Getting to the root of RA means we have to ask what might be causing the painful symptoms. Questions like, “Can pathogenic bacteria be the cause of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?”
The answer is YES!
Bacteria are a rarely considered cause of these serious health conditions and one aspect that we DO address with our holistic approach at BeWell.
I’d like to share Jenn’s story with you. Jenn is the busy mother of 2 girls, who started her own business in January of 2018. As you might guess, there was a significant increase in her stress load. This was on top of high blood pressure and acid reflux, which developed during her pregnancy in 2017.
Jenn got in touch with me in mid-March of this year. She had been recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was in a severe flare-up. Her rheumatologist suggested the conventional approach: four different medications to suppress immunity and quiet inflammation.
Jenn didn’t want to take medications and decided to “fight back” by changing her diet (gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free) and exercising daily. She sought to reduce the inflammation at its source, hoping that it would improve her symptoms without meds.
In eight weeks, she was able to control her pain quite well. However, if she slipped up on the diet, she could barely walk the next day.
When Jenn contacted me, it was because she was deeply fatigued, had severe muscle aches after exercise (which had been very helpful with her joint pain) and trouble focusing. She had observed that Vita C helped the achy joints and boosted her energy. She also avoided gluten, dairy, grains and soy which controlled the pain by 90%.
After reviewing Jenn’s TRIAD test results, I suggested she start some free form amino acids to boost energy and also offered Jenn a new, highly accurate stool test to determine whether she might have any of the specific bacteria in her colon that are known to be possible triggers of RA.
The GI Map, as the stool test is called, uses cutting edge technology to identify organisms using DNA. If there are just five cells worth of a parasite, yeast, virus, or bacteria in the stool, this test will pick it up.
What do bacteria in the colon have to do with autoimmune conditions? A lot!
There are numerous specific pathogenic bacteria that are known triggers for specific autoimmune conditions. For example, klebsiella can cause Crohns, Ulcerative colitis and psoriatic arthritis and yersinia can kick off Hashimoto, paratuberculosis can cause Type 1 diabetes, RA and psoriasis and the species Prevotella and Proteus can cause rheumatoid arthritis.
Especially with Jenn’s history of using a PPI for acid reflux, it was worth checking into since PPI medications can alter gut flora and allow pathogens to grow in both small and large intestines. It was worth a shot!
Sure enough, Jenn tested positive for Prevotella, one of the species that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis. We also discovered that she had H.pylori, a bacteria that can cause acid reflux and ulcers, and whose mutated forms can increase one’s risk for stomach inflammation and cancer. Besides these two specific pathogens, she had a half dozen other unfriendly species of bacteria in her colon, most of which cause inflammation and loose stools, a long-time problem of hers.
Jenn started a regimen of botanical antibacterial agents, one of which is specific to H. Pylori and another product that eradicates a broader spectrum of bugs. A month later, she was feeling much better in every way, digestively, energy-wise, and most importantly, the elimination of almost all of her joint pain.
“I feel like a new person! I feel like my own self ! I have energy, my mind is back, I have really good mental clarity. And after 16 months of joint pain I am free of it and my joints aren’t swollen at all. I can’t talk about it without crying.”
A month later Jenn hiked a 5-mile trail at Glacier National Park. She wrote to me after:
“As for how I am doing… I took a 5 mile hike up and down a mountain in Glacier National, that is how good I am doing. When the hike was completed, I looked at my husband and cried. I once again said what a difference you have made in my life – on the mountain in Glacier National you were thought of. Why? Because I looked at him and told him that in January of this year, I could not have even imagined that my body would be able to hike up and down a mountain due to the pain I was in, and that the fact that I was able to do it 6 months later with no pain was incredible.”
I expect Jenn to be able to resume a more varied diet, in fact, this is her report:
“I did eat like crap on my vacation (shame on me). Surprisingly I am not having the same reactions that I was originally having to certain foods anymore. I do react to nightshades and gluten right now, but the inflammation the next day is VERY minimal compared to how it was.”
If Jenn maintains her supportive routine, she can continue to remain healthy and active from this point forward.