I’m struggling to get through The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat all Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles (if you purchase the book through the Amazon links in this post, a portion of the proceeds will go to the QVF). It’s an excellent book that I highly recommend, and I will undoubtedly be writing posts about it in the near future with multiple reasons why you should purchase and read it yourself.
But I’m struggling to read it because it scares me.
The Wahls Protocol frightens me because of how similar multiple sclerosis (MS) is to fluoroquinolone toxicity. Dr. Wahls goes over how mitochondrial damage is linked to autoimmune diseases, especially MS. Fluoroquinolones profoundly damage mitochondria. Fluoroquinolone toxicity looks and feels a whole lot like multiple autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and MS. Some people have proposed that fluoroquinolone toxicity is its own autoimmune disease, just the auto-antibodies have not yet been identified and thus it is not treated as an independent autoimmune disease. In some people, fluoroquinolones have triggered a recognized autoimmune disease, as you can read about in Michelle’s Story of fluoroquinolone induced lupus, and I have another friend with fluoroquinolone induced MS.
There is nothing more frightening to me than an autoimmune disease. Having my body attack itself sounds absolutely horrible. I hate the thought. I turn off, get nauseous, and resist every time I hear the suggestion that fluoroquinolone toxicity is an autoimmune disease.
MS causes brain lesions, weakness and paralysis, and typically requires drug treatments that are almost as horrible as the disease itself. MS is terrifying. I HATE the thought that fluoroquinolone toxicity might be unrecognized MS with different antibodies.
I tell myself, “I don’t have MS, I got poisoned. I know my poison – Cipro. It kicked me but I got back up. My body isn’t attacking itself for no reason. I got poisoned.” It makes me feel a little bit better.
But there’s a big part of me that believes that the root of all autoimmune diseases is cellular (especially mitochondrial) poisoning. I suspect that everyone with MS got poisoned by mitochondria damaging chemicals, their poisoning was just less sudden and obvious than mine was. (Read “Digging Deeper Into Mitochondrial Dysfunction” for more information on this line of thinking. Also note that mitochondria are damaged by multiple pharmaceutical and environmental toxins, that damage to mitochondria is cumulative, and that a tolerance threshold for mitochondrial damage must be crossed before a disease state sets in.)
Even though The Wahls Protocol is a hopeful book, with lots of lifestyle change suggestions that have reversed the course of autoimmune diseases in many people, and the diet and suggestions that Dr. Wahls makes will almost certainly help floxies (including me), I’m still struggling with it. It’s really difficult for me to face the notion that my reaction to Cipro may have been an autoimmune reaction. I don’t like that thought at all.
I realize that it may seem otherwise, but I really don’t like being able to connect fluoroquinolone toxicity to autoimmune or neurodegenerative diseases. Unfortunately, mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress are hallmarks of both.
As I read The Wahls Protocol, I wonder if I got hit with fluoroquinolone toxicity because I have a genetic predisposition toward malfunctioning cells. Maybe my cells don’t detoxify xenobiotics as well as the cells of other people. Perhaps the mechanisms that protect my mitochondria aren’t as robust as they need to be to survive in this environment, and my cells are likely to react in a way that involves making me sick when I am exposed to pharmaceutical and environmental poisons in the future.
I hate that thought. It makes me feel weak and as if there is something wrong with me.
I tell people all the time, “You’re sick, you’re not broken, and you’ll get better.” I mean it. I believe it’s true.
I got better. I recovered from fluoroquinolone toxicity. But I wonder if my cells are a bit broken, or at least breakable.
I don’t like acknowledging my weaknesses any more than anyone else. I hate it.
But in acknowledging that I am susceptible to getting poisoned, maybe I can gain power. Maybe that knowledge can save me hardship and suffering down the road. Maybe that knowledge can help me to avoid mitochondrial poisons in the future.
Guidelines and methods for how to both avoid future damage and how to put my cells back together are available in The Wahls Protocol. If I can calm my nerves enough to get through it, I’m sure I’ll gain a lot from the book.
Renee recovered from fluoroquinolone toxicity through using the methods described in The Wahls Protocol. Dr. Wahls’ TED talk (below) about her journey through MS and recovery is both beautiful and inspirational. There is a road to recovery from autoimmune diseases. Maybe I shouldn’t feel so scared of them.