By Elizabeth Wells, D.NN, MA, PhD
A couple of days ago I had my hair professionally coloured in a hair salon for the first time in over ten years. This doesn’t sound like a significant milestone unless you are au fait with the conditions of Electrosensitivity (ES or EHS) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, which often go hand-in-hand.
For the previous ten years I had to have my hair cut at home so as not to come into proximity with people in the same room whose hair was being dyed, bleached and sprayed with various chemicals. The last time that happened I remember vividly having to run out of the salon with my gown still on, nauseated and panicking, just to breathe some fresh air.
Incredibly these days it’s not something I spend much time worrying about, since I am so much less sensitive thanks to all the health interventions I’ve been practising over the last couple of years. I’m not daft, I don’t willingly expose myself to chemicals and toxins if I can help it; I’m still recovering from severe adrenal fatigue, Candida infection and low immune function, but I am fully confident that the upward trend of recovery is going to continue.
A little bit about my journey. I was never a well child; I was always ill with chronic coughs and bronchitis and viruses, not to mention the severe run-in with whooping cough at the age of four, during which time I could keep so little down my arms and legs turned stick-thin.
As I grew up I developed mysterious digestive problems which I later found out were Candida-related (I don’t really believe in the diagnosis of ‘Candida’ anymore as a sui generis disease; many people with other co-infections have symptoms of Candida, which is no coincidence, but that’s another story for another time).
So I went on a severe diet, cutting out all sugar, and later dairy and gluten, which at that time in the early 90s was a bit of a nightmare since no food companies catered for this aberration.
I also had horrendous periods, hormonal problems, mood swings and pain. I was also cold all the time.
I saw a Chinese herbalist, who I remained with for 15 years, and luckily he helped carry me through some difficult years. I managed my set of perplexing symptoms throughout my twenties, but at the same time I was doing untold added damage to myself, over-exercising during the day and by night going out to parties and clubs, taking drugs and smoking. It was fun at the time, but by my late twenties I was beginning to feel burnt-out, often not sleeping for entire nights before having to get up for work.
Right about the time I met my partner, in 2005, I also developed debilitating fatigue. I’d walk down the hill to work and then found I couldn’t physically walk back up it later. I had horrendous lactic acid build-up in my joints so that any physical exercise left me with pain; mental stress also caused my legs to ache for hours as if I had flu.
Then I noticed that I would feel worse working on any kind of computer — my eyes would go red and feel sore, my nose would stream as if in the early stages of a cold. My legs would ache for hours afterwards in a kind of stress response.
A similar thing happened when I used a mobile phone: the side of my face next to the phone would get hot, itchy, and develop an angry-looking red colour. I would feel as if I had been ‘fried’. For most EHS sufferers this is a common picture, but of course at the beginning you have no idea what’s going on, and people just think you’re crazy.
I was lucky enough to have a sympathetic GP who signed me off work for six months with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and he also referred me to the ME/CFS clinic in Oxford. I remember taking all the research I’d done into EHS, since by this stage I’d read the work of Martin Pall on oxidative stress and the effects of EMFs on cellular calcium.
As a researcher myself (OK Humanities not Sciences, but still…) I expected to have a lively and engaging discussion with the CFS consultant about all these connections, but he flatly refused to look at any of it or engage with me on that level at all. He said ‘we don’t look at things that way’, and I remember looking at this so-called expert, and thinking ‘What way? You mean with an open and enquiring mind?’ and I was astounded.
I remember then and there making a decision that I was never going to go down the allopathic route again; there was too much investment in keeping these research silos separate and pursuing a narrow agenda based on mitigating symptoms using outdated protocols.
These days ME/CFS research has moved on a bit, but in my opinion they’re still looking through the wrong end of the telescope (i.e. at genetics rather than the far-more significant epigenetics and environmental signals, which start in the womb).
To fast-forward a bit, I re-trained as a nutritionist and made some good progress by myself.
