A little backstory:
We started the three week detox diet on September 1st, 2017 (see earlier blog below) and then we segued directly to the Maintenance Diet for Life! While we have had some “holidays”, especially when we were traveling in Berlin, we have been pretty good about staying with the basic principles of the diet. With the important things, we have been diligent.
Monday, Nov 21, 2017 (Day 1)
I will begin by saying that, while I am eager for this work to be done -- the metals in Bernhard’s mouth being replaced by ceramic, and my liver detox (which is next week), I was not particularly excited about coming back to Switzerland. It is kind of a strange place. Plus it’s cold and there is snow on the ground.
But, with a positive attitude, we have arrived and I am looking for the good aspects of our stay here. The Hotel Santis has been lovely so far. The room is small but clean and the bed is quite comfortable. No one could deny that the view is beautiful -- we have a full bank of windows overlooking the Swiss countryside with an unobstructed view of Mt. Santis, the tallest mountain in the area. And there is snow on the ground. It’s quite a wintery wonderland.
But back to why we are here. Yesterday we started the day with dentistry (first three gold fillings removed) and then headed over to see Dr. Lieberherr to get the lowdown on all the test results from our last visit here in Mid-October. While the conversation was entirely in German, I understood most of it. He has seriously high levels of mercury (aka quicksilver) in his body - most likely from the metals but also could be from a broken thermometer experience and possibly some broken light bulbs as well (lighting design being his business).
He got a list of supplements from the doctor which will mostly address Omega 3 and Omega 6 deficiencies, some probiotics, flax oil, and some other herbs that strengthen the nerve pathways. Then she gave him several injections in his belly, the scar on his left arm, behind both ears and in his throat at the site of his tonsil removal. He had probably 25-30 injections without batting an eye. Then he went for some lab work and I believe we just hung out in a lounge after that to catch up on mail and personal business. His mouth was still numb so he skipped lunch and I went down briefly to refuel.
Our next appointment was with Barbara, the patient coordinator, who gave us a rundown on how things work here -- where the buildings are, the basic flow of the day and encouraged us to ask questions to help us feel comfortable and settled in. She remembered that Emma had been here and was aware that we had been here before (briefly) and we all commented that it was nice to be a little bit familiar with the place as we embark on this journey.
Then some infusions -- vitamin C, I believe, and two detoxifying supplements. It took over an hour and Bernhard seemed to be pretty exhausted by the end of the day. I drove us home to the Santis.
It’s interesting: Bernhard has three dental appointments (day 1, 2 and 3) to remove the gold fillings. And then he will have one on the final day to fill them all again with the new material which will match his teeth. Everything else will revolve around his general health. Dealing with his nerves and his leaky gut issues. Yesterday, Dr. Lieberherr talked about getting some supplemental injections that will help with his progress but we want to talk to Dr. Heurtgen today about them because during our last visit, he mentioned holding off on these until his dental work was further underway. So, we need a little clarification on this.
Tues, Nov 21 (Day 2)
Again, we had a full Rau’s Way breakfast at Hotel Santis and then headed over to the clinic to have dental work first thing. Hopefully the numbness will wear off by lunchtime today. There was some discussion about Bernhard coming back to Paracelsus for a week at the end of December so they can remove the two root canal teeth and one other thing (a crown?), allowing the jaw some time to settle down and recover before he comes back in the spring for more work with the big bridge in the front.
We just had the doctor consultation, both Huertgen and Lieberherr were there. They talked mostly about remediating the very high mercury level and that we need to move slowly on this or it will backfire and make the organs more disabled through re-absorption. Dr. Huertgen also reiterated that the live organ cell injections would be a waste of money at this time -- too much other stuff to fix first. Lieberherr gave Bernhard a new prescription for some drops to aid with the healing in his mouth. We then went to the pharmacy to drop off the entire list; we will pick it up when he has his appointment with the pharmacist last thing today.
Now we are waiting for an Ozone infusion and then there is a break for lunch and then it will be all therapies this afternoon: Magnetic field, manual therapy (which I think means massage), Indiba (local hyperthermia). So, this may be all the “news” today. The wheels are turning!
Wed, Nov 22 (Day 3)
Today was the last morning with the dentist for a while. All easily removable metal is out, gone -- all his fillings and one crown. Removal/replacement of the implants and major bridge will be scheduled later on. On our last day here, the new fillings will be set in, but this is it for now.
