Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis with Probiotics: How I achieved remission after many failed medications and surgical referral.

Way back when……

New and very tired parents

In November 2008 I found out I was expecting my first child, both myself and Matt my husband were over the moon. Life was peachy……..until I started suffering from strange symptoms that at first I put down to the pregnancy. Slowly but surely the symptoms worsened, I was dashing to the toilet over ten times each day, losing blood, in lots of pain around my stomach and back and I became terrified something was wrong with my baby. I went to visit my GP who quickly became suspicious I may have Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the confirmatory tests could not be done as I was pregnant so I was given foam enemas to help the inflammation. I gave birth to a healthy baby boy and could then finally be booked in for the Colonoscopy I needed in order to reach a diagnosis.

Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Proctitis in late 2009, its a form of Ulcerative Colitis affecting the lining of tissue of the inner rectum, which initially I kept under control with medication the doctor offered as a first port of call and because my disease was mild at this point it worked. Naively I totally underestimated the severity of my disease, I thought my medication had cured me, I often didn’t bother taking it and generally did not look after myself. I ate too much of the wrong things, drank too much and weighed a lot more than I should have done. Fast forward to 2015 and I became incredibly unwell, I was diagnosed with Pan Ulcerative Colitis meaning the disease was now throughout my entire large bowel and I was flaring terribly. I became housebound and no longer able to work as a Forensic Science Lecturer, a job I adored and had worked so hard for and had just achieved promotion and finished my Masters in Social Justice and Education. My consultant put me on biological drug treatment called Humira where I had to self inject weekly at home.

I can’t believe I’m sharing this……A selfie from at my most poorly. Whilst I hate it, it really does show how I ended up, the effects of steroids on my skin was awful and then my face continued to swell up bigger and bigger as you can see in the next two photos.

After a while it was clear the injections alone were not fully working, I felt a bit better but still not right and still not able to go out for long periods. After trying many different diets which didn’t work I decided to try to adopt a plant based lifestyle.The combination of ditching the dairy and meat and my new medication worked. I got my life back, I lost weight, I could go out with my family again and even dared to go on holiday. However I had lost my job, a job I had spent effectively five years qualifying for and just having qualified with my masters this was a huge blow. I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than teaching but I had to try to remain positive and I clung onto the fact that it meant I had found myself in a position where I could be there for the school runs, bath and story times and all the school plays and assemblies.

I was still pretty poorly here but didn’t want to miss the Walk It event for CCUK. I was 4 stone heavier here too.
At my heaviest on the left and just about to abseil on the right, four stone lighter and 3 dress sizes smaller. I’ve still a few stone to go.

Medications started failing……

After feeling well for a while my medication failed in October 2017 and doctors wanted to try something new. I seemed to settle on a new regime of eight weekly infusions with a drug called Vedolizumab that was administered at hospital. Again I felt well, the combination of a plant based diet and the vedolizumab made me feel great, I continued to drop the weight and found myself falling more and more in love with the vegan way of life! I have now switched all beauty products, cleaning products and clothes over to cruelty free brands and even my children decided to come on board in February 2018 and become mini vegans too.

We could finally get back on track…..until my meds decided to fail.

I was so happy with my new found wellness and lifestyle, I should have known it was too good to be true…….once again my medication failed! It also left me with horrendous joint pain which was later diagnosed as Inflammatory Arthritis and also Erythema Nodosum which is a painful condition where the fat cells under the skin become inflamed which result in tender, red lumps usually on the shins. In my case both my shins became terribly inflamed and painful.

We took the kids to Cornwall in July 2018 and I spent it sitting down. I had such awful arthritic symptoms and swollen legs. This was around the time I knew it had all gone a bit pear shaped again and surgery was looking likely. I think you can tell in my eyes all wasn’t well.

The Vedolizumab was stopped leaving me just on Asacol, an anti inflammatory I had been on for the best part of ten years and never really did much to help. My flare worsened and again I was housebound, I had a Colonoscopy in February 2019 and the results were not good at all. Severe inflammation was found and my consultant referred me to the surgical team as it was clear medication was not working for me. During this time, my friend who runs a Wholefoods shop had an interesting visit from a sales rep for Living Nutrition who showed her some incredible results they had found with their Probiotics for people with IBD – Ulcerative Colitis or Crohns Disease. There research findings showed a 95% remission rate and they demonstrated this by performing colonoscopies pre and post treatment. The results were staggering. I decided I would be silly not to give it a try, I had nothing to lose.

