Learning about Health – Day 51

English: Broth Svenska: Buljong

English: Broth Svenska: Buljong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know how this happened exactly, but I seemed to have diverted (a bit) from reading and writing about Dr. Junger’s Clean Program. My last post took me up to chapter six where I learned about intestinal health.

Somehow I got focused on intestinal health and revisited some earlier information I had explored several months ago. Has anyone heard of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride?

Dr. Campbell-McBride is a medical doctor with two postgraduate degrees: Master of Medical Sciences in Neurology and Master of Medical Sciences in Human Nutrition.

She is well-known for developing a concept of GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). GAPS is a natural treatment for Autism, ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression and Schizophrenia.

In addition, the GAPS Nutritional Protocol will help with all digestive disorders, autoimmune disease, eating disorders, epilepsy, failure to thrive, childhood disease, problems with development, and much more.

If this interests you, here is the link to a 5-minute video where Natasha discusses the importance of healthy gut flora (click here).

One of the staples in the GAPS Nutritional Protocol is bone broth. Lots of bone broth and lots of soup made with bone broth. Not only is the bone broth important, it’s crucial to scrape the bones clean of all meaty bits (cartilage/connective tissue) and including adding vinegar to the water to help extract the minerals from the bones and tapping the bones to extract the bone marrow.

So — for the last two weeks, I’ve been enjoying bone broth. The first week, I tried beef bones. The second week, chicken bones. This week it’s beef bones again. I may try making broth with fish bones soon.

In addition to the bone broth, Dr. McBride recommends to slowly add fermented foods and probiotics into the diet. Her website offers a great amount of information to help get a person started (click here to read).

What started me thinking seriously about intestinal health is a situation that occurred three weeks ago. I caught the flu (I haven’t had the flu since my son was 4 yrs. old).

I didn’t eat a thing for two days and anything I had eaten prior to that, left my body rather quickly. For the next three days, I ate very sparingly.

The reason I mention this is because I made a wonderful discovery.

When I had no food in my system, the RA symptoms subsided greatly. Inflammation in my joints lessened considerably. When food was re-introduced, RA symptoms increased again.

This flu episode  started me wondering if this RA autoimmune disease has something to do with the state of my gut.

I figure it’s worth spending the time to see if the GAPS diet and Clean program have an effect on the state of my health. If nothing else, it will keep my busy and out of trouble (hehehe).

That’s all for now. Thank you for taking the time to read this learning about health series. Wishing everyone a wonderful week!


Learning about Health – Day 13



In the New York Times bestseller Clean:  Remove Restore Rejuvenate, Dr. Junger opens chapter three with a question he asked himself after a consultation with a New York psychiatrist, “How and why did my brain cells forget their chemistry?”

The psychiatrist told him that a low serotonin level in his brain caused his symptoms, but the psychiatrist did not tell him how and why his brain developed the low serotonin levels in the first place.

Dr. Junger discusses the differences between western and eastern schools of medicine and states that unlike eastern schools, western doctors no longer diagnose a medical problem by observation and deduction.

In the west, diagnosis is based on code. That is, a list of disease names with corresponding symptoms for which treatment is based on a list of pharmaceuticals.

The “how” and “why” the patient experiences symptoms is not usually addressed.

What Dr. Junger writes in his book is exactly my experience.

I presented symptoms. The doctor took some tests and sent me to a rheumatologist. I received a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. The rheumatologist began treatment from the list of medically accepted pharmaceuticals for RA.

Since then, the “how” and “why” questions have led me on a personal search for answers in naturopathy, homeopathy, eastern schools of medicine, spiritual traditions, and many different healing modalities.

Logically, it makes sense to me that if an over-reactive immune system is the cause of RA symptoms, then something must be present in the body to cause the over-reaction.

It does not make sense to me that my immune system is in fight mode for some elusive reason as western medicine would have us believe.

Dr.Junger makes a compelling case for toxic overload as the cause of many western diseases.

He defines a toxin as “something that interferes with normal physiology and negatively impacts bodily function.”

Chapter three quite thoroughly discusses how we are exposed to toxins.

In chapter four, Dr. Junger explores the evolution of the modern food system and its effects on our health and makes a case for “we are what we eat”, in addition to, “you eat what you are”.

