I’m So Happy - I Have H Pylori! 20 02 2009
Well to be fair, I’m still being tested for other things like magnesium and iron deficiencies and c difficile infection, but after nearly a year of investigating other possibilities, including heart issues — and being diagnosed with Neurocardiogenic Syncope — I’m very happy to find that many of these miserable symptoms may be attributed to one nasty little undiagnosed bug: Helicobacter pylori.
This sneaky creature happily swims in your stomach acid and buries itself in the lining of your stomach and intestines. Our immune systems typically don’t access the stomach lining well, so joy and long life for those buggers if they go undetected! And really, a gastrointestinal doctor, or a G.I. for short, is the person who should discover this bug and begin the eradication process. Shall I tell you how many GIs I’ve seen over the last year? I was in the hospital for almost a week last April, underwent all kinds of tests, including an endoscopy and colonoscopy, later saw Dr. A. S. [name removed - email me if you plan to see a GI with those initials] in Great Neck, NY at least five times (he finally ended our all-too-brief sessions, in which he did nothing but earn a pretty penny for each five to ten minute visit and run one stool test for parasites, by telling me that he couldn’t do anything else for me), and then saw Dr. C. W., who told me that he believes my problem to be cardiological but ran some tests that my primary doctor had already run (tests he had access to in the computer but clearly didn’t review) when I insisted that the consistent thread in all of my symptoms was gastro-related.
Not so incidentally, it was my new primary physician who finally got the correct diagnosis, despite the fact that I had been seeing GIs who should have tested and picked it up long ago. So kudos to Dr. Lainie Hazan, who is still accepting new patients after moving her practice from Rockville Centre to Garden City, NY (Long Island). I highly recommend her for her patience (how many hours have I fretted to her?), clarity of explanations, openness to treatment alternatives, thoroughness of treatment, and just general kindness. If you’re in the area, she’s the new doc for you!
One more shout-out based on only one visit. I had to see a specialist at one point to rule out food allergies. When I first called Dr. Harshit Patel for an appointment, he answered the phone himself (yes, he does have staff) and worked out which of his locations was closet to my home. He was available in two days. I was feeling pretty upset and sick when I arrived and so began a very tearful session with Dr. Patel. Along with running the usual tests efficiently, he sat with me for a good half hour or longer and consoled me, advised me, and encouraged me. So if you’re in the market for an allergist/immunologist, Dr. Patel is your man. And to complete the circle, he also knows and recommends Dr. Hazan.
Oh! How could I forget my very kick ass gynecologist, Dr. John Gomes? He called me in the hospital, counseling me after a few ER visits, and saw me in his office to make sure none of my symptoms were related to my female anatomy. He checked my ovaries, tested for perimenopause, etc. But overall, Dr. Gomes spent time, unrelated to his own practice and services, just checking in on me. Should you need your lady parts checked or if a baby is in your future, I, once again, recommend this OB/GYN positively!
So why have I had good luck finding such great doctors and bad luck solely with gastroenterologists? Maybe I was a specialist in the torture of the innards in a past life? Who knows. But what’s done is done, and I hope to warn others who might see Dr. A.S. (no matter how “nice” he seems during his very expensive five-minute visits with you) or Dr. W. [again, email me if you want the name], who is like a quick hurricane breeze: completely disinterested in what you have to say and focused only on his own pre-determinations of what is wrong with you to the point that he too spends only five minutes in the room before he’s gone. By the way, I faxed him a question regarding my symptoms; he had his secretary leave me a message “never to email him again” as if a fax didn’t constitute a valid communication between a patient and a doctor. And the fax actually could have pulled him out of his “it’s an arrhythmia” diagnosis if he had actually considered its contents. I wrote to him explaining that I had begun taking a natural antibiotic, Grapefruit Seed Extract, which was making me feel better. I wanted to know why. His secretary, after telling me three times on my machine not to “email” the doctor anymore, finished the call with, “And Dr. W. doesn’t know what that stuff your taking is.” Um, yeah. And I don’t know what that stuff he’s practicing is, but it sure isn’t medicine motivated by that pesky Hippocratic Oath, which actually isn’t obligatory, or a sense of accountability.
So yes, back to the H Pylori. Dr. Hazan found the H Pylori antibody in my blood, and I then had to wait for the confirmation from a stool culture to determine if I had an active infection. So what does a sick-o do in the meantime? She hunts for alternative medicines that will treat the little terds invading her intestines. I’ve been using a number of items for the last few days that seem to be helping me immensely and suddenly.
