Archive for the ‘detoxification support’ Category

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Alfons Ven Lyme Package Redux

Monday, September 12, 2016

After six months using the Alfons Ven Lyme Package, I’ve learned a lot about how it worked on me and what its limits were. The first four months, I saw big improvements. The last two months, I seemed to get worse, as if the formula wasn’t strong enough to combat the infections.

I am aware that some other people who have taken it decided it didn’t work at some point, but kept going an saw improvement again later. I decided not to continue with the Ven remedies for a variety of reasons, some related to the effectiveness, and some related to other plans I have.

The big question I get by email is whether other people should try it. I don’t have a definitive answer. As best as I can tell, it was helpful at first. I think it stimulates and heals the immune system. However, even with a strong immune system, I am unable to overcome the tick-borne illnesses I’ve had for fifteen years. An improved immune system gave me an initial boost against the infections, which, I believe, gave me herxes and reduced symptoms for several months. However, my immune system, no matter how strong, cannot make progress against these infections (as I know from various other immune system boosting supplements I’ve taken in the past) without an external microbicide (such as a coil machine, antibiotics, TCM herbal formulas, etc.). For people who have had a tick-bite more recently and have finished antibiotics, I can say only that CHIM won’t hurt. It might not change your chances of getting a chronic infection, but it might help your body address any other possible issues.

The Basics

The Alfons Ven Lyme Package has two required parts: CHIM and FLUOX. Both of these are generally in the category of homeopathic remedies, but they are not based in classical homeopathy. Alfons Ven developed a different approach to what goes into the pills. There is an additional, non-homeopathic remedy, that I purchased and that the website suggests: AVIVA. I used this intermittently the first month and found that it made no difference for me. I now have several bottles left. I don’t recommend purchasing AVIVA.

CHIM comes as a 28 doses taken in consecutive order, once per day (or less frequently if the die-off symptoms are overwhelming). They are pills made of lactose that dissolve under the tongue or can be swallowed. Whatever is active in them is not chemical. Generally it is recommended to take them at the same time every day, before bed. I support this suggestion, as I had an increase in symptoms, possibly from the die-off, after I took my nightly dose if I didn’t go right to sleep.

FLUOX comes in a 100-dose tube that dispenses one lactose pill at a time. It is taken in the morning, at least 6 hours after CHIM (and 6 hours before the next dose of CHIM). When more than one dose is needed or desired, a second pill can be taken at least 2 hours after the first. No more than three doses should be taken per day. I found that taking three doses a day for more than a few days released stored toxins and made my symptoms worse, rather than clearing them up.

I took FLUOX for about a week before I started CHIM to clear out whatever was already circulating in my body. I took 2 doses of FLUOX most days while I was taking CHIM. When I had heart symptoms, I sometimes went up to 3 doses of FLUOX a day for a few days.

I took six packages of CHIM. In between the last dose of one package and the first dose of the next, I waited 4 to 8 days. During that time, I continued to take FLUOX, 2 to 3 doses per day, to clear out toxins before I began the next series of die-off reactions.

According to the Alfon Ven website, nothing interferes with the remedies. Other medications, other supplements and a normal diet can be taken at the same time. According to the lyme-symptoms.com website (mostly offline at the time I’m writing this post), there are many things to avoid while taking CHIM and FLUOX. Primarily, other chemical agents that kill Lyme (like antibiotics and microbicidal herbs) also tend to put it into a dormant form, making it harder to eradicate. Avoiding such chemicals can allow the CHIM to work more fully. I agree with this idea and avoided other methods for killing infections. Having said that, I see no reason not to take CHIM while on antibiotics to help rebalance the body as long as the herx reactions aren’t too strong.

According to lyme-symptoms.com, using a Rife machine (such as the coil machine I use) will not interfere with CHIM. Rife machines kill the bacteria and other microbes that cause chronic infection without putting them into a dormant form. I did not use the coil machine because I thought the herxes might be overwhelming and because I wanted to see if the Ven remedies worked.

On the other hand, the CHIM gave me strong herx symptoms (kidney pain, diarrhea, heart palpitations, headaches, etc.). I needed assistance for my body to process the toxins. I chose to use herbs and supplements that help clear away toxins but do not have microbicidal properties.

  • Herbs: chanca piedra, milk thistle, dandelion root
  • Supplements: coenzyme Q-10, N-acetylcysteine, magnesium

Expectations

Before I tried the Alfons Ven remedies, I read about them and talked to a few people who have used them or are currently using them. I was simultaneously skeptical and hopeful. One person I corresponded with claimed to be completely cured, as did several testimonials on the Lyme Package website. Since I’ve done several years of antibiotics followed by several years of coiling, I was hoping that the Lyme Package would allow me to cross the finish line. The main problem I was still having before I ordered the remedies came from a Bartonella infection in my central nervous system. I thought, maybe, just maybe, that CHIM would complete the process of either getting rid of the infection or putting it into remission. At first, I guessed that I would need 4 months of the remedy. After consulting with the author of the lyme-symptoms.com website, I thought it would take 5 to 6 months. From the experience of others, I knew that there might be a rough month, but I was assured that the month after the bad one would make things much, much better. I was hopeful.

The skeptical part of me wondered: Are these just sugar pills? Will they do anything at all? The answer was pretty obvious, even after the first dose. I had a strong die-off reaction. So I knew it was doing something. The question then was whether it would be strong enough to get rid of the infections altogether.

Experience

I’ve documented the daily symptoms and experiences of Alfons Ven in the previous seven posts. To give an overview, I had herx reactions from the beginning. They continued throughout the time that I took CHIM. At first, I felt like I was getting better, and that the symptoms seemed mostly like the kind I get with herxes. However, by the time I got to the sixth package of CHIM, I had symptoms that seemed much more like a seasonal flare. Instead of getting better, I felt like I got worse in a short time and that all improvements were erased. It seemed like the seasonal flare, which happens when the infections go into overdrive twice a year, overpowered whatever headway the remedy had made. It was similar to coiling the right frequencies, but not enough: the herx appears but no progress is made.

The interesting aspect of the Ven remedy is that it seemed to treat different infections for a few days to a week at a time over the course of a month. For a while I would have Lyme herx symptoms, such as diarrhea and fatigue. Then I would have Babesia herx symptoms, such as headaches and drenching night sweats. Then I would switch to Bartonella herx symptoms, such as kidney pain and constipation. Then it would switch again, and again, and again. What I couldn’t tell after the first four months, was whether these herx reactions were leading to a whittling away of the infections, or whether the remedy was helping my body play whack-a-mole. By this, I mean that one infection would calm down, but not be reduced past the previous time it was treated. Then when my body was working on the next infection, the first one would get worse again. When I went back to the first, I was herxing, just to get back to where I was the last time I herxed.

It seemed to me that I was going in circles, rather than going forward, when it came to making progress on the infections. Furthermore, as the months went by, I experienced brain fog more often and more intensely.

Separately, however, I think CHIM helped to heal my hormonal and immune systems. My menstrual cycle went through two changes until I stopped needing the supplement that I took for years to keep it regular. My immune system seemed to respond to the external environment more appropriately, until the seasonal Lyme flare (which triggered flares of Babesia and Bartonella).

Comparison to other treatments

There are some benefits to taking the Alfons Ven treatments, compared to many of the other treatments out there.

  1. I didn’t have to know what infections I had for CHIM to work. Unlike a coil machine, which requires identifying the infections I want to treat, picking the appropriate frequencies, and irradiating the parts of the body where they grow, CHIM attacks everything. Antibiotics and many anti-microbial herbs also have effectiveness on some infections and not others or are effective on certain bodily systems (e.g., joints vs nervous system), so many agents need to be taken to cover multiple infections. Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal formulas must also change over time to cover the changes in symptoms as the infections or healing process progress.
  2. CHIM helps heal the body’s repair mechanisms and other systems. A coil machine kills of the infections but leaves the body to do the clean up and self-repair (notwithstanding some frequencies that purportedly assist the process but that I haven’t experienced firsthand). Antibiotics and some anti-microbial herbs can damage the body’s repair mechanisms and cause other damaging side effects to the gut and other systems. Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas tend to help with both the infections and rebalancing the body.
  3. CHIM has no side effects. The quantity of lactose is so small that it doesn’t actually need to be digested to pass through the body (less than 12 grams over 28 days). According to the Alfons Ven website, it is safe for people with lactose intolerance. The coil machine also has no side effects. Other chemically based treatments (antibiotics, anti-microbial herbs, TCM formulas) tend to have additional effects on the body besides the intended ones.
  4. CHIM and FLUOX are portable and easy to consume. The Ven remedies don’t require a change in diet, or a complicated schedule for taking them. The coil machine requires a lot of time on a daily basis and is to large to bring when I travel. Antibiotics do best when used with a low-carbohydrate diet to prevent candida infections. IV antibiotics require time to dispense them. Unlike some TCM and other herbal formulas, Ven remedies don’t taste bad.

