I first took a serious interest in natural health in the mid-90s when I was having horrendous cycle-related migraines. Nothing would kill them. I would just have to suffer through them for three days. They were so severe at times that I once ended up in the ER where they gave me two shots of Demerol which didn’t even phase the one that was raging at that moment.
Since I wasn’t getting any help from allopathic doctors, I had to figure out something else. That was in the days of dialup Internet and AOL. But I was able to research enough that I learned about something called Candida Albicans and how an overgrowth of Candida can lead to leaky gut syndrome which, in turn, leads to many, many health problems.
I also was able to find articles by a homeopath in the Bay Area whom I contacted by mail. She sent me a long, very long, questionnaire which I filled out and returned to her by snail mail. She sent me back a long report of what she thought most likely to be my problem along with a homeopathic remedy. Her report also contained a suspicion that I was likely suffering from Candida overgrowth, also known as Candidiasis.
I thought it a pretty good chance that I had an overgrowth of Candida since I, like most typical Americans, had had many courses of antibiotics throughout the years and had effectively stripped my gut of any good flora, and since I regularly ate lots of refined carbs, and I didn’t (at that time) eat many fermented foods, it was difficult to keep the Candida from outstripping the good gut flora . Candida is a bacteria that has its job in the gut; it is part of the overall balance of our system, but when fed with sugar and yeast, it ferments and grows rapidly, clinging to the wall of the gut. If it is continually fed with refined carbohydrates, it ultimately becomes fungal, and perforates the lining of the gut, allowing undigested food to pass into the blood stream where it is attacked over and over by white blood cells (the immune response). If it is never cleaned up, the immune response becomes chronic. This ultimately wears down the immune system so that one catches every little bug that comes along and the cycle repeats itself when one takes more antibiotics to kill the current bacterial infection.
People often condemn the over-prescription of antibiotics by the medical community, but it is also our failure in self-care when we eat too many refined carbs and then run to the doctor for every sniffle.
It doesn’t mean you should never take an antibiotic, but it does mean that they should only be used rarely, and followed up with probiotics to replenish the good gut flora that typically keeps everything in check. It also means that we have a responsibility to not eat all those refined carbs.
I have only had to have a course of antibiotics once in the last 20 years. That was due to an out-of-control tooth infection. Before the doctor would treat it, I had to get rid of the infection. I’m sure I should have been able to figure out an alternative to the antibiotic, but that needs to be thought out in advance, not when one is in the throes of a giant toothache.
From what I had read about the Candida, I figured that all those refined carbs, plus the yeast, made me a good candidate for a Candida cleanse. I did just that, lost 10 pounds and started the homeopathic remedy. By the next cycle, my headaches, with which I had suffered unrelentingly for years, were gone, never to return. Also gone were my ghastly heavy menstrual flows, an unexpected perk.
All this set me on a quest to find out more about natural health. I bought many books on herbs and herbal practices, and lusted after a degree in Holistic Medicine from Bastyr College in Seattle. I settled for a certificated program in Natural Foods and Supplementation which taught me about right nutrition, self-care, supplementation, and introduced me to many different healing modalities.
I taught classes and helped others get certified. But mostly, I used myself as a major guinea pig. I learned enough about the scientific method in college to know how to experiment to discern various maladies and try various natural self-care techniques.
As I sit here today, I have not had a flu shot since 1995 and have not had a head cold or influenza since 2000, even though I spent four years working in healthcare after that. One of my first big Ahas! (before I took the certification course) was when I was taking Echinacea to keep up my immune system. I thought prevention was about taking herbs to keep the bugs away. But I was dismayed that if I missed even one day of taking the Echinacea, I would come down with a sore throat and start sniffling. It finally dawned on me that I needed to get to the cause of the immune suppression rather than just take something to build it up. That desire was what ultimately led me to find out about Candida.
Photo courtesy of m_bartosch and FreeDigitalPhotos.com