ALCOHOL’S EFFECT ON YOU AND YOUR LIVER

ALCOHOL IS PART OF OUR SOCIAL DYNAMIC

It can add an element of fun, silliness or sophistication to our experiences. However, it is helpful to be aware of the benefits and risks behind anything we choose to put into our body.

ALCOHOL CAN ADD HAPPINESS AND ENHANCE OUR EXPERIENCES

It is fun to have a cocktail with friends. It can help us relax and unwind. Spending time with friends and family is good for the spirit. Of course, it is possible to take things a little too far. Getting a little carried away and having a few too many might make your next morning a bit of a challenge, but how much harm can a few drinks really cause?

YOUR LIVER HAS MANY RESPONSIBILITES

The liver performs hundreds of functions, including metabolizing the fats, carbohydrates and proteins in our diet. The liver’s primary job is to filter toxins from the blood. Drinking alcohol gives your body extra work to do which keeps it from performing other jobs, like removing other harmful toxins and metabolizing your fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

ALCOHOL IS HIGH PRIORITY FOR YOUR LIVER

Once you have a drink containing alcohol, your body makes metabolizing it a priority because, unlike fats, carbohydrates and proteins, your body doesn’t have a way to store alcohol.

YOUR LIVER WORKS HARD TO GET IT ALL DONE

When you have a cocktail, beer or wine, your liver detoxifies and removes the alcohol thru a process called oxidation. The liver first converts the alcohol to another toxic substance called acetaldehyde. When oxidation is complete, acetaldehyde becomes water and carbon dioxide, which is excreted from the body.

A healthy liver can metabolize one alcoholic drink per hour. Have more than that, and the toxic acetaldehyde builds up in the body, causing a hangover. Drink too much too often, and the liver suffers damage.

FAT CONSEQUENCES OF TOO MUCH ALCOHOL

When you drink alcohol, the liver must choose to burn acetaldehyde for fuel instead of fat. If you drink too much too often, damage can result. Acetaldehyde damages the liver, and fat is stored in the liver instead of elsewhere in the body or being burned off altogether. This can lead to a condition called fatty liver disease. This is an early stage of liver disease and can typically be completely reversed in a month or two from simply abstaining from drinking alcohol and supporting your liver. Once liver damage has progressed beyond the fatty liver stage, damage typically becomes irreversible.

ALCOHOL’S EFFECT ON THE REST OF YOUR BODY

IMMUNE SYSTEM

Alcohol can weaken the immune system. If you drink every day, or almost every day, you may notice that you catch colds, flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who don’t drink.

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

Drinking can upset the balance of the microorganisms in your digestive system. It can also damage the tissues in your GI tract and prevent you from digesting food and from absorbing nutrients and vitamins. Drinking alcohol can also lead to gassiness, bloating, and diarrhea.

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM

Alcohol can affect your heart and lungs. Chronic use of alcohol puts you at higher risk for heart related issues including: high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

SKELETAL AND MUSCLE SYSTEMS

Long-term alcohol use may prevent your body from keeping your bones strong. Thinner bones may increase your risk for fractures if you fall and these fractures may heal more slowly.

Drinking alcohol may also lead to muscle weakness and cramping.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM

Slurred speech is one of the first signs you’ve had too much to drink. Alcohol can reduce communication between your body and your brain, impairing coordination.

THE GOOD NEWS: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Your liver is very resilient and capable of regenerating itself. It can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol use over many years can reduce your liver’s ability to regenerate. Be kind to your body and support it in the best ways you can.

Empowered with this knowledge you can make your choices. “How much is too much?” is ultimately up to you.


WHY I LOVED TO DRINK

HELLO ALCOHOL MY OL’ FRIEND….

I had a roller coaster relationship with alcohol, both ups and downs. Yes, nothing is all good or all bad in life, and I learned some lessons on this ride.

ABOUT ME

I was the first born of three, to young parents, in their early 20’s. They loved me very much, this I have always known. I had a happy childhood and I think I had a more active social life between the ages of 1 and 3 than I do at 50. I went everywhere with my parents, softball games, bars, card club, … you name it and I got to come along and always felt included.

