3 steps for Hacking Sexuality

Getting your sexual self sortedBefore Matthew became disabled by autoimmune disease, we had a lot of really good sex.

In fact, when we first got together, a bunch of our friends broke up because they could tell (we weren’t saying anything, they could just tell) that we were having better sex than they were ever going to have together.

But then Matthew got sick.

Really, really sick.

And what had been a source of strength in our relationship became a real problem.

A real problem in a big monster pile of really-real problems.

It took years. And a devastating amount of vulnerability, maturity and compassion, but we figured out how to put our sexual selves back in the centre of our marriage.

Your Own Personal Sexual Revolution

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The New Astronomy of the Human Gut: Mapping the signature constellations of our microbiome

Constellations

Constellations: inside & outside~

The Autoimmune Protocol is founded on evidence that gut health is the key to reversing systemic inflammation and autoimmune symptoms.

According to recent research, it turns out that particular microbiome ‘signatures’ in the human gut can be linked to specific autoimmune conditions.

Stick with me: this stuff is important. And medically, it’s paradigm-altering.

What follows are selected quotes from a paper that was published in the January 2015 issue of Arthitis & Rheumatology, called Decreased Bacterial Diversity Characterizes the Altered Gut Microbiota in Patients with Psoriatic Arthritis, Resembling Dysbiosis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Dr Jose Scher and 13 other researchers.

This study adds additional scientific research to the mounting anecdotal evidence that Autoimmune Protocol pioneers have been amassing, regarding the connection between gut health and autoimmune. It begins to explore the unique constellations of intestinal bacteria that are associated with different forms of autoimmune disease.

This particular paper focuses on Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) and Psoriasis, two of the interrelated autoimmune conditions that Matthew lives with.

In our ongoing quest to hack Matthew’s health, we constantly seek new information to inform, confirm or disconfirm our observations, hunches & hypotheses. This paper confirms everything we’ve learned through our biohacking to date. It has raised some new research questions for us & could potentially revolutionize standard medical practice for treating autoimmune.

The Findings

In summary:

  • People with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) have less diversity in the population of organisms in their gut than healthy people, and they lack particular types of of bacteria:  specifically, Akkermansia and Ruminococcus.
  • People with psoriasis also have reduced diversity in their intestinal microbiome, and the reduction follows a pattern, with maximum variety in healthy people, reduced flora in people with psoriasis alone, and even further reduced diversity in people who, like Matthew, have psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.

In the words of Dr Scher et al:

“In this study…we have shown, for the first time, that patients with PsA and patients with psoriasis of the skin have decreased diversity in their gut microbiota, mainly due to the lower relative abundance of several taxa.”

Internal constellations~

Internal constellations~

In addition to less diverse intestinal flora, researchers have identified a “common gut microbiota signature in patients with psoriasis and patients with PsA.”

“Our studies constitute a novel and comprehensive approach to investigate the symbiotic relationship between gut microbiota and PsA. We have identified several organisms that are virtually absent from PsA patients (i.e., Akkermansia and Ruminococcus).”

“The gut microbiota profile in patients with psoriasis appears to be intermediate, between that of PsA patients and that of healthy subjects, suggesting that there exists a possible continuum in disappearing intestinal taxa through the natural history of the disease.”

A “key question left unanswered by our study is whether patients with current psoriasis of the skin alone will lose certain potentially protective taxa, such as Akkermansia and Ruminococcus, at the time of, or prior to, transition into PsA. This is crucial because, although it is established that 25-30% of patients with psoriasis will develop arthritis over time, there is currently no possible way to predict progression.”

Similar research has previously focused on the constellations of gut flora in people with rheumatoid arthritis. A comparable lack of diversity was found, but with a different signature. “We have previously utilized this same approach to examine the intestinal microbiome in treatment-naive patients with new-onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and found that expansion of Prevotella copri was associated with enhanced susceptibility  to as yet untreated human RA. This is contrast with our present findings in PsA patients and suggests that there is a distinctive pattern associated with each condition.”

Potential Treatment & Further Study

“These investigations may ultimately lead to novel diagnostic tests and interventions, in the form of probiotics, prebiotics, specific microbiome-derived metabolites or molecular targets, and even bacterial transplant techniques.”

“The role of the gut microbiome in the continuum of psoriasis-PsA parthenogenesis and the associated immune response merits further study.”

We agree~!

What if replacing the missing Akkermansia and Ruminococcus could assist in reversing Psoriatic Arthritis? This would likely not be as simple as repopulating the gut with these bacteria. Favorable gut conditions would probably need to be cultivated to allow these extinct organisms to thrive. And re-population might need to be done through ‘bacterial transplant techniques’ including, perhaps, fecal transplants.

We think these findings could revolutionize medical treatment for autoimmune arthritis (and autoimmune conditions generally).

Find the full Decreased Bacterial Diversity Characterizes the Altered Gut Microbiota in Patients with Psoriatic Arthritis paper here.

 

Raspberry~Rosehip Gummies (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

Raspberry~Rosehip Gummies_2

Your ancestors were gatherers.

And hunters. And scavengers.

Mine were, too.

Rosehips_3Rosehips

I’ve been communing with my gatherer ancestors lately. By filling my pockets with rosehips, processing them & making these gummies.

I’ve come to appreciate the worth of a sharp knife. When you’re a gatherer~hunter~scavenger a sharp knife is a prized possession.

Admittedly, processing rosehips is time consuming.

But it’s the kind of activity that humans have engaged in from the beginning of time, so it can also be profoundly relational. In an ancient-generational way.

I knew rosehips were supposed to be a fabulous source of vitamin C, but it turns they are also being seriously investigated by researchers as a remedy for symptoms of Rheumatoid and Osteo arthritis.

