WHEN DRUG THERAPIES AND ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES DON’T WORK

You just bought yet another supplement. Two weeks down the road, you haven’t noticed any changes. The supplement is expensive and you’re tired of keeping your hopes up. Is it worth continuing? After all, shouldn’t it have done something by now?

Vitamin E can take up to three months to work

When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, one of the very first medications they give you is prednisone, a type of steroid, known as a corticosteroid. As with any steroid, this drug is very fast acting. Unfortunately, the drugs I tried after Prednisone took much, much longer to work. Methotrexate can take up to six months to work for some people, while for others it can work as early as one or two months. And then there are others who never experience any relief from Methotrexate after having been on it for many months.

So what do you really need to know when trying out a new drug, supplement or therapy? How do you know if you’ve given it enough time? Why is it that some people seem to do really well with supplements and claim they work, while others claim they don’t work at all? Why do some people have to try endless drug therapies before they finally reach the right one, while others might get relief right away?

Here are my thoughts on how to make any drug, supplement or therapy a success………

1. Research the drug, supplement or therapy.

Research, research and then research some more! It’s impossible to have a successful outcome from all drugs or therapies in terms of getting relief, but not wasting your time is success! I always have my favorite dependable sites like Mayoclinic for example that I depend on for information, but do be sure to also look at blogs, Wikipedia and ask people on support groups, as well as people you might personally know. It’s important to get a well rounded view on possible outcomes. Most people will be against experimentation. You’re not always going to get the kind of support you want, and that’s something to consider also. In the end remember, it’s your body and your decision, period.

2. Have realistic expectations.

If you have a chronic disease, the odds are against you, that you will find a drug or supplement that puts you in remission. Many people do go into remission, but many more don’t. There are different types of remission as well. Most people who achieve remission, achieve “drug induced remission” meaning that if they went off the drugs, their symptoms would come back full force. There is the rare person who achieves remission and can go off drugs without the return of symptoms. There are also different degrees of drug induced remission. You can be considered in remission and yet still have some symptoms of the disease. Most auto-immune diseases require “stacking” medication before symptoms of the disease are relieved. Keep that in mind when taking supplements. Although there are many supplements that can do amazing things, you will mot likely still have some symptoms of your disease if you are on only one supplement. Drugs and supplements both take time to work. Research how long it usually takes for something to work and consider adding on an extra month just in case your body takes longer than most. Remember that this is somewhat of a gamble. Even your doctor doesn’t know what drug will best suit you or how long it will take.

3. Understand “Hering’s Law”.

Natural Healing is based on “hering’s law” which in a nutshell means that people often re-visit previous symptoms temporarily. This is often when people quit their new supplement or medication, while re-visiting symptoms is often an indicator that you’re on the right track! Having side effects from a drug or supplement doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Any kind of detox will give you side effects simply because the toxins have to re-enter your blood stream and exit your body. This can cause lots of symptoms. Antibiotic therapy is also another therapy that people often stop because they suddenly get side effects. If people could just realize that this is often a sign that you’ve found the right medication for you, they could stay on the right track and reap the benefits right around the corner! On the flip side, side effects that are not normally a disease symptom, like vomiting or blurry vision, depending on your disease, could be a sign that the drug you’re taking is not the right drug for you. For people on drugs like methotrexate, side effects often become less severe over time, but this is not considered “Hering’s Law.” “Hering’s Law” is the re-visitation of old symptoms from the disease itself, not new side effects from the drug. If you are having severe side effects like vomiting or blurry vision and these are not normal symptoms of your disease, then you should consider talking with your doctor and possibly coming off of the drug.

Some pharmaceutical drugs don’t cause you to re-visit symptoms because they suppress the immune system. Suppressing the immune system, vs. emptying the body of toxins are two entirely different things. It’s important to realize that side effects are simply part of the healing process when it comes to a lot of supplements, alternative therapies and select drugs.

5. Don’t group all supplements or alternative medications into one lump sum.

Look at each one individually and it’s specific mechanics.  It’s absolutely essential to understand how a supplement, drug or therapy works so that you’re not hindering the process. Some supplements or drugs require a special diet or other supplements in order for them to work. N-Acetyl Cysteine is one of them. It rids your body of toxic metals. But it’s important to take this supplement with extra Vitamin C among other things in order for it to work. Along with that, you have to supplement the metals that are important to your body, like zinc, iron and selenium because N-Acetyl Cysteine doesn’t have the capabilities of only selecting specific metals.

