Case Study #1 - Lupus

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This is the first in a series of case study reports that share the experiences my clients have had while working with me. These case studies are designed to give you a little perspective on the types of people I see and what outcomes they experience. Each case study in this series will start with a description of the person’s condition and any relevant details they brought with them to their Health Assessment call. Next is a summary of key items on their Healing Strategy that brought them the most relief – and how long it took to get that relief. Each case study closes with a summary of the outcome and how their lifestyle updates have worked to continue their healthy, energetic life.

I’ve changed any personally identifiable information to protect my clients’ privacy and security.

Amy is a 40-something mom who was diagnosed by a physician 5 years ago with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. She was taking methotrexate on a continuous basis to address skin lesions, headaches, and joint & muscle pain. Since starting methotrexate, she experienced noticeable flares about six times per year. During a flare, she experienced increased joint pain, facial rash, and increased fatigue. For flares, she took prednisone to lessen her symptoms. Her symptoms were well controlled with the methotrexate, except during flares, which lasted a week or two. Amy felt that she was doing well with her treatment strategy and wasn’t concerned with her situation.

However, things changed for her at her last OB/GYN appointment. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which her doctors indicated was possibly a side effect of her lupus medication. Listening to the two doctors, she felt she had two options – 1. To stop her lupus medications and treat the cancer, which would leave her with unmanageable symptoms 2. To continue lupus treatments to control her symptoms, and know that she could be causing complications with her cancer She came to me looking for another option that would help her reduce the impacts of these two diseases and possibly find a new path for treatment that had fewer negative side effects.

During Amy’s Health Assessment call, we discussed her health history and lifestyle. She indicated that her lupus came on after her pregnancy and that she’s a busy mom of two young kids. Her life revolves around their activities, and the thought of missing out on their growing years was heartbreaking. Her symptoms have been pretty well controlled with medication, but the new cancer diagnosis has her at a crossroads. Amy and her family were eating a standard American diet, which included eating out a lot and eating packaged foods, simply because of time constraints. Amy also works full time, so she doesn’t have a lot of time for her self-care or exercise. Usually her flares occurred in conjunction with her menstrual periods, which have been irregular ever since she weaned her youngest 8 years ago. Amy also indicated that she is struggling with fatigue and drinks a lot of coffee and soda to boost her energy throughout the day. She is getting an average of 6 hours of sleep a night, and feels very groggy and tired when she wakes up.

I suggested first that Amy begin using her Health Tracking Log to keep records of her activity – her diet, exercise, symptom severity, and sleep. This will help us identify any patterns that might be causing flares or more fatigue. I also suggested that Amy begin to add a few minutes of walking each day. Just to take 5-10 minutes at lunch time to walk around her office, or go outside (better!). During this walk, I encouraged her to do a mental scan of her body and mood and see if there was something that felt like it needed attention. I also encouraged her to try a gluten and dairy free diet. This was difficult for her, as her family enjoys those foods a lot, and it’s very difficult to accommodate that when dining out. I gave her some options for how she can work her diet in with the rest of her family, and she agreed to give it a try.

After a more thorough review of Amy’s lab tests and the details we discussed in the Health Assessment call, I identified a number of nutrient deficiencies and symptoms of a leaky gut. I compiled a list of foods that are rich in her missing nutrients as well as some supplements that would help her rebuild her nutrient stores. I made an herbal tea designed to help her heal the leaky gut, reducing the systemic inflammation that was leading to flares. Since caffeine can interfere with methotrexate, I also suggested that she work to reduce the caffeine and perhaps be able to reduce her dosage. Because Amy was struggling with fear and anxiety about her diagnoses and the changes I recommended for her, I told her about some flower essences that would help her soothe the fear and calm the anxiety. Adding a few drops of the flower essence to her water throughout the day helped Amy stay calm and be better able to respond to her cravings with better food choices.

As a result of Amy’s tracking log, we discovered that she was not properly digesting her food, which meant that a lot of the nutrients she was eating were not being absorbed properly. A few adjustments to her meal timing, using the herbal tea for leaky gut, and choosing to eat whole foods rather than processed foods helped to resolve this, so that her diet was more nourishing.

I encouraged Amy to continue to work with her physician to monitor her medication dosages as she worked through these new changes. At this time, Amy was not working to treat her cervical cancer, and wanted to wean off the methotrexate before starting her cancer treatment.

Within three weeks on her new diet plan, Amy saw a marked reduction in her pain and bloating (a symptom she did not realize was happening). She was expecting a flare in week 3 to correspond with menses, but it did not happen. In six weeks, Amy was sleeping more and felt less fatigued during the day. She was no longer dependent on caffeine to boost her energy levels. At twelve weeks, she met with her physician and was able to reduce her methotrexate dose by half. At six months, she was able to stop the methotrexate altogether. As she was reducing her medication, she started her cancer treatment and by the end of her treatment, the cancer was resolved completely.

Amy continues her new diet and has added more exercise and self care to her schedule. She has enjoyed teaching her kids how to cook and eat in a more healthy way. She is able to confidently live her life, knowing how to eat to nourish her body. Her symptoms are reduced to the point where she no longer requires any medication.

Does this case sound like you? Do you see some similarities to what is happening in your life? I’d love to talk with you and see what we might be able to do to improve your health and find your way back to doing the things that are more important to you. Send me a note and let me know what’s going on for you, and we’ll take it from there.

This case study is intended to demonstrate the types of recommendations I make when working with a client and show the potential results. Every case is different, and results are not guaranteed. While these case studies are helpful and educational, they’re not medical advice and not a substitute for the guidance of a licensed medical professional.