I EXPERIENCED ALCOHOL AS A HAPPY THING

I have a warm memory associated with the smell of beer and cigarettes; and the feeling of laying my head on my mom’s chest, listening to her heartbeat and the voices of the adults talking and laughing as I drifted off to sleep. I felt safety, comfort and love. Some people may judge this scenario, but I don’t. It was part of my happy childhood. I saw alcohol as a happy thing, as an adult thing and something I wanted when I “grew up”.

I DIDN’T WAIT ‘TIL I WAS 21

I did a bit of underage drinking in high school, but very carefully. I didn’t want to disappoint or embarrass my parents, and I didn’t want to experience the consequence of my choice. I did want to be like them and feel grown up and happy. I have many fun, and some scary, memories of my high school years, some around alcohol and some not. As an adult, I know this was against the law and not something I was supposed to do.  I knew it was something my parents, my teachers and my coaches would have frowned upon and may have even been shocked about, but it was fun, formed deeper bonds with my friends and made me feel included.

DRINKING AND THE OL’ COLLEGE TRY

It seemed that EVERYONE drank in college, it was just part of the culture. It was fun, and being a shy introverted person, I found alcohol to be a vehicle to opening up faster and to giving me a sense of belonging. However, the consequences of drinking started to become more apparent. The trade off to going out to parties became my struggle with grades. I had never had this before, and I didn’t particularly like this new struggle. However, it did teach me that I always have a choice and a consequence. If I didn’t go out with my friends I might miss out on something super fun. What if they stopped inviting me if I said no too many times? My grades improved when I focused my energy on studying and away from drinking. This was obviously a positive outcome, but I didn’t like making that choice. Why could other people I knew do both? It wasn’t fair. I spent a lot of time in “victim mode” when I chose studying over drinking and fun, but I pushed through and graduated with the knowledge I needed to become a successful member of society and to help people thru medicine.

ALCOHOL MADE ME SICK

After graduating, I became an adult. I had my own apartment, my own car, my own bills, and my own job. I could make all of my own choices with no consequences, right?!?  Well, one thing that followed me from high school, to college and into adulthood was what my dad likes to call the “Krohn Curse”. I never tolerated alcohol well. Almost every time I drank, I would have nausea and a headache the next day at minimum. At maximum, I would be physically sick for 2 to 3 days. This was usually dependent on the quantity of alcohol consumed, but not always. I was only responsible for myself at this point, so I would often choose the fun alcohol brought over the known consequence of consuming the alcohol. So many fun memories were created at this time in my life as well, but the consequences were always there. From wasting the whole day after a night of fun to having to call in sick to my new job that I loved. This was after going out for dinner and drinks with a friend on a weeknight and having just 2 cocktails. I woke up the next morning physically ill and unable to function. I remember calling and talking to one of my pharmacy mentors, sobbing and feeling so ashamed. I was thankful when I was met with kindness and compassion, even though I was completely honest about my self inflicted illness.

BUT I DIDN’T STOP

This changed how I drank but did not stop me from drinking. I would very strategically choose to only drink before a day I could afford to waste. But Why? Why choose to do something to your body that was harmful? The answer was simple, it was because it was fun and social and made me feel included.

KIDS AND ALCOHOL

Having children squelched the desire to drink a bit more. The consequences became too big. I could not afford to feel ill for an entire day when I had a beautiful little being that depended on me. Yet, my husband and I were far away from family, in a new environment and wanted to make friends. I loved the free easy feeling that alcohol brought when making new friends. I was not so guarded and it was much easier to open up and form the friendship bonds faster. But, as life often does, the challenges of being married, being parents, dealing with the balancing of work/home life became more intense and then drinking started to be a means of escape. I did not notice this at the time but hindsight is crystal clear. Alcohol did not cause any of my problems, but it was not a productive way to deal with my problems.

DIVORCE AND ALCOHOL

After my divorce, the irony was, I stopped drinking. If I would have a cocktail it would be mostly for appearances. I didn’t want to address the reasons why I stopped drinking, and at the time, I didn’t entirely understand it myself. I would still choose to have a drink here and there in a social setting where it was just fun to have some cocktails and get silly. Sometimes I dealt with the consequences and sometimes I got a free pass.