6. Try to take into account how complicated the body is, how much it changes from person to person and how if something doesn’t work for one person, it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work for you.

We eat different foods, have different lifestyles, have different personalities. OF COURSE we’re all going to react differently to medications, no matter what they are. That’s just part of being human. Even a supplement like Vitamin E, for instance, can take up to three months before you might notice a difference. So hang in there and give it plenty of time!

7. Natural healing needs the effort of the person to consider what they’re ingesting, whether it’s the wrong foods or medications that are inhibiting the supplement from working.

Minocycline therapy for instance, can be easily impared. “Minocycline’s absorption is impaired if taken at the same time of day as calcium or iron supplements. Unlike some of the other tetracycline group antibiotics, it can be taken with calcium-rich foods such as milk, although this does reduce the absorption slightly.[6]“-Wikipedia

Make sure you read about a drug or supplement carefully before taking it, unless you’re willing to throw all caution to the wind. I know for myself, sometimes I get both lazy and daring. Sometimes that works out and sometimes it backfires.

In my support group, a woman with Crohn’s told everyone to avoid aloe vera juice because it had caused her intestines to swell and cause blockage. In fact because of her aloe vera juice experience, she cautions everyone to avoid alternative treatments completely. To this day, I feel like I’m missing quite a bit of information so I can understand the full story. Where did she buy her aloe vera juice, for example? And was it pure aloe vera juice or were there other ingredients? As well, was it possible that she was experiencing “Hering’s Law” and just drank the aloe in too much of a fury? I will never know. Some Aloe Vera Juice products contain lots of sugar and sugar is highly inflammatory. It’s very possible that that could have been the culprit.

In the end, research everything and listen to your body. Do what you feel is right. You have to live in your own skin. You are the only person that knows you the way that you do. And don’t forget to share your successes with the rest of us!

Do You think DMARDS are worth the risks?

In a recent post at Daily Stength , the question, “Do you think DMARDS are worth the risks?” stirred up many emotions and responses.   I have decided to pick out some of the posts and share them with all of you.  Here is the original question:

I know many of you here on this message board are taking DMARDS. I would like to know how many of you have had mild to severe side effects, do you feel comfortable and safe taking the DMARDS and suppressing your immune systems? Also how long you have been on them and have had a positive influence in your quality of life?

Although most agreed that DMARDS are worth the risks, I had to share my point of view.  Here is my reply to the question, and some of the responses that I feel are important to share.  If you are trying to decide for yourself what you should do, I highly recommend joining a support group such as Daily Strength to help you weigh out your choices.  And although Daily Strength is available to the public, I have excluded names to help people keep their anonymity.

Reply #10 (me):

"I’ll go out on a limb here and be the odd one out…..

I was on DMARDS (methotrexate), prednisone and sulfasalazine. They did work but I found that over time my energy and strength level was going down. I also had to increase my mtx dosage over time, one of the reasons my energy level was probably going with it. I was also worried about long term effects on my intestines which are a big part of your immune system. And being at a child-bearing age I felt uncomfortable taking methotrexate in case the unpredictable happened that I got pregnant, as well as I was worried about residual damage left in my body for any future pregnancy I might have.

I think that if you don’t have any other options, DMARDS are definitely worth it…..but I have found other options that have worked really well for me and I believe I’m improving my health. I have hardly any flares any more.

Fibrin which is a big factor in RA and inflammation is what I am controlling by taking Serracor-NK. My lab results have improved exponentially and I have less inflammation now than when I was on the three drugs…mtx, prednisone and sulfasalazine. Serracor also reduces cholesterol. If you look up RA, it is often associated with high cholesterol. Prednisone raises your cholesterol. Cholesterol medications have inadvertently in clinical studies, improved people with arthritis. Serracor uses enzymes to do this. The foods we eat today because they are modified, don’t have the amount of enzymes and nutrition they used to. We would have to eat home grown vegetables all day to get the amount of enzymes Serracor will give you.

I’m also on Low Dose Naltrexone which also improves my immune system by increasing endorphins and decreasing cytokines. LDN helps fight cancer, so again I feel good about this decision. It’s been around for years and there’s many many people online who are on LDN. You can find oodles of youtube videos and stories.

