Third SIBO Treatment Complete

Last week I finished the second month of my SIBO protocol from Dr. Ruscio. You can read about what the exact protocol was here.

To sum it up, I’d say my gut symptoms are about 80% better compared to before I started the protocol. I have had some other effects, which I’ll tell you about in a minute.

But first, I wanted to share how I did with the protocol and the tweaks I made.

In this post I wrote about how I started feeling a lot worse after adding in the saccharomyces. Well, I debated between trying to stick it out and follow the protocol to a T, or really listen to my body and understand it was telling me something. (When your body isn’t functioning correctly, it can sometimes be deceiving to listen to every sign and symptom and wonder if it means something important.) In this case, I determined the saccharomyces just wasn’t working for me. After cutting it out of the protocol, I did notice an improvement in my symptoms.

Otherwise, I followed the treatment pretty closely. I took the antimicrobials first thing in the morning, followed by the probiotic about an hour later before I left for work. Then around 3pm I would take the second dose of the antimicrobials, and the probiotic right before bed.

I just had a follow up appointment with Dr Ruscio about 2 weeks ago, and he also had me add in 60 drops of Iberogast before bed. It’s a liquid blend of herbal extracts that help with gastric motility. I had tried it before in the past but not such a high dose, and had mixed effects. This dose does seem to be making a difference. I’ve been using it for about a week now, and the past couple of mornings I’ve actually woken up with a flat stomach- no bloating! That is quite nice.

I re-do my SIBO breath test tomorrow, so that means I have to eat the restricted diet today (which I am not looking forward to!) , and I also have to re-test the Doctor’s Data test. I waited too long to book my follow up appointment with Dr. R, so I won’t get those test results until July. Like I said before, I’m pretty happy with how the treatment went but I am SO GLAD for it to be over. It was really starting to take a toll on me psychologically, with all of the pills and the timing and what not. I am just pretty fatigued from “treatments” at this point and I want to not have to worry about it for awhile.

I have a sneaking suspicion the SIBO will return, but I’m trying not to worry about it and keep doing the strategies that I know help- eating low FODMAP when symptoms flare, taking the Iberogast, avoiding gum chewing and sugar alcohols, avoiding certain types of fiber, and continuing to take the expensive probiotic.

Ok, now for the side effects.

I can’t say for sure these were a result of the treatment, but I think they are worth mentioning.

  1. My leaky gut seemed to get worse. I can tell because I react to foods more easily and my skin is all kinds jacked up. I’m getting red blotchy patches from certain foods and sunlight, and flares in blemishes on my face. Also I’ve noticed some wrinkles developing on my forehead. I’ve still been taking my zinc carnosine and I added in glutamine power. And I still drink my bone broth, so that all hasn’t changed. But I feel like I’ve taken a step back in the healing of my gut.
  2. I’m having some major muscle pain and weakness. I really haven’t had any exercise tolerance at all, and even walking leaves me sore and tight. This has been most upsetting for me, as I’ve need to exercise for my mental health, but being in pain both from exercising and from not exercising is an awful thing. And it’s not like I’m exercising hard, either. I’m just talking about walking. I can tell my body is inflamed.
  3. My fatigue has been worse.
  4. Ok, now for a good effect- my female hormones seem to be balancing out. I had my cycle again for the first time in two years. Granted, this was also coupled with a cessation of restrictive eating and intense exercise, but I do think healing the gut has helped, along with the female hormone balancing herbs Dr. R put me on (Phytoest and Phytoprogest).

Ok, that’s it for now. Generally, I do think the protocol has been helpful and I think it was worth it despite the side effects I noticed. With that being said, I’m looking forward to NOT taking any more antimicrobials for awhile, and just focusing on healing my leaky gut and other parts of my health for awhile. And maybe have some fun, too. 🙂

New SIBO Protocol Update

Here’s a quick update on my most recent SIBO protocol with Dr. Ruscio.

