What Doctors Say when They Don’t Know the Cause of Your Symptoms

"the patient is malingering"

Doctors don’t like to say ‘I don’t know.’ It appears to be a phrase they hate. There’s a lot they will do to avoid acknowledging that they aren’t sure as to what is happening – Doctors will often use lots of scientific jargon and short phrases that remove or dismiss responsibility from themselves. Let’s explore them, shall we?

What doctors say when they don't know the cause of your symptoms

They describe the condition

There are many diagnoses out there that give doctors an easy out when it comes to explaining a strange symptom. The most common ones, arguably, are ‘idiopathic’ and ‘essential’. If you are told you have an idiopathic or essential condition, be aware that the doctor has only told you what’s happening, not why or how!

The term idiopathic literally means ‘arising from an unknown cause’. My partner was diagnosed in July 2017 with idiopathic osteoporosis. Osteoporosis itself is much more a definition than an explanation, as osteoporosis translates into ‘porous bones’. For people who fit the standard expectations, idiopathic is sometimes all the closure you would get. For example, a woman in her 70’s who gets the osteoporosis diagnosis is going to be told she has idiopathic osteoporosis, presumably due to age. However, since Al is a man under 40, it was essential to dig deeper to define the cause, as the usual mechanisms were not in play.

Doctors don't know so they say "essential". This is another way to say 'idiopathic' or "we don't know"

‘Essential’ is another way doctors avoid needing to say ‘I don’t know’. The term essential is used in standard English to describe being either of the utmost importance (this is an essential piece of the dish) or of being purely that one thing (‘essential oils’). In medical terminology, though, ‘essential’ is a synonym for idiopathic – indicating that the issue is just the description with no cause attached. ‘Essential’ is often used to describe neurological symptoms that have no obvious connection to the conditions that might usually be associated with them. Essential tremors are an example. If your doctor uses idiopathic or essential in their diagnosis – or gives you a descriptive diagnosis (like osteoporosis), with no mention of why it’s happening, it’s time to press them to explain further or seek a second (or third) opinion.

Blaming the Patient

Sometimes when doctors have trouble finding the cause of the problem, they turn around and make it, on some level, the patient’s fault.

Doctors don't know so they say 'there must have been something that happened in the early child development.' This is the old 'blame the parents' theory.

‘Maybe he didn’t develop properly as a child’ is doctor language for ‘I see there is a problem, there’s irrefutable evidence of that. However, I can’t figure out the cause, so maybe he was born this way and we only just figured that out’. My partner and I were told this when we were investigating the cause of his osteoporosis. His broken hip and DEXA scans proved that he definitely had unusually brittle and weak bones, but this endocrinologist ran every test she could think of, and everything she thought to check didn’t explain anything. After we assured her that Al had not had weak/brittle bones as a child (he actually had been pretty accident prone, and at one point he broke a rock with his head!), or as a young adult (he was very involved in mixed martial arts, so had plenty of opportunities to reasonably break bones, but didn’t), we struck out in search of an endocrinologist who could think of more options.

Doctors don't know so they say 'it must be in your genes.' Even if it is, you have a right to know what is happening and what your treatment options are.

‘This may be a genetic variant’ – sometimes abnormal test results fit with a person’s genetic history. Al was told a couple times that his blood test indicated mild anemia, but at one point another doctor of his looked the information over and told him he likely has smaller hemoglobin than average because he is of distant Mediterranean descent. I’m not disagreeing with the statement, it may be true – Al is Hispanic so there is some Spanish in his ancestry. However, it did take the focus off his hemoglobin size and density when he actually had a form of anemia that required treatment.

Doctors don't know so they say "The patient is malingering.' this is the way doctors accuse a patient of exaggerating their symptoms, usually for the purpose of getting pain medications.

Malingering is the process of pretending to have a problem in search of some form of secondary gain. For example, a person with an opiate addiction may pretend to be in more pain than they are in to get an extra pill. For patients with many types of invisible illnesses, one of the ways doctors may dismiss our very real pain or other symptoms is to say that we are malingering in order to get attention or other gains. I was very fortunate that I was not accused of malingering, but many other people with conversion disorder/FND, fibromyalgia, and other conditions that don’t show on scans or tests are often accused of it. This results in these patients needing to ‘prove’ that they aren’t faking their illness.

Ways Doctors say ‘I give up’

‘Diagnosis of exclusion’ means that the doctor has run out of possible diagnoses. Doctors either recognize a condition when you walk in the room (‘oh that sounds like whooping cough’, or ‘I’d know that rash anywhere, you have shingles’), or they need to start coming up with hypotheses (guesses) that they can then test (usually against samples from you, or testing your response to stimuli). However, at some point, the doctor will run out of guesses. When the doctor runs out of guesses before you have a diagnosis, their last guess becomes their ‘diagnosis of exclusion’ – usually something that is difficult or impossible to confirm or deny with additional testing.

My condition, FND, used to be considered a diagnosis of exclusion by many neurologists – and honestly still is at times, even though there are now are relatively simple confirmatory tests out there – mostly related to consistency of symptoms and ability of the patient to be distracted from symptoms. Unfortunately, these are sometimes associated with malingering (pretending to be sick for secondary gain), and a lot of neurologists simply haven’t kept up with the research.

Doctors don't know so they say 'It's a coin toss.' Unless you're about to play football this is not an acceptable answer to the potential outcome of a patient. Ask for evidence based research findings.

‘It’s a coin toss’ is usually used in regards to treatment. Will this surgery help me, doctor? ‘It’s a coin toss’. This is more likely to occur when your condition has been happening for a long time. If a lot of treatments have already been undergone and haven’t helped, the doctor is more likely to suggest treatments that are higher risk or are likely to be less effective. By telling you his or her degree of uncertainty, the doctor is abdicating their medical responsibility to advise you, and allowing your desperation or pocketbook to determine your course of treatment. While this may at times be a correct answer, it still isn’t useful for you as the patient. If you get told this, I suggest seeking a second opinion or discussing the pros and cons further with your doctor.

Doctors don't know so they say 'Let me refer you.' At least with this one you get to see a more experienced doctor at some point.

‘Let me refer you to…’ is, in all honesty, the most hopeful forms of giving up. When a doctor suspects or knows that your condition is treated by a different type of specialist, they generally refer you to the specialist in order for you to be properly treated. Sometimes, the more hopeful times, they get information that adjusts their thoughts – for example, Al’s second endocrinologist referred him to a hematologist because his B12 was almost unmeasurable and so she suspected he had pernicious anemia. Her suspicions were correct, so we are grateful for the referral.

I was referred by a neurologist who specialized in epilepsy to a movement disorder specialist who was able to properly diagnose me. Again, that was a very positive effect – once the neurologist determined that I did not have epilepsy, a colleague of his was able to suggest a movement disorder as an alternative cause – and recommend an office to go to.
However, there are also times where doctors use referrals to get rid of challenging patients. By referring their patient to a different specialist, they are effectively passing the responsibility on and admitting that they cannot diagnose the issue.

Be aware of medical ‘I don’t know’s’

It can be extremely frustrating to see doctors only to learn that they cannot help you. Many doctors have found ways to avoid you realizing that they don’t have an answer until after you leave their office. As a patient, the more easily you recognize the ways the doctors avoid admitting their ignorance, the better able you are to either call BS and demand a better answer, or know when it’s time to find a different medical professional.

Again, be aware of terms that blame or put the responsibility on the patient, and condition descriptions that do not have any ‘meat’ or treatments attached. You deserve to have a full diagnosis, treatment options, and the ability to find people who share your diagnosis. Now that you know the terms, please keep your ears open to protect yourself from these non-answers!

Alison Hayes has a long history with disability and disabling conditions.  She managed a mild learning disability in childhood, confusing her classmates by being in both advanced classes and the ‘resource room’.  She was diagnosed with depression at the age of 9, and had her first unexplainable symptoms within a year or two of that. While in college, she started having strange movement symptoms, leading to an eventual diagnosis of conversion disorder in 2003. 

Since then, she:

  • got on to SSDI,
  • got trained and certified in geographic information systems(GIS),
  • discovered new muscles by pulling, straining or spraining them,
  • taught college courses in GIS,
  • taught a lot of doctors about FND,
  • got a master’s degree in organizational change management,
  • regained the ability to safely use stairs, and
  • Started her own business.  Twice.

She currently runs Thriving While Disabled, a blog to encourage others with disabilities to take back control of their lives, and is working on a community-building tool to enable the disabled community.  

How to Reduce Stress through Yoga

How To Reduce Stress Through Yoga

Disability or chronic illnesses are perhaps not the things one can ever completely overcome. Does this also mean there is no way around being plagued with acute stress and anxiety emerging out of illness situations for the rest of life?

Yoga reliefs stress and anxiety

The mind-body technique of yoga suggests, one can discipline herself past stress and anxiety, and culture more calmness, acceptance and gratitude. The thousand-year old practice is known to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system– the section that initiates restfulness and subsequent healing functions in the body. Also, yoga is observed to increase the GABA or gamma-amino butyric acid levels in the body. This neurotransmitter is responsible for making you feel oodles of tranquility.

The benefit of yoga for the chronically ill or specially-abled may actually have nothing to do with treating symptoms. What yoga therapy majorly addresses is the baggage of emotional turmoil that comes with a difficult diagnosis. While you would most definitely need to gather up all your will and execute your problem-solving attitude and positive intuition to live with disability or illness, yoga can help you feel calm and grounded.

Here is why you should consider adding yoga to your self-care for mitigating stress.

