Rheumatoid Arthritis Insights With Andrea
Andrea shares with Clint some of her great progress so far with her Rheumatoid Arthritis healing.
– Andrea’s experience on reversing RA naturally
– The side effects Andrea felt of medications like NSAID’s and Plaquenil
– Reversing wrist inflammation
– Avoiding the need for Methotrexate
– Reversing flares during monthly cycles
– Fermentation tips for an extra health boost
This podcast does not constitute medical advice. All changes surrounding medications, diet and exercise should be made in consultation with a professional who can assist your unique health circumstances.
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Clint: Welcome back to the Paddison Podcast. We’ve got a wonderful guest today that I know personally. We’ve connected in her hometown and she’s been part of our community forum for quite a while. And she’s been quite the inspiration with her story, but also very, very informative with the things that she discovers and the things that she’s been able to offer the group and help everyone.
So, I wanted to get her on the episode today so she can share what she’s been able to learn and discover with a broader community. So thanks very much, Andrea, for joining me on this episode.
Andrea: Thank you, Clint, for having me here. I have to say that you are my hero and my mentor. You’ve given me hope and you’ve motivated me. You’ve taken away the fear of being sick with rheumatoid. I’ve been diagnosed rheumatoid. And I’m just very grateful that I did find you a few years back.
Clint: Oh, thanks, Andrea. I’ve certainly enjoyed getting to know each other both in person and online, so it’s great to have you on this call. So, you’ve got a good story and I think we should start by hearing that. Start by when you first got diagnosed. It must have been quite a shock and surprise and put you in an uncomfortable situation. So what happened when you first started to feel some pain?
Andrea: So in 2012, I noticed a few aches and pains creeping in. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 that one morning I woke up and I literally couldn’t get out of bed. My husband had to pick me out of bed and carry me into the doctor’s surgery. And I thought that they would say, “Oh, it’s a Ross River fever and it’ll go away in maybe a month or two.” I was 35 at the time. Arthritis hadn’t even come into my head.
So they gave me a drug to tide me over while they did the blood tests and I immediately had a side effect to the drug. It completely wiped me out. And then, when I went back to the doctor’s office that’s when they diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis. And then the rheumatologist went and came around, and he gave me this big, long list of drugs and he says, “This is what we’re going to choose from, that you’ll be stuck with this for life.”
And he prescribed the Clioquinol and he said, “It’ll suppress your immune system so that it leaves your joints alone, but you’ll have to get your eyes checked every now and then because there’s a good chance of blindness.” I’m like, “What do you want to suppress my immune system and my eyes, I’ll go blind?” I’m like, “No, I don’t think so.” I spoke to him about natural approaches, diet, and he said that there was no link between it and that I would have to get used to the idea and stay on the drugs lifelong.
So I left the rheumatologist and I was an absolute mess. I was crying. It had felt like somebody had died, that I had lost my health. It was the same as losing a loved one. So I was grief stricken for, it was a good month. So my sister, I told my sister what the diagnosis was. So actually, I decided to stay on the Celebrex. I didn’t want to suppress the immune system so I thought the Celebrex was actually a better option, which I found out later on that that was not the case.
And my sister gave me the DVD “Sick, Fat, & Nearly Dead”, which was about juicing. And he had healed his autoimmune disease of the skin by juicing. So I juiced solidly for six weeks and I had a little bit of success here and there with different things. And I went to naturopaths and I spent thousands and thousands of dollars on herbal treatments, and supplements, and naturopaths, and acupuncture, you name it. I’m a little bit like you. You name it, I’ve tried it. But nothing was working. Eventually, I got onto…
Clint: Just before you go any further, your juicing in “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead”, it uses a pretty much unlimited sort of vegetable juicing. There’s lot of fruits in there and so forth. Were you the same? Were you doing just fruits and vegetables, or was it just veggies?
Andrea: Yeah, fruits and vegetables.
Clint: Right, because there’s a big distinction, isn’t there?
Andrea: There definitely is.
Clint: With regards to the, as soon as you juice fruits, it just becomes pure sugar, so that can aggravate things. Okay, so you did that for six weeks. And so this was all before you took any of the major drugs.
Andrea: Yes, that’s right.
Andrea: And then I sort of found the Paddison Program. And I was looking at all different, speaking to anybody who would listen to me, anybody who had healed from it. And I had connected with a couple of people. There was the Barbara Allen book that I purchased and that was really, for me, a little bit complicated to follow. And then when I found the Paddison Program, it was quite simple and easy to follow. So I started that.
Actually, did two rounds of that. I started that but I didn’t really have the effects that I wanted. Like even though it was helping, it wasn’t helping like I thought it would have. And I’m like, “I’m doing everything right. Why? Why is the [inaudible [00:05:29] therapy? Why is the Paddison Program? Why isn’t it doing [inaudible [00:05:32]?” The Living Food Institute, I went across to the U.S. Whole food, low-fat, plenty of advice. That was more raw.
