Our stories are ever evolving. Life is full of experiences, good and bad. The diversity of what we experience during a lifetime shapes us, shapes our thoughts and opinions along with the things we know or ‘think we know’. And, our expectations, even our reality, can change faster than a Porsche can go from 0 to 60.
I’ve been lucky, in more ways than one. My time in the military and as a Police Officer has helped me to develop a never surrender attitude that has probably contributed to my ability to thrive in life and remain alive and healthy. I’ve had to call on these survival instincts on both the foreign battlefield, during the first Gulf War, as well as the domestic battlefield while doing my part to fight crime and help those affected by the criminal element. But, the battle outlined below has been, the literal, fight for my life.
This is my RA story
In January of this year (2016), after a very stressful series of business events, I began to suddenly have slight tenderness on the bottom of one foot. I wasn’t sure exactly what I might have done to the foot, but I figured I must have thrown something out of whack while exercising. I typically stay in pretty good shape by working out and or jogging 3-4 times a week. Maybe I overdid it at some point. Sure that it would go away on it’s own, I didn’t immediately worry.
Then, about a week later, the other foot began hurting in the same spot, mostly around the ball of my feet. At first, this just amounted to some weird, minor discomfort. But, as the days went by, the discomfort begun to spread through the rest of my feet, including the tops as well as the toes. And slowly but surely, the discomfort turned to pain, which began to cause some difficulty walking, much less any real exercise. And, with the pain, came visible swelling. By this time, I had began researching and trying to figure out what could possibly be causing this.
At first, I thought it might be gout. But no, the symptoms just weren’t the same. Then I ran across some information that pointed to something called ‘leaky gut’, where supposedly food items that are not supposed to be able to permeate your intestines, do, causing your body to attack the foreign particles, hence the swelling and pain. Thinking that I had it figured out, I began taking all of the recommended supplements to help with a leaky gut. But, oddly enough, even with the supplements and some moderate diet change, nothing seemed to be helping and the symptoms were now worsening. And, things were beginning to go downhill fast. I researched one possibility after another, without much initial success.
By mid February, the pain and swelling had grown to include my fingers, just one or two at first, and then more as the days went by. The pain seemed to be more first thing in the morning and would somewhat subside as the day went on. However, If I sat for a length of time the pain would return as soon as I returned to my feet.
As the days progressed, so did this new illness. By March 2016, my symptoms were:
- Foot pain and swelling, especially on waking.
- Hand and finger pain and swelling
- Wrist pain and swelling.
- Shoulder and ankle pain.
- Nodules on the bottom part of my arm below the elbow on both sides.
- Nodule somewhere near my voice box that causes hoarseness and a ‘click’ when swallowing.
- TMJ like symptoms that made it difficult to bite down on the left side.
- Occasional slight fever.
- Occasional night sweats.
- Brain fog and some cognitive issues.
- I lost 20 lbs in 5 months, while still eating the amounts of food that I had eaten previously.
- And oh, the flu-like body aches, (mostly towards the end of the work day and in the evening).
Later I also had these symptoms for a brief period
- Phantom odors that smelled like smoke or an ash tray
- Constantly seeping nose. Not really like a runny nose, but where you constantly feel like you have to wipe it because it’s always moist.
By now, I could no longer open a jar, I walked with a limp (especially after sitting for a while), and literally had problems performing even small tasks like opening a door or climbing in and out of a vehicle. Walking down stairs, especially first thing in the morning, was accomplished one slow and painful step at a time. Even turning the key to start the car brought unbearable pain. Hot baths helped. So, at the end of each day, I’d spend an hour in a hot bath. After my bath, I would actually feel fairly normal for a while and would be able to get to sleep. But then, around 2am, the pain would wake me and remind me that I was really sick.
I went to a local doctor, who said that even though I hadn’t yet tested positive for the RA marker, all other inflammation markers were elevated to alarming levels. Being a Gulf War Vet, I began to think that maybe my symptoms were caused by the same illness that has sickened and killed thousands upon thousands of Gulf War Veterans. So, I began the month long process of getting an appointment at the VA hospital.
