Hey, it’s been a while. My excuse? Holiday vacation and then wedding planning, but really I kept forgetting to take a photo of my herbs for you to see (I wanted to show you what I’ve been cooking up). I would mean to take a picture and then I’d forget, cook up the herbs, dump ’em out and then remember again. I’m a visual person so I thought this was important. On a side note; has anyone ever heard of “oil pulling”? I just discovered it and I’m going to try it everyday (supposed to help with your dental health as well as overall health, look it up). I have a dentist appointment tomorrow for two fillings and one replacement filling. I’m considering telling him to hold off on the two fillings (if they are not yet at a life or death point) to see if I can heal them on my own. I figure if I’m going to go all healthy and natural, I should go ALL healthy and natural including my teeth. I’ve also been preoccupied with searching for organic underwear. Seems counterintuitive to be so careful of everything I put into my body and then wrapping my body in stuff that may have been treated with pesticides, bleaches, etc. I’m trying not to go over the top but I could at least wear organic underwear:)
Wow this article about my journey with colitis is quite lengthy, but it is covering 15 grueling years so…
Here’s Part VI of my story focusing on my medications and journey to alternative treatments and Chinese medicine (again to start from the beginning, just click here: Part I)
Regarding my medications, I am currently on a regimen of Asacol HD (as they no longer make just Asacol), 6 pills a day; I alternate between 50 and 75 mg of Azathioprine (Imuran) every other day (this dosage is at a semi-toxic level but any lower and it would not be therapeutic, a risk I have to deal with and a big reason I want off of them ASAP); and I need to take a daily folic acid supplement to counteract the medication’s negative effect on my folic acid levels. In the last year, I switched over from 6-mp to Azathioprine due to the 6-mp not coming in smaller dosages (if I took 1 more pill of 6-mp, I was at unwanted toxic levels and 1 pill less meant the medication was not effective in suppressing my hyper active immune system). I have tried Dipentum and Pentasa but due to my abnormally long colon, the Asacol seems to be the most effective (apparently Asians have longer colons designed to better digest the copious amounts of rice they eat; whether this is true or not, I’m not sure but you are welcome to do the research).
It was not until I had that first doctor who was willing to treat me like a human and explain the benefits of 6-mp, that I was able to have a bit more control over my illness through medication. 6-mp can be really scary as what it basically does is kill off (they say suppress, but isn’t it really the same thing in principle?) my immune system so that my good bacteria will stop acting all crazy by thinking my own colon is bad bacteria and continually beat the living crap out of it (no pun intended). Of course, when I was younger and noticed the symptoms going away, I’d think I had kicked the illness and would stop taking my medication. I would then usually be fine for about 2-3 years (sometimes less), but then have a horrible flare up that would only subside with a course of prednisone, and then I’d be back on meds. I have been taking my medications consistently for probably about 5 years now (the longest time I’ve ever been this compliant with my meds and probably anything else).
After finally finding the seemingly perfect balance of Western medication to maintain my health, you would think I would stop here, but no, not me, not my style. You see, when I was in Japan I had two major flare-ups. The first was able to be suppressed by Western medications, the second, however, did not seem to respond as well and I was slowly wasting away. My friend was able to get me an appointment with one of the most renowned herbalists in the area and I went to him. Ebe Sensei was a man of few words and none of them being English. My friend would go with me to help translate. He would inspect my tongue, look at my fingernails and perhaps do some other observations (I can’t quite recall). I would explain, through my friend, about my symptoms and he would prescribe a concoction of herbs, barks, bones, and who-knows-whats that I would pick up from an area of the hospital that looked more like Harry Potter’s wand shop than a pharmacy. My first time, I made the herbs myself at my apartment with my friend. I had been instructed to boil the concoction and then drink the product. No one ever told me about filtering out the bones, barks and twigs. My friend watched as I dumped myself a large cup of the steaming soup and proceeded to chew on who-knows-whats. After several minutes of struggling to consume the “soup,” I exclaimed that it was “meccha muzukashi” (freakin’ difficult) to chew all that stuff. I don’t know what kind of la-la land my friend was in but she suddenly snapped to and exclaimed that I was supposed to filter the liquid and only drink it. After some serious eye rolling (I wonder how much of that stuff she would have let me chew before saying something), I filtered the tea and drank it. Though not terribly palatable, it was much easier to consume this way. Well, long story short (too late for that, I know), I was symptom free in less than 2 months and was not on any Western medications! And, of course, I stopped going to the herbalist and stopped taking any teas or medications because that was what I would do whenever I got well.
I tried this route (Chinese herbs) the next time I had a flare-up in the States but was not as successful (I believe it was more due to not finding the right herbalist) and became the sickest I’ve ever been resulting in the need for an emergency blood transfusion. [However, my experience with the Japanese herbalist opened my eyes to the existence of alternative therapies for treating ulcerative colitis, which I had not known about before and would not forget.]