I had some significant tests done privately: I had some blood tests done by Acumen to show how my blood cells were reacting to EMFs, and found that the original trigger for the EHS symptoms was indeed heavy metals and toxins such as petrol by-products. When exposed to EMFs the cellular channels became leaky and allowed the concentration of intra-cellular toxins to increase.
So I embarked on an intensive metals-clearing programme, which cost a bomb but was very enlightening. For about six months I felt absolutely incredible. I went back to work and everything was great, but then over time, all the symptoms came back one by one, and I felt pretty defeated.
I had a hair mineral test done which showed significant adrenal and thyroid stress and deficiencies in various minerals which were important for chelating metals such as mercury. I took minerals for months, plus select vitamins; I did coffee enemas and ate very clean, and made some progress again, enough to continue working part-time, although both the CFS and the EHS/MCS symptoms persisted. I still had to use an Ethernet-enabled set-up at work and wear a silver protective head net and use grounding equipment. We had the same set-up at home.
Meanwhile I became convinced I had to eradicate the Candida and the only way to do that was to pursue a no-carb diet, which was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and a complete waste of time and energy! My Candida symptoms lessened a little, but not significantly, and I was hungry ALL the time, miserable, moody and cold. My periods also stopped for six months and I became convinced I had entered early menopause (I was 35). I did that stupid diet for five years, and then abandoned it in frustration.
In 2010 I was made redundant at work, and we moved from London to Manchester. My partner and I were in our late 30s and decided we had to see if we could have a baby. I got pregnant straight away, after embracing Matt Stone’s Eat for Heat protocol (see www.180degreehealth.com).
The pregnancy was not as bad as it can be for some women, but it wasn’t smooth sailing and I’d begun to realise that whilst I could carry a baby, I wasn’t really healthy enough to support it.
After many complications and surgery requiring a lengthy stay in hospital, as well as endless rounds of IV antibiotics, my health collapsed again and the symptoms of major adrenal fatigue reared its head.
I couldn’t sleep, I became extremely anxious and tearful and felt permanently wired and exhausted. On top of that we moved to the Netherlands, my partner’s health began to decline, and I had a new baby to take care of. It wasn’t a good time for any of us.
By 2016 we were back in London. By this time a kind and knowledgeable private doctor had put me on hydrocortisone medication to stabilise my failing adrenals, which had now given up producing cortisol on their own.
I was surviving but had little quality of life and I was always angry, snapping at my son and desperately worried about our future (my partner at this stage had also developed adrenal fatigue and had been signed off work; my son was showing the early signs of Candida overgrowth and behavioural stress).
I wasn’t working much — I worked seasonally as an A-level examiner and that work was hard on my ES, since it was all marking on-screen. The rest of the time I spent desperately researching my conditions, trying to work out why I couldn’t seem to get better.
I would lie awake at night feeling sheer terror about what I’d passed on to my son, my partner’s ill-health, our terrible financial situation, and sometimes wishing I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.
I remember it was a chance remark by someone on a Candida health forum which sparked my curiosity about liver flushes. I’d heard of liver flushing before, but been put off it by my lecturer at nutrition college who had told us it was a scam (it isn’t, and I can address why it isn’t in another post).
The original post on the forum thread said something along the lines of ‘Candida only lives in a toxic body; it’s there as the safest way to protect you from the poisonous by-products of your own poor digestion. Clean up the shit pile and the flies will leave.’
Her advice was that you could never ‘get rid’ of Candida (or heavy metals or parasites) unless you flushed out the ‘stones’ of hardened bile in the liver that gave sanctuary to these pathogens and metals. These toxins are literally trapped in the liver, wrapped up in little bile parcels and plugging the ducts.
Why do we make these stones in the first place? Because our toxic environment starts off in the womb — toxins from the environment, from poor digestion (‘leaky gut’ and fermentation/putrefaction is a common denominator in most people with ES/MCS/Candida), from pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, vaccines and the Pill.
