Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: An IL suburb of St. Louis, MO
My continuing experience with adult onset food allergies and potential recovery
First off I want to apologize because this will be a long post. Although not everybodyís symptoms may be explained by the scenario I am about to describe, based on what I am reading in your posts it sounds like a many of you could quite possibly be experiencing what I am. I will describe and explain my experience and particular solution to the best of my abilities here.
My background and original symptoms:
I started experiencing random fasciculations or muscle twitching throughout my body in late December of 2009 during a visit to my in-lawís for Christmas. I started to freak out when the twitching continued on and seemed to get worse. It started with tiny random muscular twitches usually in a limb. It happened once every hour or half hour but slowly got worse over a few weeks to a point where it happened every few minutes or seconds 24/7. Any muscle was fair game. It could be a finger, a muscle in my thigh, buttocks or even an eyelid. I would occasionally get muscle spasms as well. Around this same time, I began to experience incredible anxiety. At first I attributed it to the twitching symptoms because I was genuinely worried about what was happening to me.
I saw my family practitioner and after several tests, a brain CT scan, and a neurologist referral and examination, MS and ALS were ruled out. I was told it was benign and probably was stress related. Iíve never been one to handle stress well. I was diagnosed with IBS in college and was always told that this was due to stress. Lately I had been having more IBS flare ups, so the stress explanation fit in my mind. In an effort to deal with the stress I saw a hypnotherapist.
The hypnotherapist taught me some relaxation and meditation techniques that really did seem to work. The twitching severity greatly decreased when I used these techniques, but never 100% subsided. Furthermore, the anxiety and twitching always returned sometimes very quickly. The hypnotherapist also recommended I try an herbal supplement called Valerian Root. Itís an herb that helps calm your nerves and relieve anxiety but does not make you drowsy. I found that taking two capsules before bed helped me fall asleep much faster since it relieved the anxiety. I always had trouble because my mind would race and twitches while I was relaxing would cause limbs to jerk (like a falling dream) and snap me awake as I was just falling asleep.
The relaxation techniques and Valerian Root definitely made the symptoms more tolerable, but it still wasnít a solution. I wanted answers. I was scared to death that this was going to be the rest of my life. This is when my mother, who is big into homeopathy, suggested I see a homeopathic doctor to see what they have to say. I figured it couldnít hurt and made an appointment with a homeopathic doctor I found in the area through a web search.
My experience with the homeopathic doctor:
In my very first appointment the doctor reviewed my symptoms and right off the bat suggested that I avoid wheat and gluten containing products in my diet as it was possible my body was reacting to a food I was eating. I thought that this was pretty absurd. What in the world would a food I eat have to do with neurological symptoms? He also suggested I up my dosage of Valerian Root and to take it 3 times a day, morning, noon and night.
When I left, I followed his advice on the Valerian Root, as it was helping me calm down at night, but I didnít adjust my diet. I took more Valerian for about a month and indeed, during that month I did feel somewhat better, but the twitching never left 100%. After the first month I had a follow up appointment and began to wean my dosage on the Valerian. Although itís a natural herb and there are no side effects, itís still not recommended to take it intensively. Unfortunately the twitching started to get worse again.
At this point I decided to take his advice on the diet. I cut all wheat and gluten out of my diet. It took a few days for my system to clear, but the twitching nearly completely subsided! Furthermore the anxiety subsided as well. It had been so long since I could relax and watch television without my mind racing and having the urge to get up and pace (without taking Valerian Root that is). I couldnít believe it. For the first time in months I felt normal!
Unfortunately my normalcy was short lived. Iíd say it was about two weeks and I began to have anxiety and twitching come back into my life. I went back to the doctor and he recommended I take dairy products out. Taking him more seriously this time, I followed his advice and sure enough, my symptoms began to clear again. I began to supplement my dairy products with soy based milk and vegetable oil based butters, etc. But this time it was less than two weeks before the symptoms returned. Catching on, I decided to cut soy out and they cleared again. I realized that I was becoming sensitive to foods that I had never been sensitive to in my life. For some reason the list of foods I had to avoid was growing, and quicklyÖ
Dealing with ever increasing food sensitivities:
I really started to wonder just what the heck was going on. Iíve been able to link my symptoms to a reaction my body was having to certain foods I was eating, but that list was growing. In my research on food sensitivities, I read that people can either react within 30 minutes of eating a certain food, or they could have a delayed reaction up to 72 hours later. I consider myself lucky (in a twisted way) because I started feeling twitching or anxiety within about an hour of eating something I was sensitive to. This made it easy for me to rule certain foods out. Unfortunately it would take up to 48 hours for the symptoms to subside again. This is why I was twitching 24/7 since December of 2009 because my body never had a chance to clear itself. My original food sensitivity, wheat, is in just about everything I ate.
