This health journey of mine has been a long process of peaks and valleys just like anybody else’s.
I truly learn best from experience. It wouldn’t matter to me what I read on the interweb, what any of my friends had been through, or what any healthcare practitioners had told me. I think I needed to experience this journey for myself in order to really understand the process of healing.
Not that I know everything there is to know about healing, but I know enough that I feel comfortable putting my knowledge out there into the world so that it can help other people.
If you’re like me, and you been trying to heal your body and brain for longer than you can remember, keep reading to learn the 10 things I wish I had known before trying to heal myself.
- You have to think of the thyroid and the adrenals as part of the hypothalamus- pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), not separate.
The root cause (if not autoimmune, which mine wasn’t) for hypothyroidism is probably something that’s affecting the whole HPA axis, not just the thyroid. In which case, you have to treat the adrenals first. If you treat the thyroid first, you will have a really hard time balancing your adrenals, after the fact.
Also, throwing a bunch of thyroid replacement hormone at the issue will only make things worse in the long run. I know how tempting it is to go for the short-term fix of thyroid replacement hormone, but I suggest you speak to someone who understands the HPA axis before just trying to put a Band-Aid on the issue.
In the same spirit, adrenal fatigue is not a diagnosis. Wait… before I lose you completely… it’s real, it’s just not the root cause of anything. It is a symptom. It needs to be addressed as part of the HPA axis, not by itself. It also needs to be addressed along with whatever the root cause of your chronic illness is. Just addressing your adrenal function, alone, is like trying to hit a moving target.
Speaking of moving targets, adrenal function (24-hour cortisol) tests are basically useless. I’ve seen patients adrenal function tests measured through saliva taken 4x/daily for 30 days continuously. The results are all over the place. If you’re doing an adrenal function test that measures cortisol for times today then, congratulations, you know what your cortisol levels were in your saliva for that day. Not on average, not in general, just for that day.
I know that some practitioners feel differently about this, but I feel it is a waste of time and money especially if you’re female because the pattern of your cortisol levels will change day to day throughout your cycle. If you get a diagnosis based on one single day and start a treatment plan based on that one day, and that one day doesn’t represent your cortisol levels in general then you’re not going to accomplish anything good. Furthermore, if you’re a living breathing human (everyone reading this) then your cortisol levels will be affected by your previous night’s sleep, stress level that day, and a myriad of other factors including exercise, diet, etc.
As with any condition that directly relates to hormones one should not treat based on one snapshot in time. When you have other hormone levels tested such as estrogen and progesterone the key provided by the lab with your results characterizes the reference ranges by time period during your monthly cycle (AKA follicular phase, ovulation, luteal phase, menstruation). Likewise, if your doctor is worth their weight in salt when they prescribe an order for hormone blood work they will tell you the best time to have that bloodwork taken is at a certain point in your monthly cycle. Consider it a red flag if your practitioner doesn’t even ask at what point in your cycle the blood work was done.
All of that is evidence that one single arbitrary day of the hormone level data is not sufficient to determine anything. Not to mention the fact that cortisol is a much more fickle hormone than any other hormone that is commonly tested. It is the only commonly measured hormone that changes drastically throughout the day.
This could honestly be its own an entire post, and it probably will be in the near future. For now though, suffice it to say if you’re not looking at everything as a whole, you’re wasting your time and money, because you may heal a little, but it won’t be all the way and it won’t last.
- If you have parasites or GI dysbiosis, you have to use antimicrobials before probiotics/prebiotics.
There’s no amount of probiotic or prebiotic that will rid your body of parasites. The tricky part about this is that you have to know which antimicrobial to take and when to switch from antimicrobial treatment to probiotics. You should, however, start probiotics immediately after finishing a course of antimicrobials. Also, don’t take probiotics within 5 hours of taking antimicrobials. Probiotics are microbials; therefore, an antimicrobial will kill the benefit, literally.
Speaking of gut health…
- Healing your gut needs to be a top priority.
An unhealthy gut can lead to local as well as systemic inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and will make you more susceptible in general. That means avoiding foods that are making you worse, addressing parasites, taking probiotics, and in some cases prebiotic fiber. It’s all highly individual and case-by-case.
Find yourself a practitioner that you really trust and let them guide you. You really shouldn’t do this part alone, because it’s just that important. You can also make yourself a lot worse on accident if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s what happened with me. Through self-experimentation I took a probiotic that was highly skewed in the favor of bifido bacteria.