I often feel like people get upset at me for talking about alternative therapies. I’ve been on this site for a long while and asked all the same questions about DMARDs and yes they do work. Please guys, don’t get upset at me for talking about alternative therapies. I do think they are stopping and/or slowing down RA and I think they are a much better choice if they work for you.

I’m not in any way saying that taking DMARDS is a bad decision. All I’m doing is explaining what my experience has been. It took over a year and 1/2 to find the options that I’m on now, so if people are questioning their options I feel bad if I don’t speak up and let them know what I have found."

Reply #11:

"Sarah, you’re the shining example of one who succeeded with non-standard drug therapies. I think it’s wonderful that you post an “alternative” view point, and I, for one, appreciate you doing so.

I think everyone needs to weigh all the factors, including cost, the amount of time they’re willing to spend waiting for a drug, what the perceived benefits will be and the risk of side effects. Some have posted about lowered expectations for biologics, because of drug companies or rheumatologists. It’s probably all true, which makes it all the more imperative that everyone get as much information as possible. Doctors aren’t likely to talk about minocycline or LDN, or Serracor-NK, unless you go to someone who specializes, so it’s good to have your input here."

Reply #14:

"The studies will tell you that early aggressive treatment will postpone if not stop the joint damage. Conservative treatment with only steroids, NSAIDs or other alternative treatments will result in deformity and significantly shorter lifespan. Even if you don’t hurt your disease is still active. Your tests can be “normal” and your disease can still be active. Without treatment that stops the inflammatory response (not just the pain) on the immune system level your joints are being damaged.

They have proven this in numerous studies which is why any Rhuemy’s in the know will push aggressive treatment. Conventional treatment was resulting in severe deformity and a high morbidity rate. Don’t kid yourself.

I think alternative treatments are great but should be used in conjunction with DMARDS or Biologics… not instead of. Cover all your bases. That being said, I would not take MTX again. The side effects did not equal the benefit in my case… but I still tried it to find that out. The list of things that RA itself can do to you is just as scary as most the drug side effects. "

Reply #15:

" I have found it interesting to read all of your comments regarding your approach to treating your RA. I have to say I am going to be 62 years old and I have never heard of any one dying from RA – but I have heard of people dying from drug interactions or their long term effects. Years ago people seemed to learn to live with RA using the drugs they used back then. I am concerned over the long term effects of the DMARDS to be honest. "

Reply #16:

" I too, am one of the people that takes a more conservative approach to medications.

I have had RA for approx. 15 years. I take NSAIDs (tried all the standard ones) and then settled down with Relafen. I also take a DMARD – Plaquenil. It is my understanding that it too is one of the more conservative DMARDs. I may be wrong but the main side effect is that it can affect your eyes. I have been on Plaquenil for 15 years. I get my eyes checked every 6 months, and my Ophthalmologist told me he has not seen any patient on Plaquenil that ever had any problems.

I personally will not take Biologics because of the possible side effects. I can live with pain, I cannot live with some of the potential side effects.

In the end, I feel medication choices are a very personal decision. Everybody is different, their RA is different, and their medication tolerances and reactions are different.

I, too, appreciate Sarah’s posting on alternative therapies.

It is great that we can all post our thoughts and suggestions. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Just remember that just because it works (or doesn’t) for one person, does not mean that you will have the same effect.

All you can do is research the possibilities, listen to the advice of folks here, and work with your doctor on what is best for You.

Good Luck!"

Reply #17 (me):

"Alternative treatments cannot be grouped into one lump sum. They are not all the same, nor do they work all the same, nor do they work the same in all people.

Taking these alternative treatments is an experiment, plain and simple. It may reverse my disease, it may leave me deformed, all I know is that long term, these treatments most likely won’t cause other autoimmune diseases and will most likely improve my health overall.

I’ve chosen to take the risk. In the beginning it was almost impossible for me to get other people to support MY decision to experiment. In fact, most people told me it was a terrible idea. I was on my own for the most part…no support. Two other people jumped on the band wagon on this support group and decided what I was doing was a good idea and that they wanted to try LDN.

Those two went into remission and I didn’t, but I feel WAY better than I used to. They left the support group so I am no longer able to talk with them.

But I’m not complaining too much because my life has changed completely. I can wear high heels again, exercise using weight machines, and live each day almost 99% pain free. NO I can’t do a hand stand because that would be painful, but compared to how I used to be….I am a completely new person. It used to hurt just to have something brush across my toes. I had ganglion cysts on hands and elbows which went away with the Serracor-NK. I always had pleurisy, rashes on my skin, my voice was hoarse, I couldn’t open my jaw…my vision was blurry and my joints made it nearly impossible to do anything. Even sitting, my husband would have to help me get up and down from the couch. I know you all know what I’m talking about.

