Have you ever heard of ITP? It stands for Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura. What this basically means is low platelets with an unknown cause, thus causing bruising and bleeding. In an adult, normal platelet counts range from 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter of blood.
I would like to share a personal story with you. Thirteen years ago, I had too much going on in my life, and had been continuously burdened with external stress. I was living in Michigan with my three children and my then husband. We were set to move to California in two weeks, just before Christmas. My husband had already moved to California and I was trying to sell the house, taking care of the kids, finishing up my school, volunteering, saying goodbye to family and lifelong friends. I normally could handle so much, but at this point, everything had become too much.
I was constantly in a state of stress, and I was shaky all the time because of the anxiety. My adrenals were apparently weak and I was no longer able to handle chronic stress. I then started to get sick, just a sore throat and fever, but it wouldn't go away, even with garlic and nutritionals. At that point, I knew very little about herbal medicine so I visited the chiropractor in hopes of increasing my immune system. He adjusted my neck, and within minutes, my throat felt better, however, I couldn't breathe because the virus had almost immediately settled in my lungs. Fear then took over and I immediately visited a western medical doctor. He prescribed Zithromax, also known as a Z-Pak. I never took antibiotics, but I was afraid of the pneumonia outbreak in my community. At that point, I needed to stay healthy, get through the move and make it out to California. So I took the Z-Pak. That was my biggest mistake.
I went to a roller-skating party with my kids that night. I didn't fall once, but the next morning when I awoke, my body was covered with bruises. At that point, I upped my iron, figuring I was anemic. The next morning (after the second dose of the Z-Pak), I woke up with blood blisters in my mouth and a bloody nose that wouldn't clot. At that point, I knew something must be terribly wrong. I went to the hospital, and was in complete shock when I found out that I only had 5,000 platelets and that I could bleed in my brain and actually die. To my surprise, I found out that ITP, which is usually autoimmune related, is a very rare side effect of Zithromax! When a person has ITP, the body’s platelets are attacked and killed, therefore preventing the ability to clot.
The doctors immediately admitted me and began speaking of the need for a blood transfusion. I was tested for leukemia, HIV, and other diseases that could cause low platelets. I remember how my body trembled as I awaited the results. My tests all came back negative, which was such a relief, and I ended up getting away with no blood transfusion. Instead, however, I was given an injection of Prednisone, 60 mg. This was horrible, and for those of you who have ever taken Prednisone, you probably know what I'm talking about. The shakes, night sweats, anxiety, depression and hunger, to name a few.
I stayed in the hospital for a few days. The Prednisone ended up raising my platelets, but every time my dose was lowered, my platelets would decrease proportionately. The hematologist came to see me when my platelets had reached a stable level of 20,000 and I was able to check out. He basically gave me two choices. I could either be on Prednisone for the rest of my life, or I could have a splenectomy and would be on antibiotics for the rest of my life. Those were my choices. I was so afraid, yet even through the fear, I told him no to the splenectomy and no to the lifelong use of Prednisone.
At that point, I realized that my body wasn't in balance. I began taking Chinese herbs (Get Well Natural's Blood Well and Restore Immune 2), high-dose curcuminoids (from turmeric), high dose vitamin C, glyconutrient supplement (Ambrotose), trace minerals, B vitamins, vitamin D, heavy antioxidants, sesame seed oil and flax oil. My goal was to balance my body and to decrease inflammation through natural anti-inflammatory herbs. I even received IV injections of glutathione and vitamins/minerals. I ate primarily raw vegetables, smoothies and cooked vegetable soups. Remarkably, after one week, my platelets were at 100,000, which gave me great hope and made me realize that our bodies are remarkably able to heal when given the right tools.
The hematologist was shocked, and I think I actually made a believer out of him that there were indeed other options! I was excited and hopeful, yet knew I needed my platelets to increase even more so I started another liquid Chinese herbal blend from a remarkable acupuncturist in New Mexico by the name of Dr. Zaoh. After a week on this new regimen, my platelets were at 275,000, which is where they have remained ever since.
The most difficult part of the disease wasn’t really the disease itself. It was the recovery from the Prednisone. My adrenals were exhausted from the Prednisone and from the stress and I started having major symptoms, worse than before the disease. I suffered from intense panic attacks, I was too exhausted to walk up the stairs much of the time, I couldn't sleep at night, I seemed to cry all the time, and my immune system was horrible. I came down with pneumonia right after I established a normal platelet level. At that point, I knew that I must work hard to get my body back into balance, otherwise I would be prone to multiple autoimmune reactions in the future.
In order to establish balance, I started taking ashwagandha, rhodiola, cordyceps, ginger and schizandra, along with my other lengthy list of supplements. I began to feel better immediately. I could finally sleep at night, the panic attacks went away, I was happy, my energy level soared and I recovered from the pneumonia!
I make an effort even to this day to use herbs in order to keep my adrenal glands balanced. I have an A-type personality, and knowing the negative effects of stress on the body leads me to focus on keeping my body in balance. These adaptogenic herbs help me maintain this balance even through the rough patches of life, such as motherhood, business ownership, relationships, and the constant pressures of modern life. I actually feel that these herbs have saved my life!
I would love to help anyone struggling with ITP or other autoimmune disease. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.