For me, going cold turkey on gluten and cow dairy led to complete autoimmune reversal.
Click to read: Part 1 and Part 2
Conventional Doctors Had No Answers
For 25 years I saw neurologists for regular check-ups. They would test my reflexes, watch me walk across the exam room, and prescribe periodic MRIs to monitor my brain and spine for lesions.
“We’re Not Sure How the Drugs Work, But You Need to Take One”
Several neurologists recommended injectable medication. I resisted for years, partly because I’m chicken when it comes to needles, but mostly because the reported side effects of the most of the drugs offered included “severe flu-like symptoms,” and “often worse than the MS symptoms themselves,” according to patient postings.
“Why would I take any of these?” I asked my neurologist.
“Think of it as an insurance policy. It may help reduce the severity of your disease over time.”
“How do they work?” I asked.
“We don’t really know. But, I think it’s really important that you choose one. Your future may depend on it.”
“How will we know it’s working?” I asked. How would we measure the effectiveness of the drug when my symptoms seemed to be easing from the stress-reduction practices I was already using?
“We can do MRIs to see if lesions are decreasing, but otherwise, we really don’t know.”
I went home with a stack of literature promoting the meds. I finally decided to try one that was touted as having the fewest side effects, and for my type of relapsing-remitting MS, perhaps having the best results.
“We Don’t Know About Nutrition or Supplements”
“So what lifestyle changes can I make in addition to the medication? What does medical literature say?” I sounded like a broken record and so did the neurologist. “We don’t really know.”
The greatest insight any doctor could offer was “limit alcohol.” I had already done that. “And, don’t smoke.” I didn’t.
“But what about diet, exercise, evening primrose oil, omega 3s, vitamin D?” I persisted.
“There’s no evidence that they work. We just don’t know. Just keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re doing pretty well. And, take the medication as insurance.”
3 Strikes with Medication
So after 20 years of intermittent MS flare ups I started the injections while continuing my research on natural approaches to healing.
Strike 1: The daily injections were painful and I developed “lipo-atrophy” — the fatty places where I was injecting myself had caved in to cause permanent dimples.
Strike 2: One night immediately following an injection I experienced frightening heart attack symptoms, about which I had fortunately been forewarned by the nurse.
Strike 3: An errant needle resulted in an infected wound that took more than 6 months and multiple visits to a wound-care clinic to heal.
I took a leap of faith and quit the medication.
Taking Control of My Health Outcomes
By early 2010 I had plowed through enough literature about nutrition, supplements and stress reduction to feel confident stopping the Copaxone. The only symptom I had at the time was occasional tingling in my baby toe. I thanked my toe for reminding me to stick with healthy choices.
During my final visit to the neurologist he said, “I think your MS may be ‘benign’ after all.”
There was no recognition that I had made many positive lifestyle changes like eliminating processed foods, meditating and exercising almost daily, and getting my vitamin D levels over 80.
With the exception of persistent, low-grade tummy trouble, mostly after eating, I was feeling good. I was told the chronic constipation might be a symptom of MS, so I just learned to live with it.
The tummy trouble turned out to be another signal from my body to investigate further.
A Functional Medicine Nutritionist Made a Huge Difference
In the fall of 2010 I decided to see a functional medicine nutritionist. She ran a number of tests and found I was very sensitive to gluten and casein, the protein in dairy; and she discovered that my gut had too many “bad” bacteria and not enough “good” bacteria — in medical lingo a condition called “dysbiosis.” She put me on an elimination diet for a month, taught me about the dangers of gluten and how it can lead to a “leaky gut.” And she guided me through the “4R” gut-healing plan which took several months to complete:
- Remove the “bad stuff” like gluten and dairy,
- Replace it with “good stuff” like digestive enzymes,
- Reinoculate my gut flora with good bacteria found in pre- and probiotics, and
- Repair the gut lining with key supplements like the amino acid, L-glutamine.
From that day forward, I went cold turkey on gluten and cow dairy (later I found that could handle goat or sheep dairy with no problem). Within days my tummy troubles had vanished. A month later I had no more tingling toe episodes. It’s now 8 years later and I am still completely symptom-free. No more MS symptoms, no more medication and no more digestive distress.
If you have an autoimmune disorder, have you explored what foods may be triggering and perpetuating your symptoms?
Take good care!
p.s. Before you go, please accept our FREE gift: Your Optimal Food Guide ebook, which can help you figure out which foods can help you reverse autoimmune conditions or just optimize your health.
p.s.s. And, if you are proactively seeking to heal from any autoimmune condition and want community, support and valuable information, please join our free, private Facebook group: Transcend Autoimmune.
For more on gut health, check out Top 6 Autoimmune Triggers You Can Control: Leaky Gut.
Image Credit: Aaron Amat/Shutterstock
Have you ever thought about the fact that maybe you were misdiagnosed? I was told I had Primary Progressive MS 16 years ago, and now the neurologist tells me that I was misdiagnosed, and that she has no idea what I do have.
Yes, that is always a possibility. Doctors do the best they can to diagnose you, put a label on it so they can then treat it. But the reality is, both gluten ataxia and Lyme disease often mimic MS symptoms, including plaques on the brain, etc. So, ultimately, since you can heal from (at least) gluten ataxia the same way as I did with MS, by removing gluten (and gluten-associated cross-reactive foods and the elements in our Manifesto), it doesn’t really matter what you call the collection of symptoms. It’s possible that mine was both MS and gluten cerebral ataxia. I hope you are taking good care of yourself, no matter what the “label”. Here is a paper that goes into more detail: http://www.direct-ms.org/sites/default/files/Gluten%20sensitivity%20and%20MS%20Wills.pdf.
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