Despite these benefits, there was a major drawback: the Ven remedies weren’t strong enough to tackle chronic infections. I can’t overstate the importance of this problem. Compared to coiling for the infections I’ve discussed, I felt that I lost ground, rather than gained ground, while taking CHIM. In many ways, the Ven remedies reminded me of oral antibiotics and some of the herbal combinations I’ve taken before. They work initially, providing a real benefit, but, over time, they lose potency compared to the infections. The only antibiotics that seemed stronger than CHIM in their ability to reduce symptoms and kill the infection longer term were intravenous antibiotics.

There is one additional aspect of the Ven remedies worth noting. CHIM does not suppress the infections. In this way, it is similar to using a coil machine and different from the various chemical methods of fighting chronic tick-borne infections. The advantage is that it doesn’t leave an unquantified reservoir of dormant bacteria that can come roaring back later. The disadvantage is that I stayed symptomatic even during the initial progress against the infections.

Would I use CHIM again?

Or maybe the question is: why did I stop? I stopped because I gave myself a timeline to see how it works. If I could do it all over again, I might have stopped after 4 months (now that I know that was the peak benefit) or I might have continued for the full six months while also using a coil machine.

I can say for sure that I would not take CHIM as my sole treatment for chronic tick-borne infections for any extended time in the future. If however, I needed to be away from the coil machine for a month, I would consider CHIM to be an acceptable short-term alternative, the way I have used Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas in the past two years.

On the other hand, given the benefits of CHIM in helping with other bodily systems, I would consider using it concomitantly with the coil machine, coiling for the infections that CHIM is not addressing at a given time or tackling one infection with the machine and using CHIM to cover the rest of the bases.

Disclaimer

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The Sixth Package & A Seasonal Lyme Flare

Monday, September 5, 2016

I finished my sixth and last package of CHIM, an Alfons Ven remedy. It was a complicated month because I had my seasonal Lyme flare early. I guess I expected it to be less intense than last year after 6 more months of coiling and six months of CHIM. But it was uglier than the past few years. I’ve spent the past week unpacking what happened (and unpacking my coil machine to start using it again).

As usual, I’ll start with an run-down of my symptoms during the treatment. The next topic is supplements, which I spent a lot of time tinkering with during the first two weeks of the package. From there, I’ll go on to explain why I think the seasonal flare was worse, though I can’t explain why it was early. (Climate change? The effects of the Ven remedy on my body? I don’t know. In fact, if you’re experiencing a seasonal Lyme flare now, or started to feel your symptoms get worse in the past 2-3 weeks, please comment below or send me a message telling me the date the flare started.)

The Sixth Package of CHIM

I started the sixth package of CHIM, 1 dose each nigh, along with two morning doses of FLUOX, spaced 2 hours apart, on July 31. That night I had insomnia and lots of twitching (which I wrote about in the previous post). Something about the experience made me realize that in addition to whatever else was going on, I might be inundated with unprocessed toxins from the previous five months. The next day I had a lot of rib pain (Lyme symptom) and kidney pain (Bartonella herx symptom) and I knew something had to change. I started by taking extra detox agents (an extra dose of chanca piedra and some dandelion root tea). It helped with those sympoms, but I still spent a big chunk of the day feeling unable to focus on anything and with a big headache. The next day, I added in N-acetylcysteine (1200mg in the morning). This helped, but not enough. I still had lots of  twitching, pain in my sacrum, muscle spasms, night sweats, insomnia, etc. The next day I doubled my NAC to twice a day, and increased the magnesium dose I was already taking to 1200mg per day. I stayed on this dosage for the rest of the package.

The supplements were helpful. Although I spent the day with aches and pains everywhere, the kidney pain calmed down. I was able to sleep at night and I had no night sweat. The kidney pain came back the next day, and I was able to work a little, but I got very tired very quickly. I was done for the day by 5pm, and just rested until bedtime. I had a light night sweat that night, as well as waking up overheated.

I moved into possible PMS with two days of fatigue, loose bowels, big night sweats, kidney pain, and back pain. Then my menstrual cycle started with mild to moderate cramps, no appetite, a severe headache, and more night sweats. This ended my first week of the CHIM package.

Although I have a note from day 14 of CHIM that says “feels like autumn Lyme flare is starting early,” the week leading up to that statement was very symptomatic. The daily issues included loose bowels, fatigue, slow thinking and difficulty getting started doing anything, twitching, insomnia and night sweats. Each day, I managed to do one thing, maybe a walk or some cooking or an hour on the computer. Mostly I sat, I knitted a bit, and the days marched on.

August 12 (that night I took CHIM dose 13) was a culmination. I woke up with itchy eyes, then I had a few things to do. At 4pm, I lay down for a moment which immediately turned into a three hour nap. When I woke up, my pain level was very, very high. Everything hurt: all muscles, all joints, head, neck, abdomen. I had a hard time going to sleep that night and woke up repeatedly. The next day, everything hurt all over my body, again, only now, my spine was terribly stiff. I had loose bowels and a bad mood.

By August 14, my heart was in on the action. I had palpitations and pain in my chest, climbing up into the left side of my neck and throat. When I listened to my heart (with a stethoscope), my heart was galloping on the second beat and very irregular. I had tingling in my arms when I lay down to rest. Some of the other aches and pains were less, but I still felt out of sorts.

For the next several days, I felt like I was slogging through my daily activities (and inactivities). The chest pain was persistent, though it varied in intensity. My bowels were loose and urgent, multiple times a day (even when I reduced the magnesium dose for a day or two). I had twitching intermittently. I woke up hot at night, sometimes sweaty, sometimes not. And I had very little appetite.

Doesn’t that sound like the perfect time to go camping? My husband, Joe, had arranged for us to go camping for our wedding anniversary. I decided that if I had to feel crappy, I’d rather do it in a beautiful natural environment than moping at home. On the trip, I was tired much of the time. The best part of it was sitting at the campsite, watching osprey and bald eagle pairs fish for trout in a lake.

On the trip, I continued to have loose stools, low appetite, heart pain, kidney pain, back pain, and rib pain. One of the driving days, I had a mild vagal response while in the car, waiting to get to a place where I could use a toilet. (Urgent bowel movements have previously triggered vagal responses, from mild to syncope.) My feet swelled up, and by day 19 of CHIM, I had “plum pit chi,” a feeling like there is something stuck in my throat when there is nothing there. On day 20 of CHIM, I took a nap and was overwhelmed when I woke up by how much pain I was in all over my body, just like had happened a week earlier. (Maybe the moral of the story is no more naps?)

Back home, the situation was the same: heart pain, loose stools, headaches, extreme fatigue, feeling achy all over, night heats or sweats. Now I had a new daily problems, air hunger (or shortness of breath) and tingling, buzzing feelings in my limbs, bronchial irritation, and stiffness in my back and hips. What had at first felt like a Lyme flare had blossomed into a Babesia flare and a Bartonella flare. At least, that’s how it felt. The twitching continued, usually at night, and for a few days, I had yellow mucus coming out of my sinuses.

By the time I got to day 27, Bartonella seemed to be ascending, with pain in my ear canals and a switch to difficult, hard bowel movements, and abdominal swelling. I felt too hot or too cold all the time. After the last dose, I woke up with pain on the right side of my body. It is a dull ache that hasn’t yet gone away (and is noticeably absent from the left side of my body, where the pain has focal points).

The entire month, I had abdominal swelling after almost every meal.

I’ve continued the FLUOX, three times a day for the three days following the end of the CHIM package, and 2 doses a day since then.