IT FINALLY STOPPED WHEN I WAS DIAGNOSED

It wasn’t until my diagnosis, with rheumatoid arthritis, that I stopped drinking completely. This reason was truly for me. I felt lousy when I wasn’t drinking and I didn’t want to knowingly add to my misery.

TEACHING MOMENTS

As a mom of teenagers, I told them I wanted to take the curiosity out of the alcohol but realized I could not remove the peer pressure. The choices they made, in relationship to peer pressure, was up to them to handle in their own way. They have been allowed to drink with me at home, to see what it tastes like and how it makes them feel. Sometimes we just get out the “pretty glasses” and have non-alcoholic drinks just to feel special and grown up. I have shared my consequences of feeling lousy after drinking and they have seen me experience this first hand. I shared my struggle with grades in college and the choices I made.  I have always stressed that there is absolutely no reason for driving after having even a single drink. They know they can always call me, or call their dad, for a ride and there will be no consequences. Conversation? Absolutely!! But no consequences if they are taking the opportunity offered to them to be safe.

I UNDERSTAND WHY I HAVE THE CURSE

Now that I know what alcohol does to my body and the burden it places on my liver, I understand why I have the “Krohn Curse” and I choose not to drink. I find there are friends who are curious about this choice. They knew me in my high school or college or post college days and this is something different. I don’t find there to be judgment, just curiosity of the why. It took me a half a century to be truly comfortable with this choice and with sharing the ‘why’.

TEMPTATIONS

There are times I am on vacation or in a social setting where I want a drink to have that warm happy experience, but typically I find another choice and put it in a pretty glass. I find that the warm happy experience exists even in the absence of alcohol. On those occasions where I truly want the experience of a drink ~a cold beer up north on the lake, an icy tropical drink when I am lounging on the beach by the ocean or a brandy old fashioned when the snow is falling and there is a crackling fire in the fireplace~ then I will have one knowing that this may be nourishing my soul in some way but also with the full knowledge that this is something that is not nourishing my body.

CHOICES

I know the choice is always mine to make and the consequence is always mine to endure. This most often leads me to find the joy in the situation without choosing the alcohol.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Do you have a similar experience with alcohol? Is your experience something completely different? I find sharing an learning from one another to be therapeutic and educational.

Have a wonderful week!


DETOX STEP 2 – Liver Support

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE YOUR LIVER HEALTH?

Becoming aware of what is helpful and what is harmful is the first step. Taking actionable steps to implement these findings is the key to wellness.

YOUR DETOX SYSTEMS

  • Liver & Gallbladder
  • Gastrointestinal – Stomach, Intestines, Colon
  • Urinary – Kidneys, Bladder, Urethra
  • Skin – Sweat & Sebaceous Glands
  • Respiratory – Lungs, Throat, Sinuses, Mouth, Nose
  • Lymphatic – Channels & Nodes

CONDITIONS THAT MAY BE PRECIPITATED BY TOXINS

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Skin Rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Thyroid Issues
  • Prostate Issues
  • Fertility Issues
  • Auto Immune Conditions
  • Fibrocystic Breasts &/or Ovaries
  • Environmental Sensitivities
  • Constipation &/or Diarrhea
  • Bad Breath

THE LIVER – YOUR BODY’S FILTRATION SYSTEM

Think of your liver as being similar to a furnace filter. If not properly cared for, a furnace filter will get clogged. If you don’t provide a clean filter for the furnace it will not function efficiently and this could potentially cause damage to the furnace itself. The same is true of your liver. If detoxification is not supported and if you are taking in medications or other toxins that can impair the function of your liver, your body will not operate efficiently and could potentially be damaged.