Why are all these healing diets curing cancer, curing arthritis, curing diabetes, heart disease, and why am I having these results? You all know why. But it was, and it struck me. And I’m like, “I think it’s the Celebrex that’s destroying my gut.” So I stopped the Celebrex and I changed it out with the Plaquenil, which was the immune suppressant, which would allow my gut to heal, give me the pain relief, and that worked really well.
And immediately, that low-fat, plant-based, whole food diet started to heal and it was amazing. And I had really, really good results. And after six months, I had such terrible side effects from the Plaquenil I decided I had to stop it. My skin burned. I had a urinary tract infection, which just wouldn’t heal because my immune system was suppressed. But I didn’t want to take antibiotics, because the antibiotics makes the RA so much worse, which I had discovered 12 months before.
And I said, “I would have to be in hospital before I took another one,” because it was just too painful.
Clint: The diet’s really helping now. You’re starting to see. And was it because that you still had a little bit of pain or sort of an indicator level of pain in your body that you could see that that was diminishing, even once the drug was steadily in your system?
Andrea: Yeah, the pain just kept dropping and dropping. Yeah.
Andrea: So I decided to stop the Plaquenil. My moods, actually, one of the main reasons was the moods and the hormones were completely out. I went into a deep depression and I’m like, I know that it was the drug that was doing it. But my blood levels were so good at the time. My ESR, I think, was down to four and my CRP was not detectable. It was less than one, so looked like I was in a really good spot to stop the Plaquenil anyway. And then the healing continued from that point on. And then two months later, I had a filling…
Clint: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let me just jump in. I remember this part of the story pretty clearly. So you, when you stopped the Plaquenil, two questions. Did you consult the rheumatologist about it? And secondly, how did you come off it? Did you taper it? And how were you nervous-wise and so forth getting off the drug? So just share more with that.
Andrea: Okay, right. Yes, very nervous getting off the drug because I knew that it had some benefit, obviously, to the pain relief. I wasn’t too sure how much though, because I could eat naughty food and I would still get pains. I’m like, “Well, is this drug working or not?” So it was working and it wasn’t working. So it was a good time to come off it.
I did just stop it because, as I said, the side effects were far worse than the rheumatoid. I did contact my rheumatologist. I can’t remember at the time what she said. I think because my blood levels were low, she was happy for me to come off it, but they don’t really see that all that very often.
Clint: Right, so because some potential side effects concerns, there was some agreement from the doc.
Andrea: Yeah, yeah, that’s right.
Clint: Okay. Okay, all right. So let’s pick it up then. You’re off the Plaquenil now. You’re currently at that point on no drugs at all. Nervously coming off.
Andrea: Yeah, yeah.
Clint: What happened next?
Andrea: And introducing oats I did very shortly after that, and then the healing went to another level, which was magic. And the nuts came back in and I was tolerating all these foods that I hadn’t tolerated for a long, long time. And I was almost healed. You could say I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had my ability. I was sleeping well. The pain was very, very minimal.
And then I went to the dentist because I had a filling that had fallen out. And little did I know that I would have a reaction to the anesthetic that they gave me. And I didn’t realize at the time, but they have adrenaline in the dental anesthetics. And I believe that it was the adrenaline. It could have possibly been the combination of lidocaine and the adrenaline, but just because of the nervous nature of it, my eyes started flickering. I had a really tight chest.
The day after, I got back from the…and actually, they gave me two shots of the anesthetic because they didn’t numb it the first time around so they gave me two shots of this stuff. And my system just couldn’t cope with it. So I got home from the appointment and I was sort of wiped out. And we had pumpkin soup. I remember, and the kids still talk about it. We had pumpkin soup that night. And all of a sudden, just this rage came over me. And I’ve got this soup.
My husband and I had this argument and I threw the soup on the ground. There was soup everywhere, broken glass, and he’s looking at me. He’s like, “What’s wrong with you?” And I’m like, “I don’t know,” and I ran off to bed and just fell asleep. And the next morning I couldn’t get out of bed. My whole system was shot. My hands were shaking like terribly. And I’m like, “What’s going on?” It was a reaction to whatever was in the anesthetic, which I believe was the adrenaline.
And then about four or five days later, the pain started to creep back in. Actually, I should mention I was on one aspirin tablet at that point. And I was tolerant. I was still healing on this one aspirin tablet. And then every day it got worse and worse and worse. And until three months after that dental appointment, I was in such bad shape, probably as bad as I’ve ever been, that I contacted the rheumatologist and asked for the Methotrexate because the Plaquenil just was not a good fit for me.
And she agreed. And she sent me the scrip. And as I’m talking [inaudible [00:11:52] to her, I said to her, “I don’t know why this plant-based, whole food, low-fat diet is supposed to heal but it’s not. And I think,” I’m talking, “and I think it’s the aspirin I’m taking.” A little light bulb went on. So I thought, “Well, if I think that’s the case then why don’t I just go off it.” So I switched it out with Panadol, a Paracetamol tablet.
