I crewed on a sailboat a lot in my early 20’s. We’d race some evenings and nearly every weekend on the Columbia River. Each July we’d sail in Hood River with the sun on our backs and the wind in our rainbow colored spinnakers. I even raced in the “Oregon Offshore” which goes from Astoria, OR to Victoria, BC. Besides having my head in a bucket for much of the 50+ hour race and freezing my ass off, it was delightful! So, I did it again the next year. It was worse! I was never so happy to see land and touch my toes on the dock! I determined rough ocean sailing wasn’t for me.
In sailing, you tack to take the boat in another direction, using the wind to your advantage in getting you to the finish line ahead of your opponents. Sometimes the boat captain makes the right strategic call as to when to tack in open water, sometimes you have no other choice (i.e. when you’ve got more land than water ahead, or you hear the sound of an approaching barge), and sometimes it doesn’t work as well as you hoped and gets you further off course. Guess work and some luck are involved.
So it goes with healing the gut. For 36 days, I’ve followed the SCD/Low FODMAPs protocol religiously, but my gut isn’t healing. I can’t tell if the SIBO’s back or something else is causing issues (bloating, gas, constipation and/or loose stools, abdominal discomfort, etc.), but I know it’s time for a new approach. I spoke to my ND at work yesterday and he also thought we should change directions. He suggested another round of some heavy duty herbs (Biotics’ Dysbiocide and FC-Cidal specifically) which are different ones than before. If my gut feels better on the herbs as it did the last time, we’ll know there was an overgrowth of some kind (bacteria, fungus, yeast?). I may then re-test for SIBO.
My diet will change somewhat too. For one thing, I’ll omit bananas and honey as I suspect I’m getting too much sugar. Sugar feeds pathogens. I will add a lot more cultured foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and maybe even some kefir and hard, aged cheese in very small quantities. I have an intolerance to casein – the protein found in dairy – however, with 48-hour ferments, the casein is denatured to the point that most casein-sensitive people can have it without incident. I hope that’s true for me!
For the first 4-6 weeks (a.k.a. the “Kill” phase), I will eat a diet VERY low in sugar (<10 g/day) and carbs (<50 g/day). I will continue avoiding all gluten, grains, and alcohol. I will eat only nutrient-dense foods like grass-fed beef, wild fish, pastured eggs, leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and healthy fats.
The goal is to starve the pathogens, ruin their hiding spots (i.e. biofilms), render their environment hostile (i.e. acidic), and poison them with strong herbs. I really like the sound of that: I want those suckers DEAD! Assuming all that goes as planned, I’ll enter the “Maintenance” phase for another 2 to 6 months. It will be a wee bit more lenient. I’ll be eating a “Modified Low FODMAP Diet” meaning I can eat some things I’ve really missed, like avocados.
I’m reading a book just released called The Gut Health Protocol by John G. Herron, which is where these ideas are coming from. If you’re in a similar boat (to continue my analogy), I highly recommend this book!
I still have some unanswered questions, so will likely wait to start this until Monday. I need to know the dosing and duration for taking the herbs and whether or not to continue with the low-dose Erythromycin. I suspect I’ll be back on biofilm distruptors (dismantling the bad guys’ hangouts) and possibly some additional supplements as well.
I’m looking forward to this change, as the last several weeks have been frustrating to say the least. It’s another long haul, but I know it will be worth it in the end. Gut healing is certainly not an exact science. A lot of trial and error is involved, and of course there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy. This is what I’m trying and I will continue to document my findings via this blog. Your tack may be different. I encourage everyone who’s on a similar course to research and learn as much as you can. It’s empowering to play an active role in healing oneself.