In doing research on food sensitivities I was alarmed. I found forums, similar to this one, where people had been dealing with increasing sensitivities for years. One man told his story about how he had originally been 250 lbs and played football in college. He was down to 110 lbs because he was darn near sensitive or allergic to everything he ate. This was scary! Finally I found a web forum where someone made a reference to something called Leaky Gut Syndrome and I decided to do more research.
Leaky Gut Syndrome:
As most of you probably know, the human small and large intestines contain bacteria that are helpful in our digestion process. As most of you also know, antibiotics do not discriminate which bacteria they kill when taken. Well, your intestinal bacteria are on the front line when you do take antibiotics because they live where your body absorbs the antibiotics into your blood stream. Over the course of your life, every time you take antibiotics you negatively affect the balance of helpful bacteria in your digestive tract. Over the passage of time, a non-helpful and invasive fungus called Candida will begin to populate and overtake the good bacteria within your intestines.
Candida left unchecked will over time weaken the intestinal walls and allow itself and undigested proteins to absorb into your blood stream. Your intestines are also the primary source of your bodyís immune system. When your body sees undigested proteins it creates antibodies to attack them. The next time your body sees that food, it proactively attacks and learns to attack each subsequent time you eat it. Thus you have the creation of new food sensitivities in adulthood.
The Candida that gets into your blood stream can spread to other areas of your body wreaking havoc where it goes. Candida has been linked to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), arthritis, fatigue, enlarged prostates and ED in men, increased yeast infections in women, food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, environmental sensitivities, psychological disorders such as depression, weight gain, auto immune disorders and much more. Basically your bodyís natural defenses get overrun and various symptoms begin to pop up depending on where you are most affected and how your body tries to deal with it.
Signs you may have Leaky Gut Syndrome:
There are several tests that homeopathic doctors can use to determine if someone has Leaky Gut Syndrome. One test I was told about involves you swallowing two sugar cubes. One should pass through a healthy digestive tract and the other should not. There are stool tests and blood tests as well. My homeopathic doctor was able to determine I am suffering from Leaky Gut Syndrome because of several Ďtells.í The fact that I have IBS was one clue. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an early sign that there is an imbalance in your digestive tract. My blood protein levels were high (indicative that proteins are being absorbed through the intestine walls unfiltered). My liver area was tender, which is indicative of an overtaxed natural detoxification system. Your liver is your bodyís primary way of detoxifying your blood and a leaky gut will overload it. You can feel your liver area by pressing on your right upper abdomen area just under the rib cage. When she pressed in that area and asked if it was tender I really noticed it. Based on how tender it felt, I was actually amazed I had never noticed it before. Between these clues and the fact that I was experiencing an increase in adult onset food sensitivities, she knew right away I had ĎLeaky Gut Syndrome.í
What to do about Leaky Gut Syndrome:
The internet is full of diets and information. Some of the information is contradictory, so it can be a little confusing. I can only tell you about the program that I decided to try out after much research. My mom read a book called ĎLifeforceí by Dr. Jeffery McCombs. Itís about 100 pages and a quick read. I highly recommend it. His website is pretty informative. His book does not go into details about the food sensitivities, but Iíd recommend reading it still as it goes into the intricate details about how Candida affects your body and why. The Candida is the key to addressing the sensitivities, which is the key to the twitching. I read several reviews online and the positive comments far outweighed the negatives, so I decided to give it a shot.