While waiting for my VA appointment, my constant research of my illness led me to information that presented the possibility that RA (and other autoimmune illnesses like MS, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Lupus, Crohn’s, IBS etc.) had a bacterial or viral origin. In other words, you are sick because you have a systemic bacterial and or viral infection that is wreaking havoc on your body and mind. The more I researched this as a cause for my illness, the more everything made sense. The fevers, the body aches and flu-like symptoms and night sweats all made more sense if it were being caused by a bacterial or viral invader.
So, after exhaustive research into a bacteria called ‘Mycoplasma’ as well as other bacterial and viral possibilities, I began to treat myself as if this were the cause of my illness. As I began treatment with antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral supplements, something strange happened…I began to get better.
At first, any kind of recovery was slow, but definitely welcomed. The disease, at this point, had left me desperate, in constant pain, depressed and unable to think clearly. On starting the new treatments, my occasional low grade fever and night sweats would be among the first major symptoms to (thankfully) go away. Encouraged by my progress, I continued my research to try to locate treatments that others had found effective.
I found that there are essentially 3 different, but equally important, factors that you need to treat.
- Boost the Immune system
- Repair damaged gut bacteria
- Bacteria/Virus eradication
Note: Your mileage may vary. What works for one person might not work as well for another. Also, please don’t consider this as treatment advice. I am simply listing what I found to be helpful and healing to me. And, because I was so desperate for that healing, I often ‘shotgunned’ it, trying several things at once. So, I can’t definitively say that one thing worked better than another. I honestly think that the totality of everything I tried, played some part in my recovery. So please use this as a resource, but do your own research as well. Also note that my research has indicated that the following treatments are not only effective against RA, but also most other autoimmune diseases like MS, CFS, FMS, GWI, Crohns, IBS, etc.
NOTICE: I’m listing everything that I could find that has enough medically proven or anecdotal evidence that it can work successfully. This is not meant to be an endorsement of any of these treatments. However, I think it’s important to list everything, without prejudice. Also note that I have not taken any pharmaceutical drugs to treat this illness as I feel that in many cases they come with unacceptable side effects.
OVERALL IMMUNE SUPPORT AND GENERAL HEALTH
The immune system is complex and very effective at keeping illness at bay, when it is allowed to work. It is believed that many of these bacteria and viruses have the ability to hamper, evade or even shut down parts of the immune system. For this reason, one infection might open the door for other infections. Very often, multiple infections can work together to collectively make the host sicker, prolonging the infection and making it even more difficult to eradicate. For these reasons, building your immune system alone won’t cure you, but it is still an important part of recovery.
- Probiotics/Enzymes. Probiotics are one of the most important supplements you can take when dealing with these infections because the bad bacteria literally decimate the gut flora, as do some of the natural antibiotics. Digestive Enzymes with Prebiotics and Probiotics
- Fish oil. Fish oil is recommended for it’s Omega 3’s.
- Curcumin. 1-2 capsules 1-3 times daily. Curcumin on Amazon. Curcumin has wide reaching affects for overall health and is a good anti inflammatory. USE Caution with curcumin as it tends to make medications and supplements work better. This is fine with most supplements, but ask your doctor about interactions with any pharmaceuticals you are taking.
- Vitamin D (Preferably with vitamin K). Vitamin D3 with K2 Those that are ‘infected’ with any type of autoimmune type disease are commonly found to be highly deficient in Vitamin D. For me personally, my Functional Medicine Doctor says she likes to see the number be around 80. My Vitamin D test (Lab Blood Test) showed around 15. I have read that vitamin D is actually a hormone that is best absorbed in the evening and that it should be taken with vitamin K to be most effective. I’ve read that Mycoplasma have the ability to block Vitamin D absorption, which helps the bacteria avoid the immune system and thrive.
- Bovine Colostrum for immune system, as directed. Colostrum is the mothers milk from the first 6 hours after birth that helps to super charge the immune system. Bovine colostrum I normally take 2-3 of these sometime during my day.
- Multivitamin. I recommend a good multivitamin for daily use.
- Diet changes– Honestly, I didn’t change my diet drastically. I still consume dairy, but did switch to Almond milk for cereal or any liquid milk needs. I do limit my processed sugar and processed foods intake. I also try to eat a good amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic when available. If you know that you have a poor diet, any positive change will help you in your recovery process.
ANTIBACTERIAL/ANTIVIRAL This category lists things that reportedly eradicate bacteria and viruses. I typically only take one or 2 of these at a time, and switch often.