Dr. Junger explains,  we are what we eat because “the compounds that the body makes from food are what it uses to build your bones, muscles, tissues and even the molecules and enzymes that fund your chemistry.”

And, you eat what you are because you crave the foods your body is accustomed to having. Dr. Junger says, “craving toxic food is a classic sign of a toxic state.”

When you switch your diet to live food that carries the energy of life you will find yourself craving these foods again and again.

I found this to be true for me, as well. When I stick to a live food diet, I find myself craving fresh live food juices and smoothies quite frequently. When I slip back into old habits, I crave fish and chips, cheeseburgers and chicken pot pie.

At the end of chapter four, Dr. Junger tells us how to live a longer, healthier life based on life expectancy research from communities world-wide.

Communities that grow their food using compost, water and sun, who eat mostly raw and seasonal foods, whose animals are fed and raised in natural ways, who lovingly and leisurely prepare their food, who chew their food ten times longer, who sit at the table with family and friends, who spent time in the sun, move a lot, occasionally enjoy rich foods and wine, who have strong bonds with family and friends, and who live life with a strong sense of purpose and community belonging live a longer, healthier life.

According to Dr. Junger, Clean is about giving rest and relaxation to the digestive system to awaken the body’s own detoxification system so that it will clean up and eliminate toxins that make a body sick.

Next post will cover chapter five.

To read a summary of chapter two, click here, chapter one, click here.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat symptoms or medical conditions. Always consult a qualified medical professional.

Learning about Health – Day 2

Microsoft Office Images

Microsoft Office Images

In the previous post, I summarized chapter one of  Clean: Remove Restore and Rejuvenate.

In chapter one, we learn that our body’s detoxification system is continually working helping to keep us alive.  The cells are constantly eliminating waste substances that get processed through body systems and are then expelled.

If the system is efficient it helps to keep us healthy and young. If the system is heavily clogged due to environmental toxins,  improper diet and stress, symptoms and health conditions appear.

Chapter two, chronicles Dr. Junger’s journey from childhood in Uruguay where his family shopped at the local farmer’s market, ate lunch and dinner together at the family table through his early desire to become a doctor and then onto cardiology where the effects of his lifestyle and what he saw in his patients led to a desire for change.

Dr. Junger completed his internship at New York University’s Downtown Hospital in Lower Manhattan. He writes that the pace was fast with his main sources of nourishment from takeout, vending machines, nurses’ potlucks and the hospital cafeteria.

When he had time, he shopped at the local supermarket for fast microwave food that fit perfectly with his hectic schedule.

He found himself thinking, “Boy these Americans really know how to make things easy.”

Dr. Junger began to gain weight, he sneezed often when the seasons changed and always felt exhausted. It seemed the convenience foods were taking a toll on his health.

At the completion of a three-year internship and residency, Dr. Junger moved to Manhattan’s Upper East Side and started his cardiology training at Lenox Hill Hospital.

During the second three years of training his allergies got so bad that he had to use antihistamines and steroid inhalers. He felt bloated often with abdominal discomfort alternating between constipation and diarrhea.

After consulting a Gastroenterologist and going through all the necessary medical tests to rule out serious health conditions, Dr. Junger was given a diagnosis of “irritable bowel syndrome.”

The treatments suggested were antispasmodic pills, anti-flatulence pills, painkillers and anti-diarrhea medication alternating with laxatives.

He wasn’t surprised that nobody asked him what he was eating since he had never taken a nutrition class in his medical training.

Then something surprising occurred, Dr. Junger started waking up with chest pain. As a cardiologist he knew the heart muscle and its arteries were not the problem. He found out he was depressed.

With no family history of depression and no situational evidence to cause his feelings of impending doom, he decided to seek help.

In addition to feelings of sadness, Dr. Junger noticed his mind did not stop thinking thoughts. Dialogues played incessantly and kept him awake at night.

A psychiatrist prescribed Prozac, stating that a chemical imbalance prevented his brain from producing enough serotonin.

Dr. Junger received a second opinion. This time he was prescribed Zoloft, the cousin to Prozac. The psychiatrist explained that serotonin is responsible for the feeling of well-being and happiness. He reassured Dr. Junger that he wasn’t alone and stated he was starting to see depression in almost epidemic proportions.