  • Lack of detoxification supporting nutrition leads to malfunctioning systems in the body as toxins build up, this places an unwanted burden on the liver.
  • Good nutrition can prevent a lot of hardship, sickness and sadness
  • Your liver has two detoxification pathways: Phase I and II. These pathways are interrelated and both need to be supported for the liver to function efficiently.
  • The liver has many functions in the body: metabolizing the products of digestion from the stomach, processing and helping to rid the body of toxins, storing iron, providing essential energy producing substances, maintaining hormonal balance, regulating blood clotting, producing bile and producing cholesterol and other fats needed by the body.
  • If the liver malfunctions, toxins and hormones accumulate in the body causing inflammatory and neurological disease.
  • You can support your liver by limiting the toxic load you are taking in from your environment and by supporting its function through your dietary intake of nourishing organic nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
  • Evaluate your cleaning supplies, cosmetics, lotions, tampons, plastics, soaps, detergents, and new carpet, flooring & furniture (off-gassing).
  • Compounds in the following foods have been found to support the liver detox process:
    • Cruciferous Vegetables
    • Green Leafy Vegetables
    • Garlic
    • Onion
    • Cardamom
    • Turmeric
  • There are many things that can inhibit your liver’s function
    • Medications
      • Antihistamines (Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl, Allegra)
      • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax)
      • H2 Blockers (Tagamet, Zantac)
      • Antifungals
      • Antibiotics
    • Deficiencies in Vitamins & Minerals
      • Vitamin B2
      • Vitamin B3
      • Copper
      • Magnesium
      • Zinc
    • Grapefruit Juice
    • Age, decreased blood flow to the liver
    • Lack of Physical Activity
    • Poor Nutrition

IMPORTANT: Support and Balance Both Phases of Liver Detoxification. If Phase II is slower than Phase I, then the toxins processed by Phase I are in a state that can cause more harm in the body. This imbalance can occur in two ways: over burdening the Phase I process and under nourishing the Phase II process.

PHASE I (TRANSFORMATION) – Start the Job: Lessen the Burden Phase I of liver detox is burdened by the over exposure to environmental toxins: from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the contaminants and pesticides in the food we eat, and all other toxins we introduce through topical products, cleaning supplies and medications, both over-the-counter and prescription. All of these add to the burden on the liver. This excessive burden can impair the liver’s ability to properly metabolize the toxins and the liver will produce a dangerously high level of free radicals that must be further metabolized by Phase II to protect against oxidative cell damage.

Phase II (CONJUGATION) – Finish the Job: Bind the Toxins Phase II of liver detoxification has a huge job to conjugate and eliminate the bio-transformed substances from Phase I. If the Phase II process is impaired, due to a lack of micronutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals, it is not capable of keeping up with the toxic load it is given from the Phase I process. These substances are potentially more toxic now that they have been transformed. If the water soluble toxic substances are not effectively eliminated from the body, they are now more dangerous because they can attach to cells in the body other than fat cells, where they are typically stored.

LIVER DETOXIFICATION IS ESSENTIAL FOR HEALTH If the liver malfunctions, toxins and hormones accumulate in the body causing inflammatory and neurological disease.

Supporting your liver function is just one great reason to eat organic and to incorporate juice fasting into your dietary plan.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Limit toxins taken into or put onto your body
  • Support your liver with organic vegetables, garlic, onion, cardamom & turmeric
  • Incorporate juice fasting into your dietary plan.

It may not be realistic for you to eat 100% organic or to completely eliminate all environmental toxins but your health is definitely worth making the effort.


DETOX STEP 1 – Am I healthy?

I was joking with a patient the other day, when asked about health and nutrition. She was asking for advice but maintaining that she always eats healthy. It came to me in a flash that we all believe that we eat healthy. Why would we purposely do anything to harm our body? I shared with her, that so did I, ever since I can remember having the freedom to choose my own food in 7th grade.

My “healthy” diet was Diet Coke for breakfast and a slice of pizza at the local pizza place for lunch. Of course, I had a mom who packed me a lunch everyday (THANKFULLY!!) that contained fruits and vegetables. But when left to my own choosing it was Diet Coke and Pizza. I lost almost 20 pounds from 6th Grade to 8th Grade. Retrospectively, I was going thru puberty and my hormones and my growth shed the extra pounds naturally, as it often does for teenage girls; but I attributed this to my new “healthy” diet.