So even though I know there’s no long term case studies on RA and possible damage with the alternative treatments I have chosen, I feel great about my decision and I’ll continue to share my choices just in case someone out there is anything like me. I personally have never trusted the medical system completely, nor have I trusted doctors completely, and never has a white coat made me feel at ease. I prefer being the one in control, deciding when I should have blood tests, and when I should change medications. I completely understand that I’m the odd one out but to not share my experience makes me feel like I’m not being genuine to myself and not helping someone who might want to hear about another possibility.

I do applaud anyone who stands by their choices. I have always felt it should be your choice, make the doctor work for you, not the other way around.
Hugs,
Sarah "

Reply #18:

"I must be one of the people with the longest experience with the disease in the site – 10 years on methx. 4 on Kineret.

My experience is that they work extremely well. In fact, they restored my life and eliminated pain,deformities, exhaustion suffering.

BUT, and this is a big BUT – my liver is almost destroyed because of the Methx. I have been on it for 10 years, and steadily getting worse. My ALT was over 300 in Feb. so I went off for 7 weeks and got it down to 67 – only 17 above high normal. Great success, I guess. I went back on, because of pain and exhaustion – it is back up to 200, and my liver scan this week shows fatty liver and the beginnings of cirrohis. From the methx. So I have eliminated everything else that clears through the liver – pain killers, AD’s, Vitamins A D, Omega oils, antihistamines and I have been a vegetarian for almost 40 years. No chemicals, no fats. I am dying to see some long term studies of RA people on methx. How damaging is it? Am I an exception? I am also losing another 25 lbs, to try and get the fat out. Taking milk thistle which is supposed to clear the liver.

Kineret is my biologic and it is THE BEST! Except it is a hassle – daily needles kept refrigerated. I went on this over the other biologics because all the others clear through the liver. Before I started 4 years ago, I had kidney damage – 1st stage failure. The last 6 months, I have been normal. So not only has it not hurt it, somehow my kidneys have regenerated, which I was told wasn’t possible. Try Kineret, watch out for the Methx. On the other hand prednisone is the worst drug in the universe, the side effects are endless and all it does is mask the pain, while the disease progresses.

I think the issue is quality of life and independence versus pain, degeneration and deformities. I choose quality of life, although maybe I will change my mind on my death bed when my liver is failing. LOL. Even during my foot reconstruction I had to go off my meds for 2 weeks and the pain and flares were so bad, it was worse than the surgery. To think I lived like that for years. I couldn’t think, read, or do anything the pain was so bad. I can’t take pain killers either, they give me migraines. (Were the nurses ever upset with my projectile vomiting for 3 hours cause they forced me to take Percocet on an empty stomach for “pain management” after I told them NO! after surgery) No pain killers – deal with the disease. I just hope you have a healthy liver.

If you are severe, take the meds till you find what works for you, and don’t worry about the side effects – RA has worse side effects, in my opinion. I have a cousin who has had RA for 55 years. Put on prednisone at age 3. It dwarfed her, caused bone necrosis of the vertebrae in her neck (read death), and she is constantly in pain. Two years ago she almost died of an RA nodule on her throat joints caratynoid or something. Actually she did die – Hypoxia and heart attack, but she was in the hospital and they revived her – she has a permanent trache. I told her too go on methx. Her rheumie said, “I never thought of it!” She feels better than in years. However, I wouldn’t want her life for anything. 3 hips replacements x 2, 2 knee replacement x2, she can’t use her hands, muscle wasting and in a wheelchair. She can’t even feed herself. That is what RA does long term. It mostly doesn’t kill, but it totally destroys ever joint in your body – even in your throat. I am totally in favor of all aggressive treatment from day 1 – from before the sed rates show up high (I was sed neg for years!).