To Develop an Innate Coping Technique

Chronic illnesses have a way of fluctuating in the magnitude of their effects on the body. One day it’s just dull, ignorable and the day next it gets absolutely insufferable. While medication, seasonal change or appropriate lifestyle can provide some relief here and there, there is no guarantee that there isn’t a particularly bad phase lurking in the corners.

While coping mechanism is something every individual should work on to make getting by smoother, for the chronically ill or specially-abled, it’s especially necessary. Yoga sequences, both in restorative styles and high-energy rigorous flow styles, lay out an adaptive exercise pattern. Yoga practitioners systematically internalize rhythmically pacing and adapting to intensive phases.

Once you are on top of your down-dog, you probably won’t get so rattled with suddenly coming on intensive phases of your illness!

Manage chronic illness with Yoga

To Help Boost Cognition and Memory

Dealing with chronic illness or disability often takes a toll in the form of cognitive dysfunction. Often there is confusion in conducting day to day affairs, failing memory and lack of focus. The feeling is much like not being able to sleep for days and then sitting down to understand quadratic equations. The mind being an inseparable extension of the physical body is naturally prone to getting affected by the tribulations of the body.

The innate breath-centered focusing exercise in yogic discipline provides great improvement in this regard. Mindfulness becomes a second nature the more and more one gives in to the practice. Subsequently memory and relative cognitive capacities improve to.

Time you stay sharp with yoga!

To Deal With Your Emotional Excesses Healthily

The emotional backlash of coming to terms with a difficult diagnosis can be immense. To stay strong and develop a positive problem-solving attitude in these times is a severe challenge. It is natural to experience extreme trepidation and lack of self-reliance, pushing one to the brink of a breakdown, and that is when yoga can become a tool for healthily channelizing these emotional upheavals.

The practice of yoga reflects restoration, you learn not to be too hard on yourself. Yoga is about turning the gaze inwards, you learn to accept. Yoga exemplifies how simple discipline and practice can expand perceived boundaries. It’s the beginning of the realization that you are infinite. Incapacities are suddenly less magnified and you can win back your self-reliance.

To Find Quality Self-Time

Diagnosis of chronic illness and disability is many times comprehended tragically as end of self-sufficiency. One is made to revise life’s priorities and forced to deal with a sea change in working systems of life. A person diagnosed chronically ill can be prohibited to drive on her own on medical counsel, for example. Changed circumstances can be harrowing and exhaustive for both the patient and those around her. The essentiality of some quality me-time yet remains and yoga can be an effective way to find that space.

The more you learn to delve inwards, unknot your worries as you do your body joints and muscles, more would you learn to see your way around the challenges of illness and disability.

To Learn Acceptance

To be in denial or wishing away the hardship is perhaps the faultiest mechanisms to deal with health handicaps. On the same note, you cannot let your illness or disability magnify into something bigger than it is and get the better of you. To have an objective take on the subject is ideal and also perhaps the hardest task. To accept life as it is and making the best of situation is the kind of wiring that let us succeed in the battle and yoga s a discipline is full of this perspective.

As you employ your body and mind to task in the meditative asanas, take measure of the infinite possibilities that you hold, despite the illness and despite the perceived disability. Thrive!

Utilizing yoga as therapy to deal with the stress of special conditions can be a huge basis for chronic illness and disability support.

Take the path.

Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He provides Yoga Teacher Training In India. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas. 

Is CBD the magic cure we have been looking for?

CBD rub and vape pens

CBD – it supposedly cures everything, if you believe all the stories that go around. I wanted to know more about this magic that is CBD. There is so much to find online though, where to start?

Right in the middle of my search a company quanta reached out to me, with the question if we wanted to test their products out. I was super excited, because I was already researching where to find good CBD products. This came at exactly the right time!

They sent us CBD muscle rubs and CBD vape pens so I, my family and friends could test them out. We all have different issues and use them in various ways, here are our findings. Spoiler alert: we were pleasantly surprised!

Does CBD help with herpes pain?

Lida (61) has had herpes ever since she was very young. When the herpes on her back acts up her glands and chest hurt. She started using the CBD muscle rub, which smells very nice, probably because it also contains peppermint, and lavender oil.

She put the CBD rub on her chest and ribs, where it hurts the most. After 5 minutes the pain starts to slowly go away. Putting the rub on 2 – 3 times per day is enough to make the pain go away the entire day!

Fibromyalgia and inflamed hip, does CBD do the trick?

I am Natalie (36) and have Fibromyalgia amongst many other issues. Right now my hip and pelvis are very inflamed. The pain travels all the way up my back to my shoulder blade, and all the way down to my knee. The inflammation is quite severe, in the beginning nothing seemed to help at all.

When the inflammation was at its worst the didn’t help enough. The pain went down for about 20 minutes until it came back in full force again. I do believe it would’ve worked would the rub have been stronger.

When the inflammation started to go down however, after the first week, the rub actually helped a lot! Especially against the pain. By putting the rub onto all the painful areas three to four times a day, I could keep the pain almost completely away.

I always have inflamed joints, nerve and muscle aches. This rub calms the inflammation down, and eases the pain for me. When applied the area gets a little warm after a couple of minutes. Make sure to wash your hands! I rubbed it in my eyes one day, and do not recommend this.

Is CBD as effective as cannabis?

Tracie (42): “With both Fibromyalgia and CRPS, I experience pain and inflammation on a daily basis. My CRPS is located in my ankle where I have reconstructive plates and screws, and it’s very painful to apply most cremes and lotions. However, because of the consistency of this rub, I can apply it without causing additional pain. I’ve also found that the rub helps the pain quite a bit, on a pretty consistent basis, and it helps with my inflammation about 75% of the time.“

“I’ve used many forms of cannabis to help control my pain, as well as other symptoms such as anxiety, racing thoughts, sleep issues, and irritability. I’ve found that cannabis, in general, works very well for me. However, with the CBD vape, I usually take 5-6 hits, and have found that the positive effects from it can be felt within about 5-10 minutes. Small dosing throughout the day helps to keep my systems tolerable, and me more functional.”

Trying out CBD vaping for diabetes

Alvaro (33): “I have had diabetes for 8 years now. It is very hard to get my glucose level balanced. Normally I have muscle pain and my mind is racing. I worry about a lot of things and my body feels nervous. When I use the cbd vape pen. With just 3 – 4 hits I already notice the difference, within 5 minutes I feel my pain lessen, my mind calms down and my whole body calms down.

I recommend using this because it doesn’t affect your mind in a bad way, I can get through the day better and with less pain and do my daily tasks.”

Is it the magic cure?

In conclusion, CBD is not the magic cure for everything. But it does help an awful lot! Whether you prefer using the muscle rub or the vape pen or both, these CBD products really help soothe widespread pain and inflammation, and even calms your mind. We are all very please with the results it has given us.

Obviously these products do not replace medicine, or medical advice from an MD. We do recommend adding it to your arsenal of health supplies.

You can get the CBD muscle rub here and the CBD vape pen here. Use the code “Chargie” to get 20% off your order (add the code on the last step of the checkout process.)

10 Weight Loss Tips For The Chronically Ill

Obesity and weight loss can be major challenges for those of us who struggle with chronic illness. Unlike healthy people, we can’t just hit the gym harder and work off the excess pounds. So what can we do?

Below is a list of tips to consider if you are trying to manage your weight.

1- Visit your doctor.

Weight gain can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical issue. There are thousands of things that can be impacting your weight. Thyroid issues, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance and certain nutritional deficiencies can all cause you to pack on the pounds, despite diet and exercise. If you are struggling to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider, request lab testing and rule out any medical condition concerns.

2- Eat right.

Eating right is different for everyone. You have to decide what is best for your body, your health and your lifestyle. Two people can be on the same diet and have completely different results. Certain health conditions can inhibit your tolerance to specific diets. For example, those who have chronic kidney disease are discouraged from diets such as Adkins or the Keto diet due to the high amount of animal protein consumed. People with endocrine conditions such as diabetes or hypoglycemia are discouraged from intermittent fasting due to unstable blood glucose levels. People with mental health issues, depression and anxiety sometimes struggle with low carb diets due to the lack of serotonin. You have to figure out the diet you feel best on. The goal is to eat as naturally as possible. Avoid refined sugars, saturated fats and artificial ingredients such as aspartame, MSG, preservatives and artificial coloring.

3- Stay Active.

Obviously, not everyone is a marathon runner or power lifting champion. Those with chronic health conditions may not be able to perform extensive exercise, however it is still important to stay as active as possible. Simple exercises such as walking or swimming are low impact and beneficial to the body. Don’t think you have to torture yourself to stay active. The old saying is true, If you don’t move it- you lose it. Little things like walking up and down stairs, climbing in and out of a bathtub or bending down to pick something up are ways we move our bodies without even realizing it. If you are struggling with exercise, start with 15 minutes of low impact stretching a day. Conditioning your body is a slow process. The point is just to keep moving and stay as active as possible!

4- Hydrate.

How many of our calories do we consume unnecessarily through sugary drinks? Do not drink your calories. Sugary coffees, sodas, milkshakes and slushies are wasted calories. Our bodies are not meant to process high amounts of sugar all at once. Consistently drinking these beverages can cause insulin issues and lead to Type Two Diabetes. Water is what your body is made of. We need to stay hydrated to stay as healthy as possible. Drink adequate water and avoid the sugary drinks!

5- Assess your medications.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the medications you are taking. Certain medications cause weight gain. Steroids and anti-depressants are notorious for causing weight gain. No one wants to be on medication and sometimes they are absolutely necessary. But check with your doctor to see if there may be alternatives to your prescriptions that could be causing weight gain. If not, don’t fret. What’s the point of looking good if you don’t feel good? Take the medications you need for the best quality of life possible. Don’t beat yourself up if they have caused you to gain weight. The point of life is to live to the fullest every day, and if medications help you do that, the extra pounds are a small price to pay.