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS FOR H PYLORI
(& by “alternative” I mean beyond the usual western medicine antibiotics that are obviously losing their steam)
* Manuka Honey (Active)– This is the new bomb for anyone suffering from a bacterial or staph infection — internally or externally. It’s picking up steam in serious cases of flesh wounds and post-surgery (watch this graphic video) that won’t heal due to antibiotic-resistant bugs, and they’ve also documented its use against h pylori. Expensive but well worth the investment. I’ve gotten all three of my bottles now from Amazon, though you can pick it up on other sites. And it tastes yummy too!
* Probiotics – “Probiotic strain Bacillus subtilis 3, whose safety has previously been demonstrated, is known to have antagonistic properties against species of the family Enterobacteriaceae. In the present study, it was also found to inhibit H. pylori” (Source: AAA).You should be taking a probiotic supplement, whether you’re sick or not, but especially if you use antibiotics. After much compartive shopping and on the recommendation of Dan Hoy, I use Jordan Rubin’s Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra, which you can also purchase on Amazon or at your local Vitamin Shoppe.
* Mastic Gum — “Even low doses of mastic gum — 1 mg per day for two weeks — can cure peptic ulcers very rapidly, but the mechanism responsible has not been clear. We have found that mastic is active against Helicobacter pylori, which could explain its therapeutic effect in patients with peptic ulcers” (Source: New England Journal of Medicine). I’ve been taking one gram a day in the morning on an empty stomach.
* Broccoli Sprouts (American Journal of Gastroenterology) — In laboratory tests the chemical, sulforaphane, killed helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and often fatal stomach cancers. And the good news is there appears to be enough of it in broccoli sprouts and some varieties of broccoli to benefit people who eat the vegetables” (Source: USA Today).
“A diet rich in broccoli sprouts significantly reduced Helicobacteri pylori (H. pylori) infection among a group of 20 individuals, found a team of researchers in Japan. H. pylori is known to cause gastritis and is believed to be a major factor in peptic ulcer and stomach cancer.
Scientists are focusing on the anti-cancer properties of a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane. Among other things, this chemical can help cells defend against oxidants, the highly reactive and toxic molecules that damage DNA and kill cells, potentially leading to cancer” (Source: DNC).
Along with eating more broccoli, I take one capsule of Broccolive by New Chapter in between meals each day now.
* Grapefruit Seed Extract — A month ago before the thought of h pylori was not even a wink in my eye, I took this extract (in tablet form, though many prefer the liquid) for about a week and a half and began feeling immensely better. Unfortunately, I thought I was better and returned to my usual ways of eating, which included imbibing a martini, gasp. Then I got sick, of course, and thought it was the GSE, so I stopped taking it. At this point, I’m going to return to about fifty mgs a day, less than half my original dose, since I’m using a number of other alternatives. From what I’ve read, GSE has many great antibacterial and anti-viral uses. Consider it a natural antibiotic and give it a go if you’re in dire straits. Check here for illnesses it addresses.
* OmegaBrite - Essential fatty acids as recommended by my new therapist below.
* THE BOMB - Monolaurin (Lauric Acid) – I came upon Dr. Marcus Ettinger’s blog and this doozey of an entry in which he describes his own bout with and treatment of h pylori. He has since very kindly emailed with me and stressed the importance of the monolaurin.
“Researchers have shown that monolaurin has a direct and potent germ killing effect on H. pyloria, regardless of stomach pH. The H. pyloria germ killing ability of monolaurin has been confirmed by a second group of researchers” (Source: Wellness)
* Turmeric — “Among the plants that killed H. pylorit, turmeric was the most effective, followed by cumin, ginger, chilli, borage, black caraway, oregano and liquorice” (source: World J. Gastroenterology).
“Turmeric alone (or associated with gum Mastic, Pistacia lenticus L.for herbal synergy) acts to eliminate H. pylori. Modern western researchers have found that turmeric is:
- An Antioxidant
- Has Anti-inflammatory qualities
- Produces Anti-cancer activity
- It is Antimicrobial
- Has Anti HIV properties
- May slow down the development of Alzheimer’s”
“Both the methanol extract and curcumin inhibited the growth of all strains of H. pylori in vitro with a minimum inhibitory concentration range of 6.25-50 micrograms/ml. CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate that curcumin inhibits the growth of H. pylori cagA+ strains in vitro, and this may be one of the mechanisms by which curcumin exerts its chemopreventative effects” (Nat. Institutes of Health).