And instantly, within 24 hours, the pain started to go down. So even though I was on a very small aspirin dose that was just enough to set me back majorly. It was as bad as the Celebrex, in my opinion. And then that was nine months ago. So I’m back now where I was, only this week, nine months ago. So it’s taken me nine months to recover from that damn dental visit.
Clint: Wow, okay. Wow. So I know I remember a lot of those milestones. The particular incident with the aspirin is like a famous occurrence within our community, isn’t it? Everyone got a big lesson from that because we, at that time, were uncertain as to whether or not aspirin had a negative impact on the gut wall the way that all the other non-steroidals do. And evidently, and since then, through more concrete sources, we’ve been able to find that it’s just as bad as all the rest. So, now are you taking the Panadol still occasionally?
Andrea: I am, yes. I’m taking the Panadol every day. But it feels more like, I was here nine months ago, it feels more like joint damage pain now than it does RA. It’s not this hot, swollen feeling. It’s like a hollow, achy, dull feeling. It’s different.
And it’s not throughout my body. It’s only in the joints that were affected. So I’m taking it mainly for that, to help manage the grinding damage.
Clint: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Andrea: It’s how I kind of feel at this point.
Clint: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, and so now your blood test results, I recall, are back to where they were as well, aren’t they?
Andrea: Yes, they are.
Clint: So your C-reactive protein is less than one…
Clint: …milligram per liter. And your ESR is, I forget. What’s the…
Andrea: Four, yes.
Clint: Four. Okay.
Andrea: It was exactly where I was nine months ago.
Clint: Okay, okay. So you’ve been through the roundabout and back, and now you’re… So an ESR of 4, to people who are just sort of listening and coming to terms with the blood test or don’t get their blood test done regularly, or just newly diagnosed, so the normal range is less than 20 milliliters per hour. So a four is probably what the average person on the street has. And a C-reactive protein of less than one, again, this is what the average person on the street has.
And you are not what they call seronegative so your blood indicators are representative of disease activity. And so you’re doing outstandingly well right now on nothing but a small Panadol painkiller. And if you’re not from Australia, Panadol is just a brand name, as Andrea said, for Paracetamol. So what Andrea has found, and this is not medical advice, but what we’ve generally found works best, through guidance from other medical professionals, is that the Paracetamol seems to be a lot less harmful, if not harmless, on the gut wall.
So it can be taken as an alternative to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. And so this is a way of getting some relief when you need it throughout the day without having to resort to those very, very gut damaging non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Now, some people find the Paracetamol to be very mild relief compared to the non-steroidal drugs. What’s your feeling on that, Andrea?
Andrea: Yeah, I don’t think it’s as strong. I think you need it more often, definitely.
Clint: Right, okay. Okay.
Andrea: I don’t think it would work if you’re still eating the inflammatory foods. It’s just not enough.
Clint: Yeah, right.
Andrea: If you’ve got the food under control, then I think it’s a fine option to use.
Clint: Yeah, well said. Okay, now you’ve, besides making wonderful progress on your healing so that going from being carried to the hospital by your husband to now being on only a small Paracetamol and living a normal life. And you look so healthy and well. So your progress is a wonderful testimonial to what can be done naturally, but it’s not all the food, is it? Let’s talk about exercise. So I believe that healing this disease, getting to a point where you need minimal medications to manage the pain and have a normal lifestyle, I believe for most of us it’s 40% exercise and 60% diet.
Now, that is a huge split. Much greater than people understand with regards to exercise. So I like the phrase, “Most people are exercise deficient.” So tell us what you do with your exercise because no one gets a free pass here. We all have to exercise. And what’s been your preferred approach? What works best for you?
Andrea: Okay, so I did stick to the Paddison Program recommendation of the Bikram yoga. And when I first started coming off the Celebrex and onto the Plaquenil, there was a couple week period there where the Plaquenil hadn’t kicked in and I was not getting the pain relief from any drug. And so I went to Bikram every day for 30 days and did this 30-day challenge. And I found it extremely difficult, but it got my body moving and I think that it helps just sort of flush all those immune complexes out.
And then when the Plaquenil kicked in, then the exercise was much easier. So then I continued for three days a week on the Bikram and then whatever exercise. Having two young children, it’s exercise as well. You’re constantly out walking at the park. You’re constantly riding bikes. You’re doing things with them. And then I’ve also tried the [inaudible [00:18:11] of hot yogas, but I found them that the heat wasn’t there.
They did too many pushups on the ground. My wrists can’t push up on the ground, so the Bikram, for me, was just by far the most superior exercise, I think, for rheumatoid arthritis. I think you really did hit the nail on the head there when you discovered that.
Clint: Yeah, yeah. We talk about it all the time. And next couple of guests on the podcast, we’ll be covering it again. I just can’t hit that nail enough. It just really is the most ideal exercise for the body when it’s inflamed and the joints are sore. Something you mentioned, I think is worth chatting about as well. Often, people ask, “What about these other hot yogas?” And first of all, there’s no exercise that isn’t beneficial to the body if you’ve got rheumatoid arthritis, unless it actually causes you more pain the next day.
