Putting one’s entire health history online is not always a wise idea but I’m doing this for sole purpose of being helpful to people who might be sharing similar health challenges and are not able to find solutions.
Over the years I’ve discovered that my symptoms are so erratic that no doctor or “specialist” was able to put it all together. In fact, most of their advice made my condition worse. Having spent my savings in doctor fees, tests and supplements I’m slowly finding solutions myself and feeling better every month. I am recovering from an advanced ‘adrenal fatigue’ with a plethora of complications that come with it – insomnia, gut issues, liver stagnation, fatigue and by now I am 100% convinced now that my root cause is MERCURY TOXICITY.
Once I finally realized that I’m dealing with heavy metals it was an eye opening moment because there it was – an explanation to all of this insanity I’ve been going through. I still do not have all the answers and going through many ups and downs but things are more stable now (see my rolling updates below). Mainly because I changed my approach to a very gradual and careful healing process. Overall, last five years had been the most debilitating, frustrating, hopeless years of my life but I learned a lot. If you want to learn my story I highly recommend reading it here. If I can help any of you to get better then this entire journey through hell was well worth it.
Insomnia – Severe and Chronic
From a very sudden onset of insomnia (as described in more detail on My Story page) things settled into a condition that would manifest in several ways:
1. I either have chills in the body and can not fall asleep or I wake up from chills in my body around 1 or 3-4AM. Those chills also manifest as some slight spasms or pulses of cold running down from abdomen to my legs and my extremities would be very cold too. During some periods I want to urinate even if the bladder is empty, having cold and irritating spasms running down my leg. I learned I could do some deep breathing and bring the heat back and fall back asleep.
During this “disturbed” sleep phase I noticed that meals eaten later than 6PM wake me up a couple of hours after I fall asleep and I feel stress, restlessness and irritation. Normally what helps is a warm cup of water and the body relaxes.
2. Second type of insomnia is more severe and manifests differently – in intense episodes. Basically what wakes me up about 3 hours after I fall asleep is warmth/heat in my body. I feel alert and can not go back to “rest” mode. These can last for months (as it is now, which I feel was triggered when I caught a cold virus and bacterial bronchitis.) These episodes are the most debilitating and disturbing as I feel like a walking zombie during the day.
Heat in Abdomen Following Meals
This has been one of the very first and most persistent annoyances I’ve been experiencing. About 30-45 minutes after eating I start feeling heat around my abdomen center. It is not burning or painful, just kind of hot – right below my rib cage and belly button. Years later I also noticed that it is worse when I’m reclining. I’ve searched everywhere for the answer but have not been able to solve this riddle. The working theory I have is that is bile back-flow caused by either ileocecal valve dysfunction, the so called excessive liver yang (TCM) or visceral hypersensitivity – related to overactive central nervous system.
I feel very similar heat during stressful moments as well. Seems like this symptoms gets a bit better in the winter and worse during summer.
Terrible Stress Response & Heart Palpitations
Any slightest stress would send my heart pounding with blood pulsating in my temples. I was extremely irritable, snappy and sensitive to sounds, light and any bodily stress. My stress response was completely over exaggerated and it took me days to recover from stressful events.
Food sensitivity: thiols/sulfur (like dairy, garlic or onion, radish, beans, coffee, chocolate, brocolli, etc); salicylates (a ton of spices, teas, various fruits, olive oil) would keep me hot and awake at night; high histamine foods, high glutamate foods (especially free glutamate), high lectin foods. Could not eat any raw salads or veggies as it would make me cold or simply keep me awake at night. Can not eat or drink anything cold – can not sleep and feel that heat in abdomen. Later I figured out that all histamine rich foods keep me awake at night too.
Raw foods …. later I learned this was due to spleen qi deficiency (TCM), aka weak digestion which stresses the heart and adrenals (kidney jing).
Undigested food, low bile, slugish digestion, some bloating with various foods, dysbiosis, (do not tolerate any probiotics or biotic foods – either fatigue, insomnia or more bloating).
Pulsating Spasms from Abdomen Down to Genitals and Legs
This one was one of the first and nastiest symptoms. Sometimes after meals I would get these irritating pulses or contractions that would start in my abdomen and run down to genitals all the way to my feet. This was particularly bad at night – pulsating cold feeling, almost making me twitch or convulse from discomfort.
I later noticed this phenomenon was exacerbated by raw or hard to digest meals. I live in a country where potato dumplings (think gnocchi) or potato pancakes are a staple. These starchy foods were the worst culprit. So I started watching my food better and realized that these pulses would be much lighter after easily digestible meals. It took me more years to realize that I had developed a very sluggish and weak digestion (spleen deficiency in TCM) and these spasms were actually running along the spleen energy meridian.
