It all began after learning of the news that my grandad had been diagnosed with cancer. Shocked and upset, as anyone would be, I couldn't help myself thinking of the poor success rate that 'regular' treatments had to offer, particularly in elderly patients. Not one to accept what's handed to them without question or a fight, I began researching alternative ways to cure, or at least slow down the symptoms of cancer. Along the journey, I found some very interesting facts around the cause and prevention of cancer that I was unaware of, as well as some astonishing case studies and I became consumed with finding out more.
It was through researching someone else's condition that made me start to look at my own illnesses and how I was treating them, in a different light. My eyes became open to the fact that, although some medicines and treatments are absolutely fantastic, many are simply treating the symptoms, rather than the cause and therefore not actually eradicating any problems but, at best just postponing them.
Having suffered with ulcerative colitis for as long as I can remember, I already had my own concerns about the information given to me that my disease was ‘incurable’ and that I would be on medication....’Forever’. If you suffer with colitis, you may well know that there are some severe long-term side effects associated the prescribed medication for such a condition, if taken for a long period of time and unfortunately, very much similar to the results found with the treatments I had been researching for cancer, it seemed the best thing on offer was to 'reduce symptoms' but not cure them - with a side order of long terms health problems from the medication itself, as well as a very slim chance of the medication actually working!
So, there I was, telling anyone who would listen to read the books I had read and start using alternative and natural ways to cure or even reduce the chances of having cancer as I, myself, was taking an abundance of prescription meds for something far less sinister. I felt like a fraud. If I truly believed all of the research I had carried out, then surely, I should be ditching the prescription meds and see if I could cure this thing with all of the new information I had learnt. And so that's exactly what I did.
To give you an understanding of where I was when I made this decision, I was at my worst point so far with the disease. I was visiting the bathroom upwards of 12 times within a 24hour period and was losing a lot of blood when I did go, which in turn made me anaemic. I desperately needed to go to the bathroom the minute I woke up....which was awful seen as I was on night feed duty every two hours for my new-born. Oh, and I had an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old to take care of full time too. As well as a business which has 50 employees who were depending on my management. Having this condition was a total pain in the arse - quite literally, and frankly, I didn’t have time for it. Looking back, I didn’t really have a choice, I was losing weight quite excessively, I felt exhausted and people were starting to comment on unhealthy I looked (thanks mum!) So that is when I took matters into my own hands and changed my lifestyle using the below steps and I haven’t looked back since.
Step 1: The medication I was taking, like most medications I had tried, seemed to have no effect. Therefore, running the risk of the long-term side effects seemed absurd so I ditched these first and foremost and replaced them with 1 x Flaxseed capsule, 1 x Boswella extract capsule each morning, both of which have shown great results in easing the side effects for people with the condition.
Step 2: I had already undertaken tests from my GP to see if I was intolerant to any foods that may be causing my symptoms to flare, all of which came back negative. However, having read success stories of food elimination I took a ‘home test’ in which you prick your finger and send off a small sample of blood to gain knowledge of foods you are not intolerable to but may cause some reaction in your body.
Step 3: Of course, the results showed by 6 favourite foods to be in the 'reactive' or 'moderate reactive ' column. I begrudgingly cut them out of my diet immediately. Cow’s milk (which includes cheese!!! My god, why the cheese?!) egg whites, yeast, gluten, lentils and beef?! Basically, everything I love. I cut them all out. Whilst I was on a roll I also chose to dramatically reduce my refined sugar intake as well as aim for a more alkaline diet too. And I started to see some improvements straight away.
Step 4: Although my bathroom trips were reduced, I was now stuck with another problem....hunger. I was running out of alternatives to replace the foods that I was so used to and began choosing to go without a meal as oppose to eating something that would give me stomach ache later. After researching several books, I took the plunge into introducing just one of the ‘reactive’ food groups at a time to see if any changes occurred. Side note: I had also read that white bread and pasta was more easily digested for people with colitis than brown (all this time I thought that I was being healthy eating that cardboard! So, when introducing the gluten/yeast I opted for white instead of brown) The results were that I could have a small amount of one of the food groups per day but no more to keep my symptoms at bay. So, two slices of white toast in the morning was my limit but no cheese pasta beef etc after that. Which I could live with.
The first time I managed a proper 'number 2' me and my husband had a celebration dinner (a healthy, alkaline based one with no cheese in site of course!) and now it’s almost been 9 months that I have been going to the bathroom like any normal person with, no symptoms whatsoever. I haven't had one relapse at any point during this experiment and I can finally focus on other things.
I am not advising anyone on what to do with their own medication, as each case is different however, if you suffer with ulcerative colitis and you feel that nothing has worked so far and there are no other options being given to you, then why not try the above, after all – what have you got to lose?
This piece was written by Jennifer. H. Cole. A 28 year old mother and successful business owner. Jennifer is the author of the recently written 'Staying Sane and Ahead of the Game - Baby & toddler edition' A self-help guide to live a more fulfilling life as a parent, which can be purchased here www.stayingsaneandaheadofthegame.co.uk You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter and Facebook for advice, inspiration, tips and tricks to be a healthier and happier parent.