That’s about when things got worse for me. I’m not sure why, but that probiotic did terrible things to my whole system. It took years to repair the GI symptoms that occurred within less than a month of taking it, and I’m still not fully well.
- You really should have your teeth checked-out by a biological dentist.
At the beginning of my healing process I had a weird feeling about one of my dental implants. I went to a regular run-of-the-mill dentist who took x-rays, not a cone beam CT scan. He told me they looked fine. Well… about 3 years later, a biological dentist did the cone beam scan and found that my body was not only rejecting one implant, but there was also a huge abscess there.
As it turns out, you cannot diagnose either issue from an x-ray. Same goes for cavitations. Dental issues should all be addressed before you begin the healing process. Don’t be uniformed, like me, and heal yourself 90% and then decide to have your teeth checked-out. It set me back immeasurably. It was almost like starting over from scratch.
Likewise, it is difficult, maybe impossible, to heal yourself completely if you have some kind of dental abscess or cavitation.
This is usually the result of a root canal or an injury to a tooth. If you’ve had a root canal, go to a biological dentist and have a cone beam scan. When root canals are performed, part of the root is left behind. That little guy can harbor unseen and virtually undetectable bacteria that can have a seriously negative impact on your health. The only way you’ll know is through cone beam CT.
If you have recurring sinus infections, you may find that once you address dental abscesses and cavitations that the infections clear. Just talk to a biological dentist and see what they have to say.
- Get your minerals balanced.
You don’t have to do it before you begin healing, but it should be a part of everyone’s healing journey and it shouldn’t be left until last. It may take 3 – 6 months, up to even a year, to fully balance your minerals, especially your copper/zinc ratio, so starting as soon as your body feels ready is important.
Starting slow and low is also great advice… trust me. You don’t want to make yourself worse. If you neglect a skewed copper/zinc ratio, you will heal a little, but never fully and never permanently. Copper/zinc ratio imbalance is never the root cause of illness and it’s not a diagnosis. It is, however, a result of acute or chronic illness and it has its own set of symptoms and biomarkers that can be used for tracking and assessment.
This is a process best handled by a skilled practitioner. You can do some damage if you try to wing it on your own, especially if you have a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health or mood disorder.
- Progress isn’t linear.
Most of ya’ll probably already know this, but I didn’t. Naïve little me thought that every detox reaction was a sign that I was on the wrong track. Don’t get me wrong, a detox reaction should serve as a clue that you should pump the breaks a little, but you have to really analyze whether the reaction is just detox or something else.
That leads me to my next point.
- Don’t just try to push through a detox reaction (or HERX if you have Bartonella, AKA Lyme).
If you’re sick from detoxing too much too fast, you need to slow your role. Often-times a detox reaction happens when we try to kill-off the microbes that are inhabiting our body. Whether it’s from a bacterial overgrowth in your intestines, Lyme and/or co-infections, or MARCoNS (mold-illness folks will know about that one) the die-off can happen too rapidly for our bodies to process without being overburdened.
If you just started a treatment plan and you feel so much worse that it’s impacting your ability to function, but your practitioner is telling you to keep pushing full steam ahead… listen to your body, not them. If you feel unbearably worse after starting treatment, you need to chill out on whatever it is you’re doing. Ask if you can do it less frequently or at a lower dose. If your practitioner is worth their price they’ll oblige you. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon as cliché as that sounds.
However, there is a threshold. If you’re “HERXing” so badly that you can’t carry on with your daily routine, then you’re going to fast too soon with your treatment. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to handle that dose or schedule of treatment. It just means that right now it’s too much for your body.
On the flip side, if you feel bad, but not unbearably bad and you can still go about your daily routine, then you may be ok. Only you know what your body is telling you.
- Bioenergetics is just as important as biochemical treatment.
That means that while you’re taking all of those supplements and pumping your veins full of various nutrients and compounds, don’t forget the power of negative energy. Not negative energy like that friend who always talks shit about everyone (you should avoid that kind of negative energy).
When I say negative energy, I mean negatively charged… as in extra electrons. Electrons are energy and they carry a negative charge. The more electrons, the more negative. That’s actually a really good thing in the context of health and healing. You want as much negative charge flowing through you as possible.