This continued into High School where pizza was exchanged for McDonald’s or Hardee’s and still the Diet Coke remained a staple. No one was teaching us about nutrition; well, except for the one week unit in health class that reminded us to eat mostly grains and to add some fruits and vegetables for good measure. This is where I added in Ramen noodles with canned peas or corn for a “well rounded” meal.

Once I graduated and went off to college, I really had a handle on healthy eating. I followed the latest food “guidelines”. Any of you who experienced the 90’s as a young adult know what I am talking about: avoid fat at all costs, eat carbs, eat less and exercise more. I thankfully still enjoyed fruits and vegetables because this is what I was raised on (when my mom was in charged of feeding me). I followed this to the letter: pasta, canned corn, canned beans, meat of any kind on occasion (when I felt the need) and don’t forget the Snack Well Cookies – no fat and only 100 calories. Diet Coke still prevailed and now that I was “grown up”, add a splash of booze when needed! I ran and worked out all the time!! By my last year in school, I was down to an “acceptable” weight, after gaining the obligatory 15 pounds at the beginning of college. Again, thanks to my “healthy” lifestyle.

Out into the real world I went! A job, an apartment, a car, a new stereo and money I hadn’t had in college. Now I could go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This started to catch up to me and I naturally migrated back to cooking and adding in more whole food (thankfully) but still unconsciously.

It wasn’t until I was planning to get pregnant with my first child that I really started researching healthy eating. Not for me necessarily, but to give my baby the best start possible in life. I quit coffee cold turkey (what a miserable couple of weeks of headaches and nausea), I gave up Diet Coke and switched to the occasional “Real” Coke. I added more fruits and vegetables at every meal and started taking a multivitamin. This is were my journey really started, with my concern for the health of my daughters at the forefront and eventually for my own health.

Again, in retrospect, I am amazed that I emerged from that experience unaffected, or so I thought! It was just a few extra pounds, a little fatigue, and sprinkled with a bit (or a lot) of postpartum depression.

Then, over time, the real effects started to show up. The fatigue got worse; I didn’t have the energy to exercise so the weight remained a bit elevated. Then the sluggish thyroid turned into Hashimoto’s and finally the rheumatoid arthritis was revealed!!

I no longer focus on why this happened, other than to move me toward a healthier place. There is a whole world of epigenetics to explore. In a nutshell, this is looking at what external factors trigger modification of your gene expression. I just began to focus on what external factors I could control to modify this again.

The point of this story is that we need to reflect on what we believe to be healthy and what we could do to improve upon this. We are only able to welcome change if we first change our mindset. Once we allow this paradigm shift, change will begin.

The good news is that our bodies are amazingly designed to detoxify and excrete toxins.

“Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.” 
― Jim Rohn. 

The bad news is that our bodies are not equipped to handle the sheer volume of modern environmental and other toxins we are exposed to today; and some of us are less equipped than others.

We have so many toxin exposures every single day!

COMMON TOXINS: Food toxins, air pollutants, water pollutants: pesticide residue, pharmaceuticals residue, hormone disruptors, nitrates from fertilizers, heavy metals (mercury from fish), GMOs from factory farmed animals, PCBs, dioxin from paper products and tampons, pesticides on non-organic produce, cleaning supplies, cosmetics and grooming products, plastics, detergents and soaps, carpet.

We should incorporate detox regularly, not just ONE AND DONE.

I have started looking at it like cleaning my house. I like to keep up on the mess and the laundry to prevent it from building up, but every month or two I need to do a cleanse and clean up and clear out the things that are cluttering up and interfering with my space. Sometimes this gets away from me and it will be 6 months or a year before I address some of these things. This is a direct parallel to our bodies. We will do ourselves a wonderful service by cleaning up our diet and eliminating as many toxins as possible, but we still need to neutralize and clear out the toxins that have gotten in.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Where am I at today?
  • What can I do right now?
  • Will I allow myself to be paralyzed by fear?
  • Will I allow this to empower me to seek solutions?

Where do I start?

  • Food is always a good place to start
  • Choosing organic when possible and especially when necessary
  • The EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a fantastic group that makes this process a little easier!
  • The Clean Fifteen & The Dirty Dozen

WHY VITAMIN D?

