My Crazy (Wonderful) Health Regimen

As I revealed in my recent video blog post, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia about six months ago. In this post I detail a range of health insights and breakthroughs I’ve used to get better (somewhat miraculously), while I’m still on the mend.

It appears that many of us are struggling with a growing range of health and energy issues – perhaps it’s a symptom of our times, the shadow side of instant connectedness, long work hours, and high-stress environments. Perhaps we’re evolving as a human species, and our bodies are struggling to catch up. Perhaps we just work too much, and need to take better care of ourselves.

The information below is for anyone dealing with health issues. If you are suffering from chronic illness, you may find some very useful resources here. Even if you are just feeling a bit rundown and over-stressed, there’s some useful resources here as well. If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, or you’re dealing with issues related to exhaustion, hormones imbalance, immune deficiency, or neurological challenges, you may find this information especially useful.

Disclaimer! I’m NOT a doctor or health care practitioner. Here’s what’s worked for me, somewhat dramatically (considering I couldn’t walk more than 20 feet and every inch of my body hurt just a few months ago). It’s important that you find qualified medical treatment to support your healing regimen. Many of the recommendations below must be managed by a doctor and regular blood tests. All of the products I recommend are based on my own personal usage. 

SHINE Protocol

I was lucky to have my chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia (CFS/FM) diagnosed in just 2.5 weeks from its sudden onset. This is unheard of, as I know many people who have struggled for months or years before even being properly diagnosed. I had the good fortune of meeting Dr Jacob Teitelbaum at an event almost 10 years ago. I remembered his name as a foremost authority on these issues.

Over the last 30 years, Dr Jacob Teitelbaum has developed a clinically proven protocol for treating CFS/FM. He’s written several great books helpful for anyone with chronic illness: From Fatigued to Fantastic, PainFree 1,2,3, and Beat Sugar Addiction Now. He is also the Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, and offers lots of free advice and information at EndFatigue.com.

His clinically proven protocol goes by the acronym of SHINE:

  • Sleep
  • Hormones
  • Immune system
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise

Sleep

A lot of us don’t get enough sleep and we really feel it. I was always a deep sleeper until I got sick. Earthquakes, fire alarms, armagedon, you name it – I’ve slept through it. But when I got sick, insomnia and fitful sleep became a constant companion. It’s one of the biggest issues that prevents people with CFS/FM to get healthy. Here’s a couple herbal/homopathic remedies that really worked for me (and they’re all gentle and non-habit forming).

  • Sleep Revitalization Formula by Enzymatic Therapy (herbal) – the one I use every night. (NOTE: It contains Valerian, rarely a stimulant for some)
  • Pure Calm by Native Remedies (herbal) – tincture that I used to use every night, great during the day too if you need to seriously RELAX
  • Triple Complex Nerve Tonic by Native Remedies (homeopathic) – great for general stress and overactive mind, great for kids too!

Hormones

There’s no better signal of growing old, than problems with your hormone glands. Of course, our high-stress lifestyles means that many of us have endocrine system hormone imbalances especially with Adrenals, Thyroid, or Testosterone. Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia usually has a hormonol component. You also could have a hormone issues without CFS/Fibro.

1. Adrenal Fatigue is a common issue where your adrenals get fried from stress, coffee, and constant fight-or-flight engagement. When the body is stressed, it can wreak havoc on the immune, nervous and inflammatory pathways in the body. Optimizing normal adrenal function is essential to overall health. There are no pure adrenal hormones you can take, but doctors can direct you to take some of the pre-cursor building blocks like DHEA and Pregnenalone. They may also recommend an Adrenal Formula supplement that includes adaptogens like ashwaganda. I enjoy Adrenal Health formula by Gaia Herbs.

2. Thyroid imbalance is more common than people realize. Most doctors test just for T4 (thyroixin) when in fact most thyroid imbalances are related to T3 and reverse T3 conversion. There’s a simple blood test you doctor can order to check your T3 and conversion. There’s a grassroots movement away from T4 thyroid medication. In my case, my T3 conversion ratios where upside down from what it’s supposed to be. We used compounded Extended Release T3, which is also a core protocol for Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome, and I felt an immediate difference. Do you run cold? In other words is your body temperature below 98 degrees? If it’s closer to 97 degrees, you likely have a sub-clinical thyroid condition. A progressive specialist can treat this.

3. Testosterone levels easily drop when you get sick and as you get older. I’ve been taking the supplement Super Mira Forte with Standardized Lignans by Life Extension. This had made a big difference.

Immune System

Again, many of us are struggling with compromised immune systems. If you deal with any sort of chronic illness, infection, or inflammation, your immune system is involved. Sinus infections and cuts that don’t heal are tell-tale signs.