6- Sleep.

Adequate rest and sleep are essential to being healthy. When your body is run down, exhausted and tired it cannot function at 100%! Your body will be stressed out and that can cause increased cortisol levels and lead to weight gain. Rest when you are tired. Sleep the recommended amount of at least 8 hours a night.

7- Manage Stress.

If you are constantly burning the candle at both ends, your body is going to react to that. If your body goes into survival mode, it is going to slow your metabolism, store fat and not work properly. High stress is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Weight loss won’t happen until you get your stress levels under control. Practicing healthy habits like meditation, having a positive mindset, avoiding negative people and performing relaxation techniques are great ways to manage stress.

8- Prepare.

Preparation is the key to success. Planning your meals, grocery shopping and meal prep are essential to successful weight loss. You cannot lose weight if you are constantly eating fast food and consuming poor-quality nutrition. Meal plans can be found for free online and there are thousands of diet books and resources available. Your health is an investment and you must take the time to invest in it. Plan your meals, learn to cook at home and avoid fast food.

9- Get a Support System.

Losing weight is a difficult process. It helps to have people that will support you along your weight loss journey and keep you accountable. Join a support group, go on a healthy diet with your spouse or best friend, exercise in a class at the local gym or YMCA. Find people who will help you reach your goals. Avoid negative people who don’t support you. This is your life, your health and your goals. Align yourself with people who will lift you up and not tear you down.

10- Love yourself.

Ultimately, you are not defined by your looks or your weight. The goal of weight loss should be to feel better not look better. Weight loss is about being as healthy as possible. If you are miserable on a certain diet, don’t torture yourself. Some people go into severe depression on low carb diets while others have success. You have to know what is best for your body and love yourself for who you are. Your weight doesn’t define you, your heart does. All you can do is your best and that is enough.

Best of luck with your weight loss journey.


Love, Win



To read more from Winslow, feel free to visit her website

When Diabetes Drugs Go Wrong

Pamela Jessen writes about a severe side effect she suffered from a diabetes drug.

I have been living with Diabetes Type 2 for over 8 years now, after being diagnosed in 2010 by my family doctor, Karen Badenhorst, while living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I had been going for regular blood work because of chronic pain issues I have, including Fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis,  and she was concerned about some of the numbers she was seeing.

Dr. Badenhorst decided to test my A1C numbers – the numbers that average out your blood sugars over a 3 month period of time. She did this for a full year for me and when we discussed this, I was appalled to discover that my number came to 7.8%. The normal range should be between 4.5-6%.

Some of the symptoms of having a high A1C include:

• Being very thirsty and tired
• Blurry vision
• Losing weight fast
• Urinating frequently

Very high blood sugar may make you feel:

• Nauseated or cause you to throw up
• Dizzy or faint
• Lose too much fluid from your body (sweating)

Dr. Badenhorst decided to put me on Metformin, a “firstline” drug for Diabetics who are going to be managing their illness with diet, exercise and now medication. I did that for about a year at a fairly low dose of 500 mg three times daily, and then we increased the dosage to 850 mg three times a day for the next couple of years with no problems. My blood sugars looked better, the A1C numbers came down to a respectable 6.3% and I was left feeling pretty confident we were on the right track.

The Story Begins

In September 2013, my husband and I decided to move to Victoria, BC from Calgary, AB. The winters in Calgary were starting to really affect my health and we knew that Victoria was a place we’d always wanted to live. We went without a job for Ray to come to – we just prayed and trusted that God would provide. We rented an apartment sight unseen in the Vic West area of the city, and rented out our townhouse in Calgary. And then, with a leap of faith…we headed West with our cat, to adventures unknown! Upon arriving in Victoria, our apartment turned out to be just fine and Ray was working within a month of our being there. We explored, went shopping, bought necessities, explored some more and got to know our home town.

I discovered a fabulous group for volunteering in the Fall of 2013, called Patient Voices Network. It’s a place where ordinary people can have a say in how Health Care can be changed in BC through volunteers acting as Patient Partners. When a Health Care partner needs the voice of a Patient Advocate for an engagement they are involved in, they can reach out to us to find the appropriate person(s). I’ve been active in numerous endeavours so far and was pleased that my health was staying fairly stable so I could enjoy it!

Unfortunately, in early 2014, my A1C numbers started to change to the higher range again, and my new doctor on the Island, Dr. Gary Leong, and I had a discussion about what the next steps were. He suggested that there were other drugs we could try and we decided on one called Januvia. It was newer on the market and so I started to take it with the hope my numbers would come down again to an acceptable level.

A Trip to the Emergency Room

One night, towards the very end of February, I wasn’t feeling well. I had started to develop some chest pain, much like the pain I’d felt before my gallbladder had been removed. It was a crushing sensation in my chest and going through to my back, only this time, I was feeling pain in my jaw as well. Normally, I’m pretty stoic about chest pain, because I’ve had experience with Costochondroitis, which is inflammation around the rib cage, so I tend to ignore chest pain as being anything too serious. This time though I was starting to get a bit worried. I was laying on the floor on my back with a Magic Bag on my sternum area, hoping the heat would relax any spasms, but relief was not to come. Meanwhile, my husband Ray was on the internet looking up heart attack signs in women. He comes back with a print out and says, “I’m taking you to the Emergency Room”.

I of course started protesting, but not all that effectively, because I was definitely getting scared. The pain was getting stronger, not subsiding, so in the end, I agreed to go. We got in the car (in hindsight, we should have called an ambulance), and off we went with him calm and strong, and me starting to panic. Of course, it was in the wee hours of the morning, but it was a weeknight so the ER was quite empty when we got there. The triage nurse called me forward right away and as soon as I mentioned the chest and jaw pain, they had me moved into a bed within 5 minutes of registering.

A Serious Problem

A bad reaction to a diabetes drug can be severe chest pain.Before I even knew what was happening, they were wheeling in an EKG machine and putting little monitors all over me so they could get a reading of my heart. It turned out my heart was just fine, but my chest pain was through the roof now. The nurse Jeff came in; we talked and I told him what was going on. He gave me a dose of nitroglycerin under my tongue and I started laughing because I couldn’t lift my tongue up for him…I was so confused on what he wanted me to do. I finally got it right, but even after 3 doses of nitroglycerin, nothing happened and the pain still sat there, crushing me. My jaw was aching terribly, as well as the area underneath, and I felt like I wanted to throw up. I told Jeff this, but I also told him I am not physically able to vomit, because of a stomach surgery I’ve had in the past called a Nissen Fundoplication. This led to me needing an NG tube placed down my nose and into my stomach to empty my stomach contents. I’ve had them done before – they’re not pleasant but I know how to swallow to get them down, so Jeff prepared everything and then started the procedure. He brought me water to drink to help with swallowing and at one point, I had to get him to stop for a moment, but it was over in no time. I immediately started to feel better as my stomach emptied, but my chest was still aching and we were no closer to getting answers.

Jeff started an IV and the ER doctor ordered Fentanyl for me, as I’m allergic to Morphine. We talked about all my medical issues, what meds I took, and the fact I just started the Januvia, which was the only thing that was new. The ER doctor wanted a CT scan to make sure there was no Aortic Rupture happening, so that was quickly scheduled. Then the Gastroenterologist came to see me and said he wanted to see if my Fundoplication was causing the problem so he wanted to do an Endoscopy. This was big time serious stuff happening and I can’t believe that I was considering just laying on the floor at home with a Magic Bag, thinking it would just pass!

A Reaction to a Diabetes Medication

I ended up back in the ER room after having all these tests done (and with the NG tube finally removed) with less chest pain, but no answers as to what caused it. My Fundoplication looked good and there was no sign of an aortic rupture, so the only conclusion the doctors came to is that I suffered a severe allergic reaction to the Januvia, which lists chest pain as one of it’s serious side effects. I was admitted to the hospital for 2 more days altogether so my system had time to just rest on liquids and stomach relaxers as well as muscle relaxers. Gradually, FINALLY, the pain in the chest and jaw went away.

There was something else that came from this hospital visit too. Because of the CT scan that was done, the Hospitalist (the Doctor on call for the Hospital) discovered that I have another health condition that I didn’t even know about – something called D.I.S.H. which stands for Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis. It’s a type of bone spur that is growing on my Thoracic Spine, but instead of being a normal spur, this type looks like melted candle wax dripping down the spine instead. It explains the back pain and stiffness I’ve felt in my middle back for such a long time that I’ve just put down to arthritis. Now I know it’s a completely separate condition – and just another one that causes me pain. Oh joy!

DiabetesI went home after 3 days in hospital and now have Januvia listed on my Medic Alert bracelet as an allergy. It amazes me how this simple Diabetes drug could have had such a devastating impact on my body, when the Metformin did nothing like that at all. It goes to show how different classes of medications can be so different when they’re all designed to do the same thing…lower blood sugar. After this incident, Dr. Leong and I decided we’d go right to insulin and so now, I inject 14 units of long acting insulin every night before bed. I’m not afraid of needles, so doing my injections isn’t a problem for me. I don’t enjoy it, but it’s necessary, so I just do it, the same way I test my blood. It’s part of what having Diabetes is all about.

A Pill Can Make You Ill

If you ever feel ill or “different” after starting a new medication, whether it’s for Diabetes or something else, please be aware that serious side effects can and do happen. Keep an open mind that this could be the case for you and talk to your doctor or go the ER closest to you if you have any concerns about what you’re experiencing. I’m not sure what might have happened if I’d just stayed home, but I am sure it wouldn’t have been pleasant. Trust your instincts – medications can cause serious harm even when taken correctly.