There are many ways to achieve this. Ozone therapy, earthing/grounding, PEMFs, light therapy, decreasing EMFs from Wi-Fi, exposing yourself to sunlight and natural bodies of water, drinking structured or EZ water.
If you don’t have access to fancy biohacking tools like a PEMF pad then, basically, get yourself outside during daylight hours, then wear orange glasses at night once you’re inside. That will do wonders. Even 20 minutes of direct sunlight will help. Consider turning off your Wi-Fi, too, even if it’s just putting your phone on airplane mode when you sleep. Although, real serious biohackers have their laptops hardwired and/or a switch that turns off their Wi-Fi when they’re not using it.
- Learn to let go of your material things, and quick.
As someone who is so sensitive to mold that I react to people and things (including clothing) that have been exposed to toxic mold, I had to let go of a lot of things. Anytime something of mine got exposed to mold, it had to go. There are very few ways to reduce mycotoxin contamination, and none that completely neutralize 100% of mycotoxins.
In the scientific literature, methods such as boiling water and borax (2x for 30 minutes) can reduce mycotoxin contamination of some fabrics. Ozone generation in the air can also reduce some mycotoxins. Even some essential oils, like the ones found in thieves’ oil, can reduce mycotoxins when diffused in the air. You can also use quaternary ammonia to wipe down non-porous surfaces. None of those things work 100%, though.
I have clothes that will never ever be wearable for me no matter how many times I wash them in boiling water and borax or spray them with thieves’ oil. I’ve found that the best thing to do is just get rid of anything suspect. That is way easier said than done, but if you start now, you will be a pro at it in no time… I promise.
My best advice on how to let go of material things is to think of it as a natural disaster, only you have the luxury of saying goodbye to your belongings and choosing their fate. I’ve had to let go of many sentimental and/or expensive items, and I just tell myself that a fire or a tornado destroyed them. It might sound crazy, but it helps.
Believing that getting rid of those items was out of my control really helps… and it is out of your control. You have to let them go… you do not have a choice.
It may not be moldy belongings either. It could be your brand-new house, apartment, car, sofa, you name it that is off-gassing and making you sick. It could be the house plants you have nurtured and watched grow for months or even years. I even had a boyfriend who’s dread locks were making me sick because of whatever environmental grossness they had picked up along the way.
Whatever it is, if you know it’s making you sick – no, if you even think it’s making you sick – give it up. You’re better off without it.
- Let go of your emotional trauma.
This is the hardest one of all. Your past experiences, whether serious trauma or something small that just really impacted you heavily, will hold you back from healing. Again, you have control over whether you hold on to it or not, though.
Emotional trauma is much harder to let go of than material things. It may involve you getting a therapist, and it may involve you getting some people out of your life. It may also involve keeping some things private from other people so that you’re not exposed to their opinions while you’re healing.
This step takes time. The trauma probably superseded your illness, and it may be deeply imprinted into your DNA (yes, that literally happens through epigenetic regulation). It also may be a result of your illness. Chronic illness is a journey that takes us to some isolated-feeling, dark places. My best advice is to seek out resources to make sure you’re getting and staying emotionally resilient in the face of it all.
This step also involves learning how to listen to your intuition. Again, that’s easier said than done. There are exercises that can help, though, and you don’t have to do this all on your own. My entire life, I’ve been working on listening to my intuition, and I’m finally really getting the hang of it, but even I still ignore my intuition at times.
I fumbled and self-experimented my way through this healing process, mostly all on my own until the most recent 6 months when I finally found the right practitioner to help me (which was a BIG turning point in my recovery).
Through all of that I learned so many things that I wish I had known beforehand. If I had known then what I know now, I would have saved so much time and money and turmoil. Because of that, I want to help you guide your own health by sharing with you what I learned from my experiences.
If you found any of these things helpful, do me a favor and let me know by heading over to Instagram (@Experimental_Betty) and commenting your favorite emoji on my most recent photo! We are in this together and I want to help build our tribe of biohackers and spoonies so that we can support each other :).
PS. If you are at any point in your healing process and any of the things I’ve written about in this post speak to you and you want to know more about my journey, click here to watch the video I made chronicling it all in detail. Be forewarned that it’s a long video, though. I could’ve split it up into several videos, but when I think back to when I was just starting out on my health journey and I would go to YouTube and search for hours just to find a five minute video that I identified with I would have loved to find a gold mine of information, like this.