It came as a shock one night to wake up with a serious case of acid in my throat and soon thereafter to develop almost elephantine feet and legs. I also developed a cough and could not talk loud at all–nor could I lie down. I had to sleep sitting up in a lounge chair or not sleep at all. This went on for a couple of weeks and was not going away. I had a fever at last and was having pain in my chest so I went to see a doctor after my husband and a good friend urged me. The doctor assured me it wasn’t pneumonia, but he had no clue as to what I had except that he could see I was very tired from not sleeping well. So, as usual, I had to figure out what was going on with my weird body.
Fortunately these days the Internet is a great resource, and soon enough I discovered I had acid reflux, and a form of lymphedema–which was later confirmed through my list of genetic tendencies as revealed by Livewello’s use of my “23 and me” test results.
Generally I had known for years not to eat late or even drink a lot of liquids and lie down soon thereafter since, more often than not, acidic liquid would come up from my stomach into my throat and even into my nose, making me choke and cough. But for the most part, this hardly ever happened. I just ate a balanced diet and and didn’t drink fluids too late. If I did eat or drank late, or otherwise had to lie down soon after eating, I put on a few pillows. And it if did happen, I would just take some baking soda in water to counteract the acid.
Similarly, I discovered as a young adult on a road trip with my sister down to Mexico, that my feet would swell if I didn’t go on walks frequently enough. So when I moved to Oregon years ago, I became known by some as “The Walker” in the town I lived in. I wanted to avoid what my grandmother Garth had: huge painful swollen legs and feet. The story went that the only time she didn’t have swollen legs was when she was a student walking the hills in Berkeley. I look somewhat like her after all–and it seems I inherited her genetic tendency to easily get swollen extremities–as well as having delicate kidneys.
Normally reflux and lymphedema have not bothered me much. My lifestyle and diet have always been pretty good given all the other health challenges I have (gluten intolerance, histamine sensitivity, sensitive kidneys, psoriasis, lactose sensitivity etc.) — all of which for me responds best to natural remedies such as diet, exercise and herbs. I have, for instance, frequently included lymphatic/kidney cleansers like cleavers with liver cleansers like dandelion and barberry in my herbal formulas.
But this winter was filled with Uber Stress. I got married, my 100 year old mother died, plus my husband and I were in the thralls of moving our stuff out into the garage and making major renovations to our house in preparation for selling it before our move out of San Jose.
So if I was going to get a bad case of Acid Reflux and swollen feet and legs, this was It! And of course the Gods complied. I was ill after all too with a flu that was going around (or so I thought), so I did a lot of eating chicken veggie soup (i.e., more meat than usual for me) and lying in bed. This time with no extra pillows for once since I wasn’t fighting congestion, just a fever. On top of it all, I believe I either had just contracted an H. Pylori infection, or always had it. In any case this was its opportunity to show up big time in an Acid Nightmare. I wonder if the fever wasn’t part of it.
I refused to take the usual over the counter remedies like Proton Pump Inhibitors except at first Bismuth (Pepto Bismol tablets) when I really needed it, especially at night. Bismuth kills the little buggers, whereas the Proton Pump Inhibitors act oppositely. I didn’t want to take anything that would make the H. Pylori worse by inhibiting acid. I read that too much acid is not really the problem. The overgrowth of H. Pylori is–and it flourishes in a less acidic environment.
Nevertheless, I did not want to take antibiotics either (the other AMA remedy for this condition–they suggest a cocktail of 3 types of antibiotics, all of which I am very sensitive to), so I began looking up remedies and started taking Mastic Gum as well as some other herbal remedies: licorice root (now in the form of DGL due to taking it so frequently), olive leaf, ginger, slippery elm, marshmallow root, barberry, dandelion, artemesia, black seed oil. Thankfully herbal remedies and I get along…
I discovered that I needed to avoid all grains while healing at least. Plus I learned I couldn’t eat any meat either for now or the Reflux would get bad again. That plus going for walks again (as I was able, given how weak I was at first) and wearing loose clothes (i.e., no brassier) really helped. My feet and legs started looking more normal, no more elephants! And with the aid of raising the head of the bed up higher and/or using my new wedge pillow, plus my changed diet of course, I began to really heal.
Interestingly, going off all grains and eating even more vegetables than usual, has allowed me to eat more histamine containing foods, which has been huge deal for me. I have discovered that by killing off the H. Pylori, I now can eat yogurt and am less sensitive to other high histamine foods like eggs. I also can eat melon far more frequently and with no headaches or resultant insomnia even when the fruit is a little overripe (i.e, has extra histamine). I have found I can even keep a small melon cut in half in the fridge for a few days without reacting after I eat it. This is amazing since the rule of thumb for histamine sensitivity is to eat food fresh or freeze it immediately!
In fact I read recently that an H. Pylori infection or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is often at the root of severe histamine sensitivity. I had known about the SIBO (and tried to eradicate it with oregano oil and barberry for several months) but knew nothing about the H. Pylori–and how it can exacerbate GERD or Acid Reflux. I think my changed (now grain free and meat free) diet plus taking the Mastic Gum, DGL, barberry bark and marshmallow root has been very instrumental in making this anti H. Pylori protocol effective.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I had H. Pylori most of my life. As a child (like the rest of my family), I had a fluctuating pot belly even though otherwise I was pretty thin.
Most fortunately potatoes, yams (in the US these are a form of sweet potato), zucchini and I get along, so I am not carbohydrate starved despite killing off the H. Pylori.
Much to my delight, by killing off the bugs and being off all grains, my brain seems sharper. People also tell me I am more emotionally assertive. I now have the happy discovery that I just feel better in my joints and have more energy. Its also nice to have less of a belly and to have lost my usual 10 pound fluctuation in weight each day, no doubt the effect of edema. As it is I am 15 to 20 pounds lighter than I was and it feels and looks great! If I eat something that feeds the buggers (or the edema) I now know it right away by looking at my bathroom scale. If I gain several pounds from eating something for a meal that I shouldn’t, it tells me. Either that or a case of swollen feet, RLS and/or Insomnia. Otherwise I sleep so much better now than in the past. Amazing, eh?
As a result, this natural protocol has gradually been healing both conditions–the Reflux and the Edema–as well as a whole lot of other issues. And yes, I do believe they are all interconnected. The Body and Psyche have a way of being that way after all…