It is your choice, and the severity and pain should influence your choice. But do search it out, and go for the best treatment you can get. "

The Alternative Route Can Be Lonely: A venting story

Choosing your own path isn't always easy

"Landscape at Twilight" by Van Gogh

Even though my RA is pretty under control, I still have setbacks emotionally and physically from time to time. If I overuse my body or don’t sleep enough, I might wake up with sore ankles, stiff and swollen fingers and aching wrists. This is a breeze compared to the indescribable pain and debilitation I used to experience. The other day I became upset when my favorite RA blogger didn’t put me on their blogroll. (I have since been put on the blogroll but my point is, is that it made me realize I was feeling insecure.) It really occurred to me how alone I am on this particular path. I may visit my support group frequently to read posts, but my contribution over time has become less and less.

Over a year ago I had met two other women on Daily Strength who started taking LDN at the same time I did. We were a bit fearful and excited that the new drug we were on would change our lives. We were right. Soon enough , one of the women dropped out of the group. Her symptoms of RA had mostly disappeared and so she no longer needed the support group. She was active with horses and life. I love support, friendship and sharing, especially online. So even if I were to go into complete remission, I don’t have any intention on leaving Daily Strength. It helps to remind me how lucky I am that I feel as good as I do. The other women stayed in contact with me for some time until she went into complete remission. She no longer needed LDN or Antibiotic therapy anymore. Although she had the occasional swelling of a finger she felt she needed a break from the support group, i.e., a break from the reminder that RA had ever existed for her. Maybe I will feel that way if remission hits me completely, where I no longer need a supplement or a drug. Here’s to hoping. But until then, I definitely need people to lean on.

A couple of recent events have made me feel even more alone. I am lucky to have people visit me on this site and share their appreciation and for that I am very grateful. I met an older man at a BBQ and his daughter, thinking we’d have a good time talking, let me know that he had RA too and that I should tell him about my blog. I knew instantly that this might not go as well as hoped because taking alternative therapies is hard to talk about to someone who isn’t. I know first hand what that feels like because I’ve been on the other side. Although some people have been helpful with suggestions, most people have lead me to dead end streets. Avoiding the nightshade family is a good example of a suggestion I tried that didn’t work.

And here in front of me was an older, N.Y. crass, kind of dude. I knew we were going to butt heads. So I tried my best to find our common ground. We talked about methotrexate and what dosage he was on, etc. When he found out I was taking other things and not even seeing a rheumatologist he started hounding me on how I needed to see a doctor….. Sure I’d love to see a doctor I told him, but I don’t have insurance. He continued to hound me anyway. I explained again, “I don’t have insurance and besides I feel so much better now.” He certainly was not interested in what I take at all. He was talking down to me like I was a kid.

He even said the dreaded, “You’re too young to have RA.”

Obviously he was in the dark with his own disease, a crime in my opinion. I tried to switch the subject asking, how bad his RA was when he was at his worst. He had never experienced RA in any other joints besides his hands…lucky man. It didn’t even occur to him that RA can affect other parts of the body. I tried to explain to him that the dosage of methotrexate that he was on, 7.5 was honestly a real breeze and if that’s ALL that I had to take to keep my RA under control, I never would have gone looking for alternative medications. We also talked about the onset of RA. His happened slowly over time. Mine happened almost overnight.

He told me, “Well it doesn’t sound like you have RA. You have something else.”

Oh boy…now for some really frustrating conversation! I had to let him know he was wrong and this kind of overnight arrival of an autoimmune disease like RA was really quite common. He wasn’t part of any support groups nor did he know anyone else with RA. Luckily the chat ended civilly but I was ready for it to be over the moment it began.

This wasn’t the first time that conversations along these lines have happened. On the other side of the spectrum, on my support group a person who joined was claiming Monavie healed everything. I told her I tried it for a month and it did nothing and that maybe I was willing to try it again some other time in the future but it was too expensive, and that I had found other products like Acai Berry V-8 at the grocery store that I figured may work just as well. I’m extremely rational when it comes to taking supplements or medications. I research, reasearch and then research some more! I have never found anything substantial on the positive effects of Monavie. We went back and forth, her frustrated that I wasn’t defending Monavie and telling me medicines are terrible for everyone. I don’t agree with this and I never will and it doesn’t matter that I’m taking alternative treatments. Every human body is different and I can’t say for sure what is best for someone else. I eventually told her what I took. She continued to sound like a sales person and she probably is, stating what I was taking couldn’t possibly help me. I eventually just stopped posting hoping she’d go away.

So what group do I belong to? I don’t really feel like there’s very many people to chat with about my trials and errors.  I have Hashimotos too, and I’ve had that for years. That’s hardly expensive compared to my RA. I try to remind myself that if I was on a biologic, I would be spending enormous amounts of money.   It still feels lonely though not to have my own personal support group where we talk about RA, Serracor-NK, LDN and other supplements we are giving a shot.

