HEALING MY GUT ... YEARS OF SUFFERING

Updated: May 29, 2020

Extreme bloating that you think you're pregnant? Tired at the wrong time of day? Foggy Brain? Diarrhea for months on end or constipated, or both? Cramping. Skin Dry? Brittle hair? Bladder infections? Lost your mojo?


This was me about 5, nearly 6 years ago. I've told this story to people who want to know or who are in the same predicament. I was dubious about sharing this with you. Well, it's personal you know, really personal. However, the more people I meet, the more I realise how widespread this gut issue is. Perhaps my story will be helpful to you or at least give you some practicals on where or how to get yourself on track.


WHAT I'M NOT.

So, to get the biggies out of the way, remember that I am not a doctor, naturopath or homeopath. I am not en employee of any of the companies mentioned and do not sell any of the products listed in this blog. This is just my story and based on my findings as I've walked this journey.


MY PROBLEMS.

I was suffering when I was living in Cape Town about 5 or 6 years ago. As you have already read, I was bloated. Every time I ate, I would have to run to the bathroom with diarrhea. My food was passing through my gut without being absorbed and whatever was expelled came out almost in whole form. I was so tired that I battled to keep my eyes open behind the wheel. I was always hungry (because of malabsorption) and had major cravings for sugar. I remember waking up on holiday, in Mauritius, and some of the joints in my hands were aching. I would have trouble sleeping after drinking a single glass of red wine. My heart would race and I would overheat in bed, so much so that I battled to sleep with blankets. I would find myself struggling to find the right words in conversation or as they call it "foggy brain". This continued for some time. I would feel fine for about 6-8 days and then by day 9 or 10, I would be so bloated and my stomach so distended, you could not squash a finger under my rib cage (which you should be able to do). Kev had to come get me, I was lying on the bathroom floor, wanting to pass out and sweating terribly. That was the turning point. I needed help.


THE START: MY FAMILY DOCTOR


My wonderful house doctor, Dr Louise Serfontein, helped me by process of elimination. Dr Serfontein discussed with me that treating the candida and other symptoms I had was not fixing the source of the problem, and requested a gastroscopy and colonoscopy. It is via this process that we could pick up any abnormalities that were contributing to my issues. Turns out, I had a very small hernia about 2cm and the surgeon/presiding doc in hospital said it was nothing to worry about. He did ask me whether I suffered from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and if I was a "worrier" or if there were issues that were bothering me to cause the IBS. I denied it completely and went back to my GP! I was in total denial and oblivious to my shadows.

Dr Serfontein said that since the report came back pretty clean, the next step would be to see Professor Patrick Bouic whom she had met at a conference and he was doing enhanced testing for people who had issues like mine.


SYNEXA LABS CAPE TOWN


It was April 2016 that I got to meet Prof Patrick Bouic, the Chief Scientific Officer at Synexa Labs in Montague Gardens, Cape Town. After meeting with him and discussing my symptoms, I was optimistic that things were going to improve. The requirement from the labs was a stool sample. Yes, you heard, a stool sample! Sigh. I know....! I managed to deliver the goods within a few days (there is a process: for a couple of days I had to drink Apple Cider vinegar each day before sending in the stool sample. I have no idea why.). I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and efficient the whole thing was: they have instruction leaflets, containers and everything you need, so you don't have to worry about this. Professional and organised. By the way, these labs are pretty cool inside, it's like you are in some kind of sci-fi movie, in a large, clinical, sterile, white, warehouse. Lab coats bustling about everywhere, test tubes and glass doors - it's quite something!


I got a call from Prof Bouic around 7:30pm, 10 days after the sample had cultured. I was worried, why did he call me so late? He said he wanted to see me the next day. He had never seen a patient who had a zero count of Lactobacillus and very low levels of physiological E.Coli (the good one). My calprotectin count was high (basically my gut was very inflamed) and I have leaky gut. The good news was, I did not have a parasite! Oh lovely, that's a relief...!


My consultation with the Prof the following day was to start the process in healing my gut and restore the imbalance of natural flora . He did suggest a keto diet or Banting (referred to as Banting in South Africa. Interesting: the word "Banting" got its name from William Banting, who went on a low carb diet in late 1800's as per his doctor orders to assist with his obesity). My immediate detox was as follows and for at least 6 months:

No dairy products, no refined carbohydrates, no sugar, no fruit except for berries or those on the keto plan. Specifically not pineapple, mangos and grapes - each of these if they stay in your gut long enough, can begin to ferment, causing the worst effects! So for those of you who suffer from constipation, it means that at any time, you could have between 5 and 8 meals in the stomach/colon. The toxins and gases that can form from that are not great.