So if an exercise does not cause you more pain the next day, then do it. There’s really no exception to that, whether it be cycling, or swimming, or walking, or climbing, or just all sorts of strength building at home, or cardiovascular classes at the gym, whatever it might be. So more exercise the better, as long as it doesn’t hurt the next day. But with the hot yogas, as you pointed out, there’s two things.
One is that it varies every single time. So yoga classes are wonderful for people without the joint pains to go to and experience a different class every time. What a luxury, you get to do all sorts of various things and it’s a surprise each time, and it makes it feel different. Bikram, of course, is the same thing over and over again. But that’s actually the beauty of it when you’ve got rheumatoid.
Andrea: I agree. Yeah, and then you can gauge it from day-to-day, from week-to-week. Oh, I couldn’t do this before. Okay, now I can do that. And you’ve got a reference point that you can always go back to with your improvements.
Clint: A hundred percent.
Andrea: Yeah, absolutely.
Clint: A hundred percent. So it is a very clear indicator of progress. And then the other thing about the hot yoga, just variations of yoga, not just hot yoga, is that they all include postures like you mentioned that can be problematic on the wrists and so forth, like Downward Facing Dog and a few of these other postures. So Bikram is wonderful in that sense because it does not include any heavy wrist weight bearing exercises, and so another wonderful benefit. Okay, so you manage now at the moment to balance a family, three kids, and you’re getting…
Andrea: Actually, two children.
Clint: Two children.
Andrea: Two children. Three if you count my husband.
Clint: Exactly right. And manage all that and get to Bikram three times a week.
Clint: Okay, great. Now, with your wrists, you and I have had discussions online about wrist exercises. Now, why don’t you go ahead and tell us what you’ve done in the past for your wrists, because other people also found your techniques helpful. And then I’ll just explain my simple things as well, so everyone who’s got wrist pain can get some help here.
Andrea: Okay. So I can feel like the joints are very, very creaky and cracky through here. You can’t actually see any swelling through there anymore, but it used to be like a big marble under here.
Clint: Okay, let’s…
Andrea: And it’s very difficult to get going.
Clint: First of all, let’s just comment on that. Because I had this situation, too. So people with these nodules, these sort of firmish nodules, would you say that’s what you had on your wrist there?
Clint: Yeah, did you find, like I did, that it just simply went away in the same way that the softer, moister inflammation swelling seemed to under the skin?
Andrea: It just all started going away at the same time.
Andrea: Yeah, just as the inflammation came down, this all settled.
Clint: Yeah, I had the same experience. I had it on the side of this knuckle, so this was swollen out here. And I had it on the same sort of edge on the side of my foot near where the little toe joins the side of the foot. And sort of a little bulge under the right side of my foot and knee, that other one. And they just went exactly as you said, with the inflammation and the swelling. Because these nodules can be reversed in the same way that the soft tissue goes down. As long as they’re not bone deformities and structural deformities, it can all go down. My rheumatologist told me that they could be rubbed out, these particular nodules. Now, personally, I was never successful at rubbing them away. I did try it a lot. Did you have any success with that?
Andrea: No, I had a ganglion years before, which the textbook treatment is to get a Bible and hit it and it would break the fluid sack.
Andrea: And that was successful, but this is different. I don’t think that you can. It’s not a ganglion.
Clint: No, I don’t recommend the rub it out treatment. I just recommend the “eat the right things and exercise like a champion” treatment.
Clint: Yeah, okay.
Okay, good. Now, I hope you don’t mind me interrupting you on…
Andrea: No, not at all.
Clint: …these little points because each one of these things contains a gem of knowledge. Okay, so yes, now tell us about your wrists.
Andrea: So I find that it feels like the bones are fused together. So in the morning when I wake up, I only have very limited movement. I have a lot more now. But in the morning time it’s not like that. So I started putting compression into that joint, very general compression, and then wriggling the fingers. Except I would be lying in bed. I’d put them underneath my hips and I’d push my hip into that. And I could feel the joints open up, the bones pull apart from each other, and then I would move slowly, slowly.
And it hurt like hell the first few times I did it, but I’m like, “This shouldn’t hurt a normal, healthy person.” But every day I did it, it got less and less painful and I got more and more mobility. I also put it behind my head like that, push my head into it. And then do the same thing. So, one of the ladies on the forum said that she couldn’t get her hands underneath to do it, so I said, “Just put it under your head and use the pressure of that.”
Since then, I’ve also discovered foam rolling. And you can also do a similar thing like that. You put your hand on top of a foam, you push the pressure down onto the joint, push it down and then you start sort of wriggling through that and moving, moving, moving. And what I found is that pressure in the joint just sort of opened things and pulled things apart that have helped my wrists and my feet mainly.
Clint: Okay, so I just want to…what I’ve experienced is that almost any attempt to try and stretch and increase the range of motion on a joint, if it’s highly inflamed, tended for me to be a bad idea. So I’m just curious. Did you attempt this when your wrist had a lot of heat and redness and swelling or has it just been a great strategy since most of it went away?
