The Avalanche Effect
Although, we are often presented with a major illness, apparently of limited duration, close scrutiny of the medical histories of many patients reveals an evolution of symptoms over several years. Patients often discount or fail to notice and report long-term, chronic or recurrent symptoms. They are encouraged to report only major events and are discouraged from linking their symptoms together as a complex that evolves gradually over time. Many years may be spent in an adapted dysfunctional state (ADS) with stable symptoms or smooth adaptation to a slowly decreasing level of function and/or a slowly increasing disability. Symptoms of a mild ADS are often intermittent and ambiguous. Slowly, the risk of a major shift in your health status accumulates like snow building up on a slope. When you go too far out of range, you can expect a sudden, dramatic collapse-the avalanche-but you never know when it will occur. A new factor such as move to a new home, a change in eating habits, a viral infection, an injury, childbirth, or a drug reaction may precipitate sudden decompensation with collapse into a more disabling illness.
Often people in a stable ADS will report that they are healthy. Many ADS people may totter on the brink of collapse for months to years. Their suffering is associated with denial of increasing dysfunction. Physicians, operating conscientiously in the medical model, permit and even encourage this sort of self-deception. When the Doctor reassures an ADS patient, who presents with symptoms too early, that everything is OK because the tests are normal, the patient is encouraged to continue working on the illness until it is a fully-expressed, finished product.
Sudden or Slow Onset?
For example, a 34 year old woman presented with an illness of 10 months duration. A consultant's medical history stated that she was well until 10 months previously when she developed a flu-like illness with lymph node swelling, fatigue, aching, and sore throat. When she did not recover as expected, extensive investigations for infections and other problems were inconclusive. Her 10-month debilitating illness featured chronic nose congestion, sore throat, generalized aching, stiffness, digestive problems, and fatigue. She had quit work 4 months ago and spent most of her days in bed. The medical reports went on to describe many test results that were not helpful in making the diagnosis, nor in directing treatment. The impression of the illness, on casual review was that it was a new event, but on closer examination of her history, a different story emerged. She revealed that she had chronic "sinus problems" for 15 years (nose congestion, mucus in her throat, cheek and forehead pain from sinus congestion). Muscle pains, tension and stiffness had been occurring for over 10 years but were limited to her shoulders and upper back. She treated this discomfort with exercise, massage, and aspirin, keeping it under control. As a child she had episodes of mysterious illness with fevers, middle ear infections, nose congestion, and eczema.
She described increasing work "stress" for a year prior to her collapse. The "stress" translated into a series of relevant behavioral and diet changes-she worked longer hours, she stopped exercise classes, increased her cigarette consumption from 10 to over 20 per day and increased her coffee consumption from 2-3 to 8-10 cups per day. She took more aspirin for headaches and muscle pain and ate more fast foods, muffins, crackers, cheese, and yogurt; 70% of her daily calories were supplied by milk products, wheat, and eggs, and the 10% vegetable fraction was mostly potato.
What really happened was not a sudden new illness in an otherwise healthy, professional woman, but an avalanche effect from a cascading series of negative events over many months to years. Her history suggested that she had delayed pattern food allergy since childhood in a mild and intermittent form. She existed in an adaptive dysfunctional state and perceived herself to be "well" even during the hectic year that shifted her food intake, smoking, and other habits into a maladaptive range. If we amplify the details of her childhood history, we would reveal more convincing evidence that she had chronic symptoms from food allergy, perhaps beginning in early infancy. A similar illness is often seen in children.
Another example: a 9 year old girl presented with an illness, apparently of 4 months duration which left her bed-ridden and unable to attend school for 3 months. She had nose congestion, sore throats, lymph node swelling, coughs, muscle aching, and extreme fatigue. She felt tearful, despondent, and could not concentrate on her school assignments nor remember what she had learned the day before. She had been carefully studied with many tests, and her mother had been told that the cause was " a virus; there is nothing to do but wait".
Her mother described an unusual eating pattern; she craved milk and yogurt and consumed these foods with toast, often with the exclusion of all other foods, especially on her worst days. On review of her history, she had symptoms since infancy and her mother knew that she was allergic to milk during the first year when she had relentless colic, bloating, continuous colds, and severe diaper rash while on a milk formula, and complete remission of symptoms after cow's milk had been replaced with a soya formula. Her symptoms seemed to clear after 2 years and her physician advised resuming dairy intake, telling mother that "infants outgrow their milk allergy". The child went on to display chronic respiratory symptoms, and had odd "mysterious" illnesses with fevers, aching, headaches, and occasional abdominal pains for the past 5 years. Although none of the prior illnesses were as severe as her present illness, the pattern was well established before the avalanche effect occurred. The wrong conclusion that "children outgrow their food allergy" has been perpetuated by pediatricians who do not notice how the food allergy pattern shifts and evolves over time and who do not study the slow, logical progression of food allergy over decades.