Combining Alfons Ven remedies with other supplements

One of the things I hoped was that the Alfons Ven remedies would provide a complete detox action, and that no other supplements would be necessary. This turned out not to be the case. A major issue I have with anything that attacks Bartonella is that I get severe pain in my kidneys. From the first package, I realized that I needed to continue to take herbs that help the kidneys and liver survive big detoxes. For me those include milk thistle, chanca piedra, and dandelion root. For most of the months those were sufficient. At the end of the fifth month, the kidney pain was getting worse again. I felt like the toxins from herxing both Bartonella and Lyme was accumulating faster than my body could flush. I wanted to be careful not to add lots of other supplements willy-nilly, so I went through my old list of what helps and read up on my options.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and coenzyme Q-10 were my choices. NAC helps the body produce more glutathione, a master antioxidant that protects the liver. Coenzyme Q-10 is also synthesized by the body. I chose it primarily because it helps with the heart, and I was having heart trouble.

My general understanding of the Alfons Ven remedies is that CHIM’s microbicidal action can be blocked by antibiotics as well as antimicrobial herbs and supplements. Thus, I avoided those kinds of supplements. FLUOX works to help the body move toxins through the detox channels, and at higher doses, to move stored toxins back into the blood stream to be processed and removed. However, it doesn’t make the detox process more efficient or protect the organs from an overload of toxins. Thus, it seemed okay to me to take some supplements in support of detoxing.

Also this month, I ended up increasing the dose of magnesium I was taking. Between the twitching (which I wrote about in the previous post) and the increasing heart pain, I knew my body was blowing through magnesium. Since this mineral doesn’t kill or stress any of the infections, I felt is was safe to take.

Seasonal Lyme Flare

I didn’t realize that the seasonal Lyme flare would be the big test for the Alfons Ven remedies. I had fantasized for five months that I would somehow miss the seasonal flare, and that’s how I would know I was at the end. Alas, that fantasy proved to be no more than wishful thinking.

This seasonal Lyme flare was much worse, MUCH WORSE, than other seasonal flares for the past few years. There are a few reason for the difference:

  1. Usually during a Lyme flare, I stop all treatment except for Lyme coiling. I coil a lot (like 3 hours a day) for Lyme for about 5 days. At the end of the five days, I’m usually down to barely noticeable symptoms. Then I can get back to whatever other infections I was coiling, while putting Lyme back into the rotation every other or every third day. Within a few weeks, the Lyme is usually back in remission or at least at very low levels.
  2. When I don’t get a Lyme flare under control right away, Babesia wakes up. This time, since I wanted to see how the Ven remedies handled the Lyme flare, I didn’t coil for Lyme. The CHIM did not get the Lyme under control. Soon I was dealing with a flare in symptoms from both Lyme and Babesia. (Nothing like light triggered headaches and an extreme desire to be horizontal to make a Lyme flare worse.)
  3. Once both the Lyme and Babesia were awake, Bartonella got worse. The CHIM did not get either of the first two infections to calm down. I was having Bartonella herxes, but I was also having more frequent Bartonella symptoms, including the pain on the right side of my body and tingling in my extremities.

By the time I finished the last package of CHIM, I was no longer impressed with the Ven remedies. At first I figured I hadn’t lost ground, even if they didn’t get me as far as I was hoping they would. Now I’m less certain that I haven’t gotten worse by taking them.

In the future, if I ever consider the Alfons Ven remedies again, I will coil while I’m taking them.

Disclaimer

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The Fifth Package: Renewed Challenges

Monday, August 1, 2016

Last Monday, I finished my fifth 28-day package of CHIM, part of the Alfons Ven remedies program I’m using. I had high hopes when I started the package because I fared reasonably well during the fourth package. Instead, I had a very difficult time. I felt like the CHIM was peeling back another layer of illness for me to grapple with. At times it was confusing, and I wondered if it made sense to keep taking the Ven remedies. At other times, I could see that unexpected things changed and not everything was worse.

As of last night (Sunday night), I started my sixth Ven package. This is going to be the last one for now as I have some other plans for the fall. My current feeling is that to get to the end of these tick-borne illnesses, I would need another year of the Ven remedies. Like so many other attempts to regain my health, this is not a quick fix. It is a way to tilt the long-running battle between my body and the infections in my favor. The movie The Imitation Game comes to mind. If I try to trick the infections, they find a way around my solution (e.g. antibiotics and antimicrobial herbal remedies leading to a store of dormant microbes waiting to reactivate). If I tilt the balance in my favor (e.g. coiling, Ven remedies), I will eventually win, but it may take a long time and involve many casualties on both sides.

The topics on my mind today are: a report of the symptoms over the course of the month, notes about weight gain and Bartonella, and a drastic change in my menstrual cycle.

CHIM Month 5

I started the fifth package of CHIM on June 28th. I took one dose each night for 28 consecutive nights, not waiting more than a day between doses. Each morning, I took 2 doses of FLUOX, one pill per dose, at least two hours apart from each other. I didn’t skip any days because most nights, by the time I was ready for the next CHIM dose, most of my major symptoms were minimal or temporarily gone.

This month was marked by daily kidney pain. Some days it was moderate, some days it was severe. Some days it lasted only 2 hours, some days it lasted upwards of 10 hours, but the trend across the month was increasing kidney pain. As a result of the kidney pain, I stopped taking daily Advil, which I had been doing for quite a while to deal with bursitis in my right heel (and higher doses when I was traveling for overall pain management). I thought the Advil was adding extra work for my liver and kidneys which were clearly overworked from Bartonella herxes. (In the past, when I coiled for Bartonella, that was coincident with kidney pain. More on that below.)

This month was also marked by fatigue, at a level that was much higher than the previous CHIM package. In the first week, I was able to work a little on the computer, go for a walk in the neighborhood, do some light housework, then crash for a nap in the afternoon, needing to rest during the evening. By Day 9, I got more tired. After that, I found it harder to concentrate or motivate myself. I fought with myself to continue personal projects with external deadlines, including the blog I posted on Day 15.  I made myself go outside whenever I had an ounce of energy. But frankly, I felt very stuck because battling the fatigue to try to live today feels just as bad as it did when I was disabled in other ways. In earlier years of this illness, the other disabilities gave me enough of an excuse that I could let myself rest. Eventually this month, I gave in to the fatigue and spent a lot of mornings and evening reading, while attempting to be active (computer work/light housework)  for 3-4 hours in the middle of the day with several 15 minute rest breaks.

There was a new symptom this month, one that I haven’t had since I got Lyme Disease. I had the feeling of electric shocks in my legs and arms, a feeling that would cause strong muscle contractions. These are called myoclonus (translation from Latin: muscle jerks). Most of the time, I could feel tension building in a spot on my thigh (or calf or upper arm or back or neck), then it would get really intense and cause a muscle convulsion (twitch doesn’t describe the severity of the action). The convulsions were painful. The first time was after I took my CHIM dose on Day 10. My legs twitched with increasing pain for 15-20 minutes. But then it stopped and I was able to sleep. This happened again on Days 15 and 22. Over the next few days, I noticed increased constipation and a series of muscle knots in my back and buttocks. Then I had 40 twitches in a row in the half hour after I took my CHIM dose on Day 25.

The next morning, I looked up twitching, found the name myoclonus, and researched possible causes for the symptom as well as treatments. Some causes include neurological diseases, seratonin imbalances, reactions to certain medications, exposure to neurotoxins, all of which relate to the neurological cause of contractions, and magnesium or other metabolic deficiencies, for the muscle half of the equation. There is a medical journal paper on the presence of myoclonus in a patient with Bartonella. That was a key clue for me. The treatments include many anti-convulsant drugs of the types used for epilepsy as well as psychiatric drugs that modulate seratonin. I wasn’t interested in these. But I was interested in magnesium since Bartonella often depletes my body’s magnesium, worsening constipation and causing muscle pain and stiffness, which I happened to notice at the same time.

The next night, when another long series of myoclonus kept me awake, I got up and took 250 mg of magnesium citrate and an Advil, since my muscles were in a lot of pain after all the convulsions. I fell asleep as soon as they kicked in. For the next several days, I took extra magnesium in the morning and that was enough to get rid of the muscle knots. However, I still needed nighttime magnesium to avoid twitches, even though they were milder and there were fewer of them after I finished the CHIM package.