Remember – A pill CAN make you ill. Be smart and get medical attention when something doesn’t feel right. I’m glad I did.

About the Author:

Pamela Jessen writes about a reaction to a medication for type 2 diabetes.Pamela Jessen lives in Langford, BC, just outside of Victoria. She is happily married to her amazing husband Ray and they are proud parents of two grown kids and three wonderful grandsons. Pamela is formerly employed as an Administrative Specialist and is a Certified Event Planner. With her career behind her and now being on Long Term Disability, Pamela is a blogger who writes about Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Invisible Illness. Her blog is called There Is Always Hope. She is currently a Moderator for a blogging group on Facebook called Sharing Inspiring Promoting Bloggers.

Does ASMR really help anxiety and depression?

image shows the profile of a head, facing right, colored pink and purple and containing a white feather

Ever since I can remember I have been trying to find ways to calm my anxiety, in turn hoping this would ease my depression. Something that would soothe the tightness in my chest, the queasiness in my stomach, and the aches in my head, neck, and back that are triggered by stress and anxiety. I have tried baking, cooking, breathing exercises, and painting, not to mention trying distraction methods like watching TV and movies. Yes, these have all helped but that effect wears off in no time.

This all changed within a year, when I stumbled across my first ASMR video on YouTube. ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.”


The sole purpose of ASMR is to relax people. Ideally, ASMR videos are meant to give the viewer a relaxing tingle at the back of their head and/or spine. ASMR videos usually involve one or more of the following things:

• Gentle whispering 
• Relaxing hand movements 
• Smacking of the lips 
• Nail tapping/scratching on hard surfaces such as tables 
• Brushing sounds 

Although it sounds scientific, only one study has been published on the phenomenon, despite the fact that everyone in the world experiences physical responses to sounds. ASMR is along the same lines of getting frightened by a loud noise or cringing at nails on a chalkboard, except instead of a negative response, these sounds promote relaxation. The 2015 study found that 98 percent of people who seek out ASMR videos watch them for relaxation purposes, and 70 percent watch them specifically for stress and anxiety relief. Many participants added that they use ASMR videos to help where other therapeutic and medical interventions have failed to make a difference.

Once I stumbled upon the term, I fell into a rabbit hole of ASMR YouTube videos for every ASMR trigger imaginable. There are videos with soft-spoken voices, whispering, accents, crinkling, writing sounds, keyboard typing, tapping, water pouring, and so much more.

Although, these aren’t the ones that soothe me. They don’t send my brain into an abyss of calmness and serenity. Oh no, it is in fact slime and soap cutting videos that take me to my happy place.


photo shows pink slime or being dispensed like soft serve ice cream into a clear cup filled with dark red spheresVideo Type: Slime

The hallmarks of any good slime video are the pokes, prods, stretches, and folds. Watching people dip their fingers into goo and create popping and squishing noises ignites an instinctual response that’s either deeply unsettling or strangely satisfying to watch. These ASMR-inducing slime videos become even more hypnotising when other items are added into the mix, such as Styrofoam packing beads which act like bubble wrap, which just so happen to be another popular action featured in relaxation ASMR videos.

Slime is a soothing and calming approach to ASMR, which promotes relaxation and a therapeutic sense of well being, helping to de-stress. Boy, is this right. I can’t tell you how relaxing it is hearing the slime pop as its squished, hearing the different condiments put into the slime scratch together and create their unique sounds. I may not be happy to admit this, but slime has been the best method of relaxation for me to date.


Video Type: Soap Cuttingphoto shows a red wax/soap heart being cut into tiny cubes

Carving soap bars into tiny cubes is so satisfying visually and aurally that there’s a whole series of videos depicting its many pleasures.

The premise is simple: all you see is a pair of hands cutting up soap in various ways. The videos typically have no music, because the sound of the soap being sliced and diced is so heavenly, you would never want anything to disturb it. You can find soaps of all different colours, shapes, sizes, and textures, and Instagrammers cut them up using various tools and techniques, such as cutting up cubes of soap, slices and even crunching soap curls.

Other Uses for ASMR Videos

In her Elite Daily article, Megan Cary talks about how ASMR has been invaluable in managing her insomnia: “ASMR has not only given me hours of sleep back, but it has also given me hours of my life back.” She says that the videos help her turn her mind off and get her to sleep much faster. Lifehack also published an article about reducing stress with ASMR, citing ASMR as a creative way to manage anxiety through the euphoric and relaxing state these videos can inspire.

It can take time to find the triggers that work for you, and there are people who don’t feel anything while watching ASMR videos. Chances are, if you have ASMR, you probably already know it and have an idea of what you respond to. Either way, it’s worth checking out, especially if you struggle with stress and anxiety.

I’ve been hesitant to tell people about my love of ASMR videos, but I know that I shouldn’t be. I watch ASMR videos when I’m feeling anxious, having trouble concentrating, experiencing pain, and even when I’m depressed or discouraged. Anything that can help soothe anxiety, depression, and chronic pain for so many people is clearly a valuable resource, no matter how odd it might seem.

About the Author

Bethany is a 20 year old from England; she suffers from Raynauds, Erythromelalgia, GERD, Hypermobility, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. She is also the creator of Young, Sick and Invisible: a Chronic Illness Blog.

8 Tips to Have an Easy Colonoscopy Prep

One of the most difficult parts of a colonoscopy is the preparation the day prior to the procedure. There are horror stories about the effects of the solution you have to drink, and how the overall experience takes a toll on the body. Many people have more anxiety about the prep than the actual exam. After recently having a colonoscopy, I’m here to tell you about eight tips for an easy colonoscopy prep that will make your procedure a piece of cake!

8 Tips to Have an Easy Colonscopy Prep


Why I needed a Colonoscopy

At the end of March, I began having major stomach issues including nausea, vomiting, fever, extreme fatigue, headaches, cramping, and more. For two weeks I was confined to my bed, barely able to walk to the bathroom in the next room on my own. Added on top of the symptoms, there was a strange mass moving about my abdomen causing pain and discomfort. I had little to no appetite and when I did eat, it caused more pain.

Severe GI symptoms may necessitate a colonoscopy My physician had no idea what was happening to me, so she referred me to a gastroenterologist (GI physician) to see if he could help. The GI physician was intrigued by my issues, and suggested doing blood work, a CT scan, and a colonoscopy/endoscopy procedure. He said these together would give us a better idea of what was happening.

When the gastroenterologist told me I needed a colonoscopy, I immediately began to panic. I’ve heard the horror stories of preparing the day before a colonoscopy from family members, and the prep has always scared me more than the actual procedure. Not the part of drinking the solution to clean out the colon, but the effects of it – cramping, hurting, and not being able to control your bowel movements. I was already having those issues, and I sure didn’t want to make it worse.

Tips for an Easy Colonoscopy Prep

In order to ensure the easiest prep possible while minimizing the side effects of the solution, I did lots of research and asked family, friends, and readers on my Facebook page for tips. I had a few weeks before my procedure was scheduled, and I was determined to use my time wisely. This was how I prepared for my colonoscopy, and I can honestly tell you that I had the easiest prep than I ever imagined. In fact, I slept an entire night (aside from my usual waking up) before my procedure and had zero issues the next morning.

1. Start with Clean Eating

Clean eating can make a colonoscopy prep easierMy mom had her first colonoscopy years ago and she said it was awful the first time around. The second time, however, she changed up what she ate one month prior to the prep and it made for a much easier experience. What she ate would be considered clean eating: no processed foods, high sugar foods, and minimized raw fruits and vegetables.

Avoiding these foods results in less cramping because your bowels aren’t having to purge as much. Also, if your use to eating processed foods and lots of sugar then all of a sudden stop, your body is going to experience withdrawals. The withdrawals together with the cramping will make for a miserable experience.

2. Keep These Items Nearby

When I posted asking for colonoscopy prep tips, several people mentioned items to have on hand such as a fully charged phone and a pillow (some people are not able to leave the bathroom once they start drinking the solution prep). I didn’t need to use these, but the ones I did use were essential once I started drinking the solution.

I kept a blend of fractionated coconut oil mixed with peppermint and Digize essential oils for stomach discomfort. I love, love, love this blend because it’s proven to be such a huge relief when it comes to my daily stomach discomforts. Within twenty minutes of applying to my abdomen, I feel my stomach being put to ease. This was THE most important item I would keep on hand should I need to have a colonoscopy again in the future.

Certain items should be kept near at hand while doing a colonoscopy prepOther items I kept on hand were adult bathroom wipes (better known as butt wipes) and a book to read. The wipes made it easier on my bottom once I started drinking the solution and was using the bathroom every few minutes. Hemorrhoids are also irritated by wiping with regular toilet paper. Cleaning wipes cause less irritation to the rectum and any hemorrhoids you may have.

Having a book to read made the time go by faster, and distracted me from the hunger I was experiencing from being on a clear liquid diet the day prior to the colonoscopy. If you aren’t a reader, keeping a fully charged phone or other electronic device nearby would also be a good distraction to the task at hand.

3. Get a Padded Toilet Seat

When I was younger, I remember visiting my great aunt’s house and being fascinated by her padded toilet seat. At home, we had a cold, generic porcelain toilet seat that was stone age compared to the luxury of my aunt’s toilet seat. Looking back, it’s silly that I was amused by the foam padded seat, especially when it became torn and deflated after being used countless times. However, when someone suggested using one during the prep, I was excited! Immediately, I began searching online for one.

The one I found wasn’t foam because I didn’t want it to become torn or deflated after awhile. Besides, when torn, a foam padded seat is brutal on the back of the thighs. No, thank you! Instead, I found a cloth one reasonably priced. And the best part is that it velcros to your current toilet seat so you can wash it. Woohoo! I couldn’t wait to try it out.