Vitamin D is actually a hormone that regulates so many functions in our bodies.

Inadequate Levels of Vitamin D can lead to:

  • Decreased immune function
  • Increased Inflammation
  • Slower Wound Healing
  • Hair Loss
  • Low Energy
  • Depressed Mood
  • Increased Bone or Muscle Pain
  • Impaired bone health
    • Specifically Vitamin D guides calcium into our bones where it belongs, rather than calcium going to the kidneys or to the arteries to form calcifications when Vitamin D is inadequate.

Our bodies manufacture Vitamin D from sunlight. This requires 10-30 minutes of daily sun exposure with no sunscreen. It is best not to shower right after to allow the manufactured Vitamin D to absorb into the skin and into the body.

Most of us are not able to find the time for this exposure on a regular basis. This is why supplementing with Vitamin D3 is so important.

A good starting dose of Vitamin D3 is 2000-5000IU. Levels can be tested with a simple blood test. Typical normal range is 30-80 ng/ml, 30 is surviving and 80 is thriving.


WHY VITAMIN C?

Benefits of Vitamin C:

  1. Antioxidant
    1. Antioxidants bind free radicals and help your body fight inflammation
    2. Exercise is good for you but intense exercise causes oxidative stress and free radicals. 
    3. People with adequate vitamin C are able to oxidize more fat during moderate exercise
  2. Boosts Immune System
    1. Reduces severity of allergic reactions and helps your body fight off infection
    2. Reduces inflammation, essential for immunity and general health
  3. Increases Iron Absorption
  4. Helps Build Collagen in the Body
    1. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body
      1. Provides skin with structure
      2. Strengthens Bones
      3. May help with gut health, healing/preventing intestinal permeability

Any micronutrients (vitamins/minerals/polyphenols) are best absorbed through fresh, organic, whole foods. This being said, it’s difficult to get high enough amounts of Vitamin C from diet alone. In my opinion, vitamin C supplements are a helpful addition.

Vitamin C is water-soluble and is better absorbed when taken throughout the day rather than all at once. I take 3000-4000mg of vitamin C on a daily basis, spread throughout the day. Since the start of this coronavirus I have at least doubled that.

Food sources of Vitamin C include:

  • Sweet Potatoes, Cantaloupes, Citrus Fruits, Broccoli, Red Cabbage, Peppers, Kiwi, Tomatoes, Spinach, and Asparagus
  • I have been adding ½ teaspoon (2000mg) of the PURE Vitamin C Powder to my 32 ounce water, along with the juice from 1 lime, a pinch of pink Himalayan salt and a dropperful of Lemon Sweet Drops (I usually drink 2 of these throughout the day)

Some of these products may not be available at Amazon at the moment. Keep checking back.


Hi! My name is Gina Lynn and I’m so happy you’re here!

So, who am I?

This is really a deep topic to consider when I really sit and think about it. I am a child of God. I am a daughter. I have wonderful parents who taught me what it is to love and gifted me the name Gina Lynn. I am blessed to be a sister to two of my best friends. I am a mother, to two beautiful daughters (Emma & Tessa), something I count as my biggest blessing. I am a friend. I am a co-worker. I am a neighbor. I am a friendly face. I am a kindred spirit. The list could go on and on.

There are so many “hats” we all wear. These hats shape who we are but they don’t necessarily define us.

Of course my story started when I was born. I lived in a small town in rural Wisconsin and loved growing up in that small town. My journey lead me to UW-Madison, School of Pharmacy. This is where I feel my “own” journey started. The time when I ventured out into the world, maybe still sheltered a bit, but making the transition to adulthood nonetheless.

Pharmacy school was a great adventure, I met wonderful friends and learned more than I ever thought possible. It was a struggle at times, it was lonely at times, and it was so fun at times. Just like life, a journey that ebbs and flows; you have to learn to flow with the tide and work to overcome obstacles.

I have been practicing pharmacy for 26+ years. I was drawn to this life path because I am drawn to helping people. I have learned so much along this career path; I am still learning and grateful for all of my experiences.

