pediatric specialist who practices near my town.  I had heard him speak before at Dietrich Klinghardt’s Klinghardt Academy in New York City a few months prior; Dr. Klinghardt also specializes in difficult-to-treat disorders, like Lyme, autism and autoimmune diseases.

I had brought a friend who suffers from possible Lyme disease with me to the Academy’s workshops, and she knew of Dr. Jones and his amazing work.

Dr. Jones is fairly famous in the Lyme disease community for recovering children from what is thought to be autism, ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  It turns out that in MANY of these cases, these children actually had Lyme disease. 

Dr. Jones has recovered over 10,000 children from these disorders.  He prescribes various antibiotics for a course of many years, whereas if you were to go to a typical doctor for treatment of Lyme, he or she would prescribe antibiotics for a few weeks or months.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to subject myself or my children to antibiotics for any amount of time these days, knowing what I know about how they destroy the immune system.  But, hey, the man gets results, and the results show that many of these disorders are, in fact, from Lyme infections.

In his presentation, he gave a few examples of children.  One of them was a young boy who at a very young age (5 or 6) had already been in and out of juvenile detention for things like harming animals, which is a known sign of a child or person on the road to becoming a hardened criminal.  After a few months of treatment from Dr. Jones, this same boy had become the sweetest, most likeable child.

Dr. Jones typically suspects Lyme if the child has any of the following conditions:

  • “frequent fevers
  • increased incidence of ear and throat infections
  • increased incidence of pneumonia
  • irritability
  • joint and body pain
  • poor muscle tone
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • small windpipe (tracheomalacia)
  • cataracts and other eye problems
  • developmental delay
  • learning disabilities
  • psychiatric problems”

What’s interesting is that 50% of Dr. Jones’ patients have no known history of being bitten by a deer tick and fewer than 10% have a history the classic Lyme bull’s-eye rash (erythema migrans).  In fact, many times the mother unknowingly passes the infection on to the child during pregnancy or childbirth.

Lyme Co-Infections

Lyme disease isn’t just infection from the Lyme spirochete bacterium.  There are also co-infections (bartanella, babesia and erlichia) that typically occur at the same time.  Or someone could just get one of the co-infections without having any of the other co-infections of Lyme.

Lyme disease and its co-infections are difficult to test for.  One reason is due to the corkscrew shape of the bacteria, which allows them to burrow in without being easily detected.

Spirochetes (see the word “spiral” in there?) are one of the most ancient forms of life on this Earth, and they know to survive and adapt to rapidly changing environments.

The Great Masquerader

Lyme can masquerade not only as autism and development delays but also as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and neurological damage.  In my mind, it should be one of the first things tested for when an autoimmune disease or neurological dysfunction has a sudden onset.  It’s becoming a hidden epidemic, as not a lot of doctors know to test for it.

There’s an excellent documentary about Lyme called, “Under Our Skin”.  I specifically remember a beautiful woman documented in the film who became increasingly contorted.  She gradually lost control of many of her muscles, and doctors, of course, thought she had multiple sclerosis (MS).

The reason that we know it wasn’t MS is that she regained her strength and control after a very long course of antibiotics, so it was obviously an infection.  How many people that have MS, RA, fibromyalgia, autism or developmental delays simply have Lyme?  It’s a real shame they’re not getting proper treatment.

Lyme is not just limited to the Northeastern U.S. anymore; it’s now spreading west to places where you wouldn’t think deer ticks are.  Deer ticks are not the only means of transmission:  mosquitoes, fleas and ticks can also carry the infection.

Given that there is an increasing number of people with gut dysbiosis and toxicity, and thus, a compromised immune system, it’s not surprising that their weakened state allows for such an infection.

Testing for Lyme

Most doctors will run a Western blot test, but it’s not always accurate.  An IgG test would show elevated levels when fighting an infection for a long time, and an IgM test shows if an illness has been reactivated.

Given the confusion surrounding the issue of detecting Lyme, I asked our naturopath to test my son for Lyme with his ASYRA (yes, it’s a little “woo woo”).  Sure enough, my son was infected with bartonella, also known as cat-scratch fever.

Rather than going the antibiotic route, our naturopath prescribed a super-strong herbal remedy.  Ever since treatment began a couple of months, my son hasn’t been hateful or hurtful and is now the super-sweet boy I remember.  His favorite words now are, “I’m so happy I could cry.”  Me, too!

 

C SECTIONS AND BABY FORMULA

infant formulaYet another study shows that C sections and feeding your baby formula instead of breastmilk can change your baby’s gut flora for the worse, leading to gut dysbiosis.

The study’s lead author, Meghan Azad, says that, “Infants born by cesarean delivery are at increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes, whereas breastfeeding is variably protective against these and other disorders.”

I would go further and explain to you that many neurological disorders (autism, PDD-NOS, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Lyme, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, etc.), digestive disorders (acid reflux, colic, colitis, Crohn’s, celiac, etc.) and/or autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, etc.) have gut dysbiosis as a core, underlying future.

 

METHYLATION: THE HIDDEN LINK AMONG ALCOHOLISM, AUTISM, CANCER AND MORE

diseaseMethylation is a subject that keeps coming up again and again for my sons and myself.  It’s one of those all-encompassing issues like toxicity or gut dysbiosis because so many diseases and conditions are linked, directly or indirectly, to it or rather, a lack of it.

What is methylation?  It’s the chemical process of donating a methyl group (CH3) to a molecule or compound.  This doesn’t sound like much, but this little group is very important to how our bodies function, as I’m finding out.

It not only helps with energy production and builds immune cells and neurotransmitters, but it also processes hormones, detoxifies our bodies, puts protective myelin sheath on our nerves, and can be responsible for epigenetic gene regulation.

Because of its association with all of these essential processes, an inability to methylate is linked to a whole host of diseases and conditions.  Methylation defects are linked to: [Read more…]

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