Time for change

I started the Living Nutrition, Your Flora Terrain and Sensitive Probiotics in February 2019, within 4-6 weeks my life was my own again. That is honestly no exaggeration, I felt well for the first time in months, all of my arthritic and secondary symptoms from previous treatments cleared up and my UC symptoms became none existent. Around this time I also met my prospective surgeon for the first time as I decided I should keep my referral. She was wonderful, she was really interested in my story and thought it was wonderful I was feeling so well. She did say that my wellness may be fleeting and as soon as my symptoms return I can get booked in for surgery to remove my colon and she booked me in to meet with the Stoma Nursing team who taught me all about living with a Stoma and about the applicances I would need after the surgery. I spent the next few months expecting to become poorly again but I didn’t, I just got better. Once again in July 2019 my surgeon wanted to see me again and I reported feeling well once more. She mentioned in some cases people can feel well but when they look on the inside things have not changed therefore she recommeneded a colonoscopy to check my bowel matched the way I was feeling.

We got out walking again – yes that’s as steep as it looks
We (I) needed a breather half way
Made it……
I even did an abseil with my sister.
I can join in all the kids activities again…..even if I am rubbish at them!
I’ve started yoga, reiki and meditation (free from the fear of having to run out half way through) sometimes the dogs join in too.

At the end of July I headed off abroad with my little family for the first abroad summer holiday we had dared to book in years, it was fabulous, I couldn’t believe I had actually made it there, I was sure we would be cancelling like we had to do in the past. We had the most wonderful ten days and not once did I have to worry about my UC.

Once we got home the appointment had come through for my colonoscopy and in August 2019 I went into hospital for the procedure. The results were incredible, my bowel was clear, my surgeon and the medical team were nearly as surprised as I was, with my surgeon telling her medical student assistant that they were planning on removing this bowel which now looks totally clear. It had to be thanks to the probiotics, I asked if I could take photos of the before and after images which they kindly let me do so here you go, apologies if you are about to eat your dinner.

Colonoscopy image from Feb 2019
Colonoscopy image from August 2019

The results speak for themselves don’t they?

My disease is under control for the first time in ten years. I can leave the house without giving a second thought to where the nearest toilet is, I can say yes to any plans I fancy getting involved with and I’m no longer in constant pain, having to wear a hot water bottle permanently……I used to drive the kids to school with a hot water bottle on my back, jump out of the car to hurriedly take them in and then run back to the car to get the bottle back on and then fly home and spend the next few hours in the bathroom. That was a typical good day! On a bad day I couldn’t leave the house, I’d be on the toilet between 30-40 times per day. So to say I now never have to even consider where the nearest toilet might be is just such a feeling of freedom, not just for me but for my whole family.

Long may it continue ❤️

Probiotics to treat IBD

The use of probiotics to treat UC and Crohn’s Disease is increasing in popularity with some fantastic results. I believe I had such success with my probiotics because they are fermented with soy which is massively beneficial to the gut ecosystem. The image below is taken from research findings by Living Nutrition and explains this a little better than I can.

Here’s a link where you will find a little more information: https://www.livingnutrition.co.uk/support-gut-health-with-symbiotic-collection/

I take two types by a company called Living Nutrition. I take their ‘Sensitive’ culture with peppermint and lemon balm and their ‘Terrain’ culture with aloe vera and slippery elm. I was informed they work best taken together but to try to cut down on expense I started with one but it wasn’t till I relented and added the second one in that I felt significant improvements. 

I buy mine from my local store Glossop Wholefoods For anybody not local to Glossop or close to a shop that stocks Living Nutrition products they can easily be found online by searching for Living Nutrition Sensitive and Terrain.

The dosage states between 1 and 3 of each per day. I started taking one per day but didn’t feel the full effect until I upped it to two of each per day. I like the fact I’m not at full dose as it means I have that little extra in my back pocket if I did ever need it.

I know this might not be for everybody and I also know I’m not ‘cured’ I have a lifelong autoimmune disease and I’m not stupid, it could return but for now I’m enjoying being in remission and living my life again. If even just one person reads this, try’s the probiotics and gets results like me then I’m happy……job done!

Results

I’d like to share some slides with you that are taken directly from Living Nutritions presentation on the use of their probiotics for treating IBD.

If you have any questions please do email me it’s: houseofherbivores@gmail.com

The links in this article are not affiliate links, I am not earning any commission from sales generated from my blog or in any other way from promoting these products, I just want to spread the word. I would never endorse any product I didn’t use myself or believe in 100%, in this case you can see from my results exactly why I’m shouting about it from the rooftops.

Please do consult a professional for advice before embarking on any new regime. I’m not medically trained and can only give you my experience, you should always check in with your specialist first.

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Thanks for reading! 

Sending lots of healthy, happy vibes to you all. 

Em xxxx