This last year I experienced phenomenal changes in my brain and body. Reflecting on my life and all of the new information I’ve been able to absorb, I’ve come to recognize my lifelong challenges with learning disabilities, anxiety, and their connection to my chronic pain.
The first hint of how food can change our mind occurred in 2007. I embarked on a restrictive detox diet, I experienced a noticeable improvement in my mental health and body. However, as I gradually introduced a wider variety of fruits and vegetables into my diet, I found myself facing new challenges. At the time, I didn’t immediately connect these struggles with my dietary choices. Believing that I was providing my brain with an optimal diet, I was puzzled by the resurgence of difficulties and couldn’t discern the correlation with the foods I was consuming.
When someone is experiencing problems with memory or brain fog, we may question ourselves. It was common for me to walk into a room and completely forget why I went into the room. I know other people do that, so I assumed it was normal. BUT, It happened ALL of the time.
I wasn’t sure if my ability to organize and complete tasks was failing or if I just had too much to do. When the brain fog was thick, I had difficulty with conversation. I still questioned whether or not it was normal. My friend told me it was “Mom brain” and totally normal during pregnancy and post-partum.
In 2017, after 20 years in the corporate world and 6 months post-partum, I walked away from my career. I felt like I was experiencing an enormous amount of stress at the time and decided to be a stay-at-home mom.
Even the stress of being a stay-at-home mom was too much. It’s like an entire life of excellent organizational skills were completely gone. I couldn’t focus or retain the information I read. Along with the memory problems, I wasn’t sleeping, I had severe fatigue, I had a lot of swelling (I thought it was fat), and I couldn’t lose weight. I had pain everywhere and my joints hurt so bad, I couldn’t open baby bottles, or unbuckle car seats. I had painful lumps that developed all over my body. My pleas to my doctors were ignored and blown off as post-partum hormones.
It wasn’t just the more recent problems with my memory, but difficulties in communication and learning throughout my life.
When the post-partum hormones settled, then I was gaslit and made to feel like it was all in my head, due to stress. I was so miserable, and feared getting worse, but my doctor had no answers, except to reduce stress.
I did everything I could to reduce the stress, including walking away from my drama causing mother, and my career. My mother continued to cause more drama any way she could, affecting us financially for the next several years. I saw my therapist weekly and tried other ways to reduce the stress. Even going on a nature hike was too stressful because of all the pain.
With the lack of answers from my doctors, I delved deeper into understanding my own health.
Discovering Lymphatic Dysfunction
The exploration of Lymphatic Dysfunction and its intricate connection to my health journey has been eye-opening. In my recent journey, attending webinars on Lymphatics from Lympha Press, Airos Medical, and by Lipedema Simplified, particularly those taught by Dr. Perrin, a Doctor of Osteopathy and Neuroscientist, shed light on the profound impact of this system.
“Our bodies are constantly under siege by thousands of poisonous agents, yet many remain healthy. The reason for this is that the healthy body is able to drain the toxins away from the brain. If this drainage system is not working and pumping the fluid in the wrong direction, problems will arise, and if the neuro-lymphatic system is dysfunctional, neuro-immune illnesses such as ME/CFS/ fibromyalgia, and most probably Lyme disease, Gulf War Syndrome, and Alzheimer’s, plus many other explained illnesses affecting the central nervous system, will occur.”
Dr. Perrin further explains that when gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter and the body’s natural pain suppressant, is exposed to these toxins, it can lead to an increase in pain. The toxins affect the delicate balance of neurotransmitters, disrupting the normal function of GABA and contributing to heightened pain perception. This provides additional insight into the intricate ways in which the lymphatic system and toxin exposure can impact not only the physical structure but also the neurochemical processes in the body.
The evolution of our understanding of the lymphatic system brought forth significant discoveries. The Glymphatic system, unveiled in 2012, operates as a waste clearance system in the brain, actively functioning during delta wave sleep. It allows cerebrospinal fluid to flush through the brain tissue, carrying away waste products and toxins, thereby playing a crucial role in maintaining brain health.
In 2015, the discovery of Meningeal Lymphatics added another layer to our comprehension. This network of vessels surrounding the brain serves as a drainage system for cerebrospinal fluid and waste products. These vessels are instrumental in ensuring the proper flow of fluids, preventing the accumulation of toxins, and maintaining a healthy environment for neurological function.
