Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review of Miracle Sleep Natural Talalay Latex Mattress: It's Da Bomb

After roughing it on a $70 inflatable camping mattress for 5 years, we finally broke down and splurged on a real mattress. Well, actually the inflatable mattress finally busted at the seams after I over-inflated it a bit much. So we really didn't have a choice.

Our $70 inflatable mattress served us faithfully for 5 years before busting a seam

Some background
Knowing that I was content with an inflatable mattress, would you believe that I am a mattress snob? It's true, I am. For this, I blame my sensitivity to chemicals and odors. In the past, when I was sick (I'm all better now!), I developed MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity). MCS can be a real problem when one needs to buy a new mattress. Typically, mattresses are manufactured using a myriad of noxious chemicals (e.g. formaldehyde, glues, isocyanate from the polyurethane foam). These mattresses continue to off-gas nasty odors for months and possibly even years. No thanks.

Having MCS is an even bigger problem when on a limited student budget. So I sewed my own mattress using organic materials. It was a queen size, about 4 inches thick, and comprised layers of organic cotton batting topped with a 2 inch natural latex topper. In all, it cost $200 to make. I got a good four years out of it and brought it with me to PA when I married my dear hubs in 2008.

I guess my dear hubs wasn't a fan of my hand-made organic mattress. Because in late 2008, as a wedding gift to ourselves, Spencer bought us a brand new $500 mattress from The Original Mattress Store. It was plush and comfortable to lie on, but oh boy did it stink. I put my activated carbon blanket ($159 from Nirvana Safe Haven) over the mattress to help absorb the odors and that made it tolerable. But after a few months, the mattress was still off-gassing. So, we got rid of it.

Thus began the era of the Inflatable Mattress. :)

Fast Forward Five Years
I had my heart set on a Talalay natural latex mattress but most of these cost upwards of $1500 in queen size. There were also mattresses marketed as 'latex mattress' (e.g. the $600 Ultimate Dreams Latex Mattress) that are actually a combination of natural latex with a core/base of HR Foam (Polyfoam), thus not 100% latex.

I ordered this queen-sized Miracle Sleep 6 inch natural latex mattress as a set (box spring and mattress) for $1000 from Amazon. Getting it as a set was $200 cheaper than buying just the mattress.

This mattress has absolutely no odor. It appears well put together from quality materials. It is firm (I ordered 'firm' figuring if it was too firm I could always add a plush topper). It conforms to my side-sleeping contour yet feels nicely supportive. Among other plusses, it claims to:
  • Reduce pressure points, disperse body heat and maintain a neutral temperature environment
  • Be antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew and is dust mite resistant
  • Extremely durable, maintains it shape, no need to flip the mattress, and has a 20 year life span
  • Available in soft, medium and firm support

I'll update a few months down the line as I get more acquainted with my new favorite purchase, but right now it's LOVE!

Box spring foundation, 6 inches of firm natural Talalay latex foam. Put on my own allergy/bed bug barrier mattress casing and topped with a plush mattress topper. 

It's hard to tell from the pic, but the materials are good quality. No odor!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Review of the Green Star Juicer: Fresh Raw Unheated Juice a Worthwhile Investment

I've owned two Green Star Juicers in my lifetime. I bought my first one in Malaysia 15 years ago (back then it went by the name Green Power). And I bought my second one in the US eight years ago. They both still work great. True workhorses.

I did a lot of comparison shopping prior buying. I knew, from my previously experiences with centrifugal juicers, exactly what I did not want. 

I didn't want a centrifugal juicer because: 
  • These juicers heat up quickly and in turn, 'cook' the juice. 
  • The juicing action is 'violent' - the fruit/veg is shredded on a grater and hurled against the sides of the sieve/filter then centrifuged at speeds approaching Mach 4 to get the juice out. 
  • Centrifugal juicers don't do a good job with leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage, wheat grass.
  • The semi-cooked juice oxidizes/turns brown super quick and can't keep longer than 30 minutes. (Well you could, but it would just look and taste nasty, plus not do you much good).
  • There is typically a fair amount of wastage (wet pulp) as the centrifugal juicers aren't efficient in extracting all the juice.
  • Most centrifugal juicers don't allow for you to juice continuously - when the pulp holding container is full, you'll need to stop juicing, open it up and empty the pulp out before you can juice some more.
  • Clean up is a real drag - I don't like scrubbing the filter. At all. It takes forever.

