Natural Anti-microbial Supplements for IBD

Plants have been used as primary medicine for millennia. In fact, anthropologists have found medicinal herbs in the a 60,000 year old grave of a Neanderthal man. Cultures throughout the world have detailed plans and systems for using medicinal plants. What modern researchers are finding today, is nothing new. In fact, over 50% of the modern-day pharmacy is derived from plant material.

Oregano

General principles for all natural antibiotics:

  • Unlike conventional antibiotics, there are few side effects. Most have none at all. This is a great relief(!), especially if you’ve been suffering through the side effects of steroids or immune suppressants.
  • Unlike conventional antibiotics, they have multiple action (they work on microbes in and through many different mechanisms); Read the rest of this entry

So, I’ve finished—sort of. Let me explain:

I finished the antibiotics. I finished ten daily fecal transplant infusions. My colitis symptoms are gone (yea!). Now it’s on to maintenance doses. Only, that protocol not outlined anywhere I can find.

A maintenance schedule of infusions makes sense. Bacterial life cycles are such that the ‘bad’ bacteria could reemerge (bloom), and set me back. It could also be that diet and daily me encourage a shift in the bacterial community back towards a negative mix. It could also be that ten infusions wasn’t enough to establish permanent remission. It could be that some number of annual fecal transplants will be necessary for life, if I am to remain healthy.

See a pattern here?

One commenter, a nurse, wrote to me some of her musings on my experiment. I thought they might be helpful here, so I have included some of her thoughts—with her permission.

My guess is that the healing may not be [as closely] related to the number
of infusions –
[rather] time it takes for the bacteria to colonize
and move up the colon. The infusions do not infiltrate the entire colon,
[at once] so it may take a while for the bacteria to “settle in” – adapt to a new environment and start to function the way they are supposed to

[snip]

And also, these bacteria are used to growing on healthy tissue, which you do not have yet. As your gut heals, then the normal community of bacteria have a better chance of survival, and until then, you probably will experience partial recovery but not full—that to me would be a realistic expectation.

Just like you cannot put a skin graft on burned tissue until granulation takes place, and there has been normal tissue repair… So, the 10
day routine sounds like a firm plan and an effective one, but beyond
that a maintenance schedule would seem to be needed— the body reacts to many things by responding, then plateauing, and then responding again. So, adjustment time is needed, then time to leave the body alone to do it’s thing, then maybe more
[infusion] maintenance therapy.

I think she is right on in many respects. I do believe that the number and frequency (at least in the first 10 days after antibiotics) of infusions matter (to get proper colonization); however, her point about time for the bacteria to colonize the entire colon is well taken, and likely true, I think.

I had expected too much too soon from this therapy, and from my body at first, which lead to the mid-treatment disappointment I felt. Natural treatments in general take time, your body takes time. The good news is this treatment only took 17 days (so far…so good), whereas others take years.

The maintenance schedule is an educated guessing game, one that favors the cautious. I’ve heard stories of people doing these infusions; their symptoms disappear, only to reemerge a few months later. My goal is to minimize the chance of that happening by taking three basic, common sense steps:

  1. Stay on the SCD. It works for me. There’s an ancient Egyptian proverb [sic]: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ll wait at least 1-2 months of no symptoms before I try any non-SCD food.
  2. Keep taking my daily supplements. Vitamin D (2-4,000 IU), SCD-friendly multi, Aloe (500mg), SCD yogurt (2 cups/day).
  3. Go on a tapering maintenance infusion schedule. Below is my ideal, if nothing goes wrong. If my symptoms return, of course, I’ll do more.
    1. February: One infusion per week.
    2. March: Two infusions.
    3. April-January, 2012: 1 infusion per month for ten months, or until my donor gets tired of pooping in a cup.

Thank you to all who have been praying for and encouraging me.

In the next post, I will elucidate my (madness) methods, give you resources to look up for further reading, and I will give you other tools that I found useful in the process.

Until then…

Onward to Health.

Bacteriotherapy Journal #9

Days: 15 &16:

The last three months or so have shown me some new and interesting symptoms. I’ve itched like crazy. I’ve been cold–all the time. My libido has disappeared. I’ve been tired and lethargic, slow to recover from stress events and workouts. I got headaches and nausea at least 1x/week.

With the antibiotics, the itching all but disappeared. Now, nine days after antibiotics, I don’t itch, even when I take probiotics and yogurt (these were the culprits before). Yea!

After nine infusions, here’s what my symptoms look like:

  • I’m no longer cold.
  • I have crazy energy that I haven’t felt in years.
  • My libido is returning.
  • I have no noticeable undigested material in my stool.
  • My stools, which used to be very light in color and not hold together well, have darkened, and are well-formed (this is new just yesterday and today)
  • I’m still a little gurgly. More gassy than I have been in the last two years, but not overly so.
  • The past two days, I’ve only gone one time.

