(Republished from 2014)
A customer came in today and asked how I began making detox products. This led to a great conversation, and she related to much of what I told her. It got me thinking about sharing my personal health journey, as it may help others. This is sensitive information, and I am by nature a private person, but if it saves even one person years of suffering like I endured, it will be worth it.
Some people have a genetic mutation that makes their bodies unable to detox efficiently, along with many other related issues. I'm one of those people, but didn't find out until a few years ago when a doctor finally had the insight to test me for the right thing. Here's my story:
I've always been very sensitive to medications and especially alcohol, and I've always had a weak immune system, but I didn't think twice about it until several other issues surfaced over the years. I had a textbook healthy pregnancy with my first child, but my second pregnancy was not. I had pre-term labor and was put on bed rest. I felt thoroughly drained and exhausted. Eventually, I was hospitalized, but despite their efforts, gave birth two months early(my son is a very healthy 14 year old now!). I asked every doctor and nurse I saw if they knew why this was happening after a healthy first pregnancy. I was told over and over that no one knew the cause. This was in the year 2000 (a genetic study that discovered the cause of my problems was done in 2003). I later developed symptoms associated with low thyroid and fried adrenals, and one doctor tested me for autoimmune disease, which came back negative. I was prone to depression. I got panic attacks and had a general feeling of anxiety or impending doom. Several times I felt like my head would literally explode, yet my blood pressure was so low that I would have to jump around at the doctor's office in order for the nurse to even get a reading. I had constant candida infections. Serious brain fog..I have an engineering degree, yet couldn't think, or would grasp for words like 'door'. My hands and arms would go numb or tingle. I was losing hair. I was so TIRED. I gained 20 pounds in one year with no change in diet or exercise. Then, my hands started shaking. We were in the process of building our house when the shaking started, and someone told me it was stress and would go away once the house was done, but I couldn't apply mascara or light a candle because the shaking was so bad. The shaking didn't go away once the house was done. I could no longer handle even a trace of caffeine without feeling absolutely sick.
First, I was told it was my hormones and I had a custom blend compounded for me at a special pharmacy(even though I was in my early 30's). It seemed to help a little, for a while, but then I continued to feel worse. I literally could not even walk uphill without feeling like I was wearing lead boots on the ocean floor. I saw a string of doctors over a period of 7 years ranging from conventional to naturopathic, and they all did their best. It was a horrible feeling when yet another doctor just didn't know what else to do. They tried everything they knew...mostly gave me prescriptions for thyroid and adrenals. I spent years researching my symptoms online and trying supplements. At one point I was taking over 30 supplements a day. I was desperate to feel better. The doctors couldn't help because the underlying cause to all of this was unknown to them. The most tragic symptom (which I did not discuss with any doctor until a few years ago because I assumed it was due to my hormones being out of whack, and if I could just find the doctor who could 'fix' my hormones, I thought this issue would be naturally resolved. I also felt it too personal and painful to discuss.) was the miscarriages. It might sound crass and unfeeling, but I literally stopped counting, and emotionally detached. I stopped telling my husband whenever I became pregnant because I knew the outcome, and wanted to spare him the pain. The only consolation I had was that at least they were always early miscarriages, in the first or second month.
Finally, a few years ago, I decided it was now or never since I was in my early 40's, and went to a fertility specialist and told her about the miscarriages as well as the other symptoms. She immediately had me tested for something called MTHFR, and I learned that I not only have this genetic mutation which causes early miscarriage, but I have a particularly dangerous form called C667T inherited from BOTH parents, which means I'm homozygous, and more strongly affected, and I will need to take medication for it the rest of my life. I asked her how I had been able to have my children with this mutation, and she said I "got lucky." If only I'd told a doctor about the miscarriages earlier, I could have been diagnosed correctly and saved years of suffering (moral of the story...never keep anything back from your doctor, no matter how personal)!
It's a complicated condition, but basically, there's a cascade of processes that should be happening in my body, and they don't, or, don't happen very effectively. This makes me susceptible to things like cancer, stroke, heart disease, miscarriage, depression, alzheimer's, and a host of other issues. One of those processes that doesn't function well is my body's ability to detox. I had found on my own, well before I was diagnosed, that I felt better when I detoxed. It is also very important for me to eat organically, and lead as clean a lifestyle as possible. I was already naturally drawn to this lifestyle, because I am sensitive to what goes in or on my body, and I recognized what made me feel better. I do what I can to remove toxins from my environment. That includes using natural cleaning products, using only glass or metal for water bottles and food storage, eating organically, avoiding dairy and wheat (I feel best when I can stay on a Paleo-type diet), and, of course, using natural and organic products on my body. I incorporate detox into my life however I can to help lesson the load on my body, which is why I created my detox products: Detox Deodorant, Magnesium Mineral Lotion(magnesium helps the body detox, and transdermal supplementation is the most effective method), Activated Bamboo Charcoal Toothpaste, Detox & Relax Bath Salts, Detox Seaweed & Dead Sea Mud Mask, Detox 5-Free Nail Polish, etc...it is crucially important that I support my body's ability to detox while limiting exposure to harmful chemicals.
Where am I now? I have been taking prescriptions for things my body can't make or convert for the past few years, and thyroid medication for several years. I try to stay on top of taking supplements as well, but I loathe taking pills, so am not always consistent. I do feel better, but I don't think I will ever be truly healthy. I eat well and live cleanly. I exercise. I have a strong faith life which sustained me through all of this. I do not have my fertility back. I never lost the 20 extra pounds, no matter how much I exercise. I don't think I will ever be a 'normal' healthy person...it's literally not in my genes. I still get tired and don't have the stamina of a 'normal' person. Often, I have problems recalling words or just am unable to think as clearly as I would like. If I don't get enough sleep or get too stressed, my hands start shaking again. My immune system will never be strong. It's like I have a very narrow window of health, and if I do everything just right, I feel good. When I stray, I pay. Detox is a key necessity to my health, since my body is very limited in its ability to do so on its own.
So, here's the rub: many people are affected by MTHFR and don't know it. It was only discovered in the early 2000's, so most doctors don't know what they're looking for! I've read that up to 50% of the population may have some form of MTHFR, which is negatively affecting their health to some degree. Most of them have probably been diagnosed with an effect of MTHFR, but not the root cause. For many people, as long as they live squeaky-clean lives, they will never feel the effects of MTHFR. It depends on which kind you have, whether you inherited it from one or both parents, and several environmental factors. It's easy to get tested for it. I've included links below if you are interested in learning more about MTHFR and how to find out if you have it.
An MTHFR blog with an easy to understand explanation here.
A concise article about methylation here.
Read a somewhat simple explanation of MTHFR and how it affects your health here.
Everything you could ever want to know about MTHFR, and how to get tested here.