What I loved best about the seat cover when it arrived was, surprisingly, not the added comfort it provided to my otherwise hard, plastic toilet seat. It was how warm and cozy it felt on my bottom! I know it sounds ridiculous, but a huge pet peeve of mine is sitting on the toilet and the seat feeling cold as ice. I don’t know why this irritates me, but it does. This seat cover protects from the cold seat, but it also doesn’t make the butt or thighs sweaty or irritable. Genius product!

4. Treat Hemorrhoids

Taking care of hemorrhoids can make a colonoscopy prep easierSince my first pregnancy I’ve been susceptible to hemorrhoids and have them most of the time. When I was told that the constant bowel movements would irritate, and possibly burst, the hemorrhoids, I knew I had to come up with a plan. I decided to aggressively treat them in the days before the prep by using prescribed hemorrhoid suppositories and external cream. This helped minimize their size and eliminated any internal ones.

During the day of prep and after starting to drink the solution, I used only the external cream. I didn’t apply it after every bowel movement, but frequently. Using the cream and the adult wipes reduced the irritation and prevented any to burst. All in all, I had no issues or painful irritation with the hemorrhoids using this technique.

5. Slow Down the Colyte

Supposedly there are two types of solutions to drink the day before your colonoscopy – regular and light colyte preps. I don’t know how true this is because I was given the colyte and was told by the nurse there was only one type – a lite one. There is one gallon of it, and the instructions are to drink eight ounces of the liquid every 10-15 minutes.

The week prior to my prep, I talked to the nurse about my concerns of having severe cramping and possible nausea with the solution. She suggested drinking it every 20-30 minutes should I have any unbearable cramping or any nausea at all. Since she gave the green light on this, I decided to start with drinking eight ounces every 25 minutes as opposed to the instructions of every ten minutes.

I’m really glad I decided to take this route. This minimized the cramping and the frequency of bowel movements. I was still cleaning out my colon as instructed, but at a slower rate. It took me about eight hours to consume the liquid, well before my cut off of consuming liquids before midnight.

Word of caution: Do NOT drink any other liquids or foods while consuming the colyte prep. This could lead to consuming dangerous amounts of liquids and salts.

6. Don’t Stray Too Far

Several of the tips I received from readers and friends were the same: Stay in the bathroom next to the toilet! It had me wondering just how fast the colyte prep would give me an urge of a bowel movement. I was worried I’d be messing on myself, or worse, camping out in the bathroom all night. The only way to find out was to do it and discover for myself.

Keep near the bathroom during your colonoscopy prep!It wasn’t too bad, and definitely didn’t warrant a sleepover with the toilet. When the urge hit – and it hit fast with little warning – I made a beeline for the bathroom. The furthest I could go was my bed. Any further and I wouldn’t have made it in time. I also realized it was best to leave the toilet lid up. I have a habit of closing it before flushing, and I learned very quickly that the second or two to lift up the lid could mean missing the toilet altogether, if you catch my drift.

7. Keep Warm with a Blanket

I know the suggestion of having an electric blanket or blanket for a colonoscopy prep sounds completely weird and off topic, but I assure you it’s not. The colyte prep is kept cold, and drinking a full eight ounces every 25 minutes made me cold to the bones. My hands and feet were cold to the point of hurting, and I was shivering all over. Having the electric blanket made me warm and stopped me from shivering. It was easier to tolerate the liquid once I had my blanket.

8. Get Rest

Rest is a big necessity each and every day with chronic pain. It’s even more so when undergoing any procedure or stressful situation. In the days leading up to the colonoscopy, I rested more than usual to reduce stress and anxiety. I kept myself occupied by reading books, watching movies with my family, and napping whenever I could.

The day before the colonoscopy, I did zero cleaning, laundry, or cooking. Being on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours gave me hardly any energy, and I didn’t want to put unnecessary strain on my body during that time. That diet gave a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘hangry’, and I knew any housework would only aggravate the situation.

Be sure to get plenty of rest before your colonoscopy prep Resting after the procedure is also critical. After being without food and under extreme stress of the whole ordeal, my body was melting once the colonoscopy was over. I could feel all the tension leaving me drained and exhausted. When I came home, I ate something small and then laid down for a nap. Once I got up, I was feeling almost back to normal and resumed my regular activities.

All in all, I had an easy, smooth colonoscopy prep despite what I anticipated and was told by others. Following the tips listed above will reduce stress on your body and help you make an easier recovery from the procedure.

About the Author:

Brandi writes about preparing for a colonoscopy at The Unchargeables Brandi is a follower of Christ, wife to an amazingly supportive husband, mom to five sweet, crazy kiddos, and a fibromyalgia thriver. As a Navy veteran living in South Carolina, she spends her days cherishing the time with her family as well as reading, writing, cooking, and just being Brandi. Her blog, Being Fibro Mom, is all about thriving the family life while living with fibromyalgia, and the support group, Fibro Parenting, gives additional support and resources to fibro parents. Brandi’s other work in the fibro community include writing for The Fibromyalgia Magazine, hosting a live show about fibromyalgia, and serving as Families & Fibromyalgia program director for the International Support Fibromyalgia Network.

14 Ways to Use Food as Medicine for Chronic Illness

herbs and oil on a wooden table

Though it’s hard to generalize tips for everyone, there are well- and  widely-accepted dietary guidelines for health, and these especially apply when you are facing a mystery illness or a chronic illness diagnosis.

Food is delicious, and a comfort, yes. But food is more than something yummy. It’s information that turns our genes on and off. The right foods contribute to our wellness and healing by providing the right kind of information to our cells, while the wrong foods give our genes and cells the opposite message.

But what are those right foods? They are unique to your own body and constitution. If you take the time to really delve deep to answer this question for your own body, your ability to manage or heal your health challenges will get easier.

Most of us eat several times per day, every day. If we are continuously eating food with low nutrient density, lots of chemical ingredients, or foods our bodies are reacting to, we feed the fire of symptoms and inflammation. But if we choose properly prepared foods that our bodies evolved to eat and avoid the foods that feed inflammation for our unique body, we give ourselves a fighting chance to repair damage already done, and to recharge our wellness reserve so we can move towards healing.

Because I practice functionally, and believe whole-heartedly in bioindividual solutions for each unique individual, not ALL of the following tips will be useful for you. I will note which tips should be used with caution, and in which circumstances. It’s always a good idea to consult with a practitioner who is familiar with your case before adopting a new change.

I know for many, this list may seem impossibly long, or new and confusing. Never fear. I’m willing to bet that one or two of the items really stood out to you. Start there. Your life with chronic illness is a marathon, not a sprint.

Begin with something that feels manageable and work it into your life. When you feel really comfortable with that, add something new. Doing a little something is better than doing nothing. Each of these pieces pays dividends, and the more you add, the more momentum you will build.

Here are my top 15 tips to use food-as-medicine for chronic illness.

Ditch the gluten

Gluten is the number 1 food I ask my chronic illness clients to remove. Not only are many people sensitive to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, and barley, but gluten by default increases intestinal production of an substance called zonulin.

Zonulin increases intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. A leaky gut is one of the necessary conditions for developing autoimmune disease. Some researchers and scientists believe that all disease, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease begins with autoimmune reactions.

Because gluten is ever-present in commonly-available foods, truly avoiding it can be a challenge to get used to, but I can almost guarantee that removing gluten will help your symptoms improve, and support your body in heaing.

  • Pro Tip: Eliminate gluten entirely. Check food labels carefully, it hides in plain sight, with confusing words. Check out the list available at www.glutenfreesociety.org. Only avoid the items starred if you are diagnosed or suspected celiac. Use gluten free substitutes, whole gluten-free grains, or even try ditching grains altogether.

Ditch the dairy

Right next to gluten is dairy. Some people DO tolerate dairy just fine, but many others do not. And if you are continuously eating something your body doesn’t like, you may not be showing any overt signs of sensitivity. People can be sensitive to the protein in dairy (casein), or the sugars in dairy (lactose), or they can have an allergic reaction to dairy proteins (IgE sensitivity). Some reactions can be delayed by 1-4 days after ingestion. Many people who react to gluten also react to casein. This is common in people with a variety of chronic illnesses, including thyroid disorders, fibromyalgia, celiac disease, and autism.

A good way to test for dairy sensitivity is to do a complete elimination for 3-4 weeks, and then trial various dairy products one by one, waiting 3-4 days in between, while tracking symptoms, including changes in your stool. Use a Food-Symptom Tracker to help.

  • Pro Tip: Eliminate dairy for 3-4 weeks, and reintroduce one at a time, checking for symptoms.

Ditch the sugar

Though sugar rarely causes allergic-type reactions or sensitivities, it does tend to aggravate or flare many chronic illness symptoms. One possible reason for this is because sugar requires vitamins and minerals to be processed by the body, and in this way acts as an “anti-nutrient”.

If we eat a lot of sugar, including natural sugars such as maple syrup, turbinado, and coconut sugar, our body uses up magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin C, chromium, and calcium to deal with them. Magnesium is a key co-factor in hundreds of detox and maintenance functions in our body, and can be badly depleted by sugar. Vitamin D and C are key immune supports, and are especially important nutrients for succeeding in healing chronic illness. Chromium is an important nutrient for balancing blood sugar, and balanced blood sugar is key for keeping inflammation in check.

Guess what fuels chronic illness? If you guessed inflammation, you get a gold star!

Calcium is, of course, important for maintaining bone integrity as we age. Calcium deposition requires Vitamin D, so the depletion of both is a double whammy. Vitamin D is also essential to our immune function, especially people trying to heal from autoimmunity.