1. Probiotics. They say that 70% of your immune system health is controlled in your gut. So that means what you eat (we’ll talk about that in the next section) and the general balance of your gastrointestinal system. Considering how Jamie Lee Curtis proudly discussed her pooping habits on television (Activia yogurt), you probably have heard of pro-biotics.

That’s the healthy bacteria in your digestive track that not only keeps you regular (thank you Jamie Lee), but regulates your immune system. Many probiotics don’t make it past the high-acid environment of your stomach to reach the gut where it’s needed. My doctor recommended the following probiotic which is clinically proven, comes in a convenient one-daily capsule, and doesn’t require refrigeration.

2. Candida. This is what probiotics work to balance in the body. Reality is, most of us suffer from candida overgrowth in the digestive track due to our modern diets. It’s the leading cause of bloating, gas, indigestion, brain fog in the morning, et cetera. Candida is a yeast/fungus that feeds off of sugar. Yup, so if you suffer from major sugar and carb cravings, odds are that you’re feeding the beast of candida yeast in your digestive system.

No big deal, right? Except that candida overgrowth creates an immuno-suppressed state in the body, leading to other food allergies, inflammation, and many chronic illnesses. In my case, I’ve struggled with “systemic” candida overgrowth for years. Which means it’s not just in my digestive system, but throughout my body. I’ve done periodic candida cleanses (available over the counter) and gone on candida diets, but eventually the symptoms came back. Huge discovery - I’ve come to find research that shows that if your thyroid is imbalanced, it’s impossible to cure candida overgrowth. In other words, you have to treat thyroid and candida at the same time.

If you suspect you have candida overgrowth, it’s best to find a doctor to treat you. You must also change your diet to get rid of sugar. Doctors will start you with supplements, and maybe prescribe you medicine.

  • Phytostan is over the counter – similar to prescription Nystatin
  • Nystatin is the most common prescription – works at digestive track level (I started with this)
  • Diflucan is more heavy duty prescription – works systemically across the body (I’m on this currently, but its hard on the liver)

Nutrition

Nutrition is a huge part of the healing process. The challenge is how much contradicing information you’ll find on the subject.

What’s made me get healthy is eating a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, paleo diet. Paleo diet (AKA caveman diet) is a popular diet that is modeled after what humans ate thousands of years ago before we started domesticating crops and eating so many grains. What I eat – (1) animal protein (grassfed and organic), (2) lots of vegetables, especially green ones, and (3) safe starches (sweet potato, occasional quinoa, occasional rice). I also adopted what is called a “free-glutamate diet” which removes foods like soy sauce, aspertame, vinegar, and preservatives which are all neuro-toxins when the body’s immune and nervous system are compromised.

Gluten-free means not eating any wheat, oats, rye, or barley. I’ve been gluten-free for a couple years, because I noticed I’d go into a fog every time I’d eat pasta, bread, pizza, etc…It was hard to give up these comfort foods, but I felt an immediate difference. Wheat obviously is the big daddy, cause it’s in so much of what we eat.

Why is wheat or gluten sensitivity on such an epidemic rise? Thanks to genetically modified wheat, which has twice the gluten than ancient wheat. I’ve also cut out corn, sugar, dairy, and most nuts – keys to getting rid of candida overgrowth.

A key part of nutrition, especially with CFS/FM is supplements. Here’s a list of key supplements that I take:

Medical and Healing Practitioners

  • Dr Ricki Mitchell Specialist on thyroid, chronic fatigue, fibro, and candida. She splits her time between Maryland and NYC. She’s out-of-network, but really knows her stuff. Trained under Dr Jacob Teitelbaum. Her husband is an allergist, and they work out of the same office.
  • Dr Polina Liss My primary care physician here in NYC. Dr Liss is a very progressive MD, takes just about every form of insurance, and for a primary care physican, she really understands issues related to hormones, immune system, etc…They also have a lab on-site for drawing your bloodwork.
  • Dr Leroy Perry Legendary chiropractor to the stars and head of International Sports Science Institute in Los Angeles. Dr Perry figured out my core spinal instability, and made a huge impact on my lower back pain in just three visits.
  • Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers While I haven’t interacted with these centers, this is a great resource for finding care on CFS/FM no matter where you live. Dr Jacob Teitelbaum is their national medical director so I imagine you’d be in good hands.

What’s worked for you? Add a Comment!

This is far from an exhaustive list, even of my own health regimen. What has been key to your own healing and recovery? Please add your thoughts in the comments below. Also feel free to ask me any follow-up questions. Here’s your our collective health and healing!