MY SYMPTOMS (which aren’t all related to h pylori & may have thrown the docs):
* I originally had a racing heart, three months of diarrhea, and would nearly pass out, especially in the middle of the night. I also could not lie down for hours after each episode. Yes, I would leap up from sleep in the middle of the night to crawl around, trying not to faint, and then have many nasty visits to the toilet. Follow that with the topper of being utterly spent and not being able to lie down due to weird chest/stomach pressure, and you’ve got a nice recipe for exhaustion, missed work, and a social life put on major hold.
* Next, I moved on to leaping up from sleep to pace for hours while my heart raced and I shook. A few times, my heart raced to the point I thought I was having a heart attack (I once wished I could just go unconscious to avoid the experience,which was painful and frightening), and then I would projectile vomit. Yum. I ended up in many ERs, to no avail.
* I have since graduated to heart palpitations and many bouts of bowel movements that are solid but frequent. Dr. Ettinger (above) recommended magnesium for the palpitations, and I have since learned how much the American diet lacks this essential element. It’s kind of incredible. Read these stories. And these. You might just avoid things like prescription meds and an invasive EP study (which was next on my cardiologist’s list! — The bug and the heart are not typically connected: “A common stomach bug may also be linked to the development of irregular heart rhythm, also known as atrial fibrillation, suggests a small study in Heart” Source: Science Daily).
Okay, so day and night symptoms include: weight loss, shaking, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea alternating with constipation, loss of appetite, racing heart, syncope, shortness of breath, palpitations, weakness/fatigue, night sweats/hot flashes, and anxiety.
The anxiety leads me to point out things that helped along the way:
* Friends. I’m going to miss some folks who sent their well wishes, and of course, I’m grateful, but a few folks pop to mind in the immediate.
Ana Bozicevic — Big thanks for many sleepless nights and encouragement and endurance and love. And the patience of a saint.
Michael Steinman — Lots of talks and love and encouragement and kindness. After Ana, my best friend.
Dan Hoy – Sound, strong advice, the kindness of someone who knows. And a killer poet too.
Alex Dickow — Your worry and suggestions and reminders of poetry from France distracted me nicely on a few lonely nights.
Caroline Wilkinson — Sympathetic and encouraging recently — thanks for recommending Virginia Woolf’s “On Being Ill” which I just got and began reading.
And so many others …you know who you are! Thank you!
* Lavender Baths — the warmer, the better.
* Massage - either from a friend, partner, or paid for — the stress of illness tenses muscles you inevitably stop using for awhile while you ruminate on sofas, in beds, and on toilets. Yes, toilets. Get those muscles touched, rubbed, and loved. Pay for it if you have to.
* All sorts of organic soups, chicken broth, chicken legs, blueberries, kiwi fruit, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, Rudy’s organic raisin bread, capers, olives, avocados, bananas, carrots, lettuce, soy cheese, almonds, almond and peanut butters, fresh salmon, and oh, lots other lovely fresh items, many of which I obtained from my local Trader Joe’s. Eat well and frequently so the body has nutrients, is replenished often, and can fight!
* Yoga - I never thought I would do it. But now Ana and I imitate Rodney Yee and his gang for about fifteen minutes, both morning and night, everyday. Easy and well worth it!
* Fennel Tea — When you do begin to heal, you may go from diarrhea to constipation. “Fennel has been found to stimulate appetite, and to aid digestion. An infusion prepared by boiling a tablespoon of fennel seeds in 100 ml of water for half an hour, is highly beneficial in indigestion, biliousness, flatulence and constipation” (S. Directory).
* Pets - Love them every chance you get! They’re very therapeutic~
* Jordan Rubin’s supplements and books. Despite the religion he infuses all of his advice with, his supplements are notoriously good (I forgot to mention above that I take Garden of Life enzymes with each meal), and his book, Restoring Your Digestive Health: How the Guts and Glory Program Can Transform Your Life, turned me on to chicken again (free range, organic, that is!).
* Cognitive Behavioral Therapist - I’ve never been an anxious person, until now. Nor have I ever been in therapy, until now. Not knowing what’s wrong with a body for so long can wear a soul thin. So one easily begins imagining the worst. So far, I’ve seen this therapist three times, and she’s been very helpful with advice that I need to hear and put into action. Plus it’s fun to talk about myself. I guess I have an ego after all. Was there ever a doubt, even while sick?
And so on.
I just want to add a few notes to round this entry off. I realize I’m lucky and am very grateful not to have something worse than a bacterial infection. Happily lucky. I’ve learned a good bit about illness, the medical system, and still don’t know how chronic sufferers of anything can keep a chin up in the face of not knowing and in the face of a medical system that is, at best, impaired, and at worst, greedy. I’ve encountered people who have far worse conditions than I’ve endured and have better attitudes and more strength than myself. I’m not a good sick person, oh how I know. I’ll spare you from my midnight considerations of the ‘other side’, but you may see a little in some of my recent writing.