Andrea: That’s a hard question. During the bad flares, I would ice them. I know you’re not a big fan of ice, but when it feels like a red-hot poker, I would ice. I think that it takes common sense to sort of…like you said, if it’s making it worse then don’t do it. I would tend to do it at times when the inflammation was a little bit lower.
Clint: Yeah, interesting. Same. And I think that’s because we intuitively sort of seek an opportunity. Hey, there’s an opportunity here where we can work on this joint that feels closer to normal than it’s been for a while. And as you say, if you do those kind of simple things and the joint’s normal, you don’t even notice that you’re doing it really.
Clint: So I think that’s important, is that if you’ve got an opportunity where the swelling has gone down, go for it. Now’s the chance to try and…
Andrea: Yeah, definitely.
Clint: …increase the range of motion, strengthen the joint.
Clint: When my knee swelling went down dramatically, so to recap on my situation with my knee. It was the last non-responder and everything else went right down, but I still had this enormous swelling in the knee. And after a year of persevering, trying everything naturally where all my other joints were really, really diminishing in their swelling and inflammation, but the knee just wouldn’t go.
And what I did is I had the cortisone shot into the knee. And I waited so long to have any kind of medical intervention because I was determined to see if I could do it naturally. But I then regretted not doing it sooner, because that knee went down tremendously. But what it then revealed to me was an incredible amount of structural damage and weakness.
Andrea: Yeah, that’s how I kind of feel in the wrists now. That swelling has gone down and now I’m feeling, it’s a different pain.
Andrea: I feel exactly the same, yeah.
Clint: Right. Well, in the knee it was extremely debilitating suddenly again, because I used to hobble around and the swelling would somehow seem to absorb some of the structural damage, right?
Andrea: Yeah, I feel the same.
Clint: Right. And so then what I did was once the knee was cleared of its inflammation, because that cortisone shot just worked like magic, it just eliminated all the swelling and pain in that little pocket of my knee. And then I was able to exercise it again and strengthen it. But it took me…I’m still strengthening that knee. This is years and years later.
Andrea: Yeah, I think my wrists are going to probably be in the same category as your knee. It’s been the worst affected joint for me.
Clint: Right, yeah. And you need to treat them with delicate care because they are such a small joint. You don’t want to injure yourself with loading them too much or so forth.
Andrea: No, exactly. My neighbor is my jar opener. The kids were over there this morning. Every morning they’re over, “Can you open this for my mum?” So she’s been crucial in the support of just letting me function on a daily basis. Because my husband isn’t home and my wrists are the worst part, you know?
Andrea: I told her not to die before me because I will die of starvation. I won’t be able to open anything.
Clint: Or until the kids get old enough to be able to open it, yeah.
Clint: You have another home remedy for your wrists as well.
Clint: Can you tell us about the comfrey plant that you’ve been using as well and if that’s been helpful for you? Tell us what it is.
Andrea: Yes, I’m a big fan of herbal medicines. I’ve had such success on all levels, liquid ones, creams, poultices. And I’ve read all about the comfrey and I’ve read amazing healing stories about how it can heal bone and tissue. I use the cream on sunburn. It’s amazing. If you get a little bit of sunburn, the next morning there’s no trace of it. It’s just this amazing healing herb. And I persisted, oh geez, maybe a year now with the comfrey creams.
And people on the forum were saying the same thing, “Oh, yeah. I haven’t had any success with it,” but I’m like, “There’s got to be more to it.” I was drinking the comfrey tea, so I sort of tried to get it into me all different ways. And I was growing some in the garden. Finally, I’m like, “I’m going to make a poultice out of this.” So I grabbed about six or seven leaves and I put them into the high-speed blender with a little bit of water and a little bit of flour to sort of thicken it up. And I put it on my wrist at nighttime, wrap it up with a bit of Glad wrap, and then put a sock over it.
And I noticed straight away that it was starting to heal the joint. But it was completely different to the creams that I was using. The poultice is just much more concentrated and I’m thinking, at this point of my healing, because I feel like I’m at the end of it, I’m going to be working on rebuilding the bone loss that I’ve got in the wrists. So I believe that it can heal the bone as well. And it’s the old, ancient name for it is knit-bone, because they knew it could heal broken bones.
Clint: Wow. Wow, how about that? Yeah.
Andrea: Yeah, so I’m still experimenting with that, but so far I have noticed the mornings that I do use it overnight, I wake up with much less swelling and pain in those wrists.
Clint: Is it easily available, the plant?
Andrea: Yeah. You can buy it at the…like Bunnings or the hardware shops. I’ve seen it around. I think because more and more people tend to alternatives, they’re supplying these products now. I have also bought it as a dried herb. So I think you could probably get the dried herb, and if you wanted to make a poultice, just add some water to it, let it sit for a while, and you could still do the same. Yeah, I have no trouble in Australia getting it.
