My Personal Journey with Chronic Inflammation


My Personal Journey with Chronic Inflammation

Todd TaylorJune 9, 2020

I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I have some personal experience and knowledge I'd like to share regarding inflammation. I think about chronic inflammation every day and believe it is one of the most important topics concerning general health and wellbeing in the modern world.

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I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I have some personal experience and knowledge I'd like to share regarding inflammation. I think about chronic inflammation every day and believe it is one of the most important topics concerning general health and wellbeing in the modern world. I also believe it is systemically overlooked by the public and our healthcare system. When is the last time you thought about your inflammation levels? (Acute inflammation from a mosquito bite doesn't count.) We are very good at recognizing and treating symptoms, but do a terrible job identifying and treating root causes. The fact that chronic inflammation can lead to so many awful and deadly outcomes makes it an even more tragic thing to ignore.

For context, I'll share my inflammation story. I have struggled with chronic inflammation for most of my adult life. I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis (UC), an autoimmune disorder affecting the large intestine. I've had UC flare-ups that have put me in the hospital on multiple occasions, caused me to lose 40+ pounds (that's not a good thing - I'm 5'11", 175lbs today), kept me out of work for 6+ months, and caused my family and loved ones a lot of grief. It's also miserably expensive to be so sick. So, when my doctors offered me drugs or surgery (which is irreversible) to deal with UC, I chose drugs. But going on a drug for the rest of my life was not at all appealing to me. I don't like taking a single Advil, much less a drug with side-effects designed to knock down my immune system artificially every day of my life.

So, when my most recent UC flare-up came along in June 2018, I thought, "here we go again." I distinctly remember speaking with my gastroenterologist on the phone. I was sitting on the toilet at the time (yup). He was scolding me (rightfully) about not taking my drugs regularly enough, talking about needing to get scoped, starting a steroid treatment, I should go to the ER, etc. And I thought to myself, "There has to be a better way to deal with this." Frustrated, I hung up on my doctor which was a reckless thing to do. Then I sat there in my discomfort and poured over research papers, articles, blogs, etc. trying to figure out what I could do that was not surgery or pills/injections. I just had this feeling that I was missing something and wasn't satisfied with going back through treatment the way I had in the past. I knew my condition was an autoimmune one and understood that my inflammation levels were very high, but I'd never thought through about why they were so high. I asked myself and the internet how to keep inflammation levels low in the first place without a drug doing it for me. Finally, I came across a blog (which I can't find again today) written by a young woman with a similar story to mine. She was talking about how fasting had helped her reverse flare-ups quickly. In that moment, I thought to myself that it makes sense if you have a gut problem to give it a rest and not send food through there. I also thought, "I'm in a terrible state right now, so not eating for a couple days doesn't seem so bad." So that's what I did. I fasted for that night, the next day and night, and by the following evening, my symptoms were gone. I think the fast was 46 hours total. Something that had taken 6+ months and drugs to fix historically was cleared up by doing nothing, for free, in 2 days. Why hadn't my doctors told me about this? I was very confused.

Wanting to understand why that worked so well, I began what is now a 2-year long journey to understand how to keep inflammation levels down naturally. Right away I realized that every time I eat, I'm lighting up my immune system a bit, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. I'm putting foreign stuff in my body and my body has to react just in case. And then, if I'm eating certain foods (read: most of the Standard American Diet) and eating them 4, 6, 10 times a day, my body is constantly freaking out. So, I decided I'd eat less often. For the last 700 days or so, I've eaten once a day and occasionally do a 2-4 day fast. I don't even think about it anymore, and I have no gut issues at all. For more about the science behind why this works so well, I highly recommend reading this NEJM article. It turns out that this approach to eating has other benefits I hadn't even considered but have now experienced, like: improved focus/cognition, steadier energy levels, increased muscle mass, decreased fat mass, better sleep, perfect blood pressure, lower blood sugar (and presumably increased insulin sensitivity), and more.

You might be asking yourself how this all relates to Power Flower and CDB. Well, on this 2-year journey I also discovered the endocannabinoid system and its role in modulating inflammation. The naturally occurring endocannabinoids in your body do this, but they can also be out of balance or not optimally effective, and I assumed that mine were not working properly. By taking CBD oil, I'm helping to restore the health of my endocannabinoid system and its modulating effect on inflammation. There is a lot of research ongoing on this topic. Here is a brief article summarizing the idea.

Endocannabinoids are also created during fatty acid oxidation (note the fasting relationship here). In other words, when you metabolize fat for energy, a natural and hugely beneficial byproduct of that process is endocannabinoid production and as a result, again, lower chronic inflammation levels. There are even studies ongoing that are directly linking endocannabinoids and inflammation regulation in the gut specifically.

I hope by sharing this I might help some fellow IBD sufferers out there like that young lady who authored her blog did for me, but also anyone dealing with chronic inflammation issues (which I suspect is a majority of the population). And if you're considering CBD as a natural supplement to augment your efforts, I would highly recommend it based on my experience.

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