  • Pro Tip: Check for added sugars on your food labels and don’t buy foods with added sugar. Rely on sugar in its pure, complex forms: fruits, vegetables, winter squash, sweet potatoes, whole grains.

Reduce or eliminate refined carbs

This tip goes hand in hand with quitting sugar. Carbs, no matter their source, elevate blood sugar. Whole sources of carbohydrates, such as nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits contain fiber. The fiber prevents the carbs and complex sugars from elevating blood sugar too quickly. But refined carbohydrates, or simple carbs (including grain flours and starches, high glycemic fruits like mango, and high glycemic vegetables like potatoes) can spike blood sugar as badly as refined sugar.

Elevated blood sugar creates inflammation in the body. Your body reads this as irritation. Not only does this reduce the effectiveness of insulin over time, which can lead to adult onset diabetes, it irritates the lining of blood vessels and is a huge contributor to heart disease and cancer.

  • Pro Tip: Obtain your carbohydrates from whole food sources, such as whole grains, whole vegetables, whole fruits, and nuts and seeds. (All if tolerated, of course!) Remove or minimize processed carbs, such as bread, crackers, pretzels, baked goods, pasta, and tortillas from your diet in favor of whole carbohydrate sources.

Choose the right fats and oils, and support healthy fat digestion

Despite the bad rap fats have received over the last 50-60 years, we need healthy dietary fats to maintain our brains, joints, and hormones. Fats also help us feel satiated and full.

Americans generally consume way too much Omega-6-rich vegetable oils, such as canola, soy, and cottonseed oils, and not enough Omega-3-rich oils, such as from fatty fish, grass-fed meat, and nuts and seeds. This balance of oil intake is inflammatory, and the combo of refined carbohydrates (often gluten based) with high omega-6 oils is a recipe for massive inflammation. Also, many foods are still manufactured with hydrogenated oils, which are extremely damaging and inflammatory to the body.

Contrary to public opinion, we do need saturated fats. A moderate intake of these fats is also important to maintain brain and hormone health.

Along with using the right fats, we also need to select the proper fats for cooking to avoid oxidized and rancid fats. Heating the wrong oils creates inflammatory oxidation, which can contribute to the inflammatory effects. And though the vegetable oils like canola have a higher smoke point than say, olive oil, they go rancid easily after pressing and processing into snacks and processed foods. They are also often highly sprayed with pesticides.

And though incorporating a lot of healthy fat into your diet is a great thing, it’s important to maximize fat digestion. Fats are broken down by enzymes secreted in saliva and from the pancreas, and bile from the gall bladder. Many Americans have sluggish (or missing) gall bladders! Be sure to support fat digestion with your additional intake.


  • Pro Tip: Avoid hydrogenated fats and industrial seed oils such as canola, cottonseed, soy, and safflower oil at all costs. Stick to olive oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee, lard, duck fat, or avocado oil, and sesame oil. For cooking, keep to avocado, butter/ghee, or coconut oil, as their high smoke point allows for less damage in cooking. Olive oil should only be used at low temp or as a dressing. Same for sesame oil. If you are someone who struggles with fat digestion, incorporate some gentle liver support, such as enzymes containing ox bile or lipase, castor oil packs, digestive bitters, or gentle liver massage.

Increase fiber

Fiber not only prevents blood sugar spikes by slowing glucose’s entry into the bloodstream, it also helps feed the ecosystem of bacteria in your gut. If we want to encourage a healthy population of good bacteria in our gut, we need to provide them with food. Similar to when you provide some form of fertilizer or compost to your soil in your garden for your plants, you need to do the same for your bacteria.

Some people do not tolerate fiber well. This may include people with IBD, IBS, SIBO, or other gut conditions. There are different types of fiber, and in this situation, you will need to experiment with which fiber-rich foods are tolerated.

  • Pro Tip: Increase fiber by including raw or cooked vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and whole grains (if tolerated) into your diet. If you are some one who reacts to raw or cooked vegetables, a good place to begin is by exploring the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or the low FODMAP diet.

Include probiotic foods

Maintaining and restoring our health from chronic disease almost always has a digestive element. People with chronic illness commonly have mild to severe gut dysbiosis. If you’re already including lots of fiber (food for your good bacteria), then you can also add in probiotic foods to help populate your gut with beneficial gut bugs.

Most traditional societies included probiotic foods in their regular fare. They are an insurance policy against intestinal illness and help keep us well. Some beneficial gut bugs are also responsible for creating some of our vitamins, or translating them into a form our body can use.

  • Pro Tip: consume small amounts of probiotic rich foods, like sauerkraut, beet kvass, water kefir, cultured pickles, kimchi, or dairy kefir and yogurt (if dairy is tolerated) regularly to keep your gut well stocked with healthy good gut bugs. If you are someone prone to bloating, or have SIBO, you may not be able to tolerate probiotics or probiotic rich foods until you sort out the root causes.

Eat real foods

By now, you can likely tell I’m advocating that you eat a fresh, REAL food diet, free from rancid or hydrogenated oils, processed carbohydrates, sugar, gluten, dairy, and this includes chemical additives. The best and cheapest way to do this is to prepare your own food, or choose pre-made foods that contain nothing but whole grains, grass-fed or wild meat, poultry and fish, healthy oils, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. Subject your food to the “grandma” test: If your grandma could have pronounced and understood all the ingredients, you are on the right track. If there are weird words she would have no idea what they mean, it’s best to avoid it.

These are the foods our body was designed to eat, and gives your cells the information they need to repair function and heal from the inside out.

  • Pro Tip: If you don’t already know how to cook, try a local cooking class. Or check out the WHOLE30 cookbook by Melissa Hartwig for ideas. You could try meal preparation services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, or Sun Basket, which send ingredients and instructions to prepare a meal.

Eat organic

Unless you buy organic food, your food has likely been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, and other potentially harmful chemicals. Many of these chemicals haven’t been adequately tested for human safety, and some are known carcinogens. I still find it confusing that I need to recommend this, and that our governmental agencies haven’t seen fit to generally outlaw toxic chemicals being sprayed on our food.

Though it’s impossible to avoid all chemicals in today’s world, a simple action you can take to protect your health, and support your body in healing is choosing organic. If you can’t afford to buy ALL organic food, choose organic meats and dairy products, stick to the Clean 15 produce list, and avoid the Dirty Dozen list, put out by the Environmental Working Group for produce choices. 

Identify trigger foods and stop eating them

I’ve covered a lot of the common food symptom triggers earlier in this article, but any food or ingredient can cause symptoms. One of the greatest empowering skills for gaining control over your experience with your chronic illness is in correctly identifying your food or behavior-related triggers and removing or stopping them.

For example, I have found that chocolate, no matter the form, triggers gut pain for me. As much as I LOVE chocolate, and would love to eat it daily, I’d rather be pain free. So unless it’s a really special occasion, I avoid it.

  • Pro Tip: Use a Food-Symptom Diary to track your food, supplement, and medication intake alongside your symptoms and your stool to identify possible culprits. Behaviors to consider as symptom triggers include exercise, sleep habits, hydration habits, and stress habits.

Calm eating space

Digestion is the center of good health, and our bodies are designed to eat at rest, without stress. If we eat on the run, in the car, standing up, while reading political news, or about children dying somewhere, our digestion will be less efficient, and this will not support our healing.

  • Pro Tip: Eat while sitting down, in a calm state of mind. Take a few cleansing breaths before eating. Center yourself and give thanks for your food.

Chew your food

Digestion begins in the mouth with our chewing. The act of chewing mechanically breaks down our food, but it also mixes it with saliva, which begins the process of breaking down the complex carbohydrates and fats in the food. In fact, the longer people chew, the more they find that it their food releases sweetness.

  • Pro Tip: A guideline is 25-50 chews per bite. Chew until the food is well liquefied. This act of meditative chewing also helps you bring your body into the calm state necessary for good digestion.

Cook in bulk

All this eating of whole, unprocessed food can mean a lot more cooking, and many people, especially if fatigue is part of their symptom picture, struggle with this piece. Cooking in bulk is a strategy for dealing with this. Make multiple servings of a dish, and freeze or refrigerate for later extra servings. Make use of a crockpot or rice cooker. Make a huge pot of soup. Prepare the staples for your diet in bulk, and then whip up a fresh veggie side dish, stir fry, or meat to go with it.

  • Pro Tip: If you seem sensitive to leftovers, you may have a histamine intolerance, as foods tend to increase their histamine as they’re stored, especially meat and fish. Avoid bulk cooking and leftovers in this situation.

Bone broth

Bone broth is slow and long-cooked broth with a little bit of vinegar. The vinegar helps draw the calcium out of the bones, and the slow cooked fats and gelatin dissolve into the broth. These elements make bone broth very healing for a damaged or leaky gut.

  • Pro Tip: Make a large pot of bone broth. Store 1 quart in a jar in the fridge, and sip with your meals, and freeze the rest to add as stock to soup, or for plain eating. Bone Broth may not be suitable if you are struggling with SIBO or histamine intolerance.

Though food can make a profound difference in how you feel, and your ability to heal, it’s often only one part of the equation. For years, I made the mistake of thinking that if I changed my diet, I would heal completely.

Diet is really and truly only one piece of the puzzle. If you are struggling with complex, chronic symptoms, find a skilled practitioner trained in Functional Nutrition or Functional Medicine to work with who can help you untangle the web, and find a path to recovery.


About the Author

author bio photoAmanda Malachesky is a Functional Nutrition Coach, who helps people solve their chronic or complex health mysteries so they can heal at the root cause level.