So thank you all for reading out there… you are my support and I’m incredibly glad to have you.

Serracor-NK: Reverse the Disease Process

Supplements that can reverse the disease process

Supplements that can reverse the disease process

Serracor-NK is a supplement that you can buy on-line from www.biomediclabs.com . This blend has tremendously improved my Rheumatoid Arthritis. First I noticed not having stiffness at night. Then I noticed getting out of bed and not feeling pain when my feet hit the floor.

Disease activity is in direct correlation to inflammation. If you can decrease inflammation, then you have less disease activity which means less destruction on joints and organs. Side effects from this supplement were only beneficial. It reduces high cholesterol, improves circulatory health, induces viral cleansing and I never expected this one… hair thinning-gone! Expect to have the same amount of hair that you had as a teenager! (Of course, individual results may vary). Perhaps my hair loss was being caused from my body attacking itself. After all, Lupus causes hair loss and even though I was diagnosed with RA, I do get a lot of Lupus-like symptoms. I had thought my hair loss was simply hereditary. I’ve always had great hair but the amount of hair I’d loose in the shower still bothered me. Methotrexate caused me to loose even more but when I stopped Methotrexate I noticed that during a flare, I’d still loose more hair than normal. Now I lose almost no hair at all. It’s amazing! Serracor-NK works by removing excess Fibrin in the body. If your inflammation is not caused by excess Fibrin, then Serracor-NK probably won’t work for you.

“Recent research has shown that fibrin plays a key role in the inflammatory response and development of rheumatoid arthritis.-Wikipedia

For some people, experimenting with a supplement doesn’t sound like a good idea to them. I already felt that the medicines prescribed normally for Rheumatoid Arthritis are experimental, so trying supplements were a natural choice for me. A recent study in WebMD about Biologics shows that though they help with symptoms, they’re not the medical breakthrough doctors and patients were hoping for. Biologics like Enbrel are a very new choice of therapy. There are no guarantees. Although people feel safe taking a drug like Methotrexate because it has been around for a long time, I don’t find this any more consoling. Methotrexate is a drug that yes is widely prescribed by doctors but because it has been tested for so long, it is a fact and not a theory that taking this drug increases chances of cancer, digestive issues, Alzheimer’s and other disconcerting possibilities. It seems likely that at some point, you will suffer from some side effect. From my support group, Daily Strength, I commonly see people who have to temporarily stop taking Methotrexate because their liver enzymes were elevated. What this means is, their liver is getting damaged and they have to stop a medicine that is reducing pain, inflammation and joint damage, putting them behind with their therapy. I have been happily surprised that since starting Serracor-NK, I have not had to deal with a single flare. I feel healthy and can participate in most social events and activities without RA holding me back. Bottom Line: “The findings suggest that RA patients’ medical needs are not being totally met”WebMD

After having been on traditional medications for over a year and then switching over to Low Dose Naltrexone and Serracor-NK, I can honestly say that stiffness, inflammation and quality of life have greatly improved. I do believe that I’m getting increasingly better. This kind of feeling wasn’t happening on Methotrexate and Prednisone. I would go to the gym several times a week and find myself unable to work out as hard. I lost a considerable amount of muscle and since then have been able to improve my exercise routine. If you do decide to try Serracor-NK, make sure you don’t expect miracles right away. Just like immune suppressant drugs, these things take a while. I didn’t really feel a difference until the end of the second month and even then it was a small change. By the third month I was extremely impressed and the fourth month, I felt even better. Unfortunately, you do have to take a lot of pills. That’s the downside….and it sucks. But the alternative is even worse in my opinion. I would much rather take pills everyday, all day long than have to deal with the amount of suffering caused from taking a drug like Methotrexate. For some people, they never experience side effects. I did experience many side effects and I worried constantly about side effects from methotrexate years down the line.

At the height of my RA, I couldn’t even sit up from the couch without a helping hand. Now I can run, lift a full pot of coffee and wake up early in the morning with ease and without the worry of morning stiffness.