The lymphatic system’s extension down the spine is pivotal in toxin drainage. However, damage from surgery, trauma, or conditions like scoliosis can impede this essential function. Furthermore, the susceptibility of the lymphatics to pump in the wrong direction poses additional challenges to the flow and disposal of harmful substances.
With the new discoveries about the lymphatic system, Dr. Wei F. Chen is referring to Alzheimer’s Disease as “Lymphedema of the Brain.” The brain, bathed in these toxins, faces long-term consequences. Dr. Chen’s team has conducted microsurgeries on the lymphatics of mice. Notably, in China, the first human case of such microsurgeries was performed, successfully reversing dementia.
Dr. Perrin developed The Perrin Technique™, an osteopathic approach that manually stimulates the fluid motion around the brain and spinal cord. Manipulation of the spine further aids drainage of these toxins out of the cerebrospinal fluid. Massage of the soft tissues in the head, neck, back and chest direct all the toxins out of the lymphatic system and into the blood, where they are eventually detoxified in the liver. Eventually with no poisons affecting the brain.
As I reflect on my struggles with various symptoms, the question arises: Why were doctors quick to attribute these issues to hormones and stress without delving into the root causes?
This deeper understanding of the lymphatic system prompts a reevaluation of my health journey and a pursuit of answers to the intricate connections between Lymphatic Dysfunction, toxins, and the challenges I’ve faced.
BCHE Deficiency & Plant Toxins
In late 2017, I discovered a genetic variant on the BCHE gene, leading to a butyrylcholinesterase enzyme deficiency. These enzymes play a crucial role in detoxifying pesticides, herbicides, sarin gas (associated with Gulf War Syndrome), and alkaloids found in some plant foods, particularly in the nightshade family. These toxins, known as cholinesterase inhibitors, are prevalent in global cuisine, especially in modern American food. For further details, you can explore them here.
BCHE is a scavenger enzyme produced in the liver, acting as a shield against cholinesterase inhibitors reaching the brain. When BCHE activity is insufficient, these toxins can accumulate in the body. BCHE protects ACHE, responsible for breaking down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. In cases of low BCHE, an excess of acetylcholine can lead to issues like muscle spasms, anxiety, and insomnia. Additionally, BCHE regulates ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and an imbalance may contribute to fat accumulation. This enzyme aids in creating lipoproteins, essential for transporting fats through the blood and lymphatic system. BCHE also plays a role in hydrolyzing certain anesthesia and drugs. It’s evident that a deficiency in BCHE is undesirable, especially when facing exposure to various toxins.
It’s important to note that a BCHE deficiency can result from factors beyond genetics, such as pregnancy hormones, as well as exposure to pesticides and herbicides. More information on BCHE deficiency and other potential causes can be found here.
Could the phenomenon known as “Mom brain” be linked to the lack of delta wave sleep experienced by mothers? Is BCHE deficiency involved in this cognitive challenge? Exploring dietary strategies that support BCHE and reduce plant toxin exposure raises intriguing possibilities for addressing “Mom brain.”
Personal encounters with symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, increased pain, poor sleep, insomnia, and anxiety following the consumption of nightshades provide a firsthand perspective on the diverse triggers for these experiences.
Exposure to Pesticides & Herbicides
Residing next to a non-organic farm has brought unforeseen challenges. Every summer, while outdoors with my kids, I would occasionally experience neurological pain in my right hand—a symptom typical of nightshade sensitivity. Oddly, I hadn’t consumed any nightshades on these occasions.
The turning point occurred last summer when the familiar pain surfaced, prompting me to retreat indoors where the pain subsided. However, driving my kid to summer camp, necessitating a route around the farm, reignited the pain, escalating into other symptoms. The workers were spraying the fields. It took about two days before returning to normal.
This revelation was significant. We moved to this home in late 2015, and by the summer of 2016, during pregnancy, I began experiencing intensified pain, insomnia, and anxiety. While cutting out nightshades in late 2017 improved my health, I noticed a recurring pattern of symptoms each summer, despite the absence of nightshades. Unaware of the presence of pesticides and herbicides in the air, I stumbled upon a 2012 study revealing reduced BCHE enzyme activity in children from farm communities. In December 2023, I came across an alarming article: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, is showing up in pregnant women living near farm fields, raising serious health concerns.