When her lifelong health issues took a sudden turn for the worse after the loss of her best friend to cancer, she had to unearth the root causes of her condition herself, because conventional medicine failed to offer anything useful.

She is the owner of Confluence Nutrition, a virtual Functional Nutrition Clinic, and works with clients one-on-one and in online group programs, is a teacher and speaker in her local community, and is the host of the private Facebook group Hope for Healing Chronic Illness.

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Natural Treatments for Gastroparesis: Part Two

Capricious Lestrange writes about ways to naturally manage gastroparesis on The Unchargeables.

In Natural Treatments for Gastroparesis: Part One, we discussed what gastroparesis (GP) is and ways in which people with gastroparesis can modify their diet and their medications to help improve symptoms. This article will cover natural substances that can further aid the GP patient. Also included is a discussion about a few tactics to stimulate and promote healing in the vagus nerve, which is believed to be responsible for causing gastroparesis.

Gastroparesis and Supplementation

There are a variety of supplements and herbs that can benefit a person with gastroparesis. I have broken them down by the symptoms they are best at addressing and note crossovers where applicable.

Dysbiosis, Constipation and Diarrhea

Probiotics, such as those found in yogurt, can help gastroparesis symptoms.People with gastroparesis usually suffer from a variety of GI concerns due to low motility. Our gut flora is often out of balance and we often have IBS or SBBO (Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth). The use of probiotics with prebiotics can often help with this, along with the consumption of fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha or kim chi, if tolerated. Probiotics will help with these symptoms and come with a variety of other benefits, such as supporting the immune system, and curbing symptoms like heart burn, gas, bloating, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.

While most of us cannot handle insoluble fiber, there is one company making a low FODMAP fiber supplement with which I’ve had great success, Pronourish Fiber. Designed specifically for people with gastrointestinal disorders, it can help with both constipation and diarrhea, keeping your system more regular overall and bulking your stool so it’s much more comfortable to pass.

Heart Burn and Reflux

If GERD is an issue, it’s tempting to use a proton pump-inhibitor, but these should really be avoided, given that they decrease stomach acid and motility. An H2 antacid like Zantac (ranitidine) may be a better choice, though they are also known to slow motility. For whatever reason, I have better motility with the latter than the former, but this is just my personal experience. If you find both a proton pump inhibitor and H2 antacids cause your system to slow, there are a variety of natural remedies for treatment, as well.

Stinging nettle tea can provide relief of gastroparesis symptoms.Stinging Nettle Tea can provide relief of both heart burn and nausea. When taken daily, I have found it’s quite effective at keeping my GERD at bay. It is safe to use daily for most, but there are a few precautions with this herb, so be certain to read about it to ensure it’s not contraindicated for use with any of your conditions or medications.

A ½ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 4 ounces of water often brings relief, as does soda or seltzer water. However, baking soda is a remedy that should only be used occasionally as a spot treatment. It shouldn’t be taken when the stomach is uncomfortably full, making it perhaps not the best choice for gastroparesis. It may still come in handy at times, as we all know we can get heart burn whether our stomachs are full, empty, or somewhere in between.

There are other things which can also help reduce heart burn by treating the whole digestive tract and absorption issues, much like probiotics. These are covered below.

Malnutrition and Malabsorption

Since absorption is often an issue for people with GP and we are at high risk of malnutrition, it is often necessary to supplement with vitamins. Since the processing of solids is hardest of all, it’s best to take either liquid or methylated vitamins that are easier for our bodies to process. Liquid vitamins can be consumed normally, while methylated vitamins are designed so that they are absorbed by the skin. While multivitamins get a bad rap, for us, they are essential. Usually additional amounts of other key nutrients are also necessary.

There are many vitamins that may need to be replenished in gastroparesis patients.The most important vitamins to replenish are usually Vitamin D, Vitamin C (for immune health), Magnesium, B vitamins (we tend to be particularly deficient in B12, but B2 and B6 are very important for migraine sufferers, and all B vitamins help provide added energy), and iron. A doctor can test your levels and tell you for certain where you’re deficient and whether or not you’re taking enough once you begin supplementation.

To aid absorption and reduce inflammation in the GI tract, consuming an aloe vera juice or gel drink is an excellent way to go. Aloe can increase the absorption of nutrients by as much as 300% and decrease inflammation, making for a calmer, more regular digestive tract overall.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are being touted as another way to help food break down and get additional absorption of nutrients from your food, but I’m somewhat on the fence about whether or not they’re appropriate and haven’t taken them personally. This article from diet-vs-disease, a trusted site I rely on for my FODMAP diet information, seems pretty wary of it. But other health bloggers and advocates, including some doctors, are in favor of using digestive enzymes to increase stomach acid production in people with gastrointestinal disorders like GP.

Before your body can absorb nutrition from food, it must be broken down. Consuming digestive enzymes prior to a meal could potentially assist in the process and reduce symptoms like reflux, gas, and bloating. It makes sense in theory, but there are few tests to back them up. If you do decide to supplement digestive enzymes, it’s important that you choose a digestive enzyme without any fillers that may be hard on your stomach. According to Gastroparesis Natural Treatment, one such enzyme is Betaine HCI, which increases stomach acid. Choosing a Betaine supplement with pepsin is best, as most people with GP are low in both.

Increasing Motility and Curbing Nausea

One very unpleasant side effect of low motility is the nausea that comes along with it when gastric emptying slows. There are a number of herbs that can help. Not surprisingly, many of the herbs which combat nausea also increase gastric emptying.

Peppermint can help nausea caused by gastroparesis.Peppermint is an excellent antiemetic that also improves motility. I find it works best with a little sugar and usually use Red Bird peppermint puffs or Altoids, as these mints contain pure peppermint oil and sugar both without too many other ingredients. One mint usually gets me 20-30 minutes of nausea relief. You can also chew directly on mint leaf, drink mint tea or get mint oil. If you go this route, you should consume it with food, as it can cause heart burn. This is why I usually use mints. With their accompanying sugar, I don’t have to try to eat anything on top of it to avoid heart burn.

Stinging Nettle Tea is great at relieving nausea and acts as a mild anti-inflammatory. Since it also works well for heart burn and provides some mild pain relief, it’s a good option for daily use provided there are no contraindications for its use.

Ginger is another herb which works well for nausea. It’s also been proven to promote gastric emptying and motility. In addition to these great benefits, it works well on muscle pain when taken regularly and has anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful in arthritis. It’s even been shown in a small study to lower blood sugar. It’s best if eaten with meals or drank as a tea 2-3 times a day.

Triphala, while not known to curb nausea, has been proven in studies to help with constipation and promote appetite. It actually performed better than Reglan (metoclopramide) for gastric emptying. I have not taken this supplement personally, but I plan to try it.

Stimulating the Vagus Nerve to Improve GP

The vagus nerve is a fibrous network that runs from your brain throughout the body’s core. It is part of the parasympathetic nervous system.

  • In the brain, the vagus helps control anxiety and depression.
  • In the gut, it increases stomach acidity, digestive juices, and gut flow.
  • In the heart, it controls heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • In the liver and pancreas, it helps controls glucose store and balance
  • In the gallbladder, it helps release bile, which can help you get rid of toxins and break down fat.

Stimulating the vagus nerve can help with gastroparesis.It isn’t hard to see why gastroparesis tends to run concurrently with a variety of other health conditions. There are many ways to help stimulate the vagus nerve to improve function. The goal is to relieve stress and encourage relaxation. Therefore things like massage, meditation, yoga and deep, controlled breathing exercises are all high on the list of things recommended to stimulate the vagus nerve. Even singing, chanting, and laughing can have a positive effect on vagal tone. The vibration of the vocal chords helps to stimulate our organs and the vagus nerve. So go ahead, sing in the shower, laugh with friends, watch those comedies. It’s good medicine!

Another great technique for stimulating the vagus nerve is to shut off the hot water mid-shower, dousing yourself with cold water and shocking the system. Studies show that when your body adjusts to cold, your fight or flight (sympathetic) system declines and your rest and digest (parasympathetic) system increases – and this is all mediated by the vagus nerve. Even drinking cold water or splashing some on your face may be enough to stimulate the vagus nerve. However, I find the cold shower technique to be more effective and found some improvement to my heat intolerance and other symptoms of dysautonomia.

Probiotics are also good for the vagus nerve. Studies show that animals supplemented with L. rhamnosus experienced various positive changes in GABA (calming) receptors that were mediated by the vagus nerve.

In several small studies, acupuncture has shown that it may provide benefit in gastroparesis. One short-term placebo-controlled randomized study that included 19 patients with diabetic gastroparesis suggested improvement in overall symptoms including fullness and bloating (IFFGD). I haven’t tried acupuncture personally, but it makes sense that if massage works to stimulate the vagus nerve, so too would acupuncture.

Things Every Person with GP Should Consider

In addition to working with your pharmacist to clean up your medication list, you should also consult with a dietician. They can help you to manage the FODMAP diet and any other dietary restrictions you may have and help you decide what vitamins and minerals to supplement. It is possible to do these things on your own and there are plenty of resources out there to be had, but these things rarely replace the knowledge of a trained professional. A naturopathic doctor or pharmacist could also help you decide which supplements are right for you and might even be able to help suggest other supplements not included here.

It’s also important to keep in mind that while medications can sometimes offer great relief, they can also be unreliable and have unforeseen consequences. Doctors are in the business of pills and procedures and sometimes these things are both necessary and helpful, but it can be used in cooperation with naturopathic medicine and every day common sense solutions. Often, using a combination of the two seemingly opposed methods of healing yields the most beneficial outcomes for patients.