The Green Star juicer is everything that the centrifugal juicers are not. 

Twin Gears
The 'twin gear' that is the heart of this very cool contraption, gently 'triturates' / 'masticates' (i.e., cuts into teeny pieces) the fruit/veg that are fed into it, at a slow speed of 100 rpm. The pulp passes into a screw press capped with a filter/sieve, which presses the juice out through the filter while the dry pulp exits at the end. This has a few pretty awesome results:
  • The juice stays unheated, because the motor and gears don't get hot.
  • The juicing action is gentle, and the resulting juice doesn't oxidize thus keeps longer. (I keep in airtight single serve glass jars for up to three days, and only need to juice twice a week).
  • The Green Star excels with leafy vegetables. I feed them down the chute and once they hit the twin gears, they get pulled right in. 
  • The pulp comes out DRY. That means more juice in my tummy. And more savings, especially since I juice all organic veg/fruit.
  • I can keep juicing till the cows come home, since the pulp exits at the end and the juice comes out direct into my jug. 
  • Clean up is a snap. Disassembling and rinsing and scrubbing takes two minutes or less. I swear!
Fruit and veg feed into chute, dry pulp comes out the end, yummy juice goes into the jug!

Why buy a Green Star Juicer?

The Green Star gives the best value for money for what it does. At $600+, it's definitely more expensive than most centrifugal juicers, but not too far off the top-end ones like Breville, Tribest and Omega. (Compare prices online at Amazon). But if you want to be able to juice vegetables, want to maximize juice extraction of your organic produce, don't want to waste too much time cleaning up or juicing every single day, yet want fresh juice on hand every day, then the Green Star is well worth it.

Buying a Green Star Juicer is buying into a Lifestyle of delicious, raw life-giving juice, for life hehe. 

Organic celery, green apple, pineapple, carrot and lemon juice. 

Of course, this is merely my opinion :D

What's your favorite juicer and why? Please leave a comment!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review of NQ Clarifier Air Purifier: Clean Safe Room for MCS Sufferers

I bought my first NQ Clarifier for $699 (free ship) in 2005. It was one of the best purchases I have made as an MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) sufferer back then.

[Update 30 Jan 2013: The current lowest price for the NQ Clarifier and parts is found at HEPA Filter ($135), Carbon Ring ($150), UV Bulbs ($66). Use Coupon Code SCCU10 for 10% off or PURE5 for 5% off.]

Making a fashion statement with my 'I can breathe' carbon
mask, the day before my Malaysian wedding in 2008

The improvement in air quality is palpable and the machine can clean all the air in a 1500 square foot house twice every hour. This is better than other HEPA air purifiers in this price range. The top-flow design differs from that of most other air purifier brands and it seems to do a much better job at circulating the air and reducing dead spots of unpurified air in a room. The substantial 15 lb of carbon media and powerful fan pulling air through the HEPA filter and carbon media does a good job of totally absorbing all chemical odors and allergens. The purified air finally passes through a germicidal UV filtration system and comes out medical grade pure like what you would find in a hospital clean room.

The indicator lights tell me when I need to clean or replace the pre-filter and/or HEPA filter, and the UV bulbs. It's easy to unscrew and open the filter to change the filters and bulbs, which is good for me.

The roller wheels on this rather boxy machine facilitate moving it from room to room within the house. Even though the machine weighs 50 lbs, I have actually brought it to meeting (meeting rooms) to create a safe room for me there. Yes, I was that desperate. Yes, I was that ill. With all the mouldy off-gassing carpets and office furniture, sometimes this air purifier is the only thing that works.

This machine is noisy, particularly at the highest setting. After a while I got used to the 'white noise' in my bedroom, but it might be too much for some people. I am a light sleeper and often use ear plugs when sleeping.

