Saturday, April 28, 2012

$746 in Herbs and All I Got Was This Bloody Colon

A week after finishing up the Flagyl1, my colon took a turn for the worse.  I started going more and then, about a week later, pain and blood.  Lots of blood.  In fact, it was like a Quentin Tarantino film in the toilet bowl.  Reservoir Bowels.

It wasn't a pretty sight.

So I called up my gastroenterologist and she put me back on the Flagyl.  Three days later, the blood stopped and the pain subsided.

Since then, I have grown very skeptical of Chinese medicine.  For a while, I was convinced that the reason I was feeling better was due to the herbs.  After all, I have consumed over 3000 herbal tablets since February and spent nearly $750.  Now I am not so sure.

At my last appointment, Dr. X told me that this usually happens. When you go off of western medicine, he explained, symptoms usually come back for a short period of time.  However, it felt like I was getting another infection.  The external Crohn's was obviously making a comeback and, much like "Hail to the Chief" announces the president's arrival, the blood and pain were a clear signal as to what was around the corner.  And it wasn't Obama.  I didn't want a repeat of the episode that landed me in surgery at the beginning of the year.

So, I am back on Flagyl and wondering what to do next.

I decided to do a little experiment.  Through muscle testing, I have been diagnosed by Dr. X of having reactions to dairy.  As a result, I have not had any dairy in my diet for almost four months.  I had muscle reactions to both milk and cheese products.  I explained the whole process in a previous post.

As part of my experiment, I brought to my appointment some mozzarella cheese, pesto and olive oil.  I cut the cheese into a rectangle and told Dr. X that it was tofu. I put it in my mouth and he pushed on my leg.  No reaction.  The problem here is that I had a reaction several weeks earlier to the same product.  The only difference is this time Dr. X didn't know the true identity of the food.

The biggest criticisms of muscle testing is that there is no scientific proof that it works.  Although most doctors are well-intentioned, some argue that the "reaction" to certain foods is merely the doctor doing something different in order to get that reaction.  Every food item that was dairy based was found to create a reaction in my body.  Except the cheese that he thought was tofu.  But I don't think he did anything different.  But, at the same time, I am not sure why my leg gave out one time and not the other.

I don't know what to think at this point.  Even the pesto didn't create a reaction, and that has cheese in it as well.

So is the Chinese medicine all a waste?  Or, perhaps since I have purged myself of dairy, my body no longer registers a little cheese as a threat?

I had to cancel my appointments for the last two weeks and haven't been on herbs for over a week and a half.  Since stopping the herbs, I have not noticed any difference  The only thing I am on at this moment is Flagyl, which I take three times a day.

Logic tells me it has been the Flagyl all along.

I will see my gastroenterologist in two weeks and she wants to start me on a more aggressive treatment:  a TNF inhibitor, such as Humira or Imuran.  I haven't decided if I am going to go back to my Chinese traditional medicine doctor or not.   And I am not sure I want to go the route of a TNF inhibitor.

Everything is up in the air.

I am feeling pretty good now.  I guess that is what counts.

Maybe I should try the wormwood2 next.

1 Flagyl is a powerful antibiotic.  It is one of the oldest drugs to treat Crohn's and has been pretty effective in treating fistulas and anal/rectal Crohn's.  Although it was developed to treat stubborn bacteria, like c. difficile, it was discovered to have anti-inflammatory properties.  Some people stay on Flagyl for months or years.

2 Wormwood is the bitter herb found in absinthe.  Some traditional doctors are using it in place of TNF inhibitors.  A couple of recent studies suggest it as an effective treatment for Crohn's.  Of course, none of these studies have been conducted in the United States, most likely because there is no money in using an herb to treat a disease such as Crohn's. After all, the TNF inhibitor market is a $13 billion a year industry.