Dr. Junger rejected the idea of being on prescription drugs for life and began his own research. Delving into subjects of psychiatry and psychology led him to self-help and then on to Eastern Philosophy.

Dr. Junger discovered meditation helped calm his mind and led him to being more present in the moment. He learned that the study of yoga encompassed personal attitudes toward the world and others, attitudes toward self, body postures, breathing exercises, control of the senses, concentration, meditation and present moment awareness.

An opportunity to work at a meditation school in India for one year came to Dr. Junger. He took it without hesitation.

While at the meditation school in India, Dr. Junger’s medical symptoms were clearing up.

At the end of the year, he returned to America and took a job as cardiologist in a busy practice. Many of the patients were taking five or more prescriptions and his job encouraged adding more.

One day, Dr. Junger received a visit from a friend who had just returned from a stay at the We Care Spa.

Dr. Junger’s mouth dropped as he watched his friend walk into the room. Ten days before, he saw a bloated, overweight, sallow-skinned man. Now, he saw a man who was fifteen pounds lighter, with shiny glowing skin and with eyes whose whites glistened.

The spa is known for green juices, colonics, massage, sunshine, yoga and meditation.

Due to his hectic and committed schedule, Dr. Junger couldn’t actually stay at the Spa so he took on the program as a spa out-patient.

After two weeks of the program, his body reset itself. All of his symptoms disappeared including headaches, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and depression.

This experience motivated Dr. Junger to research detoxification processes and expanded his doctor toolkit to include detoxification, dietary change and wellness from inside.

This was the beginning of the Clean Program.

Next post will summarize chapter three.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat symptoms or medical conditions. Always consult a qualified medical professional.

Learning about Health – 100-Day Challenge

Microsoft Office Images

Microsoft Office Images

Many, many months ago, I purchased a book, “Clean: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate,” by Alejandro Junger, M.D. The New York Times bestseller is “The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself.”

While I read the book when I purchased it, it sat on my shelf until a few days ago when I decided to give myself another challenge.

The best way for me to stay focused on something is through a 100-day challenge.

I decided to go through the book chapter-by-chapter highlighting important points and implementing the ideas as I go.

Chapter one talks about the awesome healing ability the body has. It’s the body’s organs and physiological process working together that keeps it clean.

The chapter explains that by implementing a focused period of detoxification, the body will reset itself because you have switched on its innate healing ability.

Some of the benefits of detoxifying are; steady energy, avoid colds and flu, heal allergies, age gracefully and avoid disease.

In actual fact, the body’s detoxification system is always working every day. The trouble is, toxins from the environment and from the food we eat accumulate in the body faster than the body system can keep up.

Our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers feasted and fasted. They went through periods when they bulked up followed by periods of imposed famine.

Signs of toxic overload include; headaches, bowel irregularities, allergies, weight problems, depression, anxiety, and pain.

According to Dr. Junger, one of the most common consequences of poor detoxification functioning is inflammation.

I know all about inflammation as rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory auto-immune condition.

Dr. Junger states that “as toxicity accumulates, your body systems are damaged one by one, starting with your intestines.”

Apparently, intestinal irritation causes a host of symptoms like; seasonal allergies, skin rashes, depression, and even a lack of enthusiasm for life.

A person can do one, two or three weeks of the “Clean” diet.

Sounds interesting don’t you think.

I definitely know that my diet isn’t clean. For one thing, I have way too much sugar. Sugar cravings are a challenge for me. Every day, I eat food items such as; dark chocolate, honey, gluten and egg-free cookies, energy bars and hot chocolate drink mixes.

Next post will cover chapter two.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it.


A day in a life with rheumatoid Arthritis – Part 8: What Do I Do Now?

Holy moly, I give up. Why is it, just when you think things are going good, something happens to burst the bubble?

The blog post I planned to write last week was to say good-bye to “A day in the life with RA” titles. Yes indeed, it felt so great that symptoms were at an all-time low. I decided that I would not focus on RA any longer in blog posts, in fact, I made the declaration to not even think or talk about RA. I would seal my lips and never utter another word on the topic.