Clint: Okay, but if you wanted to get the best results for someone and you were working with them, would you just go down to a nursery and buy the fresh stuff, just like you do and blend it up with the water, wrap it up in the clear plastic, and wrap it on their affected body part, and you would do it that way?
Andrea: I would, except the plants that you get at the nursery are so small. You have to wait until they’re established, so unless you know someone with a plant. I’m lucky, my parents have got a whole garden full of it so if I ever run low I’ve got them to go to.
Clint: I see, okay. So maybe something people could grow in their backyards if they…
Andrea: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
Clint: Okay. Okay, that’s a great tip. Now, the next one has been a life changer for you, something that’s been really, really interesting to watch as well. We chatted just before we started recording about the podcast episode with Dr. Richard Matthews where he talked about the progesterone cream, the link between hormones and rheumatoid arthritis. If you haven’t listened to the earlier episodes with Richard Matthews about his research on hormones and rheumatoid arthritis, and you’re female of course, go back and check that out.
It’s very interesting. But one of the things that he mentioned was the potential benefit of using progesterone cream coming up towards your cycle, because you’ve been quite open with us and shared that every time your cycle comes around you’ve experienced an increase in pain.
Andrea: Massive, yeah. Massive, massive increase, yeah. Now just a [inaudible [00:33:08] it takes me a week to recover from, so I’ll have three good weeks and then I’ll just be wiped out for one week, like it’s not a small amount of pain and it’s regular every month, so yes.
Clint: Right. So you decided to take the information from that discussion I had with Dr. Matthews and you went and got some cream.
Andrea: I did.
Clint: Talk us through that little journey.
Andrea: Okay, now Dr. Matthews did make the distinction between the synthetic progesterone and the natural progesterone, so I would only use the natural one. I’m not a big fan of the synthetics. So the first month that I used it, and I used it…you’re supposed to use it after ovulation. So if the cycle is 28 days long, you use it from day 14 to day 28. So you’re building up the progesterone in the second phase of the cycle.
So I tried that the first month and, sure enough, I’m like, “Is that a flare?” I think it was a very, very mild one. I’m like, “Is this it? Is this the flare starting?” Because it usually lasts a week and it works me up. And nothing happened. It was very mild, maybe couple of hours. And then the second month that I tried it, nothing at all. Third month I tried it, no flare at all. And I was coming from a point where it completely knocked me out for a couple days. Plus, it would take me another four or five days to recover.
So there’s no doubt that the progesterone cream helped because it happened every single month. It wasn’t if it’s going to happen, it was when it happens and I would prepare myself for it. “Oh, what have we got on this weekend? Oh, I have a party. I won’t be able to attend that one because I’ll be wiped out.” It was so bad that my whole life was affected with these hormonal flares. So not just food would flare me up, but the hormones would flare me up.
Clint: Yeah, it’s fascinating. It’s absolutely fascinating. Now, where do you apply the cream, how much? And talk us through the specifics.
Andrea: Okay. I put maybe a pea-size amount on in the evenings and they tell you to put it on a soft part of your body, like here or inner thigh, on your stomach, somewhere like that.
Clint: And that’s it.
Andrea: And that’s it.
Clint: And that’s it. So just maybe like a squeeze, maybe not even half a teaspoon.
Clint: Right, okay.
Andrea: Like a pea. Yeah, maybe about half, yeah, half a teaspoon, pea-size, yeah.
Clint: And do you notice anything that by applying it?
Andrea: Ah, so the first month I did have some adverse reactions to it. I noticed these palpitations within maybe 30 seconds to a minute. I put it on and all of a sudden my heart would just be boomp, boomp, boomp. And I didn’t like that. It was quite a severe palpitation, so I backed that off in the first month and I only used it every other day. And actually, I didn’t really have a flare that month so I was probably using a half dose that month.
So I was a little bit dubious going into it the second month because I didn’t want the palpitations to come back, but that was it. I thought maybe my body balanced it out or something. And then the second and third month I haven’t had any palpitations of the heart at all.
Clint: Okay. Well, that’s interesting. I’m glad I asked that question though, just in case someone does have a concern about their heart rate or irregular heartbeat. Maybe it’s something they should check before they use.
Clint: Yeah, okay, great. Another area that you are sort of the go-to person in our community for is fermenting.
Clint: You’ve been doing a ton of fermenting. You’ve even created a lovely training video on how to make sauerkraut in our community. And you made some for me when we got together, as a gift, which was really lovely and it was delicious. And I told you, and you thought this was hilarious, but I ate the entire jar in two meals.
Andrea: I do the same, so I’m guilty as well.
Clint: Which is a lot of sauerkraut. I’m going to post that video on the blog post so people can go from listening to this or watching this online and then go to the blog post and actually then also see the embedded video of you making the sauerkraut, because it’s really simple. It’s really instructional. Well put together training video. How often do you use the sauerkraut, first of all, and have you found that useful?
Andrea: Okay, we had a few health issues with my children. This was a few years before I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, so that’s why I started making the sauerkraut. And I absolutely love it. And I was eating loads and loads and loads of it. This was before the rheumatoid. So I’m not too sure how healing it is.