- Olive Leaf extract. 1-3 capsules 3 times a day. Nature’s way Olive Leaf Extract, Seagate brand Olive Leaf Extract (More expensive) Olive Leaf extract is a natural antibiotic with Antibacterial, antiviral and immune building qualities. Olive leaf extract benefits
- Cat’s Claw. Recommended brand Raintree Cat’s Claw. I also recommend these Cat’s claw drops as well. Prima Una De Gato I take both kinds, switching between the two often. Cat’s Claw is anti inflammatory, antibacterial , antiviral and is used for many different gut issues, like IBS and Crohn’s as well. Cat’s claw benefits
- ‘Myco’ supplement. 3 pills twice a day (start with 1 pill twice a day for a week) ‘Myco’ supplement by Raintree This is an antibacterial supplement that was created with Mycoplasma in mind. This is a powerful antibacterial, antibiotic. Please be sure to take a probiotic with this as i think it has the ability to affect good gut bacteria as well as bad bacteria.
- Oregano oil. 1-3 pills, 1 – 3 times daily. Now Brand Oil Of Oregano. Oregano Oil benefits Oregano oil is Antibacterial, antiviral and antiinflammatory.
- Lauricidin. Lauricidin. Lauricidin is made from coconut oil and is a highly concentrated version of monolaurin, which is the active ingredient in coconut oil. Lauricidin is said to be immune system building as well as antibacterial and antiviral. Lauricidin information.
- Borax water. For this, it is recommended that you add 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon of borax to a liter of water and sip it throughout the day. To me it doesn’t taste great, but it doesn’t taste horrible either. Borax is said to have the toxicity of table salt. Some have reported taking this every day for extended periods of time with no real side effects. Borax water is supposed to have good antibacterial qualities.
- Doxycycline. Antibiotics from the tetracycline family(Doxycycline). Yes, certain antibiotics are know to kill mycoplasma. But, because of the stealth capacity of mycoplasma, the antibiotics regiment has to run for as long as a year sometimes to actually eradicate it. Dr Nicolson actually found that Penicillin makes it worse. Personally, any type of pharmaceutical antibiotic would be my absolute last choice due to the damage that it will do to your gut flora.
OTHER POSSIBLE TREATMENTS
- Cannabis oil (FECO, RSO or Rick Simpson Oil)– Cannabis oil (Full plant extract, which is different from CBD Oil) is said to be highly antibacterial and highly anti inflammatory and is said to have the ability not only to manage or cure many ailments like RA, MS and Fibromyalgia, but also cancer. Cannabis oil is taken orally. In researching effective treatments, this has come up again and again in anecdotal testamonies. So, if you are in a state where cannabis oil is legal, there is evidence that this could be an effective treatment option for you. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=5787866&page=1, http://file.scirp.org/pdf/CM20120100009_13575513.pdf
- Food grade 35% Hydrogen peroxide. (you might have to order this online). CAUTION: This stuff, by itself, can harm you, so be extremely careful. You simply start by adding 8 drops to an 8 ounce glass of water, stir it and drink it. Then, you add a drop every day until you reach somewhere between 30 and 60 drops (Twice daily at the top level). You stay at that level until you are clear. I have tried this some years ago (just as a maintenance supplement) and it’s fairly easy and noninvasive. I can’t verify the efficacy in relation to mycoplasma. But, it’s supposed to cure a lot of things. For more information on this read ‘The one minute cure’ http://www.tachyon-aanbieding.eu/Documentation/one-minutecure.pdf.
- Ionic Silver (I know nothing about this. So, if anyone reading this has any experience with it, let me know).
BIOFILMS Biofilm explanation
Mycoplasma are a stealth virus . Not only can they change shapes and evade or even turn off the immune system. They also have the ability to form what’s called a ‘biofilm’.
Biofilms are basically a group of bacteria or viruses (Mycoplasma are not the only critters that can create biofilms. In fact it seems that most bacteria and viruses can.) that have surrounded themselves with a protein like coating that protects them from the immune system and antimicrobials.
This, I believe, is why it takes so long to defeat these types of infections. I believe that the bacteria have the ability to grow in the biofilm, in an unrestricted manner. Then, every so often, they release more bacteria into the system that attempt to re-infect the host. I also think this is one of the main reasons why someone ends treatment prematurely, thinking that they are feeling worse and therefore thinking that the treatment is not working. It also might account for the ‘ups and downs’ of these types of illnesses.