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  • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

    Here’s a great resource on embracing your physical limits while staying creative - http://www.sustainablycreative.com/about-michael/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yazmin-Basa/1318329257 Yazmin Basa

    Great to read about your recovery from fibromyalgia!
    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2006 when I had to work long hours in a herculean speed. It taught me to slow down and better manage my time. Recovery took 5 years where I sleep trained, did lots of yoga and stretching, core conditioning, took lots of herbs , oils, and lots of juices/healthy smoothies. I even started hip hop classes which i still attend to this very day.

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Hi Yazmin, I appreciate your story and thrilled to hear you’ve found a more balanced lifestyle. I’m definitely facing those demons right now as part of the healing journey. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/wendi.degraphique wendy patterson

    Hello Michael,
    Your story is very inspiring!
    I have been ill for over 15 years with CFS/ME, I have worked hard on changing my diet and taking suppliments and herbs.They help but sadly I have still gone down hill with nerve damage in hands and feet, IC and hormone chaos and now high blood pressure.
    Stress has been my enemy!
    I do run my own independant business from home which has been wonderful.
    Thank you for all your inspiration and advice, I will keep working on it:)
    Wendy

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Hi Wendy – I’m so sorry you’ve continued to struggle with these issues. Have you checked out the recommended medical practitioners listed on Dr Jacob Tietelbaum’s website, endfatigue.com? Sending you lots of love.

  • Jackie Ruka

    Hi Michael, 
    I stumbled upon your site and am blown away as to the synchronicity of your health events, especially the replicate issues and diet etc. As I have been dealing with this “new” dis-ease the last 6 months. The Paleo and gluten free is a challenge as I am concerned eating meat encourages inflammation although I may have some Candida. I have found moving my body often, yoga, warm baths and a tens machine ( amazon) helps. The blessing is the Universe has nudged me to slow down, create, write and help others , so I started a non-profit and love it!  Thanks for your helpful remedies. Namaste, Jackie 

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Hey Jackie, so glad our paths have crossed. I hear you on the alkaline/inflammation diet. If you’re body is weak, you need restorative foods with probably includes animal protein. The key with eating meat is to focus on grass-fed and hormone/antibiotic-free beef, chicken, and fish. Try to avoid seafood since that is high in acid and leads to more inflammation. 

      If you cut out dairy, gluten, and nightshades, and other high inflammatory foods, you should be ok with the paleo diet. Eat lots of bitter greens and veggies to keep your system high-alkaline. 
      Also the End Pain formula referenced above, really helped me out with inflammation in the body. My girlfriend swears by Tumeric/Curcumin too. 

  • Ralph Wilson_ND

    Hi again, Michael,
    It’s been years since we first met in Washington DC and I’m so glad that I decided to check out your site today and found your postings about your health. Mine’s not a conventional reaction but I found myself smiling when I read your sharing that you’d both found a label that covers what you were suffering and that you’ve found some excellent resources to assist you on your journey forward. I’ve put my life’s energies into figuring out my own “health puzzle” and now as a naturopathic physician and a health coach using the FlexAware® Neuro-Rehab/Fitness method, I’m continually impressed with people like you who show the human creativity of not giving up and looking for more than the conventional offerings so that we can engender the changes we seek. We are all seeking answers that fit our ability to implement them. Thanks for modeling for your readers the careful process of discernment that allows the seeker to grow in knowledge and wisdom. Keep on telling your story!!

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      thanks Ralph! The world is brighter and healthier thanks to efforts like yours. 

  • http://tdhurst.com/ tdhurst

    Good work. I was recently diagnosed as wheat/dairy sensitive after noticing how my sinus or ear infections always seemed to pop up after eating a bunch of wheat and dairy.

    Not to mention that my lungs were ALWAYS constricted because of the inflammation. While I haven’t quite had the struggle you’ve gone through, the difference is amazing.

    Really, really tough to give up pizza and pretzels, however. I also cringe whenever I go out to eat, as I’m always the difficult one when ordering.

    Happy that you’ve found something that helps!

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      good on you brother. giving up wheat sucks, but stick with it for a month (hardcore). Then allow yourself to cheat once, and you’ll probably feel like such crap that it then becomes easier to avoid it. Cause who wants to feel like crap? 

      It also helps to learn how to make a few gluten free treats. Coconut macaroons are one of my favorites, so are cookies made with almond meal, nuts, and fruit. 

      • http://tdhurst.com/ tdhurst

        One month? No way, my doc challenged me to go six months without diary or gluten, then re-introduce stuff to see what I can handle.

        I find myself roaming the aisles of Whole Foods for snacks (real food for meals is easy to find) a lot now. While my food budget has gone up, the lost productivity and doctor bills have gone down, so I’m happy.

        Good luck!

  • LunarEuphoria

    Consistent daily practice of yoga works wonders for my mental and physical health.

  • Reyan Loeffler

    Really a great post, complete guidlines for those people who are much carefull for their health. Surely like to recommend it to others.