Okay, y'all- it's been about 2 months since I started juicing celery, and I'm really happy to report that whether it's the nutritional content, or something miraculously not understood about celery by the scientific community, it has to be more than just a craze... I've tried so many restorative therapies (between nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, and alternative treatments- I couldn't even provide a number) over my 10 years of battling chronic illness, and very few of them have made the list as "must keep for regular use." In fact, most times I've found more just as much benefit from avoidance of certain things like wheat and other food and environment triggers as I did from nutritional supplements.
So back to the celery juice. . . I'm shocked to report that it actually has had a dramatic effect on my health (I've also been slowly headed more plant-based with my diet as well, but that's for another post and is a loooooonnng process). I've seen a decrease in a lot of chronic symptoms and have been experiencing some pretty crazy cleansing. Here's a breakdown of the timeline of the major things I experienced (because truthfully, there's too much to re-cap all of it truly) over 8 weeks:
Week 1: I didn't enjoy the taste of celery juice at all, and started with 8 ounces first thing in the morning (give or take). I didn't feel much of anything the first few days. I believe it was around day 4 I noticed a big change in digestion (less bloating) and a change in bathroom habits. I've often struggled with symptoms of gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying, which is common in POTS patients), and noticed that it seemed like my digestion was starting to move along consistently the way it should. On day 5 it was like a switch flipped, and I needed a two day break because I was spending way too much time in the bathroom, and felt like I was struggling with a stomach bug (nausea, upset stomach, etc.) which was more than likely just a cleansing symptom.
Week 2: By the beginning of this week, I actually did enjoy the taste of celery juice. Once some of the negative cleansing symptoms calmed down, I was able to restart and decided to up my intake to around 16 ounces first thing in the morning. By mid-way through the week I was dealing with some of the same cleansing symptoms (which weren't fun), but was starting to see even more positive changes... I noticed my neurological symptoms had decreased (neuropathy, low blood pressure, difficulty swallowing for no apparent reason, being cold all the time, etc.) and I had way more energy. When the cleansing symptoms became a bit too abrasive again, I took another break over the weekend.
Week 3: I slowed down my intake of celery juice by a little bit and really started listening to my body... I was consuming somewhere between 8-12 ounces a day. By this point, I saw some major shifts in symptoms: my body temperature had risen much closer to normal (I check in on it periodically because I run low often... usually between 96.9 and 97.8 F) and now was sitting between 98.2-98.8 F (much more normal, yay)! I remember dealing with some more stomach-bug type symptoms... one that took me out for 24 hours... and because it's cold and flu season, I honestly can't tell you if that one was a cleansing symptom or an actual stomach bug.
Week 4: By this point I was feeling really great. I didn't need to take a break between week 3 and week 4, my energy levels were up, I was waking up earlier on my own, and my digestion felt awesome and consistent. My heart-rate monitor had started showing me days where my POTS flares were becoming minimal, and so I checked in on my blood pressure. Usually, my blood pressure would run somewhere between mid80s/mid50s first thing in the morning (too low), but now it was reading around 100/mid60s (much closer to normal). I then realized, although I hadn't recognized it as it was shifting, my mornings weren't as slow as they used to be, and I was feeling much better when I first stood up in the morning. This was a huge win, as mornings have been incredibly rough in my worst seasons of health. Then mid-week, I started having mast cell flares that were sporadic through the beginning of week 5. Although slightly alarming, as I couldn't identify any DEFINITE triggers for these, I had my first episodes free of any kind of neuropathy (which usually is one of my worst symptoms). A lot of the symptoms of these episodes were different- no huge blood pressure drop, not feeling like I could pass out, my arms weren't falling asleep... instead just some of the usual shaking and tremors with gastrointestinal distress. I also was hot and sweaty instead of cold and shivering- things were really changing here for the better.
Week 5: This week brought my last mast cell episode I've experienced to date, but also a flaming red sore throat (comparable to when I had mononucleosis in high school)... that turned into lots of draining and sinus congestion. At first I thought I had just caught a cold... and so I focused on rest and continuing to juice and eat well. I think it was just because of all the mucous, but many times in this week when I tried to eat, I would get nauseous. We were also planning to leave for Florida at the end of this week, so there was a lot to do. We made it to Florida despite being sick, and my sinuses were incredibly grateful for the warm humid air. I ended up being sick the entire time we were in Florida... I also started to feel exhausted, and was napping almost daily. I felt like I was on a cycle of "sleep, eat, repeat." I'm not joking when I say one day I woke up, ate breakfast, went and took a nap, ate lunch, went and laid on the beach and fell asleep again, and then went inside to shower and eat dinner, and watch a movie, before going to bed around 10. On the bright side, despite all the sleeping and eating, I didn't gain a pound, probably because the majority of my diet was coming from fruits and vegetables.