The service provided by the company is excellent. On three occasions when I called up, I spoke with knowledgeable and friendly staff and was attended to right away. This machine has proven sturdy and reliably built for 24/7 running these seven years.

I bought my second one in 2007 and gave it to my Kung Kung - it has greatly helped with his asthma.

I no longer suffer from MCS. Though I am sometimes still bothered by cigarette smoke and fragrances, they don't make me violently ill as before. If you're an MCS sufferer reading this, and you're sitting in your safest room in the house right now, with your world shrinking and you struggling to breathe, I totally sympathize with you. I'm among the fortunate few that actually recovered from MCS - in most people it eventually gets worse and worse, and becomes debilitating. I musta done something right :).

Please leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you.

Review of Gluten Ease: Helps Intolerance to Wheat Products

Gluten-ed? GlutenEase to the Rescue
If you have full-on celiac disease, and are dining out in 'high risk' places where you may accidentally be 'gluten-ed', GlutenEase could help alleviate your pain if you take a couple of capsules soon after accidental ingestion of food containing gluten.  If you have gluten intolerance or sensitivity, Gluten Ease may give you the relief you are seeking, and the ability to enjoy wheat products without pain or the usual side effects eg fatigue. Oh joy right? I thought so. :)

Oh to be able to enjoy this organic Chinese pineapple tart without fear and pain ... (Recipe at Gracie Cooks!)

My Experience
I first found out about Gluten Ease when I encountered it in a natural foods store back in 2006.

I immediately bought a bottle to try (about $30 for 120 capsules), and was pleasantly surprised that it worked for me.

Now, I have never been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, but I am pretty sure that I don't tolerate wheat products well. In my food journals and on elimination diets, I observed that I felt horribly tired after eating pasta, bread and any wheat product. Furthermore, whole wheat products that I thought would be better for me would give me severe indigestion and sharp stabbing pains in my stomach, colon and bowels.

Gluten in wheat products and some grains are increasingly incriminated as causing health problems among those who are sensitive to this plant protein. It turns out that gluten sensitivity affects about 10% of the general population, and sometimes at low levels that often don't get diagnosed. Gluten doesn't just cause gastrointestinal problems but can also result in headaches and migraines, ADD and ADHD (attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity), and even joint pain.

How to take Gluten Ease
I take one Gluten Ease capsule right before consuming a small portion of wheat product (eg one serving of pasta is 1/2 cup). Since the capsule contains enzymes that digest gluten and lactose, it makes sense to take another pill if I eat more servings or if I stretch the meal out over a longer period.

I rarely feel the need to eat wheat products nowadays but it's nice to be sociable and eat food at family dinners. Gluten Ease is a great 'antidote' that I can take and it only costs 25 cents per capsule.

Highly recommended.

Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission of product purchases you make through my links. These are products that I use personally and heartily recommend. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review of The Antioxidant Miracle (Packer & Colman): It Really Works!

I was sceptical of quackery when my Mama put this book in front of me and encouraged me to read it. Anytime anything proclaims 'Miracle', cynicism is aroused in me. Being the dutiful daughter, I promised Ma that I would review it for her. And I ended up a convert.
Quack alert?

Folks, this book is the real deal. Dr Lester Packer is not a medical doctor (MD). He is an extremely well-respected PhD researcher with hundreds of peer-reviewed publications under his belt. And his field of research is antioxidants. Specifically, how antioxidants combat free radicals at the cellular level and how their actions measurably decrease, even reverse aging and the progression of all sorts of diseases. His claims of 'miracle' may be off-putting to some, but are solidly backed up by the hundreds of research studies that he and his team at the University of California at Berkeley conducted over the past four decades.

Being a PhD myself (albeit in entomology), I can really appreciate how well this book is written. He takes scientific data and results, which are often difficult to understand and yawn-inducing, and presented them in a lay-person-friendly, easy to understand book. Quite the page-turner. After having convincingly made the case for antioxidants, he then prescribes the simple and easy-to-follow Packer Antioxidant Regimen (Packer Plan) to readers.