Living adjacent to a produce farm, coupled with neighbors opting for monthly pesticide and lawn services, has exposed us to a barrage of toxins. Our lawn, managed by a lawn care company due to a past grub problem, was sprayed last summer, and I wasn’t aware. While grilling dinner, my youngest daughter, playing with her water table, inadvertently sprayed me with the garden hose. After I picked it up, I could smell the lawn chemicals. I handed it to my husband so I could finish dinner. Despite hoping it was just fertilizer, my intense symptoms contradicted this. Mimicking nightshade reactions, but more severe, the exposure led to insomnia, intense pain, and the need for a cane to walk the next day.
Both my daughter and husband suffered from insomnia that night, but not the pain I endured. How many people would connect insomnia with touching a hose sprayed with lawn chemicals? My other two kids, present but untouched by the hose, slept soundly.
In this inundation of toxins, I feel like the canary in the coal mine, signaling the dangers through my experiences. The term “canary in the coal mine” originated from miners carrying caged canaries—if the canaries died, it indicated dangerous air, prompting an exit. When it comes to these toxins, I’m urging you to recognize their peril.
Connecting the Dots
Upon reflection, I’ve come to believe that Lymphatic Dysfunction is at the core of my health challenges. Here’s how the pieces fit together:
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS):
- Diagnosis: Despite the challenges in securing this diagnosis, I am now diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome aka hEDS.
- Connective Tissue Weakness: The inherent fragility of connective tissue in hEDS affects lymphatic vessels, potentially disrupting the structure and function of the lymphatic system.
- Joint Hypermobility: Excessive joint mobility may impede the effectiveness of lymphatic vessels responsible for fluid drainage, contributing to issues like swelling and compromised detoxification.
- Effect on Muscles and Fascia: Weak connective tissue in hEDS can impact the muscles and fascia surrounding lymphatic vessels, hindering the coordinated muscular movement essential for proper lymphatic fluid flow.
Spinal Abnormalities – Scoliosis/Kyphosis:
- Diagnosis: At age 11, scoliosis diagnosis affected my posture and spinal health, potentially interfering with lymphatic drainage.
- Tonsillectomy/Adenoidectomy: The surgery, performed in 2012, unknowingly played a role in the spread of Lipedema and subsequent weight gain, as tonsils and adenoids are part of the lymphatic system.
- Left Total Hip Replacement: The 2021 hip replacement, addressing undiagnosed hip dysplasia, appears linked to noticeable swelling, indicating possible Lymphedema.
- Multiple Surgeries: Surgeries for IVF procedures, uterine polyp removal, and colon polyp removals correlated with increased swelling in the legs and stomach.
Lipedema & Familial Multiple Lipomatosis:
- Effect on Lymphatics: Diagnosed with Lipedema and Familial Multiple Lipomatosis potentially impede lymphatic function due to fibrotic fat, contributing to sluggish lymphatics and progression of these disorders. In my case, I believe my lymphatics were malfunctioning, prior to the progression of these disorders, but now they add to the dysfunction.
- Pain Management: On a daily basis, I manage minimal chronic pain, provided I adhere to a plant toxin-free diet. The introduction of plant toxins has a discernible impact, escalating the level of pain. Moreover, the inclusion of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides intensifies this pain, significantly impairing my mobility and overall functional capacity.
- Generalized Swelling: Persistent swelling, particularly in the belly and breasts, follows a pattern throughout the day, irrespective of diet. Compression is employed to manage swelling.
- Lack of Delta Wave Sleep: Sleep challenges, including difficulty waking, have been a consistent part of my life. Improvement in sleep occurs during nightshade-free eating and even better on the Carnivore diet.
Sensitivities and Anesthesia Difficulties:
- Drug Sensitivities: Sensitivities and challenges with various drugs align with the complexities associated with Lymphatic Dysfunction.
- Anesthesia Response: Difficulties waking from anesthesia may be linked to underlying issues related to the lymphatic system. Problems with anesthesia can also arise with the BCHE deficiency.