Today we had our consultation with the nutritionist to go over the details of the liver detox. Technically we start on Monday, but in reality we start on Saturday with the intensive detox diet, including the apple cider vinegar and the wormwood and dandelion bitters (to help dilate the bile ducts). Basically it isn’t too different from the Rau diet that we have been on, only we are being more diligent to eliminate all dairy (even non-cow dairy) and gluten. I will have to give up coffee again, sadly. Apparently, green tea is okay, so hopefully I won’t get a headache. At least I’m not teaching yoga here.
Bernhard had a few therapies, including PelviPower, which is an electric pulse which strengthens the nerves and muscles in his pelvis (presumably to help with walking?) and a colon cleanse. Also oxygen and detox infusions to start getting rid of the heavy metals. Dr. Lieberherr gave him some injections in his back to increase nerve function there.
It’s a long and tiring day, even though some of the treatments don’t require actual exertion! His body is working hard to help heal itself. Mine, on the other hand, had to get out for a walk; I do a lot of sitting around (reading, studying German, writing and reading mail) while he has his treatments, and I definitely need to move my body more. In the mornings when we first awake, we do a meditation and then I take ten minutes or so to do some yoga, but it isn’t enough. Fortunately, we are eating healthily -- no sugar, no animal protein (or fat), nothing processed (of course) -- mostly just vegetables and non-gluten grains. And *lots* of water.
I got my binder today! I am excited to see that I will get the basic tests that I find so interesting: darkfield microscope, thermography and of course the panoramic dental x-ray. I see I also have a heart rhythm program and a metals test lab. Also, importantly, three consultations during the week with Dr. Huertgen and also with a nutritionist. I am curious to hear what the doctor has to say about my oncocytoma, if there is any way to get rid of it without surgery.
Thursday, Nov 23 (Day 4)
Here is a little more information about the Neural Therapy, the shots that Bernhard is getting from Dr. Lieberherr. It is kind of twofold: First, it helps to reduce his sensitivity to back pain. His back pain is referred pain from other problems that are actually in his internal organ(s); the same nerves run through skin, muscles and organs. His body has been building up toxins over time and now his “cup hath runneth over” and his body is overwhelmed. So, these shots are not just desensitizing the nerves in his back, they are also blocking the current information system between the skin/nerves/organs. Over time and repeated injections, this will change his neural pathways to receive the new and pain-free information.
Remember to look up the German Society for Neural Therapy to see if/where he can continue to get the shots in Munich. Or perhaps Barbara has a list?
Also remember to ask Dr. Lieberherr about the spasms in his legs during the infusions.
Friday, November 24 (Day 5)
A pretty light day, and there were no heat or colonic therapies, so not so bad. He started out with the oxygen infusions, which do make his breathing a bit difficult afterwards. It happened the first time too, but Dr. Kimbels says that this is not uncommon. Also, during the infusions he tends to get increased spasms in his legs - we will ask Kimbels about this later today. He rested for 20 minutes or so after oxygen before we headed to the next treatment, the PelviPower, a 15-minute treatment which contracts the muscles in the pelvic floor. Then we had lunch, and then two more treatments: manual therapy with Lukas(?) which was very good and something called Galileo which is a vibrating platform that he stands on and gives the nerves in his legs a little workout. The last appointment of the day was Dr. Kimbels who explained the spasms and suggested getting a hand-spring or tennis ball to squeeze in the opposite hand from the infusion arm, to balance out the body’s reaction to the infusions. Apparently, if I understand this correctly, when the infusion goes into the right arm, the left side of the body becomes calmer. So, if he can fake out the brain by keeping the opposite side busy...I’m not totally sure how to explain it, although it made sense when he said it. We will try it next week and see if it helps. The spasms are annoying but not painful.
Saturday is the first day of the liver detox. This means we begin a regimen to prepare the body for Thursday’s “purge”.
Upon waking, we drink a cup of warm water. After that we can take our bitters (wormwood root and dandelion root) in a small amount of water. We are to hold it in the mouth before swallowing. Indeed, it is quite bitter - something which I like, but maybe too bitter for most! Fifteen minutes later we have 2 spoonfuls of high quality olive oil with 2 spoonfuls of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Everything that passes our lips is meant to be organic, by the way. And then fifteen minutes later we can have breakfast. The diet today is just slightly more restricted than the normal Paracelsus diet. No coffee (big bummer for me, but the nutritionist said I could have some green tea if I start to get a caffeine withdrawal headache), no gluten, no animal protein and generally not too much food. I think they way they put it was “eat only as much as necessary and as little as possible.”