The Regimen involves supplementing with alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q-10, vitamin E (with the full complement of tocotrieonols) and selenium, vitamin C and etc. After I finished reading the book (back in Oct 2011) I went right out and bought most of those antioxidants. The difference I felt in my energy levels was palpable and immediate (next day). The antioxidants helped bring down inflammation and eased the pain I felt from weaning off the steroids. I guess I was not alone - testimonials from enthused people abound on the internet.

The book goes into detail about each antioxidant and how it works by itself and also in synergy with the other 'network' antioxidants. The basic plan reads like this: in the morning: 100 mg tocotrienols, 200 mg mixed tocopherols, 30 mg CoQ10, 50 mg lipoic acid, 250 mg ester C, 400 mcg folic acid, 300 mcg biotin, 2 mg B6. In the evening: 200 mg natural alpha tocopherol, 50 mg lipoic acid, 250 mg ester C, 30 mg gingko biloba, 200 mcg selenium.

I still take the antioxidants as a preventative measure against recurrence of my autoimmune illness. And on particularly stressful days, I double up on the ALA.

I hope you will give the Packer Plan a try, particularly if you are plagued by autoimmune illness. It won't hurt you, you have nothing to lose, and the antioxidants can be found reasonably priced most anywhere. I've found the Swanson brand to be cheap, good, and favorably reviewed, so that's what I have been buying. But there are many other brands that you could try. Just try it! Would love to know how it worked for you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reminiscing: Lessons Learnt Weaning off Steroids

Hello there! It's been a while since I updated this blog. I've been busy managing my illness while dabbling in Triathlons (see my other blog Grace's Tribulations).

I want to thank all of you who have written in, shared your experiences, asked questions and encouraged me these past few years. I received many requests for the 'Pulse and Stretch Protocol' (the Protocol), which I finally got down to posting this year. I continue to recommend (very highly) Dr James Wilson's Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome  (my Review HERE) to all my readers and from feedback received from various ones of you, this book is the goods!

One thing I've somewhat come to terms with is that my autoimmune illness, Henoch Schonlein Purpura, is something that I may have to manage for the rest of my life. However, I absolutely believe this can be done without steroids.

I actually thought myself 'cured' of HSP in 2007 so it crushed me when I relapsed (under extraordinary stress) in 2009. I had to go back on hydrocortisone and this time found it impossible to wean off, despite my best efforts adhering to the Protocol. I never gave up but it was rough. My lowest point was the winter of Dec 2009, sick as a dog, bloated with steroids, chilled and depressed. In desperation, to escape the cold, I went down south to Florida where I camped out for three months in the Everglades! An unforseen turn of events saw me back in Malaysia from July 2010 where I continued trying to wean off the hydrocortisone.

It is now 2012, and I am thrilled to report that this is day 37 Steroid Free. Not only that, I have abs (See pic below)! Not quite a six pack yet, but my point is that I am in the best physical shape I've been in my 36 years on this Planet. What's more, I may at last, actually, really, be on my way to getting completely better! And I believe I'm much the wiser for all that I've been through.

Does the Pulse and Stretch Protocol really work? 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thank you for Supporting My Blog!

Thanks so much for stopping by Health Matters! I get lots of feedback from readers thanking me for sharing my experience weaning off steroids. I am glad that my blog has encouraged and helped good folks like you. 

The content on my blog does not replace a doctor's visit, but readers have told me they have benefited hugely from the things I shared - oftentimes even more than what they would have gained from (their limited) face-time with a physician. For those of you who have benefited from my blog, donations (any amount) are much appreciated! 

Quoting from one reader:  

"I, for one, have never gotten any useful advice in the doctor's office about weaning off prednisone.  I think the effort a writer puts into a useful piece of information is certainly worth the price of a copay to the doctor's office or the copay on a prescription."  Sandra M., New Mexico

I am a real person, though not an M.D.. I have suffered as a patient, so I can empathize with your suffering too. Beyond my personal experience on my journey to wellness, I may not be able to advise you on your specific medical condition. However I will always reply to your emails and sign off with a hug. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pulse and Stretch Protocol for Weaning off Hydrocortisone or Prednisone

Summary of Post
Here I give part of the Protocol specifically for Hydrocortisone to get you started. Much effort and time has gone into writing this Protocol, which is original content put to the test by myself and also used by hundreds of other readers with whom I have shared it.  

