I knew there was no way I could ever get out of having a chronic illness if I proceeded with a conventional doctor. – Dr. Kelly Brogan
Unfortunately this was my case too. I spent 7 yrs with chronic back and leg pain. Had every scan, tried every physical therapy and exercise my doctor recommended. Saw every specialist. I was a good dedicated patient but nothing worked.
I stood in many classes through my 4 years of study, always with burning pain radiating down my legs and swelling my low back if I sat too long. Nothing gave me complete relief. I adapted my life to my pain and purchased every ergonomic device I could find. Nothing worked. Even though I ate ‘well’ and seemed fit and healthy otherwise, I still had pain every day.
My marriage ended in this time. I was struggling, on a very difficult path.
Then finally, although doubtful it would work, one day I quit eating gluten. This was in 2010 around the time non-coeliac gluten sensitivity was becoming more popular (I wasn’t taught this in nutritional medicine in 2004-2008). I was just curious so I tried.
Amazing results. I felt better almost immediately and was completely pain free within 3 months.
When I think about it all now, it makes sense that my gut and nerves were inflamed. I understand it, in fact I often joke that I got a ‘degree’ in managing my back pain during that time. The gluten was the final piece of the puzzle.
The way it affected me was how it affects alot of people. I’m not coeliac but I can’t digest it. So undigested gluten builds up in nervous tissue. For me it was my already vulnerable sciatic nerve.
It impacted the nerve and my hips (which are genetically predisposed, and that was another diagnosis that a long took time but also made sense) and as long as I ate gluten my body’s inflammation was too high to deal with.
What was happening in the gut was happening everywhere.
Also. It wasn’t just the gluten.
I’ve tested positive for a common mutation in the MTHFR genes that influence our ability to absorb folate (active vitamin B9).
Here’s a video I did talking about MTHFR
Suddenly the puzzle if my life’s symptoms started to come together.
I was dealing with inflammation for years.
Each health hurdle I’d been through suddenly made more sense.
It showed up on my skin with cystic acne in my teens and 20’s.
Then in my gut.
Then in my back.
Add to this childhood trauma, low socioeconomic diet, high sensitivity and what was a toxic family of origin. I felt a lot of stress as a child and teen and my adult state of health was a reflection of this.
I was unwell due to a complex set of genetics, environment and experiences. (This is also now referred to as epigenetics which is how our genes behave under the influence of diet and lifestyle.)
As for the conventional doctors. I’d been offered anti-depressants for my gut, cortisone injections for my hips, and invasive explorations of my insides. But not once was I offered nutrition guidance, prescription supplements (I also took glucosamine and increased my fish oil which was my own alternative to the cortisone for my hips), or tools that could connect both: healing my body AND my mind and past trauma.
What I learned most importantly during my studies was not taught by my teachers. It was learned through experience. It’s that chronic health problems are ALWAYS puzzles to be solved.
Each and every one of us has the power to find the answers, and to heal. Nothing is happening randomly. Nothing is bad luck. Everything can be turned around. Our symptoms are crying for our attention.
No. It’s not an easy journey.
Yes. It cracks us wide open.
And. We have to continue to be brave.
I urge you to challenge the labels and diagnoses you are given. Question the prescriptions and ask for other options, and seek second, third and fourth opinions. Fortunately for me I was studying my degree while I was going through the worst, and this is what kept me seeking more answers.
No single person or tool is what brought my healing. It was culminative with time (time is a healer because it gives space to learn), and it came from many sources.
Through those years I did find some relief through various natural therapy modalities (especially Osteopathy which is excellent in Australia), exercise and bodywork.
But what I most took away is that our bodies will not heal through symptom management.
Symptom management (ie temporary pain relief) is a bandaid for deeper issue.
Why are we getting the pain/symptom? And when it doesn’t add up. Where else have we not looked?
For me my pain was parallel to digestive symptoms.
But no one I turned to made the link.
Nutrition and the impact of food fall into such new territory. We expect it to be simple, but it’s not.
Each of us has to take it on ourselves to become better educated, and then share what we know.
Healing will only happen when we address the root cause, and can support ourselves from all angles: food, supplements, exercise. Mind, body and spirit.
Yours in shining health,
Sita Huber, BHSc