As I piece together my health journey, Lymphatic Dysfunction emerges as a central theme, weaving through various diagnoses, surgeries, and symptoms. This holistic perspective sheds light on the intricate connections within my body, prompting a deeper exploration into understanding and managing this condition.
The Toxins Affecting My Brain:
When people embark on a journey to reduce toxins and enhance well-being, the focus often turns to eliminating toxic personal and cleaning products. I, too, took this route 17 years ago. However, what I didn’t anticipate was the significant impact of increasing plant toxins during this period—more profound than the effects of chemical products.
It’s not just the alkaloids in nightshades, but the oxalates, lectins, phytic acid and all the other anti-nutrients in these plant foods. Alkaloids definitely play a role in my anxiety and brain fog. Oxalates have played a role in my depression. All anti-nutrients in plant food can block absorption of the nutrients in these foods, and in my case, leaving my brain swimming in plant toxins. They all played a role in my pain.
Oxalates destroy connective tissue’s building block, hyaluronic acid. It makes it harder to fully recover from injury and surgery and can weaken or destabilize joints, bones, skin (skin may be thin or easily damaged), and can make you prone to injury. Could this also contribute to lymphatic dysfunction or damage?
Repairing the Damage:
The convergence of my genetics, exposure to plant toxins, pesticides, herbicides, surgeries, and more created a perfect storm—a daily hurricane within my body. It wasn’t merely hormones or stress, as I was told by doctors.
Cutting out Isn’t Enough:
Eliminating processed foods, toxic cleaning products, and even nightshades proved insufficient. Even physical therapy fell short. A holistic approach became imperative to manage this intricate web of factors.
- Physical Therapy: Addressing not just my hips but understanding EDS implications on the spine, I found a PT specializing in EDS, targeting pain comprehensively.
- Pneumatic Pump (Flexitouch Plus): Worn nightly, this lymphatic pump fosters a gentle wave-like motion, directing lymph fluid to healthier regions, aiding absorption and processing by the body.
- Carnivore Diet: Eliminating plant toxins and adopting a Carnivore diet allowed deep sleep, pain relief, quicker sleep onset, and refreshed waking. A holistic nutritional approach focused on reducing plant toxin load, repairing deficiencies, and balancing hormones.
- Osteopathic Manual Therapy: My osteopathic manual therapist employs myofascial release, visceral massage, and craniosacral therapy, optimizing body function and alleviating pain.
- Supplements: I keep a bottle of this Gaba & Theanine on my nightstand incase my sleep is poor, which normally occurs during hormonal changes in my cycle. I found it’s a great addition to magnesium, which I take nightly and electrolytes daily. (I am an Amazon Affiliate, and I may earn from qualifying purchases. This does NOT increase the price, and it helps me pay for my hosting fees. I would never recommend anything I didn’t love.)
- NAET Treatments facilitates the absorption and utilization of necessary nutrients, contributing to an overall improvement in health.
- Perrin Technique: I’ll be seeking a therapist for the Perrin Technique, which involves osteopathic manipulation to stimulate fluid motion around the brain and spinal cord. My manual therapist is looking into it.
- Relocation: Contemplating a move away from the farm, recognizing its impact on my health.
Acknowledging the Struggle:
I share this journey because I know I’m not alone. Doctors often overlooked the complexity, attributing it to psychological factors. If these experiences resonate, it’s a reminder that there’s more at play. Had I not embarked on this exploration, my trajectory would likely be different—wheelchair-bound, dependent on medications, and engulfed by disorders. The Carnivore diet proved transformative, eliminating overwhelming symptoms and enhancing cognitive function.
Writing this isn’t just my story; it’s for those who face similar challenges. Doctors may not investigate, but it’s crucial to advocate for our well-being. This journey not only reclaimed my health but also imparted valuable insights to benefit my daughter.
Getting Diagnosed with Lymphatic Dysfunction:
Navigating a diagnosis for Central Lymphatic Dysfunction poses challenges due to limited awareness in the medical community. Only a few U.S. hospitals, predominantly in the northeast, offer testing. For more information, watch the Central Lymphatic Dysfunction from Airos Medical.
Explore these informative videos for a deeper understanding:
Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook! I will be posting all my future updates and articles there.
NEXT: My Lipedema Story