Healing Colitis the Only Way: The Natural Way
I have always been slim and, I thought, a healthy-looking individual. I enjoyed eating well, going to the gym and drinking plenty of water. I thought I was doing all the right things for my health. So when I was diagnosed with colitis in 2009 it really shocked me to the core.
It began as diarrhea and loose stools. This went on for about nine months. I was pregnant at the time, so I attributed it to hormones and the pregnancy and assumed all would clear up after the delivery. Five months after the birth I started experiencing some mucus, then there was blood, and then it progressed to four to five bowel movements a day, and sometimes with blood, mucus and diarrhea. Oddly, I had no pain and otherwise felt quite well.
I was frustrated and scared. I was now a sick person with a medical condition which prevented me from working at my job. I wasn’t used to being sick; I never got colds, tummy ‘bugs’ or anything. But now I was facing a chronic disease and a dependency on medication.
The doctors told me it was “genetic.” “But we have a large family,” I said. “I know everyone, even both sets of grandparents, and I even knew my great grandparents, aunts and uncles—no one has or had colitis. I don’t even know anyone who has died of cancer in my family, so it can’t be genetic.” The doctor said: “You have a chronic disease—you need to take this medication and manage it”.
Armed with my meds I went home confused about the reason for my condition, but relieved I didn’t have cancer! I thought all I needed to do was take this medicine and everything would be back to normal. How wrong I was!
Managing the Illusion of Normalcy
I worked at a high profile job in the city of London, England. I had just had my third child. My husband worked away from home and only returned on weekends. There was a lot of pressure and stress in my life. Looking back I realized I was exhausted—I was constantly on the go and under both physical and mental stress. I was always busy planning, thinking ahead, sorting out this and that. As a result, I was irritable, stressed, a bag of nervous energy. I had carried on this way for so long that it became my “normal” state.
I didn’t know how to slow down. I considered myself a healthy eater because I rarely ate processed food, never had “fizzy drinks,” didn’t smoke, never ate fast food and always made “good” home-cooked food with a healthy portion of green vegetables or salad. So what was I doing wrong?
I took the medication for several months and, with everything seemingly under control, I resumed my “normal” life. My husband said: “Don’t worry Emma, you can still live your life—you just have to make sure you take the medication.” “Great,” I thought with a heavy sigh. I don’t like taking medicine. Previously, I wouldn’t even take an aspirin for a headache.
After four months on steroid enemas they stopped “working” and the colitis symptoms came back. The doctor then prescribed an immunosuppressant and told me to continue with both medications. In a panic, I picked up the immunosuppressant but I never took it. Something told me it was all wrong; the medicine, the condition—they didn’t make sense. Yet, intuitively I felt there was an answer and I was determined to find it.
Seeking and Finding the Solution
I began reading Web forums for people with colitis. A lot of people were really suffering, and I was one of them. But the information I found was all about medication; there didn’t seem to be any alternatives. I couldn’t accept disease as way of life.
I was in so much pain I couldn’t walk. I was very low in energy and on the toilet five to six times a day with diarrhea, blood and mucus. Going out, doing chores or taking my children to the park—simple things I’d taken for granted—became impossible. I was a prisoner in my home.
One day on a forum I read a message from a man who said he had recovered from colitis via juicing and a raw food diet. There was something special about his post—these key words stood out to me: “fruits,” “vegetables,” “detox.” When I contacted him for more information, he replied: “It’s all in the book.” “What book?” I asked. “Self-Healing Colitis & Crohn’s,” he answered.
Afterward, without an explanation, the forum administrators disabled his account and deleted his posts which detailed his experiences and references to the book. Apparently, he was deemed too radical and dangerous! He posted one last time under an alternate username with the hope of helping more people, not knowing that he had already helped one—me!
I bought the book, authored by Dr. David Klein. The day it arrived I read it from cover to cover. It made perfect sense!