His plan consists of 4 parts. Those four parts involve adopting a temporary special diet, taking a series of herbal supplements, drinking lots of water and sweating to assist your body in detoxifying. Basically he wants you to eat meat (any except pork), fish, eggs, fruits (except oranges) and vegetables. He wants you to avoid processed foods, wheat, dairy, sugars (includes fructose corn syrup and honey) vinegars, soda, fruit juices, alcohol and anything else not in the Ďyes foodsí group. The diet is simple, but there is one key aspect missing in his book for people like us who most likely have food sensitivities.
If you have food sensitivities, I have learned from other sources that you absolutely need to rotate your diet. This means that once you eat a food, any food, you cannot have that particular item again until 4 days later. The reason being that when your intestines absorb undigested proteins, your body produces antibodies to seek out and attack that protein. Antibodies last in your blood for up to 72 hours. If you avoid repeating any foods for 4 days (96 hours), your body never learns to proactively seek out and attack food proteins that you currently arenít sensitive to. Iíve been on a rotating diet for over a month and have not developed any new food sensitivities. Alleluia!
The herbal supplements in his plan are designed to eliminate the Candida in your body over the first two months. The second two months the supplements are designed to repopulate your intestines with good bacteria or as theyíre called Ďgut flora.í
The sweating is intended to relieve your bodyís natural detoxification system, or the liver and kidneys. In leaky gut, your systems are already overtaxed as it is. When you begin killing off the Candida, you put a further strain on your body. As explained in the book, your body can detoxify itself by sweating through your skin. Apparently the sweat has to be a product of your bodyís core temperature increasing so an exercise induced sweat will not accomplish the same goal. You need either a sauna or hot bath induced sweat. He recommends sweating for 10 to 15 minutes, so your bath will take more like 20 to 25 minutes. Once you start to sweat at your brow, you will know when to begin the countdown. Just be careful to not make your bath too hot!
Sweating is kind of a nuisance in the plan, but itís crucial. Killing off the Candida is so taxing to your body that if you do not aid your liver and kidneys by sweating he writes that many people begin to experience cold or flu like symptoms, i.e. sore throat, fever, nausea, etc. Internet postings by people in the reviews testified to this as well. On the bright side, itís a pretty good indicator that itís working. I decided not to test this though, so Iíve been soaking in the bath most evenings.
For water he recommends you drink a quart of filtered water for every 50 lbs of body weight you have. For example if you weigh 150 lbs, you should drink 3 quarts of water per day. In his diet plan he recommends you stick to water or unsweetened tea and coffee (unless caffeine is on your list of things to avoid). No soda, alcohol, fruit juices or sports drinks. The sugar fuels the Candida.
The plan is supposed to last 16 weeks or approximately 4 months. At the end of this 4 month period, your leaky gut should be well on its way to healing. From what I have read leaky guts take 6 months to a year to heal. The McCombs Plan is specifically to address the Candida. In addition to the supplements you take for his plan, you should also take L-Glutamine which will assist your intestine lining in its healing process.
In regards to the diet, you will also need to avoid any foods you find that you are sensitive to (obviously). For instance, while I didnít know that what I had was even food related, I became sensitive to tomatoes in addition to wheat, soy, dairy and caffeine. Although tomatoes are listed as OK in his diet, I have to avoid them as well. Sugars are particularly important to avoid as the Candida feeds off of them. Although the diet has its drawbacks, the benefits far outweigh the cons. I miss having pizza, Macaroni and Cheese or even having a dinner roll with my steak. Iím far happier that Iím feeling so much better now though. In a way the diet is a blessing because it has forced me to expand my horizons. Iím eating things like lamb, bison and trying new types of fish that are just delicious. My wife and I used to eat either beef or chicken for dinner and a sandwich for lunch. It takes a little getting used to, but itís not a bad diet. Despite all the meat Iíve been eating, Iíve already lost 10 lbs.
Leaky gut is now in check, now what? :
Once the leaky gut is healed completely, testing by your homeopathic doctor should be able to conclude that it is safe to begin trying to reintroduce foods you were once sensitive to. There are several methods to desensitize your body to foods which once set off a reaction by your body. One method is the passage of time. After waiting enough time without having eaten a particular type of food, your body will lose its memory to attack it. The method Iíve read about is that you wait 6 months and try just a small sample of that food. If you are OK, wait a few days and try a little more. Continue slowly working it back into your diet. If you try a little and react negatively, you need to wait another 6 months and repeat. In time you should be able to eat all the foods you once enjoyed. My homeopathic doctor also has several methods to desensitize you. One technique we are trying now.