Is this Protocol for you?
This Protocol should be useful to you if you have been on steroids long-term (more than 6 months). If you have been taking steroids for only a few months, you should be able to taper much faster (following your doctor's advice) and won't need this Protocol. 

The Protocol can be adapted to Prednisone, although in my experience it is easier to wean off Hydrocortisone due to its shorter biologic half-life. (To wean off Prednisone, divide the dosages by 4 or use a handy corticosteroid conversion calculator). To facilitate weaning if you are on dexamethasone or corticosteroids with longer biologic half-lives, first switch to prednisone, then if possible, to hydrocortisone.

I have successfully tapered quicker than given in the Protocol, by drastically decreasing stress and increasing rest (read about my lifestyle changes HERE). It really depends on your body and how well you listen to it. I welcome you to email me or leave a comment on my blog if you have any questions and I will get back to you, usually within a day or two. I get half a dozen emails weekly and take time to consider and respond to each one. In return for my time, please do consider leaving me a tip ('Tip Jar' button on right side bar).

Testimonial from a reader
"I, for one, have never gotten any useful advice in the doctor's office about weaning off prednisone.  I think the effort a writer puts into a useful piece of information is certainly worth the price of a copay to the doctor's office or the copay on a prescription." (Sandy M., New Mexico)

IMPORTANT: Consult a licensed health care provider before embarking on this regimen or using any supplement in combination with, or in lieu of any Rx drug.

About Hydrocortisone and Cortisol
Hydrocortisone (HCT) is an important, potent and potentially dangerous Rx drug. Once you take 20-40 mg per day, your adrenal cortex stops producing its own cortisol altogether. Cortisol is the adrenal hormone that HCT and other corticosteroids (prednisone, dexamethasone, etc) simulate. The adrenal cortex may stop producing cortisol when a person is taking 20 mg a day of HCT, while for another person, natural cortisol production may stop when that person is taking 40 mg a day of HCT. Every person is different but the point remains - put in enough of the (synthetic) corticosteroids and the body will halt its own production of the real thing. Dexamethasone and prednisolone have a much longer biologic half-life than HCT and suppress the adrenal glands for a longer period of time.

If you have been on HCT a long time (more than 5 years), at doses of more than 20 mg/day your adrenal cortex may be badly damaged. Cortisol, the natural corticosteroid produced by the adrenal cortex, is necessary for survival. If the adrenal cortex is permanently damaged you will have to take HCT or a similar drug indefinitely. Ask your doctor about the synacthen test to see how well (or if) your adrenal glands are working.

Before Starting the Protocol
1.      I assume you will start your weaning at a dose of 40 mg per day (STEP 1, see ‘The Protocol’ below). For most of you, this is your ‘maintenance dose’, i.e., the minimum dose you take to stay symptom-free. Most people are able to take fairly large reductions in dose above STEP 1. If you are taking 60 mg per day, you will need to cut down your dose gradually, until you are at 40 mg, before starting this Protocol. If you are currently on 25 mg, start at STEP 4.  Start your weaning at the corresponding STEP for your current dose.
2.      You should be on a relatively ‘clean’ diet (i.e., no caffeine, other stimulants, recreational drugs, etc.) Relatively ‘clean’ lifestyle (i.e., nonsmoking, no alcohol at this time, etc.). You should also identify all sources of stress in your life (e.g., relationship, emotional, physical, lack of sleep) and implement changes to minimize this stress. The aim here is to reduce the ‘overhead’ on the body system and enhance both the speed and extent of your success. For more details on lifestyle changes, please read Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome  by Dr James Wilson (I review the book HERE). I don’t get commissions from Dr Wilson if you buy his book! I actually reviewed it after I had successfully weaned off HCT myself through trial and error, and it would have helped me hugely if I had his book earlier. It’s all there, so please read it!
3.      HCT is available in 10 mg tablets. Use a pill cutter to split a tablet down to 1/8 size (0.125 mg).....

 (the remaining three Notes can be found in the full Protocol, see below)                                                                                                                                                                      

STEP 1. Take your routine dose of HCT daily for two weeks. Take it at the same time every day. Make sure you are stable.