I think that it’s an important part of your diet, but if increasing huge amounts of fermented vegetables is going to prevent an autoimmune disease, it didn’t because I was eating that much of it. I think it’s good for your digestion. It’s good to help process that food that you’re eating. There’s probiotics, I suppose, in it. But I’m not convinced that it’s as…
Clint: As a bulletproof fence, yeah.
Andrea: No, no, because I was eating that much of it before and the rheumatoid came. If it was going to work, it would have worked. If it was going to boost my system with good probiotics, which I know it does and I eat it every day for that reason, but it’s a pity that it didn’t stop the rheumatoid arthritis.
Clint: Yeah, I completely understand. I also share the same kind of view on it. But the thing with rheumatoid and getting, actually, triggered for your body to start the disease, there’s so many factors that could have been at play. So I think it’s well understood that there are lots of health benefits of the sauerkraut and that fermented foods, in general, are an important part of anyone’s diet. But I’m with you. There’s no single one food that can prevent something that’s as complex as…
Andrea: I think it’s a combined approach. Like you’re saying, it’s the 60/40 split of the diet and the exercise. You can’t just do food and not do exercise. And I think the more things that you can do that will promote healing, I think the better it’s going to be for you. And I think the sauerkraut and fermenting is one of those things that is just another tool that you can use to help.
Clint: It’s another tool. That’s a great word. What did you diet look like before?
Andrea: Fairly good. I ate moderate amounts of meat.
Andrea: Yeah, little bit of dairy, yeah. Just sort of this [inaudible [00:40:14], maybe a little bit less. We never had a lot of…I’ve been making my own bread for years before because my daughter’s health was poor. So I was actually probably better than a lot of other people’s because I wasn’t buying store bread and things.
Clint: What about vegetable oils?
Andrea: Yeah, I’ve cooked with vegetable oils.
Clint: Cooking in vegetable oils.
Clint: I find that anyone who lives a Western lifestyle is susceptible to getting any kind of disease, more so than if we lived a simple, native kind of lifestyle like in Africa, lots of mainly vegetables and legumes and so forth. So a question I often get is…like sometimes, people who are vegetarians say, “I can’t understand why I ever would have got this disease because I’m a vegetarian.” So basically, why would I want to do your program or something? Almost a little bit, sort of, you know.
Clint: And then if you explore further, you invariably find out that they took antibiotics for acne when they were a teenager or they’ve had gut issues for many years. They were eating a lot of junk foods, processed foods, or they absolutely hate their job or came from a troubled family. Stress to the max.
They don’t exercise at all, so they actually have completely…like exercise not a component of their life for a decade. Or they’ve done just a numerous combination of things that just aren’t health-promoting. We need to be proactive about health. It just doesn’t happen to us if we’re eating in a way that’s not close to the way that nature intended.
Andrea: Yeah. I agree with all of that.
Clint: Yeah, yeah. So okay, let’s just talk then briefly about the general principles of the sauerkraut making without having to go through it all in detail, because we’ve got that video online I want people to look at. But if someone wanted to do it at home and you just want to give them some instructions now, what are the general processes involved?
ANDREA’S SAUERKRAUT VIDEO:
Andrea: Okay, so fermenting fruits and vegetables is different. Fruits, which you don’t want salty, you have to use a way to stop that process. So I’ll just talk about the vegetable side of it. So you’ve got putrefying bacteria and you’ve got the healthy bacteria. And salt will stop the putrefying bacteria and only promote the good bacteria. So as long as you’ve got enough salt in whatever you’re fermenting, you’ll succeed at the fermenting. You need it to be below the water level, so if you chop up all your vegetables, put them into a jar, add the salty brine or the salt to the vegetables before you put them in there, as long as there’s enough salt it will ferment and you’ll have a successful run. It does depend a little bit on ambient air temperature. So if it’s warmer, it will ferment faster. Sauerkraut seems to ferment a little bit better at slightly cooler, sort of autumny weathers not so great, can go off a little bit. If the weather is too warm, it can go off because the bacteria can’t build up fast enough to protect the food inside. So it’s better to have slightly cooler temperatures. But if you’ve got enough salt, you’ll be fine.
Clint: So it’s very simple, huh? It’s just all shaved up cabbage inside some…and then add a bunch of salt to that and munch it all together, and then put that sufficiently covered by water so that the airborne bacteria can’t access it.
Andrea: That’s right, yeah.
Clint: And then how long, generally, do you have to wait before you can enjoy it?
Andrea: Probably, depending on the outside temperature, one to two weeks.
Clint: Wow, okay. So it’s not…
Andrea: You can eat it straightaway. If you don’t want to wait, you just want some salty cabbage on the side, you can eat it immediately.
Clint: Yeah, right. So there’s no too early. It’s just that you’re sort of reducing the amount of healthy bacteria.
Andrea: Exactly, yeah.