On a side note, I have experienced similar convulsions in the past, whole body convulsions, when I stopped using Effexor, a SNRI anti-depressant, which was prescribed to me in my 20s. Those were at least as painful, but at the time, the internet did not contain the kind of information that would have helped me. And my psychiatrist’s solution was to increase the dose of Effexor, which I wanted to get off because I was no longer depressed by anything other than the side effects of the drug!

Beyond the three most prominent symptoms, I had the other usual symptoms of herxing:

  • Night sweats. I had no night sweats the first 4 nights. Days 5-9, I had night sweats, sometimes more than 1 per night. The next two nights, I woke up overheated but not wet. Then on Day 12, I had a supersoaker, followed by 3 more nights of sweats. Then 4 days of waking up overheated, followed by a light night sweat and 5 days of night heats without sweat. Day 26-28 and the first 3 days of taking a break from CHIM, I had more night sweats. The last two nights I had night heats. I see these as the battle against Babesia (4 days on, 4 days off), followed by a measure of overflow of Bartonella toxins that my kidneys couldn’t process. I can’t be sure, as both infections (and their herxes) cause night sweats, but this is my impression from past experience.
  • Insomnia. One of the good things is that insomnia is happening less frequently. Even when I get up to change into dry pajamas or cool off, I can usually go right back to sleep. I had insomnia on the following days: 1, 6, 7, 10, 16, and 21, when I couldn’t fall asleep then woke up over and over during the night.
  • Joint and muscle pain. Joint pain includes pain, stiffness, and popping in my spine, neck, ribs, and the joints in my arms and legs. It is a classic Lyme symptom, but also happens sometimes with Bartonella herxes. Muscle pain is usually in the shape of a knee high sock or an elbow length glove. It also includes several days of muscle spasms and knots in my back and buttocks. I had joint pain and muscle pain for the first 9 days of the treatment, then a short respite, which coincided with stopping the daily Advil. About 3 days later the pain returned and was worse through the end of the CHIM package.
  • Headaches. I had short (<3 hours), moderate headaches intermittently on approximately 10 days of the 28-day package.
  • Bronchial irritation. I had coughing fits and soreness in my airways for the first 4 days, then it disappeared.
  • Constipation and lower abdominal pain. This typical symptom of a Bartonella herx was a problem only during the second half of the package. Most days, I had close-enough-to-normal bowel movements, which was one of the things that made me notice that the CHIM was having a positive effect.

I had a new symptom part way through the package, but I’m not sure of the exact day. The soles of my feet started to peel. I’m not sure if this is a case of athletes foot or some other phenomenon, but it was notable. I’ve been using diluted essential oils to treat it (lavender at night, a citrus blend or lemongrass in the morning). It stopped spreading until I skipped a few morning doses then spread further along the balls and heels of my feet.

The biggest positive effect of the repeated packages of CHIM is that I had almost no PMS and mild cramping with the start of my menstrual cycle. I stopped taking DIM (which I’ve used for years to regulate my cycle) shortly after I got home from traveling (Day 3 of the package), and suffered no ill effects in not taking it. I was told that CHIM might rebalance my reproductive hormones, making DIM both ineffective and unnecessary. That has finally shown itself to be true.

After the CHIM package was finished, I took 5 days off. I took 2 doses of FLUOX for three days, then 3 doses of FLUOX for 2 days. The main issue was (and continues to be) kidney pain. I had some energy for the first three days, then I fell into pretty severe fatigue again. On days 4 and 5 of the break, I had tingling in my arms and legs as well as rib pain, and I knew it was time to start the next package.

During the last week of CHIM, I tried drinking juiced greens. They helped a little, but not as much as they have in the past. It seems that consuming large quantities of vegetables (such as cooked cabbage or raw salads and whole herbs) works better for me at this point. The fiber tends to absorb more of the toxins that make it into my digestive tract as well as providing chlorophyll to assist in cleansing my blood. In addition, I’ve been drinking kombucha and roasted dandelion root tea to supplement the morning doses of chanca piedra and milk thistle. Even with all of these, it doesn’t seem to be enough to support my detoxification pathways and get rid of the kidney pain.

Bartonella and Weight Gain

I have been treating Bartonella one way or another since 2010. Although I had previously used oral antibiotics that are meant to treat the infection, such as Levaquin, they didn’t have much of an effect. In autumn 2010, I used Rocephin for the first time. It gave me terrible kidney pain (and two kidney stones) but I didn’t know what the pain was from. I assumed it was from the drug.

Months later, I used 832Hz to coil for Bartonella. I didn’t experience kidney pain from treating Bartonella until the first time I coiled my spine. Then from 2011 until February 2016, I coiled for Bartonella on my central nervous system and in the areas where the nerves leave to become my peripheral nervous system. Coiling for Bartonella caused kidney pain proportional to how much I coiled the key areas. Over time, my symptoms shifted and many of the neurological symptoms diminished. Unfortunately, I never got to a point where coiling for Bartonella no longer gave me the particular herx symptom of kidney pain.

At the same time as the Bartonella herxes, I began to gain weight. During the most intense coiling with the most intense herx symptoms (which I’ve written about here), I started gaining weight at a rapid clip. From May 2013 to December 2013, I gained 25 pounds. At the time I attributed the weight gain to Vitex, a supplement I was using to deal with the irregularities of and problems with my menstrual cycle (including PCOS). I believe that Vitex contributed to the speed of the weight gain. However, I think that the Bartonella herxes played a role by poisoning my body faster than I could clear out the toxins.

In the intervening years, I’ve not been able to lose weight. I have several times dipped below 160 lbs, but never for long. This past year, as I have again been more focused in attacking Bartonella, my weight has reached past 175 lbs. The more my kidneys hurt, the faster I gain weight.

To give you a sense of how drastic this is, when I was at my low point, on antibiotics, allergic to lots of foods, and dealing with candida in addition to the tick-borne infections, I barely hit 120 lbs. I’ve gained a lot of weight as I’ve tried to get rid of the Bartonella infection.

To be clear, I’m no longer on a completely grain-free, sugar-free, fruit-free diet. However, despite occasional high carb meals (2-3 per month), I pack on weight very easily. I mostly eat vegetables, protein, fruit, and high quality fats (think avocados and olive oil). I also eat cheese and small quantities of grains 1-3 times per week. This is not a weight gaining diet.

I don’t know the mechanism for the weight gain. I’ve read things that give some possible clues. One theory is that the body creates fat tissue to store toxins that it can’t eliminate right away. Another theory is that the stress of the herxes after the years of chronic infections has damaged my HPA axis (Hypothalmus-Pituitary-Adrenal), causing my body to store fat and feel tire. Another theory is that my thyroid gland is no longer producing sufficient hormones (though when I tested it in 2014, the hormones were well within the normal range, not near the low end). Another theory is that the insulin resistance I developed in my late 20s, after I got infected, and which manifested as PCOS, is made worse by the Bartonella herxes. Or maybe some combination of all of the above and a few other problems that I don’t know about all contribute to my increased body mass.

I my 20s I gained lots of weight when I was on psychiatric drugs. I gained 55 lbs in 10 months. When I had weaned myself off all the drugs, I started spontaneously losing weight, like 5 lbs a month every other month, for quite a while. No change in diet. No increase in exercise. I stabilized at 135 lbs until I started to get sick. Then I rapidly gained a few pounds which I kept on for several months. Finally I became disabled by Lyme, allergic to everything, went on antibiotics and dropped too much weight.

If I’ve learned anything from my history, there are other factors, besides diet and exercise, which influence or even govern my weight. I am hoping that when I stop herxing from Bartonella (maybe by getting rid of the infection or making it dormant), that my weight will return to a more comfortable level.

CHIM and Menstrual Changes

It could be a question of timing. It could be that I’ve recovered enough of my body from the infections that this would happen anyway. It could be that CHIM made these changes. It could be that I’m getting older (now 41 years old). But my menstrual cycle is changing.

Two months ago, I had 2 weeks of miserable PMS. Last month I had only 3 days of mild PMS. In the years since I started coiling, I can tell when I ovulate because I get mild mittelschmerz, where I can feel pain from the fluid that is released when the egg leaves my ovary. Then I can smell the changes in my body (either because the smells change or my sense of smell changes). There are predictable amounts of swelling in my abdomen and breasts. There is a certain amount of discomfort and cognitive reduction that I’ve gotten used to. And I usually have 5 days of PMS symptoms.