STEP 2. After two weeks, reduce your dose by 5 mg You are now at 35 mg. Stay there 7-10 days AFTER you stabilize, assuming that within 3 days after the drop you feel some discomfort and that remaining at the new dose the discomfort settles down.

STEP 3. After 7-10 days of STABILITY, drop 5 mg. You are now at 30 mg. Stay there 7-10 days AFTER you stabilize, assuming that within 3 days after the drop you feel some discomfort and that remaining at the new dose the discomfort settles down.

STEP 4. After 7-10 days of STABILITY, drop 5 mg. You are now at 25 mg. Stay there 7-10 days AFTER you stabilize, assuming that within 3 days after the drop you feel some discomfort and that remaining at the new dose the discomfort settles down.

STEP 5. After 7-10 days of STABILITY, drop 5 mg. You are now at 20 mg. Stay there 7-10 days AFTER you stabilize, assuming that within 3 days after the drop you feel some discomfort and that remaining at the new dose the discomfort settles down.

STEP 6. After 7-10 days of STABILITY, drop 2.5 mg. You are now at 17.5 mg. Stay there 7-10 days AFTER you stabilize, assuming that within 3 days after the drop you feel some discomfort and that remaining at the new dose the discomfort settles down.

STEP 7. After 7-10 days of STABILITY, drop 2.5 mg. You are now at 15 mg. Stay there 7-10 days AFTER you stabilize, assuming that within 3 days after the drop you feel some discomfort and that remaining at the new dose the discomfort settles down.

STEP 8. After 7-10 days of STABILITY, drop 2.5 mg. You are now at 12.5 mg. Stay there 7-10 days AFTER you stabilize, assuming that within 3 days after the drop you feel some discomfort and that remaining at the new dose the discomfort settles down.

STEP 9. Things often start to get dicey from here on out. At about 12 ± mg, your body has to start producing its own corticosteroids. This is where you start "stretching" or "pulsing".........

Note: The Protocol continues up to STEP 14. 

You can receive via email the full six page PDF of the Pulse and Stretch Protocol with a secure Paypal payment of $10 below. Your donation will help offset my costs, i.e., hours spent responding to questions on how to wean off steroids. I have been giving my time for free for the past eight years, but I could really use some money now. Thank you for your understanding and your support!

xo Gracie

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good book for adrenal fatigue

The best book I've read so far on understanding adrenal function and recovering from adrenal fatigue is "Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome" by
James L. Wilson, Johnathan V. Wright.

In a nutshell this is a lay-person format, reader-friendly book written by a REAL doctor who specializes in treating folks with adrenal insufficiency. It gives case studies that you would be surprised may read like your own life, and step-by-step guidance on what lifestyle changes are needed to restore the functioning and health of your adrenal glands. For those who are looking to wean off steroids such as hydrocortisone, prednisone and other corticosteroids, this book is going to be a huge help. I came across this book only after successfully weaning off myself after years of self-guinea-pigging. Listed in the book are many of the lifestyle changes that I myself learnt through trial and error. So spare yourself re-inventing the wheel and just read this!

xo Gracie

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weaning Off Prednisone, Hydrocortisone Corticosteroids

Summary of Post
This article outlines my regimen and steps I took to wean off steroids after nearly 9 years on steroids. A 'no carb' Atkin's type diet and strict management of all forms of stress (physical, emotional, pollutants, etc) were central to my successful tapering off steroids (following the Pulse and Stretch Protocol) and full recovery. Today, I remain in full remission from Henoch Schonlein Purpura.

An Important Disclaimer
I am not a medical doctor.

My Credentials

My PhD is in Entomology, all my operations have been on insects, and I have a 0% survival rate (all my subjects expired). No wait. That’s not very reassuring.
Ok, take two.
I am intelligent, and a very persistent researcher.
I am good about pulling together information from many sources and putting it down in plain English.
I know what is like to be sick and desperate for a cure. (Read about my disease here).
Best of all, I am an ex-patient! In fact I am training for my first triathlon this year!
I testify that YES it is possible to reactivate ‘dormant’ adrenal glands and wean off long term steroid dependency.