He ordered a bunch of different gut tests, looking for specific infections like parasites, bacterial dysbiosis and  candida, as well as signs of inflammatory bowel diseases or celiac. I also did another SIBO breath test.

While we waited for those results to come in, I started taking Ther-Biotic Complete probiotic powder. He also wanted me to take enzymes with betaine HCL, which I did initially, but it caused stomach pain so I discontinued them.

Lastly for the gut, he wanted me to take Saccharomyces boulardii.

I like to gently introduce things into my system so the saccharomyces was the last thing I planned to introduce. However, I started noticing some really positive effects from the Ther-Biotic, including less pain, bloating and better regularity. So I never actually added in the saccharomyces before our next appointment.

I was feeling really positive at our follow up appointment, as my gut was doing a LOT better. We went over the tests- nothing came back showing a serious issue or infection, so that was good. I still had a mild case of SIBO, with both hydrogen and methane gases showing up, and a bit of gut dysbiosis with some candida.

So, he started me on a “gut bug” protocol (as I like to call it). Here’s what it is:

First month:

Oregano oil

Atrantil

Gi Microbex

Second month:

Atrantil

OrthoFlora Yeast

ParaBotanic Select

He also asked me to start taking the saccharomyces.

Well, I’m about at the end of my third week of the protocol and I am NOT doing so great. My gut symptoms have returned and I’m feeling pretty miserable. I can’t pinpoint if it is the saccharomyces or the whole protocol, but I’m a bit discouraged that I seem to be regressing rather than getting relief.

However, I do know that something things can get worse before they get better, and I’m only about halfway through the protocol. Plus, before I started it, even though I had been doing better, I wasn’t fully healed and still needed to make improvements. So I’m planning to stick with this protocol until the end and hope it makes a turn here soon and I start getting relief.

I’m still taking my YST enzymes before I eat, though they don’t seem to be having as a great of an effect as before. I am also still taking my zinc carnosine, and I added in vitamin D3 and K2 since my D3 levels were low. And I still take my magnesium at night.

As for the protocol itself, it’s really an interesting mix. Atrantil is a new product on the market and has one human study on it showing relief from SIBO symptoms, but I don’t think it a particularly robust study.  Gi Microbex is a mix of herbs that all contain berberine, and the other two products for the second month are a solid mix of antimicrobial herbs. It’s a similar protocol that I used when I followed the protocol used in the Hopkins study, but with the addition of the Atrantil, and going for double the length of time.

If anything changes dramatically, I’ll be sure to post sooner rather than later.

Have you tried any of these products or a similar protocol? Let me know!

New SIBO doc: Tests and Treatment Plan

In January I had my first Skype appointment with Dr. Ruscio. I had been following his work and podcasts for the past 6 months or so, after first hearing him as a guest on the Robb Wolf podcast.

Though he is a chiropractor, he specializes in thyroid and gastrointestinal disorders and is an expert in SIBO. It’s clear he stays up to date on the most current literature on GI issues and is implementing the most relevant and researched treatment techniques in his practice.

So after a month or so of wait, I finally had my appointment. Prior to it I had to fill out an extensive health history form and current symptoms questionnaires. It was clear he read through them prior to our first appointment, but I was a bit surprised as to how short the initial consult was. I suppose I thought he was going to ask more questions, but it was only about 30 minutes long (after waiting an extra ten or fifteen minutes as he was running late.)

The next appointment was the following week and he presented his review of findings and testing and treatment plan.

Here’s what went down:

He believes that many of my systemic symptoms are resulting from my GI imbalance, with which I agree. (I do think there’s something else aside from my GI issues contributing as well, but I don’t know exactly what.)

So the first plan of action was to redo the SIBO test and see the results of that. Based on my symptoms I’m pretty sure I still have SIBO, but am very interested to compare it to my prior test.

Next, I had two different stool tests to do, and h.pylori breath test and an extensive panel of blood work.