Last month, after the previous strange cycle, I had PMS for only a short time. I could still tell when I ovulated, but it was less obvious than before because there was no mittleschmerz. This month, there are no clear signs of PMS or that I ovulated. It could be that I didn’t. (I’ll find out next week if my cycle doesn’t start on time.) Or it could be that I’m joining the many  women I know who don’t suffer from PMS…at least for a month. If it is the latter, I’m very grateful. If it is the former, I’ll just have to live with it.

Disclaimer

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After the Third Package

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Things are definitely shifting. I finished the third Alfons Ven CHIM package on May 16 (7 days ago). The last two weeks were easier than the first two weeks of the package, and more importantly, easier than the first two packages. So far I’m pleased with my progress.

Besides reporting on the second half of the CHIM package and the break between packages, I have two things on my mind. One is intestinal health, the other is hormones.

Ven Remedy Report

By the second half of the third CHIM package, I was starting to have energy some days. There were aches and pains, of course, in my joints and lower back, but I could do things. For two days, I had brain fog, fatigue and bronchial inflammation with coughing. After that, I had energy again for at least part of each day for the rest of time. On days when I had morning energy, the energy was all used up by about 5pm. Other days, mornings were difficult, then I had energy from lunchtime until about 8pm. By energy, I mean, I went for a 20-30 minute walk, worked on the computer, did light housework (folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher), or read. I still needed rest breaks during the day, to sit still or lie down for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the day. I needed some naps as well. But all in all, I felt better than at the same time during the previous CHIM packages.

I had night sweats most nights. Some nights I had to change my clothes, some nights I woke up merely damp. I think this is part of the herx for Bartonella. I had loose bowels for much of the two weeks, which also seems like a herxing symptom (Lyme or Bartonella). I had kidney pain, especially after each of the last four doses. That is definitely a symptom of a Bartonella herx.

A few other physical symptoms came back temporarily: severe headaches with light sensitivity, rib pain (Lyme symptom), tingling in my arms, fresh acne on my buttocks, pain in my ear canals, and burning pain in my lower abdomen. Each of these symptoms was short lived, lasting only 1-3 days before resolving.

In contrast to the first two packages of CHIM, after which I had very bad days after doses 27 & 28, this time I felt pretty good at the end of the package. The break has been relatively uneventful. My pain level is down, my ability to concentrate has increased, and I have energy for at least several hours every day. Things aren’t quite normal, especially as I’ve had loose bowels and night sweats for yet another week. I haven’t been able to sleep enough (long time falling asleep at night, waking up too early and not able to go back to sleep). But I feel much better.

The main problem that remains unresolved is my left heel. I’m not sure if there continues to be bursitis and neurological inflammation or if there are additional problems. Besides CHIM, I’ve previously tried using the coil machine on my foot, acupuncture, rolfing, physical therapy (massage, strengthening exercises, and ultrasound). Nothing gave relief that lasted more than three days. This is a problem I’m still working on.

Intestinal Health

A few people have written to me about intestinal health and dysfunction. The trendy, and truly valuable, wisdom that is constantly in the news over the past year is the importance of probiotics. It is important to eat probiotic foods (yogurt, kefir, living sauerkraut, miso, living pickles, kimchi, kombucha, raw milk, etc.). These can be supplemented with probiotic pills and powders, which are essential for people who have taken antibiotics.

For people who are herxing, fiber and other supplements that bind toxins are equally important. The Lyme toxin can cause loose bowels and diarrhea. The toxin can come from the activities of the infection or from a die-off reaction (herx). The goal is to make sure that the toxins don’t get reabsorbed in the large intestines and recycled with bile that is naturally being reabsorbed. High fiber vegetables, such as leafy greens, artichokes, asparagus, green beans (and other pods) and cruciferous vegetables can make a huge difference in binding the toxins in the intestines. Eating a sufficient amount, much more than the recommended daily allowance, e.g., a head of broccoli in one meal, will also bulk up stools and turn diarrhea into loose bowels, helping to prevent dehydration. Other helpful foods including beans, lentils, and high-fiber fruit such as apples, have a similar effect.

When increasing the amount of high fiber foods being consumed, it is helpful to do so slowly over the course of weeks and to consume probiotics that help with digesting vegetables, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles.

Beyond foods, there are supplements that can help absorb toxins, such as psyllium husks, bentonite clay and diatomaceous earth. The latter two can cause constipation and should be consumed in conjunction with a high fiber diet, or at the same time as psyllium husks.

Constipation is the other extreme for people infected with Bartonella. Bartonella can cause constipation, both from the activity of the infection as well as from die-off reactions. My guess is that it irritates the nerves that control peristalsis, slowing digestion and allowing a lot of water to get reabsorbed in the large intestines. I believe it is a neurological problem because I have frequently had constipation when I simultaneously had other symptoms of vagus nerve irritation during Bartonella herx reactions.

Eating a high fiber diet helps to retain the form, water content, and toxins in the stool, even when digestion has slowed. This helps with daily bowel movements (a must for releasing toxins) even when stools are difficult to pass.

For people recovering from tick-borne infections, not enough emphasis is placed on eating large quantities of fiber, but I highly recommend it. I even follow my own advice.

Hormones

When I started the Afons Ven Lyme Package, I consulted with the author of lyme-symptoms.com about the supplements I take. She warned me that CHIM might override DIM, the supplement I take to keep my reproductive hormones in balance. I decided to keep taking DIM because it also seems to help with blood sugar regulation. If it stopped working, I reasoned, I haven’t lost anything, but if it keeps working, all the better.

I didn’t notice anything during the first two packages of CHIM. But this past month, things have seemed off. I wasn’t sure quite what it was. Maybe the acne on my chin was a clue. Maybe my hair falling out a little more than before (but not as badly as when I was dealing with big Bartonella herxes or when three tick-borne infections had taken over my body). I gained 7 pounds in a month, despite a reasonable diet. That’s when I knew something was amiss. A few days ago, I started getting pms the day after I ovulated (as opposed to a day or two before the start of my next cycle). My breasts are swollen and sore. I’m a little bloated.

I’m still taking DIM. I’m not sure it’s doing anything.

I’ve faced a similar set of symptoms before. Back in 2014, when metformin stopped working, I tried other supplements, including vitex. My breasts were sore and I was bloated two weeks out of each month. I gained a pound a week for six months. I’ve often thought it was the vitex that caused the consistent weight gain. But looking back, I realize that I was coiling a lot for Bartonella during the entire year of 2014. This past month, I also made great strides against Bartonella (a few days of arm tingling followed by severe kidney pain). It could be that the Bartonella die-off messes with my hormones, both insulin regulation and reproductive hormone regulation.

For now, I’m just keeping track that this is happening. I’m none the wiser about what to do except to watch and wait.

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Toxicity and Temptation

Monday, December 14, 2015

Right after I made a renewed commitment to focusing on Bartonella, coiling for it several times a day everyday, a friend called me to tell me about Alfons Ven and his Lyme remedies. It sounded so incredible. When I hear about a new treatment, my internal alarms go off; all of the ones in the past have been too-good-to-be-true. On the other hand, when I hear about people feeling better quickly and staying better, I have to check it out. I’m not coiling because I want to take forever to get well. I’m doing it because nothing else has allowed me to improve and not lose those improvements over time.

Anyway, the story of the Alfons Ven remedies includes several people who use coil machines in the same city. One person started the program about six months ago. She herxed from the pills and started to see big improvements. Other people from the coiling support group started using the formulas. They are starting to feel better. The supposed “proof” that it works is that the original person coiled for Bartonella, and she didn’t experience a herx.

I listened to the whole story. I called my friend back and asked for more info. I asked some other folks who use alternatives to medicine if they knew about it. I read the websites. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. What I found out is that it is similar in many ways to homeopathy, but it isn’t quite the same. When I read the explanation of how it works, I wanted to dismiss it as quackery. (That’s also how I felt about acupuncture when I read about it. Fortunately, it was already helping me a lot before I read the book about it, otherwise I never would have tried it.) I felt a strong pull to try the Alfons Ven remedies anyway, maybe concurrently with my coiling program.