So, at some point we have to address biofilms. If we don’t, the bacteria will come out of hiding and reinfect the host…repeatedly. NOTE: I highly recommend that you do not start treating for biofilms right away. I recommend that you treat with antimicrobials (lightly first, then more heavily with time) and then, after about 3-4 weeks, begin attacking the biofilms. Otherwise, I think that you will have a heavy die off that could overwhelm your system.
Natural Biofilm Dissolvers
- Serrapeptase – Serrapeptase is an enzyme produced by serratia bacteria in the intestines of silkworms. The enzyme only dissolves dead or damaged tissue such as Fibrin, the building blocks for Biofilm. Once the enzyme dissolves the fibrin, Bacteria is exposed to antibiotics and the immune system. This is what I use. I currently take about 4 – 6 capsules spread throughout the day. these should be taken 30 min before a meal or well after a meal. Other uses for serrapeptase are:
- Heart health
- Pain relief
- Anti inflammatory
- Fibroid dissolver
- Helps with cancer patients
- Here is a link with some information about serrapeptase, but also many testimonials that outline what it has done for different people that have used it. http://www.helpherself.com/serapeptase/
- Lumbrokinase – Lumbrokinase is an enzyme produced by earthworms. It is commonly used for breaking up biofilm by dissolving the fibrin that it consists of. Lumbrokinase is said to be more powerful than Nattokinase.
- Nattokinase – Nattokinase is an enzyme produced from Natto, a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It is commonly used for breaking up Biofilm by dissolving the fibrin it consists of.
Herxheimer (Healing crisis)
Herxing is a well known reaction when killing off harmful bacteria and viruses. As I continue treatment, I do occasionally get some fairly heavy symptoms (achiness, joint pain, inflammation) which can be really confusing because it feels just like you are getting sick all over again. BUT…these symptoms normally subside within a couple of days, and then you are back to where you were before.
Monitoring and guidance of a health care professional
It’s hard for most people to embark on this kind of healing journey alone. And, these types of systemic infections can affect a plethora of vital functions in the body. If possible, I highly recommend the use of a qualified Functional medicine doctor to help you navigate the road to recovery. My Functional Medicine doctor scoured my bloodwork and made both diet and supplement recommendations, without asking me to rely on any pharmaceutical drugs.
My current status
At this time, I almost feel completely normal again. Most of my symptoms are gone at this point, though there is still some very slight pockets of synovial fluid near about 3 of my knuckles. I also have some cyst like pockets remaining in the bottom of my feet. Overall, I don’t feel ‘sick’ anymore. But as eradication continues, I do have occasional aches and pains with some occasional deep fatigue.
It is also important to note that I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (Low thyroid) on top of the RA. This can cause a plethora of undesirable consequences. Currently, My thyroid is a little inflamed. However, my hope is that continued treatment of the underlying infection will also help to heal my thyroid as well.
I don’t yet feel like I can say that I have completely cured my illness. However, my overall health and wellbeing has risen dramatically and I feel like, if nothing else, I am successfully managing my illness without the use of harmful pharmaceutical drugs. I am, however highly optimistic, that with time I can reach a complete cure. Most information that i have run across states that you can completely eradicate these types of infections, but that it can take 1-3 years total. I will continue to post my progress as each month passes.
I had another blood workup on 10/13 and received the results yesterday.
- CRP (An indicator of overall inflammation or infection) levels have dropped from 12.9 in mid-July to 1.1.
- ESR (Another indicator of inflammation or infection) dropped from 26 in April to 6.
- Vitamin D stores have risen from 15 to 92. To me, this says that the bacteria is no longer dysregulating my vitamin D. Before my last blood work, I had already been supplementing for well more than a month and it was still low, but my outward signs of infection were still pretty prevalent at that time as well.
- TSH is still dysregulated. BUT, my thyroid is now, once again, producing T3 and T4. My functional med doctor explained this to me by saying that my Pituitary gland is still having to yell (work harder) at my Thyroid to get my it to produce T3 and T4. But, the Thyroid is actually working now (listening).
So, how do I feel?
- I still feel it inside me.
- I still see the small collection of synovial fluid between some of my finger joints.
- I still have the cysts and perceptible inflammation on the bottom of my feet when I walk.