Use it or Lose it: Your Adrenal Glands

If you have been on steroids for many years, the adrenal glands – your body’s own producer of steroids – will likely not be working well. Your adrenals’ duty is to produce cortisol to counter stress in your life, so eating synthetic versions of this hormone (such as prednisone, hydrocortisone, dexamethosone and etc) signals your adrenals to “Stop making cortisol!” because there’s plenty floating around in your blood. Over years taking steroids daily, the adrenals atrophy from not being called on to produce cortisol (‘use it or lose it’). This is why your doctor warns you not to stop taking steroids abruptly. He is absolutely right. If you stop suddenly, your weakened adrenals won’t be able to produce the cortisol needed to keep you alive and you will have an adrenal crisis. Don’t even think about it.

The Key to Reviving Adrenal Glands

The answer is simple. NO STRESS. In this, I don’t mean ‘don’t get stressed out’, or ‘hey no worries matey’. Think about every sort of stress your body could be exposed to in addition to ‘stressing out’. Death of a loved one, a divorce or breakup probably come to mind as stressful, but not getting enough sleep, eating junk foods, smoking, drinking and polluted work/living conditions are also stressful. (Read more on how stress does a number on your adrenals in my upcoming posts). To support adrenal functioning is important for every person, and even more if you are trying to wean off steroid dependency. You will need to reduce the ‘overhead’ stress in your life, big time.

My Personal Regimen

All of what I did is based on my understanding of how the HPA-axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis) works and natural cortisol production. I’ll go in depth in a future post but right now I’m going to lay out my life for you to pick apart!

Sleep. Getting enough sleep and at the right times was very important. I would be in bed by 10 pm, and asleep by 11 pm. I would stay in bed as long as I needed to, at least until 8 am. Total hours of sleep: 10 hours a night.

Diet. I ate no sugar and no carbohydrates. ‘What? No pasta, rice, bread, candy, cakes, pastries…?’ Yep. Nope. Yep. Cortisol is used in metabolizing sugars, and eating sugar and carbs (which end up as sugars) stresses out the adrenals by making them work harder to produce cortisol. Instead, I ate organic protein foods, good fats and veggies. Breakfast would be four Omega-3 DHA eggs scrambled in 2 T of extra virgin organic olive oil. Lunch would be free range organic chicken with a salad (Recipe HERE), and same with dinner. Raw unrefined sea salt made everything taste delicious. I have a gazillion recipes that I will save for future posts!

Living environment. Fortunately I lived right next to a forest and had fresh unpolluted air. This was extremely important. My body didn’t have to deal with the added stress of detoxifying pollutants, while on this regimen to kick-start the adrenals. I also used organic and natural body care and household cleaning products. The regular products contain petrochemicals (artificial fragrances), preservatives and other additives that add to the toxic ‘overhead’ the body is exposed to. Don’t need any of that.

Exercise. Uh oh. Did I say exercise? Don’t worry, it’s not anything hardcore. Actually it would be a bad idea to physically stress yourself too much anyway – stress is a Bad Word at this point. Now wasn’t that just what you wanted to hear? Vigorous daily walks that get the blood flowing did me lots of good during the tapering. Toxins get flushed out by sweating and deep breathing!

That’s it! My personal regimen was pretty straightforward. I did all that while I tapered off the steroids (gradually reduced my dosage). I started the regimen in Nov 2007 and was completely steroid free in 6 months. In the years after, whenever I relapsed due to extra-stressful times, I have used this protocol (and variations of it) to wean off the steroids.

Ever heard of the Pulse and Stretch Protocol? It’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to wean off the steroids and provides information on how fast to wean, how much to reduce the dose by, and what to expect while tapering. I have slaved over countless drafts of it while all of you waited so patiently and I am so glad to announce that it is finally here! (Read more about the Protocol HERE). 

(Update: Folks who are serious about weaning off steroids, the best and most helpful book I've read is Dr James Wilson's Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome  (my Review HERE). It would have spared me years of guinea-pigging myself if I woulda just read it first, no kidding! One of the best $10 I ever spent.)

xo Gracie