As I thought about the “proof” that it “cures” people of tick-borne infections, I had my doubts. I no longer herx from a single coiling session of Bartonella. It takes several coiling sessions over several days before the herx starts. In fact, last year, when I used traditional Chinese herbs, the herxing stopped for a while. I wasn’t cured of Bartonella; instead, I just cleared out my detoxification routes and the toxins passed through me without causing symptoms. Also, I know that anything that suppresses the infections will prevent herxes. So the “proof” didn’t seem like proof at all. In fact, it seemed like another way to postpone getting rid of the Bartonella infection once and (maybe someday) for all.

Temptation

Every time I get started on Bartonella, I start to feel like something else is wrong besides the Bartonella. I come up with all sorts of creative theories and plausible theories. Sometimes I think it’s another infection, maybe one of the others that I have trouble with like Lyme and Babesia, or maybe some unverified infection that other people have, like Mycoplasma fermentans, or one that will herx if I coil for it, like Epstein-Barr, but which doesn’t go away while the Bartonella is active. Other times, I come up with something else I want to try, coiling for another infection, traditional Chinese herbs, a different kind of supplement, or, more recently, the Alfons Ven remedies.

I’ve given in to temptation many times. That is part of the reason that almost five years after starting to coil, and almost three and a half years after the first time I tried to take on Bartonella, I’m still struggling with it. The temptation to do anything else is so great.

This time, though, I had a breakthrough of sorts. I realized that the part of the herx that affects my brain, i.e., the psychological symptoms, include the feeling that “something (else) is wrong.” It is a huge deal to recognize this pattern. It helps me stay on task. So what if it took three and a half years for me to figure it out…even longer if you include the anti-Bartonella antibiotics I stopped back in 2010.

Bartonella herxes generate other psychological symptoms, notably a feeling of hopelessness that I’ve written about before. The thought and feeling patterns include: “I’m never going to get better;” “No treatment will ever work;” “I’m going to have to coil forever;” and a general sense of despair about anything that comes to mind. I know this happens. I now warn my husband that it might come on when I’m ramping up my coiling program for Bartonella so that he doesn’t get sucked in by my despair. That helps me to see the feelings for what they are: a Bartonella herx.

Toxicity

Once I realized what is going on, I took stock. The feeling that “something is wrong” may not be altogether wrong. I think it happens when I can’t detox as fast as I’m killing off Bartonella bacteria and flooding my body with toxins from the die-off. To combat this problem there are two obvious things to do: kill the bacteria more slowly and increase support for my body’s detoxification mechanisms.

The first one is psychologically harder. I want this infection gone as soon as possible. However, the more times I get sidetracked, the longer it takes me to get rid of the infection. I usually coil three times a day for Bartonella. Then I get my whole cascade of Bartonella herx symptoms (listed in my last post), plus a few that take longer to show up, like hair loss, abdominal swelling, night sweats and joint pain. One option is to coil for Bartonella only twice a day. This is what I recently tried.

The other half of the equation is detoxification support. I know what I need to do. I need to take baths (which I planned on doing, but only did once more beyond the original bath a few weeks ago). I need to juice greens (which takes time and planning, but seems more doable if I’m only coiling twice a day). I need to do mild exercise, like yoga, to keep the lymph moving (also easier when I’m not coiling three times a day). I need to keep up the herbal supplements, teas, hydration and kombucha. The last set of activities is the one I do best at.

Since I haven’t been able to keep up with the detoxing the way I should, my body gets more inflamed over time. The inflammation triggers the Lyme infection, so then I need to coil for Lyme, too. The Lyme infection makes my joints hurt even more, which makes it hard to do yoga or other exercise. And if I don’t stay on top of the Lyme infection, the Babesia wakes up, too, which forces me to coil for Babesia, leaving less time to coil for Bartonella.

On top of all that, Bartonella toxicity makes me more prone to respiratory infections. I ended up with a real case of bronchitis for two weeks (yellow sputum and all). I’m keeping my head and neck warm till the cough is gone. Plus I treated it with traditional Chinese medicine, which worked to get me through the worst of the infection without triggering a Babesia relapse (I think). I’m finally starting to understand the recurrent cough I’ve been getting over the last two years.

Bartonella toxicity is a real problem if I want to get rid of the infection. So I’m trying to think about it without my previous urgency and recognize the smarter way to tackle it.

Bartonella Plan

I realized all this long before today. The first thing I did was cut my daily Bartonella coiling time to twice a day. For about two and a half weeks, I changed the protocol so that I was focusing on my shoulders, since that was making me herx the most. (I knew this because I had been doing a reduced Bartonella coiling protocol which didn’t coil my shoulders much while I was coiling for other infections. When I went back to Bartonella, I herxed much, much more.) The result was that I’ve been able to type, crochet, and draw without much pain in my wrists or shoulders.

Temporary Bartonella Coiling Plan

832 Hz

(twice a day, once in the morning, once at night)

  • each shoulder knob – 10 minutes
  • head: each side, top – 2 minutes per
  • back of head – 5 minutes
  • upper spine – 5 minutes
  • spine: middle, lower – 6 minutes per

This is subject to revision when I get back from my December trip to Williamsburg, where I am now.

The other part of the plan is to take a bunch of detoxing herbs while I’m away from my coil machine. On the list is: chanka piedra, milk thistle, artichoke extract, n-acetyl cystine, turmeric, and dandelion root tea. (I’m also trying a dandelion root plus other herbs in a different detox tea.) When I get back, I’m going to try juicing, bathing and making kombucha again. As soon as I can manage it, either during my trip or at home, I will start doing yoga again.

Bursitis

A last note about inflammation: it’s in my heel, the one that’s been bothering me since October. I finally went to a doctor about it. The news is complicated, with enough information for another blog post. The most salient thing is the bursitis in my left ankle. It is likely from either Lyme or Bartonella. While I do my best to detox, I’m hoping to get the problem under control, or at least to reduce the swelling.

What’s hard about all this is that I’m having a Lyme flare, with all my joints popping and cracking, and consistent pain in my right ribcage. I was able to get rid of the joint pain and popping for 5 days at a time when I coiled for Lyme. I’m without my coil machine until I get back home (another two weeks from now), so I’m trying to decide what to add that will prevent a worsening flare and full relapse before then. I’m hoping to keep it restricted to joint symptoms so I can enjoy my Christmas visit with my family.

Disclaimer

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Out of the Fog

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

For the past two weeks, I’ve been playing a learn-to-speak-Spanish cd in the car when I drive. With each full repetition of the cd, I can hear and understand additional phrases. They didn’t help when my friends mother came to dinner because I didn’t ask to book a room in her hotel, but that’s beside the point. Having gone through the same experience over and over, I recognize more details and have a better understanding of what is happening on the cd.

I recently had a similar realization about brain fog. I used to say I never really got brain fog, and that I didn’t quite know what it was. I understood what people described, but I was pretty sure I’d never had the experience. What I called my own symptom was fatigue, the kind of fatigue that makes it difficult to concentrate. Now, having experienced it countless times, I can say that I sometimes get brain fog.

What is brain fog actually like? I have no patience to talk to people. I can’t get into movies or books. I don’t want to write or play with the cats. Unless I’m knitting something very simple and repetitious, I’m don’t feel like knitting either. I might want to color, but even that can be tricky. The hours tend to pass quickly while my brain is on hibernate mode. Whatever I do happens in slow motion. I almost don’t notice it because I have reduced awareness of my surroundings. As it starts to lift, I get very tired and very anxious about all the things I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t done. Then I come up with a whole new set of things I want to do. I drive myself nuts. The good thing is that the anxiety eventually passes, and in a calmer more alert state, I get back to “normal.”

This is what I was doing when I had brain fog.

This is what I was doing when I had brain fog.

Herxes, Flares, Side Effects, Relapses and Detoxing

During a recent bout of brain fog, someone wrote to me to ask what the difference is between a side effect and a herx, and what on earth a flare is. It took me days to be able to compose the thoughts. Having done so, I thought I’d share them here.

A herx reaction (or Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction) is when bacteria die in a person’s body and the result is that the person is poisoned by the bacteria, their contents, or chemicals they make as they die.