But. Those thoughts quickly vanished. It started on Thursday evening when I suddenly realized that my eyes felt very scratchy and bothered by light.

In the morning, I called the optometrist and went to her office right away to get my eyes checked. The exam showed they were extremely dry and the tear glands were somewhat clogged. The optometrist indicated that “dry eye” is one of the symptoms of RA as well as with other autoimmune disease conditions. “Oh joy”, I thought.

I left the office with instructions and lubricating drops.

In addition to the dry eye, my throat was extremely dry and the inflammation level was up significantly in my feet and ankles. Getting around was tougher than normal. I thought back to what I had to eat the previous day. Hmm, that’s the day I decided to try an omelet. It had been about three months since I’ve eaten eggs. Maybe that accounts for the flare-up, I reckoned.

Over the weekend, the inflammation in my feet and ankles seemed to subside a bit, I think. However, who knows why, but Monday brought increased inflammation again.

Today was the kicker though. Today, Miss Hop Along was escorted arm in arm by two of the tenants who live in my building after they saw me inching my way from the parking lot after getting out of my car.

See the squirrel climb the wall.

Hmm, I thought back over my diet of the last few days and wondered if it was the pecans in the gluten, dairy, egg and sugar-free muffins I’ve been eating. Maybe I’m sensitive to nuts. Maybe I am a nut.

Or, maybe the increase in symptoms is due to the fish oil supplement I began taking recently because it’s recommended to reduce inflammation.

I just don’t know. And, quite frankly, this is getting ridiculous.

I’m at the point where I ask myself, “What do I do now?”.

In my last post three weeks ago, I mentioned a much improved situation with test results to back it up (click here to read).

Now, I feel as though in reality, the dietary changes did nothing. Could it be that my body is reacting finally to the gradual decrease in prednisone by becoming more inflammed? Who can really say for sure why my symptoms improved and now seem to show little improvement.

So, do I scrap it all or do I keep going?

I can’t let my rheumatologist hear about this setback. I can see the glimmer in her eye as she says, “So, are you ready to try the new RA drug I recommended to you way back in September? You know, the one that is a IL-6 receptor inhibitor and is given intravenously once a month.”

No, we can’t let her know about this situation. We have to find another answer.

Sometimes I wonder why it seems to be so difficult to get well. Then, I remember.

I have access to a plethora of pharmaceuticals at a cost of $2 per prescription. Some of the RA medications cost upwards of $1,700. per month, but in my case, the government pays the bill. Thank you, government.

But here’s the thing, I view pharmaceuticals as a win-lose scenario, where the patient is the loser. I prefer the notion that the body will heal itself, once it is given the correct environment to do so.

Unfortunately, the medical system I’m under does not adhere to the; body heal thyself notion, nor, will it tolerate freedom of choice. Sure the government will fork over $1,700 per month for pharmaceuticals, but it won’t cough up a nickel for non-pharmaceutical treatment.

The Sun is on the horizon.

I guess, I have to keep going to find the correct environment for my body to heal itself and forget about trying to figure out why this flare-up is happening.

I need to keep focused on the goal: Make the best of each day no matter what seems to be going on in the moment.

You can do it, Marianne!

A day in a life with rheumatoid Arthritis – Part 4

It’s a blessing I was born to a young mom, not to mention, a mom whose natural cheery disposition has kept her healthier than I am. In Part 3, I explained that Mom spent several days at my hospital bedside while I recuperated from a condition called pericarditis that is caused by rheumatoid arthritis disease.

I must have missed all that tender loving care because Mom was only home five days and I was back in the hospital a second time. This time I had to call an ambulance, I didn’t drive myself. My heart was racing, I had pain into my left underarm extending across my left chest area, difficulty breathing and a heavy feeling across my chest.

The paramedics took an ECG reading. They found my heart rate was 121 and they said the ECG print out wasn’t looking normal. At the hospital, I was examined by the ER doctor, a resident cardiologist and later the attending cardiologist. The examinations, a chest x-ray and ultrasound of the heart determined – fluid around the heart and a collapsed something something. Both cardiologist agreed that my heart sound muffled and like it was rubbing.

I complained, “Surely, there cannot be that much fluid accumulated in six days.”