Clint: Yeah, okay. All right, well we’ve covered a lot. We’ve heard your story. We’ve talked about your wrist exercises and your comfrey plants that you put on your wrists to help you with pain reduction. We’ve learned about the benefits of progesterone cream that you apply in a small amount on a soft, meaty part of your body as your cycle is approaching. You told us a little about your fermenting. And we’ve also learned about the dangers of taking the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because your experience has been that healing really is shackled and prevented when you’re on those drugs.
Andrea: Without a doubt, yeah. I would never have healed if I was still on the Celebrex or the aspirin. It just wouldn’t have happened.
Clint: Yeah. I know people are going to ask me when they hear this and they say, “Look, I’m in so much pain. If I don’t take them, I can’t function each day.” So my thoughts on that, and it’s a tricky one because we’re now entering into a discussion about medications and that’s not really where we want to be going. But just as a general comment about groups of drugs, I’ve seen that people who take a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug like a Plaquenil or like a Methotrexate or like a Sulfasalazine, they tend to be able to make healing whilst on those drugs. You’ve done that.
Andrea: Yeah, I have done that.
Clint: You’ve done that. I did that on Methotrexate. We had Hannah on an earlier episode, from the Netherlands. She did that on Methotrexate. And a number of others that people don’t know about who haven’t been on podcasts have done that very successfully. So we’re not the doctors, but we can observe these trends and if someone was to come to me and say, “Hey, I’ve got this extraordinary pain and I’m having to take 10 of these painkillers every day,” I’m going to say, “Look, maybe it’s not the right medication.”
Andrea: Yeah, it’s not the right medication. It’s not, definitely not. Absolutely.
Clint: Yeah. Yeah, so it’s worthwhile going and getting something a little bit more powerful that will mean that you don’t need to take those particular painkillers every day.
Andrea: And I like your approach also, is exercise is a good pain relief. So increase your turmeric. You’ve got the option of trying to use exercise and turmeric and things like that as well. But obviously, depending on how bad you are, will be if that approach works. But I think that’s also another approach that people can take as well.
Clint: Yeah, that’s what I did. I used Bikram as my painkiller, because I challenged someone to come to me and have the same…well no, sorry, and have a worse situation as what I went through and quite possibly you went through in terms of just pain levels. I’m just talking pain. I was in 80% of my joints and I could barely walk. I was absolutely excruciating from head to toe and my jaw and my chest. You name it.
And so I wasn’t taking painkillers because…I meant to say this before, because it’s a story I love repeating, is that I was at about a 3 or 4 out of 10 pain level during my early days with rheumatoid. And then I did three weeks on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, one of the common ones that you buy over the counter. By the end of the third week, I needed more and more dose to keep the pain at the levels that I took at the start of that three weeks.
And I thought, “I wonder how I am if I stop taking this suddenly, these painkillers?” And after stopping the painkiller, the next day I was at least a 7, 8 out of 10 pain. Like I had at least doubled in my pain in three weeks and I could not get back to where I was before I took that three weeks of that drug. It was permanently like I was…I had just doubled my pain in three weeks and I couldn’t get it back to where it was before that drug. It took me years.
Andrea: It’s a vicious roundabout because I found the same. Yeah. I don’t want to take these things, but when you don’t do it the pain is outrageous so you have to go back on them.
Clint: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Andrea: And you actually don’t have much of a choice, because if you still have to function and drive the kids to school, and you’ve got to get life going, you have to do what you got to do.
Clint: That’s right. So at that point, it’s either, look, adjust your lifestyle, get some family support to help out, and go to Bikram yoga every single day. And if that’s not possible for a lot of people, I’d say for the majority of people, or if you can’t go swimming every day and just attempt to do exercise every single day, to use that as your painkiller, if you cannot do that, then you have to schedule. Go see your rheumatologist. Talk about the change of medications. And again, because we’re in a territory that’s a little bit delicate, talk to the doctor about the right approach for your condition. But you and I could say, from our personal experience, that those painkillers do not allow healing.
Andrea: No, that’s for sure. I just remembered. The very first drug they gave me was Naproxen.
Clint: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Andrea: Which also is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. That was before they had diagnosed the RA.
Clint: Great, okay. Good that you remembered that. Okay, cool. Cool. All right, well you’ve been very, very helpful, Andrea. And I want to thank you, also, for all that you do for everyone within our community. And not just what you’ve shared on this podcast, but the podcast episode, I’m sure, listeners will have found very, very useful. I mean, if they just did one of those little things that you’ve suggested, they probably improve their life. And so, all those things together make a massive difference to someone’s health, so it’s real valuable information.
Andrea: Thank you so much. I’m so grateful to talk with you today, Clint. I’m grateful for everything that you and Melissa do.
Clint: Oh, thank you. We’ve got another about to be born. We’re about to go into…I’m just expecting our next baby to come through at any second.
Andrea: That’s exciting. Good luck with that.
Clint: We’ll have the two kids like you, and we’ll be asking neighbors for help as well. So thanks so much, Andrea.
Andrea: Thank you so much.