Overall, I just wanted to tell those who have been in touch, thank you, and to warn others of possible pitfalls in the system. If your gut, literal or figurative, tells you something needs to be tested, something’s still not right, press your doctor or find a new one. Don’t stick with one for five visits in a row only to be told he “can’t do anything for you.” Don’t ignore the feeling of being ignored or the sense that your words aren’t being taken seriously. Do your research and advocate for yourself. Make copies of your tests and records. Keep in mind that one doc doesn’t automatically know what the other has done or thinks might be wrong. Don’t get a test, especially an invasive one, if it doesn’t sound exactly necessary. And so on. I blather, so will end for now. Good luck and wishes for a strong will if you come upon this entry in search of help! And now, on to my own healing!
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- Date : 20 February 2009
- Tags : Alexander Dickow, allergist, alternative medicine, Ana Bozicevic, anxiety, bacterial infection, broccoli sprouts, Caroline Wilkinson, cognitive behavioral therapist, colonoscopy, Dan Hoy, diarrhea alternating with constipation, Doctor, Dr. Harshit Patel, Dr. John Gomes, Dr. Lainie Hazan, enzymes, Garden City, Gastroenterologist, General Practioner, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Great Neck, GSE, gut, H Pylori, Helicobacter pylori, Illness, immune booster, infection, Internist, intestinal, Jordan Rubin, Lauric Acid, lavendar bath, loss of appetite, magnesium, manuka honey, massage, mastic gum, Michael Steinman, Monolaurin, natural remedies, nausea, neurocardiogenic syncope, North Manhassat, NY, omegabrite, organic snacks, pets, Physician, Primary Physician, probiotics, racing heart, shaking, shortness of breath, stomach, stomach ailment, supplements, syncope, vomiting, weight loss, yoga
- Categories : Sexy
hooray for you!
Oh, Amy — what an ordeal it’s been for you! At least you know what it is now and can work towards healing. Thanks for writing this.
Amy, May your next year be a completely different story — one of coming back to health & energy & a whole lot of joy. Sorry you have had to go through these recent months.
many many good wishes!
20 02 2009 Elizabeth (14:35:23) : edit
I am really “HAPPY” for you, that “FINALLY” you have an answer for these symptoms you are having. This has been a long haul for you. I wish you all the luck and healing process along the way…=)
20 02 2009 Brian Rubinton (15:06:05) : edit
Our medical system is definitely flawed, and unfortunately most people do not realize that they must be skeptical when seeing a doctor. Good luck with your recovery.
PS: What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger :)
Dear Amy, my best wishes, and keep up with the good works, and also words, :-) I wish you the best, Anny
What a great entry…and what an ordeal you’ve been through. So happy to hear you are striding towards a full recovery. Excelsior! I read just about all of your posting, and maybe I missed it, but HOW did you get that gnarly little bugger in your gut in the first place? Is it just “out there” and occasionally it gets people when their resistance is low?
20 02 2009 rachelmallino (20:50:58) : edit
I’m glad to hear that you’ve gotten a diagnosis, I know how frustrating an “invisible” illness feels like - I’m sure just having an answer will lessen some of the stress (the anxiety that you’re also suffering). And here’s to you being proactive with your health - finding alternative meds and such. Sending you warm wishes for this year.
Amy! I’m so glad you got a proper diagnosis, & will be looking to see whether you post about the success of the natural treatments, all of which seem eminently sensible. Hugs to you.
P.S. I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry at the picture of Doggie in the bath…! (My pics of Duncan getting hydrotherapy for his ACL tear are on my Facebook page.)
Amy, I’m so sorry to hear about all of this but glad you’re getting some relief. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. Hope this year is much better. All the best, Helen
21 02 2009 Aimee (16:30:19) : edit
Amy! What a nightmare! I’ve been so caught up in my own world, I had no idea of your suffering. I did look up the heart condition you were told you had and I found that to be pretty scary itself. I’m glad that’s not what you’re suffering from, but clearly, you have suffered a lot. I can’t imagine what it was like for you but this post has said a lot. I’m so so glad that you had Ana by your side. I hope your recovery continues to go well. I look forward to seeing you again soon. We can share some organic yummies and vent about our disgusting health”care” system.
22 02 2009 Tamara (14:19:22) : edit
I haven’t been blogging so came to this post late. I’m so glad you are on your road to recovery!
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