Herxes tend to cause some generalized problems, such as reduced blood pressure, tachychardia, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, etc. In the case of Bartonella, they also give some people (including me) kidney pain as the toxins exit through the kidneys or acne as they exist through the skin. Herxes also cause a second set of problems: exacerbating existing symptoms. The symptoms, especially in places with low blood flow, are caused by bacteria that are harbored in those areas. When they die, they poison the localized site. People often feel worse, like their existing symptoms are going crazy when they have a herx reaction.

Lyme herxes include increases in joint pain, headaches, cognitive problems, digestive distress, temperature dysregulation, and localized symptoms, as well as the need to sleep as much 12 hours a day. Babesia herxes can include night sweats, migraines, light and sound sensitivity, drops in blood pressure, heart palpitations, and nausea, all symptoms that can come with Babesia, magnified by the death of the microbes that cause it. Bartonella herxes can include increased intensity and frequency of peripheral neuropathy, insomnia, constipation, brain fog, extreme fatigue, ringing in the ears, pain in the ear canals, and other symptoms that the infection itself causes.

With antibiotics plus detoxing, the herx symptoms usually calm down within two weeks. One of the ways to tell something is a herx is that it gets worse, then begins to improve within two weeks. When it gets worse and stays worse, or gets increasingly worse, pay attention to possible antibiotic side effects. With coiling plus detoxing, the symptoms can linger much longer. This is because antibiotics put the surviving bacteria into a dormant state, so once the initial die-off is over, the herx passes as soon as the body can clear out the toxins (at least until the bacteria cycle back to being active). With coiling, the bacteria remain active, so with each subsequent coiling session, additional bacteria die, and the active ones may become more active if they sense that their population has decreased within the host body. Thus, herxes may go on and on for months, even with detoxing, but diminish over time.

More fog means more coloring.

More fog means more coloring.

Detoxing is the set of treatments we do to help our bodies clear out toxins that build up from the infections or from herxing. Successful detoxification treatments reduce the symptoms caused by bacteria-death poisoning. The main routes for these toxins to get out are the liver/feces, kidneys/urine, and lymph/sweat.

The first route is through bile, which binds to toxins in the blood stream and is excreted by the gall bladder into the intestines. The large intestines reabsorb bile on its way out to reuse the bile to pick up other toxins. However, if the bile already contains toxins, those toxins get recirculated in the blood stream. When not much bile is reabsorbed, the liver makes more. Several treatments that bind bile, such as cholestyramine, bentonite clay, psyllium husks and welchol, help speed the detox process by preventing bile from being reabsorbed in the large intestines. (Except for psyllium husks, they all can cause constipation, which helps when Lyme herxes cause diarrhea.) Most of the Lyme toxins come out either through bile or through sweat.

The second route is through urine. Pretty straight forward. Drinking lots of water, water with lemon juice, juiced greens, and certain herbal teas that are specifically for kidney detoxing, such as dandelion root, all help get the toxins out faster. Other herbs that have helped me with kidney detoxing include chanka piedra and milk thistle. Bartonella toxins seem to come out either through urine or sweat.

The third route is sweat. This is also pretty straightforward. Getting hot, in a sauna or a bath, helps to sweat out the toxins in lymph fluid and blood. The trick is that skin reabsorbs sweat or the contents of sweat while pores are open. My doctor used to tell me to limit sauna and bath time to 15 minutes (20 minutes absolute maximum), then rinse off immediately. It also helps to do things to assist in moving lymph within the lymphatic system through exercising or skin brushing. These move the fluid out of the lymph nodes and channels and into the blood stream, allowing the body to get the toxins out through urine or feces, as described above.

There are places in your body that are hard to detoxify because they don’t get a lot of blood flow, places such as joints, eyes, ears, the central nervous system and the radial nerves. The best you can do is to make sure you’re doing lots of detoxing and getting lots of blood flow. Heating the body through saunas or baths is one way to do this. For those who can, exercise is also a good option.

Side effects from many of the stronger antibiotics include overlapping symptoms with herx symptoms. I used to have mild brain fog, then I took minocycline, which crosses the blood brain barrier, and I suddenly couldn’t type anymore. I kept taking it, thinking it was causing a herx, but my doctor had a fit when I saw him. He said it was more likely a side effect of the minocycline. Oops. (I had to relearn how to touch type, a skill I’d had for more than 20 years when all this happened.) Often, the symptoms of herxes and side effects can overlap. When I wasn’t sure, it was always the right thing to contact my doctor and stop the antibiotics until we spoke. If the problem wasn’t the drugs, I could restart them, but if the problem was the drugs, there was no reason to increase the damage they were causing with each subsequent dose.

Relapses happen when we manage to put one of the infections into a dormant state (usually through heavy doses of antibiotics, food restrictions, and supplements that increase our immune function) and then it wakes up again. It can wake up slowly, with symptom creep: you know something is off but can’t tell exactly what, then the symptoms start to get more noticeable and specific. Or it can wake up quickly, which is often called a flare.

A flare is a sudden increase in symptoms from an infection. Flares seem to happen seasonally, after physical stressors (like an sleep deprivation, overexertion, or a food sensitivity reaction), after big emotional stressors, and when we stop or change the ways we are propping up our immune system (different or lower dose antibiotics, different or fewer supplements, etc.). Flares can go from no symptoms to lots of symptoms in an hour or from a few symptoms to a lot of very intense symptoms over the course of a few days.

Bartonella and Self-Care

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been coiling like crazy for Bartonella. Most days, I coil my central nervous system plus my shoulders three time a day. The herx has been building up. Part of the herx is psychological: I feel like something is very wrong. I can’t put my finger on it most of the time. But I feel bad, and I’m sure there must be something else bothering me. Going through it again this time, on the umpteenth repeat, I can finally see why I always find a reason to try coiling for something else. Repetition allows me to see the phenomenon a little clearer each time I experience it.

Making something beautiful cheers me up.

Making something beautiful cheers me up.

The herx is a remix of the previous Bartonella herxes: kidney pain, peripheral neuropathy (tingling in arms, hands, and feet, as well as shooting pains down the outside of my legs), heart palpitations, chest pain that goes up the left side of my neck/throat, urinary hesitation, constipation, pain in my spine and paraspinal muscles, tension headaches, acne, insomnia and fatigue.

Since I’ve come to understand a lot more about Bartonella, things that don’t always align with what I’ve read about the infection, I’m more focused on how to get rid of the infection in my spine and radial nerve tissue. Not only do I need to kill it with coiling, but I’m trying to figure out how to clear the die-off toxins from my body as quickly as possible because I’m tired of suffering, but also because the bacteria are dying in places that are hard to detoxify. If it worked, I’d take a few pills, drink some tea to clear out my kidneys, and add in some fiber to keep the colon moving.

It isn’t that simple. I’ve been trying those detox protocols for the past few weeks, and I’m coming again to the conclusion that I need to heat my body to bring blood flow to my spine and increase the amount I’m sweating. I finally dunked myself in a hot bath today. I’m not ready to sign up for a gym again just to go to the sauna. The tub is fast and easy. I started out today with a less than optimally hot bath just to convince myself to get in. However, I expect to get in three times a week, for a hotter 15 minute sea salt and epsom salt bath. In the past, this has helped tremendously with kidney pain from Bartonella herxes.

The next thing I started this morning was a few minutes of yoga, concentrating on releasing and strengthening my back muscles. That helped a little. I know that more than five minutes of yoga is better for me, but I just couldn’t convince myself to keep going. I wanted to go for a walk instead, which I did.

This whole healing process, especially when it comes to treating the seemingly never ending Bartonella infection, goes in cycles. I make the most progress when I coil a lot and devote a lot of time to physical care, like hot baths (or sauna time) and exercise. I resist because I’d like to go back to having more productive time in the day, and these activities add up. With exercise, I then need to make time for a nap. Healing from chronic infections, especially this one, is a full-time job. Quitting this job just prolongs the number of days and months I have to do it or allows for a relapse.