She gave me a small bottle of alcohol based solution that has trace amounts of wheat and other gluten containing grains in it. I take the dropper and place 7 drops under my tongue 2 times a day on an empty stomach. This supposedly desensitizes your body more quickly to the substance which you are reacting to. The logic behind it is that your body sees trace amounts of that food item every day and itís so little that it gets used to seeing it and not reacting. By the time you add it back into your diet slowly, your body doesnít react to larger amounts either.
There are other techniques that she has at her disposal, but Iím not quite there yet, so I canít tell you the details about how they work at this time.
What I would recommend:
Try taking the most likely culprit foods out of your diet for a week and see how you feel. Gluten, wheat, dairy and soy are staples in the American diet. Theyíre in nearly every processed food you can think of and our bodies will react to the foods we most commonly eat. Iíd also recommend going to a rotational diet to avoid any new sensitivities. Make sure you rotate not just the major foods you eat, but cooking oils (olive, canola, coconut, etc) you use and seasonings you use. I became sensitive to pepper because I used it in every meat I prepared. If youíre sensitive to any of these foods, you should know in a few days. Once your symptoms clear up, start adding things back in. If you eat something you are sensitive to, hopefully youíll know quickly like I did. Also keep a food journal to keep track of what you eat or snack on and when. This will help you immensely in knowing what you can eat and when.
Iíd also recommend trying a homeopathic doctor. I was once a skeptic about them but now Iím a true believer. I can only speculate as to why the conventional medical community continues to over prescribe antibiotics and independently treats the problems or symptoms caused by the Candida it unleashes. For example Dr. McCombs talks about how a majority of his patience come to him already having been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Disorder. When they use his plan, they clear up very quickly and feel better than they had in years.
You could speculate itís just pure ignorance on the part of the conventional medical community or you could make conspiratorial assumptions such as hypothesizing that big pharmaceutical companies are making too much money off of the drugs they create to treat the endless problems caused by Candida. You have to admit there are a lot of commercials these days for anti-depression drugs, anxiety and mood disorders, etc. Who knows? All I know is that Iíve been on a Candida treatment program for a little over a month now and Iím feeling so much better than I have in a long time. Not just the twitching is gone, but the anxiety is subsiding and I seem to have so much more energy. I also fall asleep easier at night.
I found that my twitching was being caused by a food sensitivity (originally to wheat and gluten). My ever increasing list of food sensitivities was being caused by ĎLeaky Gut Syndrome.í The Leaky Gut Syndrome was caused by an over abundance of Candida in my body and particularly in my digestive tract. The Candida was caused by the antibiotics I had taken over my life. By no means did I take a lot of antibiotics either. I had an ear infection or two as a kid and occasional infections every couple of years. The damage was cumulative and took a lot of time to reach the stage where I was reacting to foods and twitching.
The key to fixing the twitching starts with getting rid of the Candida. While you get rid of the Candida with herbal supplements you can also take supplements like L-Glutamine to help repair your intestinal lining, i.e. fix the Ďleaky gut.í Once the Leaky Gut Syndrome is taken care of you can work with your homeopathic doctor to remedy your food, chemical or environmental sensitivities. All in all this treatment averages a year, but you should begin feeling better within a weekís time. Just stick to your diet and overall Candida termination plan! Donít forget to adopt a rotational diet!
Iím sorry this posting is so long, but I wanted to give as much detail and information about my experience and the research I have done. Itís taken me quite some time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, especially since my homeopathic doctor didnít even connect the dots right away between my twitching and Leaky Gut Syndrome. I know how scary and frustrating it is to have this crazy symptoms going on and to only have doctors question your sanity or laugh at you. Itís a real problem and it was impacting my life in such negative ways. Fortunately for me itís a real problem with a real solution. Iíve still got a long way to go, but it brings me such peace to know that one day I will be able to enjoy a pizza and a beer again, twitch free. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know. I want to help as many people going through what I went through (and sort of still am). Thank you and good luck.