Now, I feel I am being led to help people in a different way! I know there is so much healing we can do when we nurture our bodies, our minds and our spirits. We need all three to be in balance in order to thrive.

I have been blessed with health my whole life and then, a few years ago, just like that, I began to feel less than vibrant. I was tired all of the time, my hair was thinning, my body was swelling, my joints were achy, my mood was depressed and I was impatient. I knew I had to figure this out and began to really research health. I learned so much about nutrition, inflammation, meditation, yoga, deep breathing and supplements. I was going to figure this out and get back to being me!! This was a promise I made to myself.

My path led to IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) where I learned about so may different dietary and healing modalities and completed my first health coach certification. This was a spring board to my learning. I continued to read so many books and continued to research health.

I was making progress with my diet, lifestyle and supplement changes, but the fatigue and swelling was still there. I figured out how to order labs for myself and nothing came back that was concerning. I finally reached a point where my work, the work of my family doctor and the work of my naturopathic doctor weren’t giving me the all the results I was hoping for. Then came the referral to rheumatology and the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and a secondary diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. There was no time for denial. All of the symptoms were there but the blood work did not point to anything being wrong seriously. Inflammatory markers were not elevated, the RA Factor was negative, Thyroid levels were low, TSH was elevated and the Thyroid Antibodies were present but not at a critical level. My rheumatologist said “if we wait for the blood work to prove what we already know, there will be irreversible damage to the joints”. Through tears and fears, I agreed to take steroids to help with the inflammation and methotrexate to modulate the attack my immune system was waging on my joints. Some people will say that I am lucky because I know so much about these medications, but honestly, I think this knowledge made me even more afraid. These 2 medications helped but I was not reaching my goal of remission. Hydroxychloroquine was added to further modulate the immune attack on my body. I had tolerated both of the other medications, but this one made me nauseous and gave me headaches. Finally, came the discussion of the biologics. I was terrified but determined to get back to my vibrant self!! It was a long process with cost, insurance, mail order, etc. I pushed thru and injected my first dose. I consider myself very fortunate; 4 days after my first injection, my swelling decreased!! I could bend my fingers again, my joint pain subsided and I could wear shoes other than slippers and Birkenstocks.

My next step was to use this victory to dive deeper into the repair of by body, to get completely into remission and to be able to drop the medications that I know were helping me temporarily but also adding to the toxic burden on my body.

I did extensive work to heal my gut. I supported my mental health. I dug deeper into my hormones. I continue to improve my diet. The steroids were no longer needed, the methotrexate was slowly decreased.

My journey then lead me to HMI (Health Mastery Institute) which is proving to be the source that ties everything together into a beautiful, abundant, actionable information package. HMI has shone a bright light on my life path to vibrant health.

In the midst of my learning through HMI, I received call from my rheumatologist when this coronavirus was released into our world. He was calling to express his concern for me being on medication that decreased my immune function, while working as a pharmacist with an increased risk of exposure to the virus. He suggested I stay on the medication until there was a confirmed case in my co-workers or in my family. Because of the progress I had made with healing my body, I made the decision to stop injecting because of my interaction with so many people over the course of a single work day. With so few tests available, I decided to treat my situation as if I had been exposed. My last injection was February 28, 2020. I choose to view this as a blessing and the push/permission I was looking for to stop all medications.

I am concentrating on putting only what can help me into my body. I am not perfect but this opportunity to be medication free has given me more resolve to support my body and my immune function to the best of my ability.

Sharing my story with you has been therapeutic; thank you for indulging me!! My hope is that my story will resonate with you on a personal level or because of someone you know; and the information shared here will help on your journey.

I believe that we’re are all here, on this life journey, to help one another. Originally I was called to help people through my role as a pharmacist. There have been so many changes over the past 3 decades in the field of medicine and I feel my calling has evolved. I now know that by concentrating on physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, the vibrance of true health can be realized. My true calling is to Guide, Empower and Teach any one who finds themselves seeking this vibrancy on their life journey.

G.E.T happy G.E.T. healthy G.E.T. whole