After I completed all the tests I could start the first part of the treatment plan. It has three parts: Adrenal support, female hormone support and gut support.

For the adrenals: supplemental pregnenalone and DHEA. These are hormones produced by the adrenals that are precursors to many other hormones including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

For female hormone support, I’m taking Phytoest and Phytoprogest. These are herbal tinctures that supposedly balance female hormones. I haven’t read enough about these herbs yet to know what science is behind them. (As a side note, they are amazing bitters so they actually help with digestion as well!)

Finally, for gut support he wanted me to start with a modified fast of sipping either bone broth or a master-cleanse type drink for a day or two or whenever my gut symptoms flare up. I tried to do this but my blood sugar crashes so hard by the afternoon I just cannot go without food for a whole day. But even modified-fasting until noon or two and eating mostly fat and protein the rest of the day does help.

After the modified fast, he wanted me to implement any parts of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet I wasn’t already doing. I was already doing most of the SCD recommendations.

Lastly, the gut supplements. A digestive enzyme with betaine HCL and ox bile, Therbiotic probiotic and a Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic.

He wants me to discontinue my other supplements unless I find them to be especially helpful, so I’m continuing to use my YST management enzyme, zinc carnosine, vitamin C, magnesium, and my sleep supplement. As well as a few other products that I use “as-needed”.

I’ve finished all of the testing an am waiting on some of the results. I’ve implemented all of the supplements except the Saccharomyces, but I’m not quite at the recommended doses for everything yet. I like to take a gradual approach when I introduce new things so I don’t overwhelm my system. I should be at the recommended dose for everything by the end of this week.

One thing I have noticed so far is a good deal less bloating and better regularity when I take the Therbiotic at night.

My next appointment with Dr. Ruscio is in 3 weeks, and we’ll go over my test results and how the treatment plan is working so far.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Have any of you tried any of those supplements, or worked with Dr. Ruscio? Let me know in the comments!

Homemade Kombucha

Awhile back I wrote about how GT’s Kombucha was helping with my SIBO symptoms. It was, and still does, but there’s one big problem with it.

It’s freaking expensive.

Even buying it by the case and getting a discount I was paying about $3.50 per bottle. That adds up quickly.

So I finally decided to bite the bullet and try making my own kombucha at home.

I had been nervous to do so, fearing mold or harmful bacterial growth, but decided to give it a shot.

My fiance’s mom gave me a great brewing vessel for my birthday, and I ordered my Scoby from Kombucha Kamp. (SCOBY stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, and its what eats the sugar in the sweet tea solution to make fermented kombucha.)

The process was simple and the instructions provided were clear. With a couple days, a new baby Scoby had formed on the surface of the tea, just as it should. After waiting patiently for seven days, I finally got to taste it.

It tasted like sweet tea, not kombucha.

Another week passed, and I tasted again.

It had a slight tang this time, but still very, very sweet.

I kept tasting every other day for the next three weeks, and even though it got a bit tangier each time, it still was much to sweet for my liking.

I did a bit of research and  found that the problem might be it is much to cold in my apartment for it to ferment properly. My apartment hovers around 70 degrees, sometimes going as low as 63 at night, and Scobies prefer 75-85 degrees.

So I started a second batch with the mother and baby Scoby, and ordered a heating strip. It’s been 3 days with the heating strip and I now have found the right position to keep the booch around 78-80 degrees.

It hasn’t done much more fermenting yet, but growing my own kombucha has been an awesome experience so far. It’s a bit like a science experience you can taste, and I think it may be playing some part as to why my SIBO symptoms have been greatly reduced. I drink about a shot’s glass worth everyday as I taste it to see how the fermentation is going.

Paleo Vegan Carrot Cakes (Pinterest Win(?))

Tonight I am getting together with three other couples for a game night. It was supposed to be four other couples, but unfortunately our friend Marsha, her husband Bryan, and their baby boy Camden all came down with the flu. And Camden is teething. Not a fun time.