While we are not supposed to drink during meals, we are to drink at least 2 liters of water and 1 liter of diluted herbal tea every day! And then, for the detox we are to drink 20ml of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water one hour after each meal.
Originally we were planning to drive back to Bregenz to go to the museum there and have a walk around. Or go to Santis mountain and ride the cable car to the top -- it is supposed to be stunning from up there. But alas it is raining and I think it is a not-so-subtle message for us to stay close to home and take it easy today. In addition to the obvious need to be close to a bathroom from all of our water consumption, I think it is a good idea for Bernhard’s body to just rest and absorb everything that has happened this week. Kind of like a Savasana ;-)
Later today we are heading into St. Gallen to go visit Bernhard’s cousin, Katarina, and her family. They spoke last weekend but it has been a while since they last saw one another -- probably at least five years. Typically, coffee and cake will be served, but we will have to pass on the tradition for today. We are thinking that afterwards we will go to a vegan restaurant in St. Gallen called Tibbits, which we have heard good things about.
Here is some information on the theory of the Liver (and Gallbladder) Detoxification Program:
“Many adults in the industrialized world - and particularly those who suffer from chronic diseases, for example coronary heart illness, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer or diabetes - have many to hundreds of gallstones, which clog or even block the gall ducts of the liver. These consist, to the largest part, of clumped gall and choleserine.
The constant increase of auto-immune illnesses, food incompatibilities, allergies, infections tendencies (already at an early age) is predominantly a consequence of wrong nutrition and an overloaded defense system. The liver relieves the immune system by cleaning the blood; it removes both poison materials which result from the body’s own metabolism and those which are introduced by the outside. It expels many toxins into the intestine, eliminates even microorganisms from the blood and produces, beyond that, immune stimulating substances. The liver is the most important filter of our blood, and at the same time our chemical factory.
The presence of clumps of gall (gallstones) in the liver and gallbladder substantially disturbs vital processes like: digestion of food, elimination of waste products and decontamination of harmful substances, which are in the bloodstream…
...With the unblocking of the liver gall ducts, the several billion cells of our body can “breathe” better again and can receive a sufficient quantity of nutrients; they will be better able to expel waste products and be able to maintain perfect communication with the body’s nervous and hormonal systems.”
That being said, this detox is purely oriented on symptoms and does not eliminate the cause of the illness. This must be done by attending to a program of eliminating toxins from entering the body (usually through the pesticides in our food, from metals introduced by dental work and from our environment). After the skin, the digestive tract is the largest organ in our body and so this is a good and effective place to begin.
We ended up not going anywhere yesterday. Bernhard’s cousin and dining out will have to wait until our next visit, I think. Bernhard was tired and had a simmering headache all day, so we decided there is no reason to push it -- he is here to get better, after all!
Today we did take a short walk into Teufen and had lunch at a local restaurant that actually had a vegetarian plate option. It was good to get some fresh air and move a little too. We will have dinner at the Santis (our pension) tonight and then perhaps just watch a little Tatort. Busy days tomorrow for us both.
Monday Nov 27
Today was the third day of the liver detox diet and Bernhard's second week as a patient at the clinic. But it was my first day there as a patient, and since this is meant to be a sort of diary for me to help remember everything, I'm going to write about it.
Of course, the first thing on the agenda was to have the panaramic x-ray of my mouth -- the first step in the diagnosis of every patient who walks through the door. It took about, oh, 45 seconds. Then I went up to meet with Dr. Heurtgen for my initial consultation.