If you are looking to avoid the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs, the side effects of corticosteroids, and the expense and issues involved in Biologics, then you have come to the right site. There are so many options out there but coming up with a plan that tailors to your disease and your body can be difficult. Immune suppressive drugs work so well across the board because they don’t have to figure out the problem. They work by suppressing the immune system to a point that the body simply stops reacting. My theory however is that your immune system will eventually try to figure out a way to overcompensate by being suppressed. This is just my theory and I am in no way suggesting that you stop your DMARD. On the other hand, for some people who are looking to find an alternative, I think these are great solutions. What if they really do reverse the disease process? All I can say is, get back to me in 10 years and I’ll let you know. Hopefully I’ll have the answer we all hope for which is yes, you can reverse the disease process if you catch it in time.

Choosing the Alternative Route

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

This evening I visited my on-line Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group. I visit the group, not because I’m in pain, but because I want to share information. I used to visit daily to receive support from the wonderful people who share their heartfelt stories. Because I’ve experienced the lowest of lows with RA I feel like I can relate to my fellow online friends and offer the support they need now that I feel great. It’s tough however when I read post after post about their failing medications. I wish for all of our sakes, the choices were easier to make and that drugs given by doctors worked consistently.

I have a theory that when the body’s immune system is suppressed, the body will continue to fight and cause the immune system to boost and the drugs to stop working. The opposite of that, is that by taking alternative medications, the body is given a chance to heal and correct itself. If given enough time and the right medications, I do think this is possible.

One of my friends from the online support group who had disappeared for the past 6 months wrote to me. She had started on Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) when I started and began antibiotics when I began Serracor-NK. She is now in complete remission. Not only is she not having RA symptoms but she has quit taking LDN and antibiotics for many months now. So what happened? Well I think her body corrected itself, and hopefully it will stay that way forever. If for some reason it goes haywire again, perhaps LDN and antibiotics will again be the ticket to a better functioning immune system. And as well, antibiotics are on the back of my mind, in case Serracor-NK ever decided to stop working. I have complete faith that LDN will continue to work simply because I know other people who have been on LDN for years. One man in particular, Larry has noticed slight changes. He has Multiple Sclerosis, and it wasn’t until his fifth year of taking LDN that he was able to snap his fingers for the first time since MS had started. Now that’s exciting! I know to some people, it’s like, big deal, but when you have an autoimmune disease, it’s little things, liking being able to sleep through the night, make a fist, walk down or up a flight of stairs without issues that can put a very big smile on your face. At this point, I can’t tell what LDN does, I just know my pleurisy has never come back, nor has my chronic sore throat or blurry vision. I am hoping that just like Larry, LDN will continue to heal my body over time.

Before I even began alternative medications, I thought about it from day one. I already had a distrust towards doctors and the medical system for many many reasons throughout my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still go to the doctor, or at least I did when I had insurance. I believe as well, you can to a certain extent, help the medical system help you and not just go through life with blinders on. I have fought at times for certain medications or doses, and even for specialists. Getting your doctors to work for you, rather than you working for them is difficult and exhausting but in the end, it can be worth it.

I noticed early on that people on the support group who had RA generally didn’t have their perfect “cocktail” or drug mix that took away their symptoms. If they did, it seemed to be temporary. It was just a matter of time before their liver enzymes were up or the drugs stopped working. Tonight for instance, there was a post about methotrexate and prednisone not doing the job it was suppose to. The methotrexate dose was raised and yet she still wasn’t feeling better. Not only that, the raised dose of methotrexate had caused more hair loss and flu like symptoms. Inflammation was still a problem so an additional medicine was going to have to be introduced. She was frustrated and feeling confused how having a rheumatologist was helpful. The reality is, RA can be so severe that even the extreme fatigue, hair loss, flu like symptoms and yet dealing with some inflammation, flares and brain fog is still a better condition than not being able to walk or get a simple task done. It’s just sad to me, that the doctors and pharmaceutical companies only seem to offer drugs that will eventually harm you. If your autoimmune disease doesn’t do the trick in hurting your body, then perhaps the medications will. My opinion of this is conspiracy, I hate to say it, but I do think that in a world where sick people make pharmaceutical companies money, it would make sense that keeping them sick would be the answer. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that biologics and chemotherapy drugs used for RA give you less inflammation but in the end can lead to other autoimmune diseases or even Cancer.