Last winter, I took a Chinese herbal formula that helped my kidneys a lot. I didn’t have kidney pain when I coiled for Bartonella. I wasn’t sure if the formula cleared and protected my kidneys or put the Bartonella into a dormant state (or maybe killed it off). I’m still not 100% certain. What I do know is that I didn’t coil much for Bartonella over the summer and I got hit with a major relapse this autumn. I didn’t recognize what it was for two and a half months because brain fog and extreme fatigue got in the way of thinking. But now that I know, I feel like it is such a setback and that I’m back where I was this time last year, no progress at all.

The best I can do is take care of myself, be kind to myself, and rededicate myself to battling Bartonella.

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Kidney Cocktail

Monday, May 4, 2015

Over the past week, I’ve been zooming ahead with coiling for Bartonella. At first, it was a relief. The day after  I coiled my central nervous system three times in one day for the first time, I had so much energy. It felt like I woke up again after feeling tired for long enough that I was sure I was having a Babesia relapse.

After the initial burst of energy, the rest of the Bartonella herx kicked in with neuropathic pain and tingling and static in my arms especially and my legs as well. I had a few headaches. Then constipation started and kidney pain. The kidney pain is what really got to me.

To deal with kidney pain, my baseline treatment is chanca piedra, an herb, and the main ingredient in Renavive, which is what I used to use. I take it in the morning before I coil, giving me an hour to absorb it before I eat. When I was coiling my whole body over the course of a day, rather than focusing on my central nervous system, that was enough.

Intermittently, I was drinking roasted dandelion root tea, on days when chanca piedra was not enough to keep my kidneys happy. As I transitioned to coiling my central nervous system twice a day, I had to start drinking the tea, two cups made from one tea bag, every day. That kept the kidney pain level to a manageable level, though it never quite went away.

Once I bumped up the coiling to three times a day, the kidney pain was beyond tolerable. I was walking around with a sour-faced grimace all day long. The pain, itself, contributed to a feeling of being tired. Beyond that, my body just couldn’t keep up with the die-off toxins. I started to have insomnia, the kind that wakes me over and over at night with dark, fantastical dreams that seem so real and disturbing. My bladder feels irritated, I get hot and sometimes a bit sweaty. Each time I wake up, I can’t fall back to sleep for quite a while.

My first instinct was to add in hot baths. Those are tricky, because when I stop taking the baths, I have a Lyme flare. So I hesitated and procrastinated and cursed the pain in my back.

Saturday, I was cleaning out the cabinet where I keep all the supplements I’ve purchased. Every six months or so, I look in there to see what’s expired and to see if there is anything I want to take before it expires. I happened upon some milk thistle. I knew it was good for liver detoxification, so I put it on the counter to take on Sunday.

Milk Thistle growing in my neighborhood.

Milk Thistle growing in my neighborhood.

Milk thistle put me back on track. Within about two hours, the kidney pain was almost gone. It was just a faint shadow on my back. I was so relieved. Then I started looking up information about milk thistle and discovered that it also has protective qualities related to kidneys.

Like all natural supplements, milk thistle, dandelion root, and chanca piedra, have had conflicting results in scientific studies. I can’t say for sure how they work or that I’m taking an optimal dose of each. However, as I’ve tried each of them, and now using them in combination, they seem to be what I need to get through Bartonella herxes. I’m glad to have found my kidney cocktail.

My chaser, however, is for my intestines. It seems that all three herbs have some beneficial effect on the digestive system and the liver. In particular, the herbs can have a mild laxative effect. They certainly help. I have less pain and strain when I take them than I do when I’m herxing from Bartonella and not taking them. They aren’t enough. My evening chaser, which I take with the dandelion root tea, is two prunes. I’m not a lifelong prune eater or prune lover, but they help so much at this stage in my healing process. Just two at night make all the difference in Bartonella herx related constipation. (I know this well from the nights I forget!)

I’m still dealing with insomnia, headaches and some strange pain and sensations in my nervous system. Yesterday, I had a bout of congestion in my bronchial tubes, with a cough and everything. It went away overnight. In addition, I felt breathless shortly before bed: I was panting when I went down the stairs to get a drink, and panting again as I went back up. The Bartonella coiling is doing something and I think the Bartonella is trying to fight back.

Bartonella CNS Protocol

832 Hz   —   45 minutes per session   —    3 sessions per day

  • Head: each side, top, back – 5 minutes per location
  • Spine: upper, middle, lower – 5 minutes per location
  • Each shoulder knob – 5 minutes per location

Note: when doing the upper spine, tilt head back to get a second round of 5 minutes on the back of the head.

Mixed Signals

To confuse the situation a little more, the disappearance of the need-to-lie-down-all-day-long fatigue the day after I bumped up the Bartonella coiling, also came two days after doing two days of Babesia coiling.

My experience has most frequently been that coiling for Babesia, when Babesia is the source of my symptoms, usually results in a pretty rapid change in symptoms (for better or for worse). So if nothing happens after two days, I write it off.

The exception to this pattern happened this past autumn, when I added 753Hz to my existing 570Hz Babesia protocol. I didn’t see a change for about 4 or 5 days. Then the changes were pretty mild, but definitely noticeable. I had night sweats and headaches after they had disappeared during that round of Babesia coiling. In other words, it is possible to have a delayed herx with Babesia (as happens with Lyme and Bartonella).

The result is that my conclusion that the fatigue culprit was Bartonella and not Babesia is a little cloudy. It could be that I killed off a small but growing amount of Babesia. Or it could mean that I got past the hump with Bartonella. I’m just not sure.

For now, I’m not exhausted and fatigued all day every day. I’m sleepy, probably because I’m up for several periods at night, but that is remedied with a nap. Post nap, I’m okay again.

Trailing Off

My Lyme herxes are trailing off. At this point, I have no symptoms of infection on a daily basis. Instead, I see symptoms only the day after I coil. I believe these are from the herxes rather than from bacterial activity. Furthermore, the only symptom I have is popping and cracking in all my joints. It isn’t too painful and it goes away over the course of a day.

I’ve dropped back from coiling every third day, to letting 4 days go by, and this week letting 5 days go by between coiling sessions. The herxes remain minimal.

Loving My Body

For quite a while, let’s say, on and off for a year and a half, I’ve been trying to lose weight. I gained a ton of it while I was taking Vitex and working on Bartonella. Both of those can help pack on the pounds.

During that time, I kept putting off purchasing clothes that fit me. I just didn’t want to spend the money, especially since I planned to get back to what I consider a healthy, comfortable weight (about 140 pounds). This has been a turnaround from the years when I was terribly underweight from all the infections and all the antibiotics. Back then, I didn’t want to buy clothing either, sure that sooner or later I would get back to a healthy weight.

Of course, by the time I bought clothes, I only had about a year during which they fit, before my weight went back to a normal-for-me 135 lbs. Still, at that weight, I look like an adult female (not emaciated or weak), and that’s the size I’ve been most of my adult life.

Then I added more weight and more until I hit 170 lbs. That’s when I stopped taking Vitex. It took a year to lose the first 10 pounds and keep them off. Now I’m trying to break the 160-lb barrier. It’s complicated. I think it’s possible if I go on a super-strict diet with no carbs and no sugars. I don’t mind giving up the sugar, and I already do it for weeks at a time. But I’m so sad at the prospect of giving up all grains and fruit, like I had to for 6 years when I couldn’t digest so many foods, that I can’t convince myself to do it again now. I’d be fighting an uphill battle anyway because Bartonella tends to mess with a person’s metabolism, making it easier to gain weight than to lose it. And finally, I have to be careful with the amount of exercise I do if I want to be able to get out of bed the next day and avoid heart problems. As I wrote about last time, I can do some but not much and not new forms without triggering a relapse of multiple infections.

What this means is that I’m putting some effort into losing weight, and it pays off only in that I’m not gaining more weight. Now, at a year of approximately the same weight, I finally broke down and purchased size 14 jeans. I might have fit into size 12, but I hate putting on tight jeans and feeling uncomfortable until they stretch.

What this has done is taken off the pressure. I can be relaxed about my weight and comfortable in my clothes…which makes me more comfortable in my body.

One last thought, one that came out of cleaning out the supplement cabinet, is that while I’m coiling for Bartonella, I might as well take the bone building supplements I bought when I was more scared about osteopenia. No need for me to let them expire only to purchase more at the end of the Bartonella cycle. Instead, I’ll add them in sometime next week, shortly after I make sure that the milk thistle dosage is in the right range.

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