Finally, the things on this list I consider most essential to gastroparesis care are reviewing your medications, adapting the diet, taking probiotics and a low FODMAP fiber supplement, increasing motility, and stimulating the vagus nerve. Everything else is dependent on your specific symptoms and can help improve the overall quality of life for people who have gastroparesis.

About the Author:

Capricious Lestrange writes about natural treatments for gastroparesis on The Unchargeables.Capricious Lestrange is a former educator who loves to write. When brain fog prevented her from writing the fiction and poetry she loves, she turned to blogging and now writes about her life, her health conditions and what she does to keep them in check. She enjoys spending time with her loving husband, her adorable Russian Blue kitty and dabbling in the visual arts when she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book. Capricious has EDS, MCAS, POTS, CPTSD, and gastroparesis.

Natural Treatments for Gastroparesis: Part One

There are many ways to manage the symptoms of gastroparesis with diet changes.

August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month. Gastroparesis is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the stomach’s ability to digest and pass food.

I want to discuss some of the many ways one can improve gut motility naturally. While there is plenty out there about medical interventions for gastroparesis, there’s not a great deal available about how to treat the symptoms of gastroparesis using naturopathic or holistic modalities. Despite the lack of copious information, there are a variety of simple things a person can do to improve motility and get relief from mild to moderate symptoms, many of which I employ myself.

In this two part series, we’ll first discuss how changes in diet and medications can help. The second article will cover supplements that promote motility and mediate other symptoms, along with ways to stimulate the vagus nerve for improved gastric flow.

There are many medications that can be prescribed for gastroparesis. A lot come with unpleasant side effects and are only meant to be used short term, while others are only effective for a short period of time. There are a number of easy, natural remedies that can help, some of which you probably already have on hand. Diet and exercise also play an important role in managing the condition. Most people with gastroparesis lose the ability to digest certain kinds of foods which should be avoided. Additionally, avoiding things like smoking and alcohol can improve slow gastric emptying and gut motility.

What is Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis (GP) is a condition that affects the normal movement of muscles in your stomach, causing delayed gastric emptying. GP is believed to be caused by damage to the nerve that controls the stomach’s muscles, the vagus nerve. In some patients, damage to the vagus nerve has been documented.

Symptoms of gastroparesis as compiled by Capricious Lestrange for The Unchargeables.In its early stages, GP can also be referred to as dyspepsia. Some people with gastroparesis experience few symptoms, while others are plagued by severe symptoms. Some researchers have proposed a classification system for GP, ranging from mild, or grade 1, to severe, or grade 3.

This dysfunction can be caused by a variety of factors, such as neuropathy, post-surgical complications, medications that cause delayed gastric emptying such as opioids, viral gastroenteritis, nervous system disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s), collagen disorders (e.g., EDS/HSD), connective tissue diseases (e.g., RA, lupus), metabolic disorders (e.g., diabetes and hypothyroidism), anorexia nervosa and bulimia, chronic liver or renal failure, and chronic pancreatitis. Gastroparesis may also be induced by medications, associated with total parenteral nutrition, or related to bone marrow and other organ transplants. Additional causes include paraneoplastic syndrome, mitochondrial disorders, visceral neuropathies (e.g., Guillain-Barre syndrome), and visceral myopathies (e.g., systemic scleroderma).

“Reports from one tertiary referral center found that out of their 146 patients with gastroparesis: 36% were idiopathic (unknown causes), 29% were diabetic, 13% were post-surgical, 7.5% had Parkinson’s disease and 4.8% had collagen diseases (NORD).”

While there is no cure for gastroparesis, some recovery of function and improvement of symptoms is sometimes possible after successful treatment. While I have to watch what I eat carefully and treat my symptoms regularly, I have improved my motility significantly using the strategies outlined below.

Gastroparesis and Medications

Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can worsen symptoms of gastroparesis.One of the simplest ways to improve gut motility is to eliminate or replace any medications you are taking which slow motility or have an anticholinergic effect, if at all possible. The best way to accomplish this is to consult with your pharmacist about the medications you are currently taking and see if they can recommend alternatives for any that are suspect. If you choose, you can often find natural supplements that are just as effective, but don’t have an anticholinergic effect. Popular medications that slow digestion include most gastrointestinal agents including proton pump inhibitors and antacids, antiemetics (e.g., promethazine), and anti-diarrheals; tricyclic antidepressants and other psych meds, opioids, some heart medications, and more (see a full list here).

Gastroparesis and Diet

The best place to start when attempting to improve motility is a modified diet. Modifying the diet to eliminate anything the digestive system no longer processes is essential to helping your stomach run smoothly again.

The Problem with Carbohydrates

Often people with GP lose the ability to process certain carbohydrates. The FODMAP diet, designed by researchers at Monash University, was created specifically for this reason. It is used for people with a variety of gastric disorders. The FODMAP diet is an elimination diet that helps you test various carbohydrates to see how your body reacts to them after a period of going without them. If you still react poorly to them after going without for the specified time period, then you need to eliminate them from your diet.

Common fruits, vegetables, and grains may cause problems for people with gastroparesis.The lactose carbohydrate found in dairy is usually particularly hard on people with GP. But often they have difficulty processing a variety of carbohydrates, such as fructans (i.e., onion and garlic), polyols (i.e., stone fruits, berries, and artificial sweeteners such as xylitol and sorbitol) and other high fiber fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

It’s difficult to glean just what is causing your stomach upset when there may be multiple culprits. The FODMAP diet may seem complicated, but in the end, it really simplifies things by putting into place a system of checks and balances where you test one kind of carbohydrate at a time. The diet can be very limited during the elimination and testing phases and can end up being quite limiting long term for people with gastroparesis. But the pay-offs in how you feel without the delayed gastric emptying, nausea, pain, bloating, gas, and pseudo-blockages are more than worth it.

Avoiding High-Fat Foods

People with gastroparesis often need to avoid high fat foods for the same reason. The doctor recommendations I’ve found is a total fat intake under 40 grams per day for gastroparesis patients (Arnold Wald, MD), but I find the kind of fat matters. For instance, I can eat high fat nuts with little problem, like peanuts and almonds, and seem to enjoy as much nut oil as I’d like. But I don’t process animal fats well and have had to cut out things like ribs, chuck roasts, and even burgers sometimes give me a bit of trouble.

Those Vexing Vegetables!

You may find that you can also no longer process a lot of raw vegetables or undercooked meats, like steak. Sadly, while these usually offer more nutritional value, they are harder for the stomach to process and may slow digestion. Instead, I tend to cook most of my meat in a slow cooker or roast until it’s fall apart tender. This helps me to digest it more easily. Using leaner cut roasts, such as bottom or top round instead of the traditional fatty chuck roast, keeps it lean enough that I avoid upset from fats.

Certain vegetables and meats can cause problems for people with gastroparesis.With fresh vegetables, you will generally find the higher the insoluble fiber content, the harder it is to process them, raw or cooked. There are handy cheat sheets to help if you utilize the FODMAP diet.

No matter what you eat, you should always be paying attention to how it makes you feel. Your body will tell you when something is wrong. You just need to learn how to listen to these queues and trust them. I found utilizing the FODMAP diet to be very helpful in this arena. When I first went on it, my stomach was a raging dumpster fire. Eating anything made me feel bad 100% of the time. It wasn’t until I gave my stomach a rest from all the things it could no longer process that these signals became crystal clear and I could tell how my body reacted to things individually.

The Timing of Eating

How often you eat also matters. Doctors generally recommend several small meals a day, but some people with GP find it’s actually better to eat only once or twice a day, giving their digestive systems plenty of time to process food and rest in between. Personally, I eat a meal in the morning and the rest of my calories in the evening, letting my stomach signal when it’s time. I believe it works because these short periods of fasting give my body plenty of time to digest and reset and I have fewer problems with fluctuations in blood sugar and other symptoms.

I don’t just eat and lay down at night, though. I eat and then do the dishes and pick up around the house, making sure I get some activity in, as it’s recommended for people with GP. Often after my morning meal is when I exercise. However, I prefer to allow my food to digest for 30-45 minutes first to avoid stomach upset if I feel particularly full or nauseous.

Some people swear by smoothies for gastroparesis, as solid foods can become more difficult to process. However: I often question how they are being made. If you process carbohydrates poorly and need to consume less insoluble fiber, I would take great care in choosing ingredients and also question whether or not the raw fruits and vegetables are more likely to cause stomach upset. At this stage, I find cooked, soft solid foods work great for me, but it depends on what grade of gastroparesis you have and what you’re still able to process.

Listen to Your Body!

I can’t caution enough how important it is to listen to your body first. There is no “one size fits all” model for the GP patient. If you are giving your body food it’s unable to process, no other interventions will be as effective or helpful.

Cleaning up medications and modifying your diet to suit what your gastroparesis tummy can still process is paramount to gaining control of the condition. However, there is still work to be done to achieve the best outcomes possible for people with gastroparesis. People with GP often suffer from malnutrition as a result of poor absorption, for example, and need to learn the best ways to supplement their nutrition. Additionally, there are a number of naturally occurring agents that can increase motility, curb nausea, diarrhea, constipation, heart burn and other undesirable symptoms. Learn about them all in Natural Treatments for Gastroparesis: Part Two.

About the Author:

Capricious Lestrange writes about natural treatments for gastroparesis on The Unchargeables.Capricious Lestrange is a former educator who loves to write. When brain fog prevented her from writing the fiction and poetry she loves, she turned to blogging and now writes about her life, her health conditions and what she does to keep them in check. She enjoys spending time with her loving husband, her adorable Russian Blue kitty and dabbling in the visual arts when she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book. Capricious has EDS, MCAS, POTS, CPTSD, and gastroparesis.