Saturday, March 19, 2016

Digging up roots

When we have a medical problem, we look to medical professionals for answers. They're supposed to have the knowledge, training, and experience to understand how our bodies function. In a way, we expect them to be mechanics for our bodies.

But there's something wrong with the medical system. Part of that is the insurance companies dictating how they do their jobs. Another problem is the large corporations running many of our hospitals and clinics.

That's why independent clinics are so valuable. However, even they have their limits of experience.

Which is why I love the internet. Without it, I wouldn't still be here.

I've found a LOT of information, some valid and some not, or at least not to me. I've had to experiment to find what works and I've had to read a lot of sites and books and sift through it for the gems of knowledge. Two of the most valuable books I've read taught me to look for the root cause, rather than stop with symptoms. Because of those, I dug deeper than seeing hormone imbalances to find WHY they are awry, why I couldn't sleep and why I had air hunger so badly. I thought the severe insomnia and air hunger were connected so that the insomnia was causing the air hunger, but that wasn't quite the answer I found...

This last week, I put together some connections that linked up: 1) I learned by experimentation that extra B6 and choline/inositol greatly improved my air hunger symptoms; 2) I found a blog post linking increased need of B6 to oxalates, the same post that came up because it started out as B6 relieving her air hunger, like what I had observed in myself; 3) I found information linking oxalates to digestive problems; 4) I observed that my air hunger is worse with proteins and fats, which are more difficult to digest; 5) Oxalates bind with calcium to form crystals, which attract more calcium to form 80% of kidney stones; 6) A week ago, someone I know was passing kidney stones and described the pain for me--I've had that pain frequently on a smaller scale; 7) Oxalates wreak havoc throughout the body, not just in the kidneys and bowels, including increasing allergies and asthma symptoms; and 8) I had been increasing my consumption of high oxalate foods over the last 5-6 months without realizing it (I wasn't on that path of thought yet, until I looked back).

After those and other observations of when things really went downhill for me, I decided I had nothing to lose in trying a low oxalate diet. But I went too fast. The first 2-3 days of cutting out the high oxalate foods that I had added in to make up for cutting out high histamine foods, I also minimized medium oxalate foods. As a result, I went too fast and had intense pain throughout my body and terrible sinus congestion. I felt like I had the flu, but it wasn't that severe and I didn't have a fever. But that faded by the fourth day to almost nothing (still enjoying small amounts of chocolate which is VERY high in oxalates, histamines, and salicylates). This morning, I had my tea without any histamine symptoms!

What does this have to do with sleep? Oxalates clearly cause kidney irritation and likely damage from those crystals and stones moving around. The kidneys produce renin, which is a signal to the adrenals. The adrenal glands produce various hormones: cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and androgen hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone). These all carry out various functions in our bodies. Estrogen plays a part in serotonin (our "feel good hormone") production, which is needed to convert to melatonin, our sleep hormone. Cortisol levels also affect our energy levels, peaking first thing in the morning and declining throughout the day, but can jump around when we're in a state of dysfunction--peaking in the middle of the night and waking us at 3 am, is the most common example. These two alone can wreak havoc on our sleep-wake cycle.

Everything is connected. Our bodies are complicated machines that need the right fuel. Sometimes the fuel filters work right and sometimes they don't and our bodies build up more of the wrong things, like oxalates, because it can't clear it out as fast as it accumulates. This clogs up the system and throws it out of whack.

That's where conventional medicine fails--cutting off the tops of the weeds while leaving the root causes so they can grow back and continue to choke out the healthy plants (cause problems in our bodies).

But back to the oxalates. As you'll find in searching the internet, our bodies produce most of them, but so do plants. So, as we consume foods, we ingest even more. Our guts are supposed to break them down (apparently a particular gut bacteria feeds on oxalates in our foods but we've upset the balance with our environmental and food chemicals and antibiotics). Oxalates bind to minerals in our foods and are excreted in that way also, but this is damaging to our guts and prevents us from absorbing the minerals we need. As our guts are damaged, so too is the ability to produce the enzymes that break down histamines in foods (also reliant on B6) until it heals. Luckily, our guts heal fast if we provide the right fuel for our bodies and minimize the potential hazards to that process. Once we've healed (which can take several months but under the right conditions can be as little as a few weeks), we can add back some of those foods, on occasion, that can cause damage (so our bodies have healing time in between).

For myself, I had to try many different avenues, and I could be wrong about this, but I don't think so. Within one day of cutting out high oxalates, I started sleeping better. Even while oxalate dumping symptoms plagued me for a few days, I still slept better than I have for the last five months, and my sleep over the last four days since starting this has only continued to improve, as has my air hunger (dyspnea). I started this journey thinking I needed thyroid hormone, but I kept digging for answers and finding new roots as I read more and more (contrary to my doctor saying I read TOO much). And apparently oxalates can cause thyroid problems--an AHA! moment for me.

I had some VERY serious problems for a while and found some relief in sleeping medicines, but the big name brands didn't always knock me out--my insomnia was that severe. It is a relief that this particular diet finally gave me relief from that issue and the histamine intolerance (not totally...yet; I've still got some healing to do before trying vinegar and yogurt again)--I am so very grateful that it was as simple as a diet change. I will need time to recover fully from whatever damage has been done in my body, but I feel that I am on the right path and would like to thank anyone who has posted about their issues online for sharing so that I could find it as guidance on my own search. It may not be directly pertinent to us, but sometimes another person's experience can lead us in the right direction for our own suffering.

I hope my summary here of the research I did on oxalates and my own experience can help someone else at their next medical visit.

I am not a doctor, nor am I trying to provide medical advice. But I do believe in holistic healing and am sure that others suffer as I have and are looking for an answer. I can only say to keep trying and be sure to consult with a medical professional you trust and dig for the root causes of whatever ails you. I found a functional medicine clinic that did MUCH more than my primary care physician to rule out possible causes for my problems--a nurse practitioner who actually listened to me and pursued different avenues--but I still had to do a lot for myself.

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