SYNEXA LABS TREATMENT:

  • 5 minutes before breakfast - I ingested 5ml cultured physiological E.Coli (cultured at Synexa Labs)

  • I drank a tall glass daily of Metagenics UltraInflamX Plus 360 (it is yellow/orange from the turmeric (anti-inflammatory) after dinner or with my food.

  • Before bed: Metagenics Ultraflora probiotic capsules (the one that is stored in the fridge)

  • Oregano oil tablets (purest and highest quality)

  • Eating plan with no sugar, no dairy and no refined carbohydrates.


MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT

Within 3-4 days I was already feeling like a different person. My energy levels had increased and things were beginning to change. I continued for 6 months like this and there was a drastic improvement. All the symptoms were gone, even the joint pain.


About that joint pain - let me share some very interesting information. The toxin levels were so high in my body from a leaky gut that it can trigger a whole lot of things for people, mine was joint pain. Some people have the "auto-brewery effect" where the patient feels almost drunk because of the toxins in their body. Yeast overgrowth or for me, specifically Candida Albicans, thrives in an environment that has sugar fed to it and the more I would feed the bacteria with sugars, carbs (which convert to sugars) the more the bacteria would grow. Overgrowth of one bacteria over another, causes an imbalance known as dysbiosis in the gut. When there is no balance in the gut, the body cannot function optimally. Note: this 'opportunistic" little pathogenic yeast (Candida Albicans) is a happy member of our gut flora, and functions beautifully when this ecosystem works together and is in balance.


ONE YEAR AFTER TREATMENT

A year went by with no bladder infections, and no sign of vaginal yeast infections, leaky gut was a thing of the past. I continued religiously with the keto diet as a way of eating and continued to take oregano oil and probiotics. I found that I could start introducing pizza every now and then or a glass of wine and had no ill effect.


THREE YEARS AFTER TREATMENT: RELAPSE. IT'S BACK.

After moving to Canada, a year or so later, I started to have symptoms again, all of them. Not as bad, but they were there. The warning signs. Was it because I had started introducing sugar into my diet again and bread? I was still popping Oregano and downing Metagenics Ultraflora probiotics... It had been over 2 years of taking these things.


THE ROAD THAT LED TO MY NATUROPATH

I was listening to a Podcast hosted by Dr Evan Brand. It was called the Candida Summit 2018. This platform was held over a few days where specialists in their field spoke about gut health, functional medicine and their different approaches to it (example here of one doctors podcast at the Summit). They're solving the patient's challenges through a proven lab based approach and they spoke about diets/eating plans and approaches, parasites, mould, hormones, types of testing, biofilm etc.


A doctor who had done studies in outlying countries asked why is it that in these remote areas, people have never heard of gut issues or intolerances to foods (big wow here). Search the Podcast and go see for yourself. Get information and learn. As I listened and formulated some sort of opinion for myself, things started to make sense that I needed to find someone like Dr Evan Brand or one of these doctors who could help me in Canada. I immediately made contact with the forum on Facebook. I needed answers and someone who could help me. I was told that to find a good naturopathic doctor, I needed to find someone who was up to date with the latest information and was constantly researching and learning. Basically someone who kept up with the rest of the world of medicine and someone I could relate to. I started my search in Ontario (I was willing to drive miles to find the right person).


Dr Molly Scotchmer stood out for me, and she was in Oakville where I live. I was hopeful. I was looking for someone that would do the "lab approach" and give me scientific proof of where I was at. I did not want iridology, crystals or chlorophyll water (don't get me wrong, these practices and remedies certainly have their place). For me, I wanted tangible evidence. A lab report I could look at. I was at the end of this road and going to get to the bottom of it. I met with Dr Molly and knew it was going to be a great relationship.


"I am a board-certified naturopathic doctor with a focus on digestive issues, autoimmune disease, thyroid & hormone balancing, and stress, anxiety & fatigue.  I focus on these areas because they have the biggest impact on your overall health, and are the most under-served by the existing medical system. " - Dr Molly Scotchmer



NATUROPATHIC & FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE - DR MOLLY SCOTCHMER

Yes, I cried at my first 90 minute consultation. I'm such a blabber. Gosh, that woman's sincere, caring and concerned smile just made me want to cry a river. I'm not surprised... it was time to let go and be vulnerable and sort my stuff out, once and for all.


Before seeing Dr Molly, I had completed a questionnaire of my whole life basically. I understood she needed this thesis from me to make sound assessments of where I was and where I was at then, September 2018.


TRAUMA THAT BROUGHT ME HERE


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