Sound like a turn around? Yea, it does to me too. Things started to turn after the seventh infusion, but I wasn’t sure. After eight, I was more sure. Now after nine, I am confident enough to write about it.

I’m holding back excitement, because I’ve been here before, but I can’t help but be optimistic. I have other signs that the bacterial colony is taking hold: My stools, creepily, smell exactly like my donor’s, and so does my gas. Yes, it’s a bit eerie, but it’s a good sign to me. Each time I pass gas, it’s as if there’s a foreigner in the room, and I look around: Was that me?

I try to look on the bright side: Now when I go over to my donor’s house for dinner (he and his wife are good friends), I can fart, blame it on him, and no one will be the wiser. Hey, may as well  have a little fun with it, right?

To sum up, I feel very optimistic, like I’ve turned a corner. Cautious, but optimistic. I will take the tenth infusion tomorrow, then pause to see how the week goes. If it goes well, I will take one infusion/week for the month of Feb. I will take them more often if I feel symptoms returning; however, the ideal, I think, will be to take 1/wk. in Feb., 2 in March, and then 1/mo. for 12 months.

I do this, because, yes I’m uber-cautious, and an over-achiever, but also because I’ve read about people doing these, feeling great, only to have their symptoms return in a couple of months. So for me, it’s important to stay (for now) SCD, stick with my supplements (the one’s that work), and keep doing infusions until I’m sure that everything is well. I will measure this in part through regular blood work, and maybe–maybe–a scope in the fall (more about scopes later).

For now, I’m celebrating what looks like (at least for now) a turning of the tide of battle. Celebrate with me…

Onward to Health!

Days 8 & 9:

Lots to write about today. I’ll try and summarize yesterday and write some about how I’m feeling today. As usual, your questions and comments will be helpful in rounding out the story and pulling out details that I miss.

I spent the better part of Thursday night sleeping on my two-year old daughter’s floor as she thew up. There’s a stomach bug racing through our church. Several of my children’s friends have either just gotten over it, or still have it. Well, evidently, my daughter has it too. Great. Just in time for my “get well” enemas. What if I get this during my treatments? What if my donor gets it? Crap. Literally.

Well, it is what it is now. We’ll deal with that if it comes. For now I’m loading up on vitamin C and taking some probiotics (not enough to mess up my system), and I am cleaning my hands and house surfaces obsessively. What luck huh?

Yesterday I fasted in preparation to do the lavage prep, while my daughter, and by extension her older brother, watched too much T.V. The idea behind doing a full lavage is to finish the cleansing of the colon, to remove reservoirs of fecal matter that may still harbor bacteria. Fasting is not fun for me–I’m skinny and very active, my engine burns hot–so when yesterday when I had to watch my wife and family eat three lovely meals without me… Ugh. All in the name of getting better right? I’m not really that negative about it, I just love to eat. It’s the last reservoir of vice that life affords me.

At 3p, I began drinking the lavage: 8oz. every ten minutes. I finished drinking that awful stuff at 6pm. The label says, “NOTE: This solution is more palatable if refrigerated before consumed.” Great, thanks. It also came with four flavor packets, that I couldn’t bring myself to use. Artificial flavors, colors, fructose,… nope. Not in this body. Not ever again. Not after this illness. So I took it straight up.

After the first glass, I was reminded of Harry Potter and the scene where he and Dumbledore were searching for Voldemort’s first Horcrux. There was a pool of potion to be drunk. It had to be consumed to find the enemy’s device, in which he had hidden part of his soul, a part of his scheme to achieve immortality. Dumbledore looks at Harry and says something like, Harry, I don’t know what this potion will do to me, but you must ensure that I keep drinking it. I may beg you to stop…but you must, no matter what I say, ensure that I finish it all.

Michelle, Reid, you must ensure that I finish this potion. They helped, and I did.

By 9:30p, my system was settled enough that I began to prepare the sample. The sample I used was about four hours old. The newer the better. Without going into the gory details, it is one of the more unpleasant tasks I’ve ever done, and between us, that’s saying something. I diluted about 300 grams of sample with about 300 ml distilled water and a teaspoon of inulin fiber (as a prebiotic) and blended it until smooth, strained the undigested matter, and put it into a Fleet’s Enema bottle which I had emptied and prepared with an enema tube to ensure that I could administer the human probiotic far enough into the colon.

We sterilized everything we used with boiling tap water, the counters with bleach water. I gladly wore gloves throughout the preparation of the sample. I didn’t use bleach on the implements, because I didn’t want bleach residue to spoil subsequent samples, so I boiled everything, and rinsed each implement with distilled water to remove any disinfection residuals from the tap water.