The 9 year old girl and the 34 year old woman are proceeding down the path of a disease-making process that continues until the problems in their food supply are corrected. The symptom expressions are the result of many factors combining at any given time. Both these examples have food allergy or "milk-wheat disease", one of the most prevalent forms of food allergy. Both improve dramatically with complete diet revision. Both do better if they continue to live without milk or wheat in their diet. The 34 year old woman must stop smoking before she is well again. As she recovers with diet revision, she finds that each cigarette she smokes makes her dopey and sick. The cigarettes alone will inflame her throat, enlarge her lymph nodes, and rob her of mental and physical energy. When she is completely clear, she finds that she can no longer stand the company of smokers.
Per Bak and Kan Chen, writing about catastrophe theory, stated that: "Large interactive systems perpetually organize themselves to a critical state in which a minor event starts a chain reaction that can lead to a catastrophe." They describe their theory of "self-organized criticality" to explain how complex systems (such as a person interacting with his/her environment) may suddenly collapse. Catastrophe may strike because of ordinary events, often repeated; no new, dramatic ingredient is required. An avalanche or earthquake waits to happen, sometimes for long periods, quietly accumulating probability until finally the system shifts or collapses. The concepts of human illness tend to emphasize a less sophisticated concept of "one illness, one cause, one treatment", which supports our bad habits and false-belief that you can fix illness with a drug-everything is otherwise to remain the same .
Chronic Fatigue, Diarrhea, Cognitive Dysfunction
A successful businessman in his late thirties became disabled with a mysterious illness that defied medical diagnosis and treatment. His main problems were chronic fatigue, muscle aching and difficulty concentrating, thinking, and remembering. He had had mild symptoms over many years but got quite ill after a flu-like illness and had to stop working, spending most of his days distressed, resting, and sleeping. He suffered from episodes of abdominal bloating, diarrhea, nose and throat congestion, shortness of breath and water retention with swelling of his hands and feet. He described increasing disability with irritability, outbursts of inappropriate anger and crying, difficulty concentrating and recent memory dropouts. He would be become easily confused or flustered even by minor problems. He also noticed and coordination and balance problems and stopped driving. He had had many medical investigations and had been treated with many medications to no avail. His first clue to the nature of his illness was stopping the intake of dairy products with reduction of bloating, abdominal tenderness, and diarrhea.
He eventually came under my care; the diagnosis was delayed pattern food allergy. Initial treatment involved replacing food with an elemental nutrient formula (ENFood) which brought his major symptoms under control within 10 days. His next task was to slowly reintroduce food in a predetermined order to decide which foods he could tolerate. He discovered that he had exaggerated, hypersensitive responses to many foods and did not tolerate exposure to a variety of chemicals in the air, especially cigarette smoke, perfumes, and petroleum products. His recovery with careful diet revision has been gratifying but he has found that the he remains hypersensitive after two years with disturbing relapses after eating wrong foods.
Chronic Fatigue, Panic, Diarrhea
This 26 year old man reported over 15 years of symptoms. At 10 years of age he developed severe fatigue and panic attacks. He spent his teenage years coping with emotional lability, fatigue, and episodes of diarrhea along with hay fever, migraine headaches and chronic nose congestion. At seventeen, he developed infectious mononucleosis with fever, sore throats, lymph node swelling, and increased fatigue. His chronic symptoms worsened after this illness. His panic attacks were more frequent and severe; he made repeated trips to hospital emergency rooms over the next several years with alarming symptoms and was treated with several medications with only modest relief. At 24 he was disabled by chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression and was unable to work. He responded well to clearing on ENFood and Phase 1 foods but found that he was hypersensitive to most foods and had difficulty with cravings and compulsive eating. Over several months on ENFood and Phase 1 vegetables, but not rice, he recovered, stabilized, and resumed normal activities. On a stable safe diet with ENFood, he was free of anxiety and panic attacks.
Fatigue, Diarrhea, Pain, Mental Fogginess
A 28 year old professional stated that he caught a virus a year and a half ago, with only partial recovery, and recurrence within the past year - "...I totally ran out of gas...". While growing more tired and weak, he experienced increasing epigastric pain and generalized aching with daily indigestion, burping, and heartburn. Any exertion seemed to aggravate both muscle pain and fatigue. He noted that he felt better when he ate less food. On his worst days, he stopped eating altogether and felt better. He had bouts of diarrhea, passing 3-4 watery bowel movements during the day, often 30-60 minutes after eating. Repeated blood tests and X-rays were not helpful in revealing the cause. Muscle relaxants were prescribed but made him more "dopey". His diet included large amounts of milk, whole-wheat bread, pasta, beef, and packaged foods, especially cereals, soup mixes, and quick dinners; a third of his meals were eaten in restaurants. He admitted that his diet was disorganized and inconsistent. Digestive symptoms cleared promptly on Phase 1 of Alpha Nutrition and he slowly recovered energy and stamina over a 3 month period. He frequently had symptoms when he returned to restaurant food; his most demanding adaptation was to learn to prepare his own meals.