Taking the Self-Healing Plunge
I decided to make the diet transition slowly. At first I went vegetarian and cut out tea, coffee, milk and dairy. Then I replaced breakfast with juice, then slowly replaced a cooked lunch with a banana smoothie containing celery juice and dates. Eventually, dinner became steamed vegetables. But I didn’t see any improvements. In fact, I felt worse. A rash appeared on my legs, I got ulcers in my mouth and a lump on my eye. I was in a very bad way and was still on the medication. So, I decided to consult Dr. Klein.
He reinforced the obvious, saying “the meds aren’t helping you,” and encouraged me to continue detoxing. So I went off of the meds, but the symptoms worsened. I was scared and worried on this unorthodox healing path. There was a lot of blood in the toilet and I was very weak. Just making juice was a drain on my energy.
I ended up staying in bed all day, developed a fever with chills and felt so emotional I couldn’t stop crying. My food cravings were unbearable. A few times I slipped off of the book’s “Vegan Healing Diet Plan.” Yet, Dr. Klein was confident as he explained: “Your body is detoxing and the toxins must come out—keep going and let’s modify your dietary routine a bit to help relieve your symptoms.” I was beginning to feel a bit skeptical and wondered when my symptoms would finally cease, but I decided to continue.
I began the day with a few glasses of water followed by a “green juice” of apples, romaine lettuce and celery. I waited a while and followed that with a melon smoothie. Lunch was always a banana smoothie with celery juice and dates. Sometimes I had carrot juice in the afternoon with some barley grass powder. Dinner was usually steamed potatoes and zucchini. Sometimes I made soups of sweet potatoes and carrots or sweet potatoes and squash.
After being on this diet for a while I decided to get some blood tests. To my amazement, my iron levels had risen and everything was normal! I also checked my vitamin D level and this was extremely low. It was winter in England—how was I going to get sunshine? I started using a sun bed for six minutes, twice a week.
I was extremely scared, as my weight had dropped from 126 to 84 pounds. I am 5-foot 5-inches tall and I looked awful. The doctor who took the blood test samples thought I had anorexia. When I tried to explain, she became convinced I was trying to cover up an eating disorder.
My Diligence Pays Off: Healing!
After 12 difficult weeks the diarrhea finally stopped; my stools were now formed. There was still blood, but I was encouraged that it was decreasing. I saw other improvements; I was experiencing interesting and welcome changes: liver spots on my face disappeared, I was sleeping better and I felt less irritable, more loving and calm.
I asked Dr. Klein to put me in contact with a few other clients who were going through or had gone through nearly the same experiences. Their support was amazing! The strength I gained from being able to communicate and share with these people was so important. Their encouragement was essential.
As Dr. Klein says in his book, diet isn’t everything; it is just one important factor. So I saw an osteopathic doctor to work on straightening my back. I didn’t think it was particularly twisted—I seemed to stand quite erect. I had a few kinks straightened out, took up yoga and learned to stretch and breathe properly. Up until then I never thought I needed to see a therapist; however, I felt emotional and vulnerable. Therapy helped.
A New Life Of Health
Everything seemed to gradually fall into place. All colitis symptoms diminished and were resolving. I was now having two to three bowel movements per day and at least two of those contained no blood. Eventually, that reduced to just two bowel movements per day with no blood. I felt better, my energy came back, I looked good and eventually I exclaimed to myself: “Wow, I’m healed!”
I couldn’t wait to eat a salad after all that juicing. In two weeks my weight went from 84 to to 92 pounds. Over the next three months my weight went up to my current 112 pounds, which feels just right.
My energy is amazing now and my skin looks beautiful. My vitamin D level rose to normal and I stopped the sun bed treatments. Because of the detoxification my hair had become very thin; however, its thickness is coming back. I continue to enjoy yoga twice a week and it’s been incredibly beneficial. Just breathing correctly feels so good!
I eventually returned to work, eight months after my healing. I was taken aback by my co-workers’ unhealthy and overweight appearances when I first walked into the office again. During meetings everyone has their bottle of cola or a large cup of coffee, and some help themselves to a large packet of biscuits sitting on the table. My colleagues say: “Don’t bother offering any to Emma—she’s too healthy.” I just smile. In fact I smile a lot these days!