I took the enema, which when full, is 133ml. I figure I got about 100ml actually inside my colon by the time all was said and done. After finishing the enema, I laid on my bed with my hips elevated, rocking periodically onto my right side (and staying there for 10 min or so each time) for about an hour. Then I went to sleep. I held the enema until 6am, when my bowels woke me. Evidently, I didn’t wait long enough for the laxative to clear, because that movement was mostly water, just like it was all day yesterday.

At 8am this morning, I went to my donor’s house and collected a fresh sample, and administered it about 9:30am this morning. Repeated the same prone position for about 45 min., before I was interrupted by crying from our living room. My two-year old daughter had just vomited all over herself and my wife. Fantastic. So I spent the last of my horizontal time, decidedly vertical, cleaning puke from my living room, trying not to contaminate my insides, which are clean and vulnerable, and bleaching EVERYTHING.

Now my four-year old son is feeling puny. Awesome. Round two?

For my part, I feel great! I’ve had oodles of energy today. My bowels are making some strange noises, and I feel some new movement in there which I don’t recognize. Then again, when I move into a new home, I clean and reorganize too, so why wouldn’t my new residents do the same? My colon is a bit uncomfortable. It’s the same feeling I got during my aloe experiment as my bowels were adjusting to a firmer stool. Jini Patel Thompson talks about this uncomfortable feeling as your stools are firming up. I hope that’s what’s going on. Time will tell. It does make sense. I’ve only had a handful of solid BMs (aloe experiment aside) for the better part of two years.

I did go to the bathroom this afternoon, about six hours after the morning infusion. It was not really a movement, just a really small sputtering, a letting off of some steam if you will. I am still waiting to judge my bowels. But I have really good energy today, and I’m in good spirits.

Onward to Health.

Bacteriotherapy Journal #2

Days 2 and 3:

My father and my sister (both doctors) insist that the heavy antibiotics called for in this prep period, before the infusions, will likely cause rippin’ D. When they first said that, I laughed in my head, thinking, If you only knew…life itself gives me rippin’ D. What constitutes that kind of diahreah for non-IBD folks? 6, 7, 8 times a day? At my peak, I was going three times that, without antibiotics. Ha! I scoff at your rippin’ D with a silly French accent.

Nonetheless, my father and sister are right to be concerned. I am being cautious. The D caused by massive antibiotics, and by extension, massive bacterial die-off, is different than a flare up. The toxin load is high, you can get significant sloughing of tissue, as well as the normal loss of electrolytes and nutrients that come with D. It would be silly to let arrogance get the better of me, and to end up too sick to take the fecal infusions. Thanks family, you watch out for me.

I drank 3 cups of hot, homemade chicken broth with lemon juice and salt yesterday. Yum.

So far, the antibiotics have improved my colitis symptoms, which weren’t bad to begin with, after almost 20 months on the SCD, probiotics, and other natural treatments. Nevertheless, those symptoms, that last 20% of recovery, has been elusive for me, and I continue to search. My symptoms began to improve about 24 hours after starting the medications. Mucus in my stool, which had been ubiquitous, except for my aloe experiment, is gone. My bowels are relatively quiet, some D, but not what I expected so far. Still D, but no mucus and little urgency.

That said, I have had trouble sleeping the last two nights. Could be medicine, could be anticipation. Either way, I’m tired and lethargic. Drinking lots of water, taking vitamins, and eating sensibly–though, I have been, for the past two to three weeks, experimenting with non-SCD foods, most of which have bothered me, so I’ve shelved them. I think the impetus for trying non-SCD foods after so long on the diet was twofold:

1. I’ve plateaued on the SCD. I haven’t gotten any better (though the SCD has been the most helpful treatment I’ve tried), in months. I’ve tried all I can think of–food investigation after food investigation; lifestyle changes; exercise; and many adjuncts. I’ve remained at 80% better for a long time. I’m looking for 100%. So frustration leads to experimentation.

2. I think anticipation of the bacteriotherapy sessions have hurt my will to stay SCD. During the 10 days of infusions, I will be non-SCD, adding white rice and possibly yams (along with loads of veggies) to ensure that my new residents get firmly implanted (probiotic colonization is difficult in people with IBD). So, anticipation of that week of relative dietary hedonism lead to SCD willpower weakness. Like I said, most foods haven’t been ‘safe’ for me, but some , like a small square of 80% cocoa chocolate, haven’t bothered me, so I have them (for now) in very light moderation. Long run, if bacteriotherapy doesn’t work, and I go back to strict SCD, that’s what I’ll be–strict SCD. Elaine was right: The diet won’t work unless you stick to it with fanatic adherence. I just need a mental break, and bacteriotherapy week is the safest 10-17 days to do that.