Week 6: We were home from Florida, my "cold" was still hanging on (and no one I had been in contact with had gotten sick), and I was still feeling great physically as far as digestion and neurologic symptoms go. I was still exhausted and wanting to nap frequently. This made me start to ask some hard questions because last year I had been diagnosed with a IgG subclass deficiency (basically low immune antibodies) and borderline IgG deficiency overall. Did my body finally plummet into a true immune deficiency? Is this why I can't rid this "cold"? But then logically, I challenged those thoughts, because over the previous month I had been eating healthier and exercising more than I've been able to for about 2 years. I started to read about possible reactions the body can go through when it's given a large amount of nutrients in a short period of time... one of which could cause the immune system to ramp up and start attacking latent viruses (which would present similar to the actual illness it originally was). I decided to revert back to old eating habits (more animal products, fats, and grains) to see if I could stop the symptoms I was experiencing... between 36-48 hours all of the cold-like symptoms stopped.
Week 7: Feeling empowered that my body was going through healing, I jumped right back into juicing celery and my plant based diet. All of my symptoms returned with a vengeance within 48 hours... that or I actually did get a cold and bring it home, because 3 weeks into all of this mess, Jacob did get cold symptoms for a few days. Unsure which exactly it was, I left myself continue for the remainder of this week, hoping symptoms would die down soon.
Week 8: I still wasn't feeling well, and after feeling so terrible for 3.5 weeks, needed a break. Although there had been lots of naps, there were many nights with less than ideal sleep... that was draining me both mentally and emotionally. By the middle of this week, I reverted back to a normal diet again, and within a few days my symptoms calmed down again. I let this become a two week break for rest, processing, and creating a game plan to continue (hopefully in a less miserable fashion). Over those two weeks, the majority of my chronic symptoms that had gotten so much better, remained so much better. . . this confirmed for me that I was experiencing some type of healing on some level.
So now, two weeks are up, and this week I have slowly restarted juicing celery, and have headed back toward a plant-based diet (which I still can't believe I'm trying... because, well... I L-O-V-E meat). I'm being more intentional about leaving a bit more fat in my diet to slow the cleansing process down, so that it doesn't get unbearable again. Because I was able to control my "cold" symptoms with my diet, I am fairly confident that I was experiencing symptoms from my immune system ramping up and doing it's job (something similar to this actually happened to me for a 3 week season after starting acupuncture, but didn't create as much lasting change). The other thing that helps me feel peace that this has more than likely been healing, is that some people with compromised immune systems often have issues spiking a fever and run a chronically low temperature (which has been my story)... the fact that my temperature has risen to normal and stayed there is incredibly encouraging and positive. This normal body temperature plays a role in getting pathogens (viruses and/or bacteria) under control in the body, because they can't thrive as well at the body's proper temperature. I'm particularly intrigued with the idea that my body is maybe fighting off latent Epstein-barr virus, because of having mono multiple times in the past (which is uncommon), and the way my symptoms presented during the cleansing/detox.
I'm already starting to feel an increase of activity in my sinuses from restarting the juicing and plant-based diet (but that's okay, mucous is one way the body protects itself when it's removing something that shouldn't be there. Considering I have chronic sinusitis, I believe my body is fighting off whatever has given me that chronic infection and removing it. The unfortunate part is that chronic infections can take quite a while to resolve).
I'm excited to see how all of this goes as I continue juicing and giving up animal products. Although I've been integrated in holistic health for more than 10 years at this point, more than ever before I'm convinced that the body works as a whole: mind, body, and spirit. I learned a few valuable lessons throughout this cleansing process... some were practical: like signs and symptoms of when my body needs lymph or liver support, and how much "down time" to plan on for my body to rest (I had to start viewing naps as "productive time" and not let them shame me for feeling "lazy"). A few other lessons were mental/emotional: I realized I still have some unresolved feelings and experienced the re-surfacing of some repressed memories from past seasons in my life (we're talking adolescent years when I first became ill) that I need to continue to process (and continue to hand over to Jesus). Lastly, some were even spiritual: a new appreciation and understanding of God's handiwork in plants. I don't think I've ever been so thankful for how God has provided us with the nutrients our bodies need in such a simple way. I've become more convicted that in our culture's search of convenience, we've actually overcomplicated something designed for us so simply. Admittedly, this has felt like a very strange journey, one I would usually be far too self-conscious to share... but in many ways, I experienced God leading me toward these lifestyle changes, and needed to lay down my pride, a little bit of my logic, and a lot of my worry about what other people would think to allow myself to try a new approach. Turns out it was worth it.
&& as far as celery is concerned... I think it's a pretty powerful herb.