Pyloric Valve Dysfunction
This one was hiding from me for years. I bet you haven’t even heard of this body part as well. Pyloric valve is a band of smooth muscle at the junction between the stomach and the duodenum of the small intestine. It basically controls the flow of digested food from the stomach to the small intestine. If the valve is inflamed and malfunctioning you are going to have contents leaching both forwards (undigested foods getting into small intestine) and backwards (bile flowing back into the stomach). In both cases one is bound to develop a ton of symptoms like SIBO, pain, H Pylori infections and so on. Which is exactly what happened to me.
Sensitivity to Cold
I was often awakened or prevented from falling asleep due to being too cold or too hot at. I was very sensitive to any cold surface, feelt as if cold is rising up my legs if I step on anything bear feet. One of the worst is feeling are chills from 10:00am-12:00am, preventing me from falling asleep. These chills are not alleviated by extra blankets, only by certain breathing techniques, hot water, sesame oil on the feet and herbal supplements. This most likely due to hypothyroidism or spleen qi deficiency (TCM).
I’ve learned that climate plays a major role as well. My symptoms and sleep gets worse during rainy days and cold winter days. When I travel to Mediterranean climate zone (such as California, Italy, Greece…) my symptoms magically improve in about three days: I have more energy, sleep better and improved appetite. I’ve heard I’m not alone and people resolve variety of health issues like asthma, high blood pressure, fatigue merely by moving to warmer climate zone.
Shivers/chills preventing falling asleep
This is especially bad during cooler seasons or rains. Made worse by “cooling” supplements like vitamin C, molybdenum, pretty much all liver herbs like milk thistle, burdock, dandelion, all bitter herbs. Seems to be a liver-adrenal-thyroid axis issue. This is another bottle neck for properly supporting my detox.
Constant lower back pain
This symptom i is one of the earliest ones (started years before insomnia) and has been very persistent too. No yoga or back strengthening exercises were helping. It was this nagging, burning pain in lower back. It slowly alleviated after half a year of Qi Gong and herbal formulas. This was due to kidney jing defficiency (TCM), aka adrenal fatigue.
Prone to catch any passing cold (super tough recovery afterwards
It seemed I was catching every bug that was going around. It was taking me long to recover, especially if the cold causes fever and cough. Even after cold was gone I would experience debilitating fatigue (crash) and super bad insomnia for weeks afterwards.
Unable to Tolerate Strenuous Work or Exercise
Total in intolerance for any strenuous exercise – seems like any routine that is slightly more intense (running, light weights, cardio, even yoga) causes abnormal fatigue (crash) and disturbs my sleep at night even more.
This has been with me over the years as well. Initially, I though this was ear damage after a few nights out (lightly put) at the techno clubs of San Francisco but now I’m pretty sure that my tinnitus is related to kidney jing deficiency, aka adrenal fatigue. As I’m slowly recovering this symptom is getting better. By the way, a prolonged use of Zolpidem (Ambien, Stilnox) will also cause nasty tinnitus but it goes away about two weeks later after quitting the meds. Over the years I’ve noticed that my tinnitus and lower back pain corresponds with stressed kidney Yin – this happens either through inappropriate use of herbs (that are too yang or too yin consuming), catching a cold or periods of very bad insomnia.
This is one of the most annoying and most persistent symptoms. Comes in various shapes and sizes and progressed over the years turning into debilitating type a couple of years later after insomnia started). It manifests as heavy legs, very low energy to do anything. In other words – total exhaustion.
Extreme fatigue bouts (aka adrenal crashes)
My system seems to be extremely fragile and I’m very prone to adrenal crashes. They can be triggered by various supplements, colds (especially bad from respiratory related colds – bronchitis really wiped me out for months). Adrenal crashes is when the crap really hits the fan for me and I can hardly drag my feet or talk longer than a few minutes without hyperventilating like an old dog in Florida heat.
I drink a lot and pee a lot. Nights are just like days, need to get up and pee twice a night even if there is no much fluid to pee out.
Strange Sinus Popping Sounds
This started about three years into my condition. I usually notice these popping sensations in my sinuses, usually the right one. My sinuses are dry and usually cause no issues but I thought this is a peculiar symptom that may mean something to someone with experience.
TCM Organ Clock Observations
9-11am feel a bit cold and experience cold feet, especially toes;
12pm-14pm pretty bad post lunch fatigue;
14pm-17pm general feeling of tiredness or fatigue;
9pm-11:30pm might be experiencing chills if ate bitter food, drank bitter tea, had yin tonics, etc.;
1:30am-2:30am wake up like clockwork, usually pretty hot and restless;
4am is often second wakening. Few years ago this was from inner chills but now usually from feeling hot.