I remember just before I stopped taking methotrexate and started taking LDN, I had done a little survey with the support group asking about daily symptoms, how many drugs they were on, and how long they had had RA. As well, had they ever experienced remission and what was the best they had felt? What I found was, the majority of people suffered from daily symptoms of RA, side effects from the drugs they take, and hadn’t experienced remission. Not only that,many people were still trying to get their symptoms under control, adding more medicines which meant more money out of their pocket and more side effects. The majority of them knew I was going to start taking LDN. Some cheered me on. Some people worried and asked me how I could choose this when it was DMARDS and Biologics that were suppose to stop the disease from causing deformation. I would explain that prednisone, which most people were taking was causing bone loss, and that until their disease was completely under control, they were probably experiencing bone deformation. As long as the disease is active and you have inflammation, regardless of what drug you’re on, joint erosion and deformation could still be in the process.

Even I have bone deterioration and that was under the supervision of a Rheumatologist and under the right drugs, including a DMARD. I have barely any swelling now, on alternative medications, and I know as long as I do have swelling I’m probably harming my joints. But knowing that prednisone which my doctor had me on for a year, harms my joints as well as other parts of my body makes me feel like the alternative route is the best way to go. How can I complain when I’ve had the least amount of swelling since the onset of RA. I wake up pain free every day. I would love to have complete flexibility in my wrists, which I don’t but I’m hoping in time it will still happen. You’ll have to keep up on my progress to find out. Either way, I’m still genuinely happy that I made this decision because I have no side effects with the supplements I take and LDN, except for good side effects like lower cholesterol and more energy . I can drink if I want to, and I almost never have a flare. If I do have a flare, I’m not even sure if it is a flare because the swelling and pain is so minimal. Possibly the best side effect that I never expected…..I have more hair than I have had in years. :)

The Secret

This evening I watched the secret, the movie. I found it compelling. I had been wanting to read the book but never got around to buying it.

Tonight was one of those nights where things felt like they aligned. It was if the world was saying, “you’re on the right path.” For instance, my brother had forgotten the name of a restaurant and sort of found himself lost in his quest to locate it by just driving in the general area. Sure enough however, we found it. It was a beautiful place…roaring waves to listen to and look at as the city of Newport lit up the night.

I expected the secret to be what it was, which for me was an inspiration. I’ve always loved self help books and self help tapes. I once listened to a tape read by a woman who’s voice had that calming effect. What I got most from that tape was figuring out what success meant for you. On that audio tape for instance, there was a story about a woman who discovered that in order for her to feel successful, she needed to be able to take her dog into work. She ended up quitting her job and she found just that….a job that let her enjoy having her dog at her feet while she worked at her computer. This story meant something to me and that was success was different for different people.

The Secret on the other hand was a nice refresher on thinking positively, emotionally getting yourself there and asking the world for what you want (mentally). There are parts of the secret that I think could be described a little more fully or delved into a little more. For instance, their attitude on health. Although I do believe that the mind is capable of fully healing the body, even walking through walls for that matter if we were to use it’s complete capacity instead of the small percentage that we do use, I think some illnesses like RA, MS and Parkinson’s for example, are so involved….meaning that either our body is attacking itself at all times, or there are missing chemicals in our brain, that trying to heal our bodies would literally take every second of every day, for possibly an extremely long time before any change was noticed.

What I do believe however, is that by asking the Universe for what you want, you can for the most part get it. For instance, when I first got RA and started taking chemotherapy drugs and Prednisone, a steroid, I thought to myself, “There has to be a better option! There has to be an option that doesn’t have these side effects and doesn’t wreck my immune system, and doesn’t leave me prone to illnesses.” In fact, I didn’t focus on the negative but rather researched as much as I had time for on my quest for learning about my disease. It was probably half a year into it that I started taking more supplements. I read more and more about how different supplements worked in helping with inflammation. I was interested in experimentation, that was certain and I figured if I didn’t give it my full effort, I would never know.

And of course what I attracted in the process was other people who knew that I was looking for an alternative solution. I was also on the lookout in my support groups for ideas. So I think just as the Secret promises, my energy was out there and so were my positive thoughts that I would find the solution I was looking for. Now that I’ve figured out (for the most part) the solution for my RA……and I say this meaning that it’s MY solution and may not work for you, and I also realize that our bodies change over time, so I may need something in addition to it in the future. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and never need anything else. Regardless, I’m now on a quest to make my Dad’s symptoms with Parkinson’s less. And I hope of course throughout all of this, that the solutions I find help other people. And I also hope that people write in about the solutions they have found. If it weren’t for other people, I would not be on the alternative solutions that I take today and most likely would not be feeling as great as I do.

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