The attending cardiologist replied, “Oh yes, there can be.”

Further, the cardiologist explained that I should not have been released without a prescription for prednisone. They gave me the drug while in the hospital the first time and it should have been continued. If taken off the drug too soon it creates a rebound effect and the body goes back into the mode it was in prior to the meds.

The cardiologist figured he would have to tap (drain) fluid and decided to have me stay overnight and tap the next day. That night they administered a dose of the prednisone and a healthy dose of an anti-inflammatory drug.

The next day, Mom jumped in her car and drove 2-1/2 hrs to the hospital.

The cardiologist ordered an Eco-cardiogram to determine the amount of fluid he anticipated draining. By mid-afternoon the technician arrived at the bedside with the equipment. Mom stayed and watched as the technician examined and re-examined all areas of my heart. Mom asked questions, the technician explained.

“I’m not seeing much fluid here, at least, to me it doesn’t look like enough to drain, but I’m not a doctor,” said the technician.

The cardiologist arrived, looked at the screen, agreed with the technician then he looked at me and noticed the great big smile on my face.

I was discharged the next day, this time with proper medication until my rheumatologist can help me sort all this out.

Beautiful day at the park

I have to mention that I have a correction to make since posting Part 3, (I’ll edit the post to reflect the hospital record details). When I had the fluid drained my nurse told me that they took 600 cc off initially. The tap was left in overnight to drain the leftover fluid. When they pulled it out my nurse said there was about another 150 cc which he poured down the drain in my ICU room. I totaled it up to get the 750 cc/ml number which was reflected in the previous post.

While in ER the second time, the nurse checked the last admission report and advised me that the amount recorded in the hospital records is 500 cc/ml. So that is the number I’m going with – 500 cc/ml.

The hospital released me on Tuesday, August 23rd. Still feeling shaken-up and frightened, I asked Mom to stay with me a few more days. Mom went home on Friday. Again, I am so blessed to have her.

I’m feeling better this week than last week, most likely due to proper medication for now. The entire experience prompted a plethora of thoughts and feelings that I will process for months to come yet (hopefully).

I must also acknowledge a few close friends who have supported me throughout the past three weeks: friends who came to visit in the hospital, friends who dropped by home with food, supplies, cards, flowers, and friends who I could call when I was really not feeling very well. I don’t know what I’d do without all you guys in my life either. Also, many many thanks to all who wished me well through the airwaves.  Relationships are priceless.

Once again, thanks for reading. I wish the very best for everyone today. May all be well, get well and stay well.

A day in a life with rheumatoid Arthritis – Part 3

It took many years to come to the realization that my mother is The most incredible person I know. Recently, I’m reminded again of this truth.

On Friday, August 5th, I became quite ill with what I thought was a virus. It lasted through the weekend until Tuesday when I decided to go to the emergency department of the hospital. Thankfully, a savvy ER doctor diagnosed the real problem; perricarditis – inflammation of the pericardial sac surrounding the heart. A quick admission ensued and the cardiologist drained 500 cc/ml of the fluid that was collecting for a while.

The condition is a not-all-that-common complication of RA disease. I knew, from a previous diagnosis last year that I had fluid around my lungs. The heart fluid was a shock to me.

My petite, 75-year-old mom jumped into her car and drove the 2-1/4 hours to meet me in ICU at the hospital. There at my bedside, Mom kept me company while I recuperated from the ordeal for several days.

On Monday, August 15th, I arrived home to a clean, shiny apartment and noticed a few new supplies that weren’t there before. Thanks Mom. I don’t know where I’d be without your caring heart and example of unconditional love in action.

Of course, Mom reminded me that she would do the same for each of her four children. (Just when I thought I was the special one.) ~Smile~


Now I have to tell you that the reason I make the statement that she is the most incredible person I know is because Mom has not had an easy life, from my perspective (Mom would never say this). The challenges she has faced could very easily leave a person embittered, resentful and angry. Instead, Mom never ceases to amaze me with her soft-spoken thoughtful demeanor, open mind and the loving-kindness she carries in her heart. I feel honored to be one of Mom’s daughters and I feel blessed to have her for my teacher.

Thank you Mom. Please know that I am forever grateful and love you always and forever.