My tongue has always stayed this this way with variations of it being totally covered with grey coating or it being thicker. I’ve had it analyzed by a few TCm experts and I heard various interpretations but they were all inconclusive.
Paradoxical Reactions to Supplements
I can confidently state that I managed to screw with my sleep more than it would have happened “naturally.” This is because I was desparate and chasing one pill after another but 95% of all supplements I tried made my condition worse.
In general, supplements that are too Yin (Vit C, A) and bitter herbs (dandelion, burdock root, Swedish bitters) make me too cold and experience inner chills, which prevent me from falling asleep for hours. Yet later I can wake up hot and not able to sleep from that. Sometimes it is quite the opposite: I would feel hot at bed time and not able to fall asleep and feel chills later at night.
Any adrenal, liver or mitochondria supplements (even in very small amounts) get me into trouble right away. I get overstimulated very fast. So initial high, then fatigue, heaviness, more tinnitus and sleeplessness.
Methylation issues (COMT ++); most B vitamins back fire, can not take any methyls too.
Rolling Updates: What I’m going through now:
Early Fall 2016
SLEEP: I survive mostly on antihistamines and by rotating Zolpidem on and off. Pretty much have to assemble my sleep from few intervals and get out of bed extremely tired.
ENERGY: Worst it has been. Seems like I’m living in one total crash. Hardly make it through the day, come home exhausted and can’t wait to lock myself in a room and just be at peace. Life totally sucks and feels hopeless.
GUT: Poor appetite, slow digestion, food sensitivities persist.
DIET: Quit all gluten a month ago (all dairy had been cut out for a while now). There’s somewhat of a relief but nothing major.
Started doing QiGong.
Early Spring 2017
SLEEP: Still waking up three hours after falling asleep hot. Sometimes I’m able to fall asleep after drinking water but often I’m not. Insomnia has not gotten much better even though there are periods when I’m able get through the night without too many wakings or wondering around.
ENERGY: All day fatigue, especially bad in afternoon. Difficult to talk for longer periods at work. Hoarse voice where I have to clear my throat. In general, it just feels like exhaustion. Even if I had four or five hours asleep, I feel tired during the day but not much sleepy.
GUT: I’m experiencing various gastro intestinal issues like lack of apetite, bloating, food sensitivities. Still feeling heat in abdomen following meals. Heat is especially bad from dairy or wheat products which I cut from my diet a year ago.
DIET:I try to stay modified Paleo but all include some non glutenous grains like buckwheat and rice. Eating fruits twice a day like mangoes and apples.
OTHER: I feel strange sensations in sinuses, sometimes popping as if there were some bubbles. Heat in stomach is about the same.
SUPPLEMENTS: Magnesium, B6, D3, K2, Fish oil, tried NAC, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid, Biotin (disaster), Milk Thistle, Ginko Biloba, SAM-e (disaster).
QiGong: making slow and steady progress and I would say that my overall health is very slowly improving but I have many setbacks where I lose hope again. This has changed me over the years where I’ve become neurotic about any food I touch and hyper vigilant to all body sensations. Even though this winter I felt real signs of depression and hopelessness I try to keep a positive attitude and know that I can get through this if I just can just understand what exactly I’m dealing with.
Mid Summer 2017
SLEEP: Finally improving to the point where most night I feel like I had enough and I feel more rested. This has all been thanks to exeperimenting with a few TCM herbal formulas which restore kidney jing and nourish the heart and blood, as well as promote harmony between liver and digestion.
GUT: My appetite has recovered quite a bit. I still feel bloated in afternoon if I don’t take the herbal formulas but I feel like my detox pathways are working much better now.
DIET: I’m able to eat more foods that I enjoy like goat cheese, kefir, oats, some nuts, even some rye bread but I have to be very careful and watch I don’t overindulge in sweets.
ENERGY: Also slowly improving. I still don’t have enough fire to last through the day without feeling fatigued but I feel like my battery is slowly recharging.
OTHER: Popping sensation in the sinuses seem to have gone away. Heat after food is somewhat less noticeable.
SUPPLEMENTS: Various TCM formulas, magnesium, B6, D3, Hawthorn, Fish oil. In general the strategy is to use mostly Chinese formulas from now on to nourish the spleen, build kidney jing, cool liver yang, nourish heart and blood (TCM).
QiGong: Doing at least one practice once a day but I feel I would be recoveing much faster if I gave it more time and did two practices – total of 2 hours.