Add to that stress, poor diet, the wrong fats, dehydration, mineral deficiencies, refined sugar and not enough prebiotic fibre, then bile becomes thick and sticky. Once stones begin to block the liver ducts then it becomes even harder for the liver and gallbladder to release enough fresh bile to digest your food, leading to more putrefaction and dysbiosis at gut level. And so the cycle continues.
The liver becomes less able to detoxify the blood of heavy metals, chemicals and other toxins and so they begin to be stored in the fat and in cell membranes. It cannot deconjugate hormones properly either, leading people to experience blood sugar swings, insulin resistance and oestrogen dominance. It cannot convert sufficient T4 to T3 (thyroid hormone) to release into the blood.
Bile acids also keep the intestines at the right pH to prevent the wrong kind of gut bacteria causing overgrowth (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO) as well as providing a nourishing environment to sustain the production of ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. And over time the lack of proper digestive secretions causes such massive quantities of toxic by-products (endotoxins) that these further slow the metabolism, causing someone to retain metals rather than eliminate them.
It was one of those classic light-bulb moments; I didn’t need much further encouragement. I immediately purchased a copy of the seminal liver flushing text, Andreas Moritz’s The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush and joined the active Facebook group (whose admins have between them amassed a total of approx. 300 flushes); it is called Liver and Gallbladder Flush for Optimal Health and has over 16,000 members).
I painstakingly followed the protocol, which includes drinking apple juice or taking apple cider vinegar/malic acid for six days to soften the bile stones and then on the seventh day, partially fasting so as to conserve as much bile as possible for the actual flush.
On the evening of that day you consume two doses of Epsom salt (to dilate the liver ducts) and then before bedtime, you blend approx. 120-150ml olive oil (can be any polyunsaturated oil really - I use light olive oil because it’s more tasteless) with the juice of a couple of red/pink grapefruits. The oil causes a massive contraction of bile, and the juice speeds the oil on its way, hopefully taking the stones from your cystic and hepatic ducts with it. Then you lie down on your back or right side with a hot water bottle on your liver area and try to sleep. In the morning the Epsom salt moves your bowels and you will hopefully see anything from a few to a hundred ‘stones’ in the lavatory.
Moritz advises that you repeat the cleanse once a month until you release no more stones, but many members of the forum have found that more frequent cleansing than that is helpful, and it can take many flushes before symptoms abate or cease altogether.
Even though I’ve done 38 flushes, I feel that I am still at the beginning of my flushing journey. Because my liver has been so congested for so many years, many of my flushes have been unproductive and I’ve had to take extra measures to help the flush along.
When you embark on the process, you also have to see the long term picture and realise that your symptoms of toxicity will come and go; as the stones exit, new ones fall down and take their place and your old symptoms can return (sometimes even new symptoms can come along, but these will usually be temporary and often go away after the next flush).
So if you do start flushing it is best to mentally commit yourself to doing a significant number of flushes (say at least 10 to 20) before reassessing if you want to continue.
There are lots of my symptoms that still persist, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will continue to heal, as the trend is positive. Here is a short list of symptoms that have either completely or partially healed since I started my liver flushing journey back in May 2016:
- No more PMS
- Food cravings gone
- Major fatigue crashes gone
- Greater physical energy and stamina
- ES symptoms significantly improved: can now talk on a mobile phone and use Ethernet-enabled computer (I still use a blue light filter on all my devices); less joint cracking/joint stiffness/coldness after using devices
- Significantly less body inflammation, i.e. back ache/gynae issues
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity much better
- Improved allergies and intolerances (can now eat oats which used to give me joint pain)
- Have been able to cut down hydrocortisone medication by about 40% which is majorly significant for me. I no longer need it to sleep at night and I have been able to halve my afternoon dose. This shows my adrenal dysfunction is healing and cortisol is normalising.
Most of all I now have hope that my body will heal and recover. This is the most important thing. I had spent years going round and round in circles and had really given up thinking anything would help me. Now I can go about my day sometimes feeling almost normal, and not being afraid of my future; this is an amazing and liberating feeling.