Rosehips_7So mixing rosehips with grass-fed Gelatin might just be a recipe for superfood for an arthritic guy like Matthew. He has Psoriatic Arthritis, but anything that works for Osteo & Rheumatoid might be efficacious for the Psoriatics, too.

Use the hips from wild dog roses or any other unsprayed roses that create robust hips. Select the firm ones for maximum hipness.

Grass-fed Gelatin

It’s been a month since Matthew has been including Gelatin in his diet on an almost-daily basis & his fingernails are starting to look almost human.

Without oversharing ghastly details about the werewolf tendencies of his Psoriatic fingernails & toenails, including their tendency to disintegrate, exposing the nail beds & the nerve endings that lie there, let’s just agree that having almost normal nails is a beautiful, wonderful thing.

The gatherer~hunter~scavenger ancestors prescribe Raspberry~Rosehip Gummies. Daily. At least they do over here. Ask them yourself & see.

Looking for grass-fed gelatin? You can find Great Lakes gelatin on amazon. But if you’re in Canada, the shipping is prohibitively expensive. Health Essentials mail-orders anywhere in Canada. And is it really grass-fed? Detox-Mama sleuthed that out.

Raspberry~Rosehip Gummies (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

  • Print
 from petra8paleoRaspberry~Rosehip Gummies

  • ½ to 1 cup de-seeded Rosehips (how-to below)
  • 1 thumb fresh ginger
  • 3+ cups water
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen Cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen Raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons Gelatin

Peel & chop ginger. In a saucepan, simmer the ginger & 3 cups of water gently while you process the rosehips.

Rosehips_5Rosehips: Trim the flower & stem ends with a sharp knife & cut each hip in half. Discard any that have brown flesh. Using your thumbnail or a sharp knife,or probably a combination of the two, remove the seeds & fuzz & trim any brown bits. Persist until you have ½ to 1 cup of de-seeded rosehips.

Strain the ginger from the tea with a seive. Top up the ginger tea with additional water if need be until it measures 1½ cups.

Pour ½ cup of the ginger tea into a medium-sized mixing bowl, to cool.

Return ½ cup of the ginger tea to the saucepan with the de-seeded rosehips & simmer gently until the tea is evaporated & the rosehips are softened. Add the raspberries, cranberries, cinnamon & the final ½ cup of the ginger tea. Heat through.

Next, add the lime juice to the ginger tea waiting in the bowl & sprinkle the gelatin on top. Stir it up, pressing out any lumps of Gelatin with the back of the spoon.

Then, whirl the hot berry mixture in a food processor and add it to the gelatin. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon into silicon molds or line a biking dish with parchment paper & pour the mixture in.

If using silcon molds, freeze for 2 or more hours until the perfectly-shaped gummies can be popped out.

If using parchment and a baking dish, refrigerate until set & cut with scissors into bite-sized pieces.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Have some daily.

Rosehips_4

 

 

Loving someone with a chronic illness

When Matthew’s health first got really bad I went to the internet to try to find out how people cope when their lives are devastated by chronic illness.

I found online support groups for younger people living with arthritis and by reading those posts I came to understand more about what it was like to live with a painful, potentially degenerative disease.

I also learned that there were people who were much worse off than my man, people who had lost most of their mobility and could no longer care for themselves in even basic ways. People who were younger than him.

Truly, you never think it’s going to happen to you, or to someone you love.

One thing I noticed in those posts was that there seemed to be only 2 categories for people’s partners. They were:

  1. Saints who did everything that needed to be done and never once complained; or
  2. Jerks who left.

Even then I knew I wasn’t either of those things.

Anyone can pull off a short-term sainthood. 

When your partner gets pneumonia or breaks a leg or completes a successful cancer treatment.

But when your partner is more or less debilitated for years and you are left doing everything? Every single trip to the grocery store. Every time the bills need to be paid. The lightbulbs need changing. The kids need clean socks. Or are hungry. Including when you’re sick. And have had the crappiest workday in all of creation.

The reality is that until we figured out (slowly, by trial & error & radical upheaval) how to live, I felt mostly harassed and cheated, and I’m pretty sure it showed.

So I know for a fact that on the continuum between the saints and jerks are the harassed. And those that are feeling sorry for themselves.

And the desperately worried.

And the devastated.

Jerks

Over the past 5 years, I’ve thought a lot about what chronic illness does to relationships.

I’m now very aware that debilitating illnesses happen in real-life, including in real-life marriages. Loving marriages, cheating marriages, bored marriages, passionate marriages, miserable marriages and variable marriages.

Matthew and I happened to have the intensely loving & passionate variety, and I can tell you that if it can almost destroy ours then I don’t know how the other kinds survive at all.

SaintsSimone_Martini_-_St_Catherine_and_St_Lucy_-1320 25

Of course, it’s not just the partner who is required to be saintly.

The person with the chronic illness is expected to find ways to ‘manage’ their condition, and the expectation is that they will do it with a minimum of fuss and a great deal of quiet courage.

Not only are people supposed to manage their illness in an unobtrusively heroic way, everyone gets bored of hearing about their pain.

If not bored then uncomfortable.

Or skeptical.

Ultimately, no one particularly wants to hear about it.

(But you can be sure they will suggest a random remedy that will solve the problem: Marijuana! Lasers! Castor oil!)

Real-lifePetra & Matthew

So. Two ordinary people in a real-life marriage. Under tremendous stress. For years. Maybe forever. One of them in constant pain. Both required to begin their non-optional non-stop intensive training for sainthood.

If the relationship is going to survive.

Both will fail their sainthood exams on a regular basis.

While other people alternately forget, or expect that they will carry on as usual.

That’s the deal.

Maybe this is the post I hoped I’d find when I first started to try to figure out how to cope.