- And, just today, a slight bit of the deep fatigue is present.
- My thyroid no longer feels inflamed.
- All in all, to be honest I might feel a little better than I did this time last month. But, it seems that the small amount of symptoms I have remaining are hanging around. I still don’t know if I can reach a complete cure. But, if not, I strongly believe that I will be able to continue to manage this thing like a boss. So, very positive results. I still feel great, overall. And, I have no perceptible negative side effects from the treatments that I’ve used.
Well, I have continued to feel better with each week that has passed and now feel like I am in remission! No painful joints, no new symptoms. Occasional fatigue (that I attribute to cell damage caused by the disease or infection) has lessened in both frequency and severity.
The research that I have done all points to the need for extended treatment to fully eradicate viral or bacterial infections that have the ability to hunker down and hide out of sight from the immune system. So, I am still treating myself with many of the things I have listed above, but now with smaller dosages (at least as far as antibacterial/antiviral supplements are concerned).
Do I feel cured? Hmmm?…no. But, I am cautiously optimistic that I may someday reach the point where I do. Honestly, I feel deeply grateful for my recovery, but a little scared at the same time. As I remember how badly I felt and how desperate I was for any kind of relief, the fear that it might all return slips into my thoughts. That’s how powerful and devastating this, and the other ‘autoimmune’ diseases are. They are literally life changing.
Only time will tell what my future holds. But, for now, I feel great! If you are reading this because you are fighting one of these types of diseases, here are my summarized opinions for you:
- There is hope for you! I know you feel like you are lost to a life of discomfort and disability. But…there is hope!
- It seems to me that diet changes alone might be able to lessen symptoms. But, I know far too many people who have extreme health diets, and still have these types of diseases. So, although I’m not saying an extremely healthy diet is bad, I don’t feel like it is as effective as supplementing with some of the amazing natural medicines that can’t be found in our normal diets. I think we need both. A little better diet combined with natural supplements.
- Even using all of the best supplements, recovery from these diseases takes months and months, if not years. My progress was always so slow that sometimes it seemed I was standing still. I think these diseases so radically affect our entire bodies, that it takes time to recover and rebuild.
- There are ups and downs. I literally had times where I started crying, because I would have a return of symptoms after feeling previously a little better. I finally began to understand that sometimes the result of healing, or bacterial die-off, causes symptoms to temporarily worsen. And, that if I just hung in there, things would be a little better tomorrow. And…they were.
- If it makes you feel worse, it might just be making you better. I’ve read thousands of supplement reviews and invariably see the 1 star review that says something like ‘Made me feel awful. I’ll never use this again!’. Just because taking a supplement makes you feel worse, doesn’t mean it was the actual supplement itself that ‘caused‘ the discomfort. It is likely that a healthy person, taking the same supplement, would have no adverse reactions. Why? because for them, there are no toxins in their bodies created by the die-off of the bacteria that was killed by the supplement. If it makes you feel drastically worse, back off for a day or so and then resume at a lower dose, building back up to a full dose when you can.
- If you are like me, as you start getting better, without pharmaceutical drugs, your belief in the traditional healthcare system will be shaken. And, you’ll wonder why your doctor doesn’t know about these things. In fact, you’ll begin to question a lot of things about our country’s healthcare.
- For what it’s worth, I cannot isolate any negative side effects from the treatment course that I have taken. None.
- These diseases can cause brain fog, depression and even anger and despair. Hang in there! With treatment, these undeniable psychological symptoms will subside. At least this was the case for me. I now feel clear headed and no longer fight with daily depression.
- It only stands to reason that the longer you have been sick, the longer it will take to recover. And, unfortunately, some disease damage, like joint disfigurement, may never go away. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t live an otherwise healthy life!
- And lastly…Many of the people that you tell about how you have treated yourself naturally, without pharma drugs, will plain and simple question whether or not you’ve gone off the deep end. Even though they see that you are doing better and recovering, they still will not release their hold on their belief in traditional medicine. In my case, I’ve learned to be very choosey about who I give full disclosure to. I have grown to have such a strong empathy for those with serious disease that I want to tell everyone that I see. But, unfortunately, it just does not work that way…yet.
UPDATE January 7, 2016
- Still feeling great. If I stop treating myself, I begin to get some returning symptoms. So, I know that I am not cured. But again, feeling great.