Of course, she’s the one who lives a couple hours away so we had been planning this get together for awhile and all really looking forward to it. So that is a big bummer.

Anyway, for this get together we all decided we would each bring a healthy dish and do a potluck. We are all trying to eat healthy and many of us have special diet restrictions. Marsha is dairy free, I’m grain free/dairy free/legume free and Shannon is a type one diabetic.

Marsha said no one could bring just plain veggies so I decided to skip from my norm of bringing a salad or veggies with dip, and bring a healthy dessert recipe that I had found on Pinterest months ago.

Presenting: grain free, dairy free, paleo, vegan, raw (mini) carrot cakes!

I’ve always loved carrot cakes so I instantly gravitated towards this.

The only ingredients are:

  • shredded carrot
  • dates
  • nuts (I used walnuts and almonds because I ran out of walnuts)
  • shredded coconut
  • coconut cream
  • a touch of honey
  • and spices

Perfect.

I technically shouldn’t be eating nuts right now because I am trying to do the autoimmune paleo protocol, but I figured one little treat really wouldn’t set me back any further than the alcohol I knew I was going to drink tonight.  

Before I go any further, I readily admit: I am NOT a baker and I’m not a great cook.

I tend to improvise (see almonds above) and follow recipes loosely, something that is not that good of an idea for baking.

(I once made brownies and realized I didn’t have eggs. So I thought I had recalled reading that I could replace eggs with applesauce. Nope, that’s an oil replacement. So the brownies turned out more of a chocolate cake-pudding, needing a spoon to eat, but they were still quite tasty.)

Many times, my foods turn out tasting pretty decent but looking terrible. Or, I just burn the heck out of them (i.e zucchini chips).

So, because this recipe called for no actual cooking or baking I thought it was worth a shot. And according to the directions it was an “easy” level recipe.

I suppose that’s true…if you have the right equipment.

Another issue I have is I tend to not actually read the directions until I’m ready to go. I bought all my supplies yesterday, but didn’t read the directions until I went at it.

The recipe needs a food processor. It says you can use a blender, but maybe you need a Blendtec or Vitamix. My $20 blender definitely did not work.

So, first you shred the carrot and then add the dates, walnuts, coconut and spices to the food processor and pulse it.

I ended up having to chop up the dates by hand (awful). I then tried to blend everything in the blender but it all just stuck to the sides while the blades whirled into air.

Then I remembered I had bought a hand-held food processor thingy from a yard sale last year.

I whipped out that bad boy and dumped all the ingredients into it. I cranked away at it for about five minutes and finally ended up with something that was semi-blended.

Then I looked for my tins to press them into mini carrot cake shapes.

They were gone.

No idea where the could have gone but I swear I had muffin tins at once point.

But alas, they could not be found so I decided I would just hand shape these babies.

Into balls.

Raw carrot cake balls.

Lovely.

So you can imagine already this recipe is not going to turn out like the picture.

Then it was time to make the glaze.

I hand blended the coconut cream, spices and honey.

And for whatever reason, it came out very lumpy.

Tasty, but lumpy.

So now I have raw vegan carrot cake balls with lumpy cream on top.

Gingerly, I put one on a plate and asked Alex to try it.

“I just eat this whole things at once?” He asked.

“Yup.” I said.

He hesitantly put it into his mouth and made a few interesting facial expressions while he chewed.  

“How is it?” I asked.

“Actually, it’s not bad. It wasn’t very sweet at first but then it got sweeter as I chewed.”

“Would you eat another one?”

“I would.”

Now, granted, this boy knows my baking skills and he also knows better than to say it’s awful.

But I tasted one: I did like it! They are not pretty, no, and you have to like coconut and you also have to be ready to chew a little but, and you also have to be ready for the fact that they contain little sugar.

But after all that they are actually pretty good.

I may make them again for Thanksgiving at my parents. With their food processor. And muffin tins.