Chronic Fatigue, Aching, Dizziness
A 30 year old woman was "very sick" for over 18 months. She described a progressive illness over 2 years duration which became disabling 18 months previously, forcing her to quit her job. Her illness had been characterized by exhaustion, lymph node swelling, recurrent low grade fevers, muscle aching, stiffness, and episodes of coughing and chest congestion, diagnosed as "pneumonia " but which was not improved with antibiotics. Blood tests had been negative. She recalled earlier, less severe symptoms and had chronic rhinitis most of her life. Her hearing was now impaired with loud ringing in both ears and attacks of dizziness which kept her in bed. Her son had milk allergy in infancy, and subsequently had chronic rhinitis, ear "infections", and was hyperactive with attention deficits. She suffered decreased ability to concentrate, mental fogginess and lapses of memory. Her food intake consisted of bread, pasta, cereals, eggs, milk and dairy products, beef with some fruit and vegetables; 2 cups of coffee and 5 cups of tea per day, with no alcoholic beverages. Diet revision permitted complete recovery, but symptoms recurred promptly if she ate foods containing wheat, milk, or eggs.
Generalized Pain, Chronic Fatigue
A 35-year-old woman presented with muscle and joint pain, abdominal pain, bloating, and chronic fatigue. She had generalized muscular tenderness, particularly over the neck, shoulder, and interscapular muscles. The diagnosis was fibromyalgia. Her diet consisted of milk and whole wheat bread, with daily potato intake and some beef. She often made milkshake meals with milk, bananas, eggs, and engevita yeast. She cleared all symptoms by Day 10 on Alpha ENF. This demonstration of dramatic symptom remission cancels speculation that the illness is "psychosomatic" or caused by "stress". With food re-introduction she found that many foods caused symptom eruptions and she had trouble staying on the precise track of the Alpha Nutrition Program.
Fibromylagia, Fatigue, Migraine
This 26-year-old secretary presented with an illness of over six months duration with a complex of symptoms. She stated that she declined from a high-energy athlete to a painful, tired, despondent state. Her relationship was on the rocks because she was disinterested in going-out, had lost her sex drive, and was generally irritable and easily annoyed. She described a strong "don't touch me" aversion, even to affectionate touching. She had difficulty completing ordinary activities and required extra sleep during the evening and on weekends. On her worst days, she felt too tired to go to work and often stayed in bed with generalized aching and stiffness, sleeping 12-16 hours per day. Her throat was sore, and her neck lymph nodes were enlarged and tender. She had severe, sick headaches at least once a week, lasting all day, often with nausea, occasional vomiting, and intolerance to light.
Medical investigation had been largely negative, including negative allergy skin tests. She was told she had chronic EB virus infection. She was aware of food reactivity and noted that dairy products triggered bloating and a dopey, tired feeling. She had stopped drinking any alcoholic beverages because they made her very ill with immediate flushing, quick intoxication, and a heavy hangover that lasted at least 2 days. She thought she had a good diet with a high intake of whole wheat cereals, muffins, pastas, milk, cheese, and salads; she drank 3 cups of coffee per day and about 12 ounces of white wine per week. She chose to clear on an ENF, reporting dramatic improvement of all symptoms by Day 8, and a sustained remission on Phase 1 and 2 of the Alpha Nutrition Program.
The Food Allergy Complex
Fatigue, sleepiness, mood, and sleep-disturbances are consistent symptoms of the food allergy complex. The clinical correlation of more specific food-allergic symptoms (nose congestion, headache, and abdominal pain) with fatigue and insomnia is so consistent that food allergic symptoms which do not include a disturbance of the arousal system should be considered unusual. Careful observation of family and friends before and after eating and drinking should reveal consistent and rather obvious changes in their arousal, attention, cognitive ability, and emotional expressions. The food allergy sufferer manifests the food-brain connection more obviously and will verbally report or act out some form of arousal disturbance after a meal. Irritability and inappropriate, angry outbursts may be as common as the antisocial withdrawal caused by arousal inhibition in circuits of the brain. For example, some patients report extreme sleepiness 20-60 minutes after eating. If there is no opportunity to sleep after the meal, they continue to function at a compromised level, making more mistakes in their work and having more difficulty with interpersonal relationships. Milk products and grain-related foods seem to be the most consistent sedative-hypnotic foods. All foods high in protein content may have this effect. Coffee and tea will briefly postpone the sedative-hypnotic effects of food, but at a cost to proper brain function. Alcoholic beverages increase the brain-disturbing effects of other foods.
The Alpha Nutrition Program
The Alpha Nutrition Program is designed to improve chronic fatigue and related disorders. The most definitive clearing program is a food holiday, using an elemental nutrient formula (Alpha ENF), composed of nutrients in their pure form with no other food intake. Alpha ENF allows a sick person to return to a baseline of normal functioning, without the intake of numerous adverse substances that may have been present in their food supply.
Aching & Fatigue is a book about non specific illnesses with aching and fatigue as prominent symptoms. Diagnoses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Depression have become popular. Some patients say " I feel sick all over". These are overlapping symptom complexes and are often part of a larger illness complex. Dr. Gislason explains why diet revision as the first and most essential form of therapy. Long term management of food intake and exercise are required to sustain improvements. Drug prescriptions are best avoided.
Aching and Fatigue is intended to be used with the Alpha Nutrition