Here’s what I tried to make. Click on the photo for the link to the recipe.

carrot

And here are mine:

my carrot

That’ll do, Jasmine. That’ll do.

How Do I Feel- Really?

Sometimes its so easy to get caught up in the daily symptoms you are still experiencing, and not take a step back and see how much progress you’ve made.

I can start to get down on myself and my health situation pretty easily when I’m feeling like crap or not happy with how my body looks.

It’s been four years since my health first started to decline, and four years that I’ve been trying to get back to good.

And while it seems like such a long time to feel like crap most of the time, so many hours spent researching, looking for answers, going to doctors (let alone the money I’ve spent on doctors and supplements), I really have made progress.

Here’s what’s better:

  1. Energy. While my energy is not where I’d like it to be, it is so much better. I used to crash every afternoon and need to take naps. Some days, I couldn’t even go to work my energy was so low. That happened usually about every 2 or 4 weeks. Now, those days are maybe every two months or so.
  2. Adrenal fatigue. It’s been about a year since I really burnt out my adrenals from running too much, but I can tell they are getting back to being better, based on my energy levels.
  3. Sleep. This is the big one. I have finally found the right combination of supplements, herbs, and sleep hygiene that gives me a LOT better sleep than before. I still have trouble falling asleep sometimes, and I don’t sleep totally soundly, but I sleep a lot better and do not have to rely on medications to help me fall asleep. This alone is a big part of the reason numbers 1 and 2 are so much better.
  4. Anxiety and heart palpitations. I’m still pretty high strung and tend to get anxious, but I don’t have debilitating anxiety attacks like I used to. And the heart palpitations are all but gone.
  5. Muscle weakness. Again, this is not 100% but a good deal better. And I’ve been lifting weights and strength training for the past 6 months or so, and seeing a good bit of progress there.

So while there are things that have remained the same or gotten worse over the past four years, some things have gotten better, or even much better. And it’s important to focus on that.

The 30 Day No-Alcohol Challenge

I think the time has come.

I’ve given up alcohol before in the past; I think the longest I went was about 2 months. I was trying to address candida issues at the time, and took a strict dietary approach.

It was difficult, but not impossible. I was really disciplined.

Now, alcohol is a big part of my “fun time”. My weekends surround going out for drinks Friday after work, and I pretty much keep drinking until the wee hours of Saturday night. And I pay for it all day Sunday, and a good part of Monday.

The question of whether that payment is worth it has been stewing in the back of my mind for a few months now. Now it’s at the forefront. And I’m also concerned that I’m actually paying for it all throughout the week.

My brain just still isn’t working as well as I know that it can, as well as it used to. And I wonder if the alcohol is playing a major part of that.

In addition, I’m noticing that my emotional state while drinking is becoming more dramatic. Last night, I had too much to drink and found myself crying hysterically while watching a documentary about mold exposure. A bit dramatic.

Though alcohol does provide a gentle lubrication to have more truthful conversations with the ones I love, I also know that anytime Alex and I get into an argument, I’ve been drinking. I overreact and become more sensitive to things that wouldn’t bother me when sober.

So, I’m going to do the challenge.

Thirty days seems like an awfully long time, but I think I’ll just focus on seven days. Going a full week with no alcohol. Making it through a weekend and seeing that I can have just as much fun and enjoy my time without the need for alcohol.

The question is- when do I start? I’m taking my last four day vacation at the end of this week, and then the following weekend is Alex’s birthday. Not great timing to decide to give up alcohol.

But maybe it actually would be better if I were sober for his birthday. That way I can make sure we get around safely and ensure he has a great time. And not have to worry about me needing to end the night early because I drank to much.

So as of now, next Monday, August 31 will be the start date.

I’ll start with one week, and if I can go a whole 30 days then I will be very proud of myself.

I’m excited to see how my brain function improves, let alone the weight and skin benefits I know I will get.