On the original intake form for the liver detox they ask all kinds of questions about your general health which I, as a dutiful form-filler-outer, respnded to. So, now they know about my two hernia repairs (after birthing Nick and again after Emma), my fibroids in 2010 and, yes, about my kidney tumor. It, like most kidney tumors apparently, was found by accident. So, in a way, I was lucky. But of course, no one knows how long it was there or how long it took to grow to 7cm. My doctor in Boston, who I think is just great, has been cautiously keeping an eye on it since 2011. Eventually, he says, it will have to come out. But he doesn't want to take it too soon because kidneys like to bleed. Alot. And, even though we have two kidneys and you can live just fine with one, this type of tumor seems to like kidneys, and if the same thing happens on the other side, well, that usually means dialysis and a life of comprimise. The doctors here, though, will most likely say it can go away without surgery.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. At my appointment with Heurtgen, we talked about my mouth x-ray. He's not a dentist, but it was pretty evident that I have 8 amalgam fillings which, if you don't know, means quicksilver - mercury. So, not good. The subtleties in the jaw, he said, would be the dentist's domain. I would meet with him later. So, we talked a bit about my tumor. I expressed concern about the lab test would be getting an hour later, not only because I didn't want to irritate my "weakened" kidney (even though my kidney functions perfectly well), but because is uses a predominantly a sulfur- based drug to get results. Once about 35 years ago my sister Suzy had a bad allergic reaction to a sulfur drug and our pediatrician said that very possibly I was allergic to it too. It went on my chart, never to leave again. No doctor would want to assume the liability for that, and so it has followed me for lo these many years. So, that particular lab test was postponed and an alternate one was ordered. In the meantime, he gave me a skin test for sulfur to see if I am allergic, and it would seem that I am not. Which is great, because sulfer is in many useful solutions, including mercury detoxification.
Next I went to have my Darkfield microscope appointment with Dr. Kimbels. He poked my finger and took some fresh blood, put it on a microscope at 1000x and had a look. Overall, I have pretty healthy blood. Happy about that.
Then the lab tests. I cannot imagine what they are going to do with half of the blood in my body, but I hope it goes to someone who really needs it. Seriously, though, I think she pulled about 10 or 12 tubes of blood from my arm. She kept the line in though, for my infusion at the end of the day (it was my choice, but seemed to make sense). She also gave me kits and explanations for the stool test, the urine test and the saliva test, along with detailed instructions and in the case of the saliva test, what foods to avoid for 48 hours preceeding the test. I already had avacado this morning, so I know I won't be able to do that test until Wednesday.
Then I met up with Bernhard who was going in to his Galleleo appointment with Shaiji, which was pretty cool. It is a tippy plate that shakes and forces his muscles to work to keep him upright. It worked in a series, and after each episode he had to walk around the room. It was like having sea legs and then walking on shore for the first time in a while.
Then we headed to the culinarium for our detox lunch. I showed them my new list of restricted foods to make sure I was not going to ingest anything forbidden inadvertantly. I had a light lunch though, with no raw food as instructed because right after lunch was my pre-detox colonic. Now, the only other time I had experienced this was in a bucolic hut in the lovely Yoga Barn complex in Ubud, Bali. It was almost dreamy, and about as far from a clinic as you can probably get. But, all things said, this one was okay. I mean, it was a colonic. I asked Ramona, the technician, if she knew when to stop when she saw my luch coming down the pipe. Sweet, young thing that she is, she actually laughed out loud. I wished I could have had some of the homemade kefir from the Yoga Barn kitchen afterwards though. Instead, I drank my 20ml of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water to encourage my liver ducts to dilate in preparation for the upcoming detox.
Next was my meeting with the dentist. He pointed out the obvious - that I have eight amalgam fillings - and said, basically, that anything else going on in my mouth would have to wait until we adressed this. Then we went into a room with a machine that had a metal handle that I held with my right hand, while he pressed and tapped a different metal instrument on my left hand. I believe this was a kind of Chinese-medicine-meets-technology system to assess whether or not I have any underlying infections in my gums or jaw from previous extractions (4 from earlier orthodonture and four wisdom teeth). He did not detect anythng, so I feel good about that; apparently subclinical and undiagnosed infections are much more common than we know and it makes many people chronically ill. There is a very high correlation between root canal and cancer, for example. Something we simply don't address in the US. There is another more in-depth x-ray that I can have later where they can slice up the picture ("like a salami", I believe he said, but there may have been a language thing going on here), to make sure everything is in good order.
After that, and yes I was getting a bit tired at this point, I went up to M3 for an ultrasound with Dr. Vogiatzis. Apparently they didn't want to just take my word for it that I had a tumor. Imagine -- they wanted to see it for themselves, and indeed they did. The doctor said more than twice, "It's quite sizable"! He took pictures and then moved on to do an ultrasound of my thyroid, which is fine. He said he imagined that my doctor (Heurtgen) would be prescribing some heat treatments for me. Tumors hate heat -- it's like vampires and garlic.
After that I went for a ten-minute heart-monitor heart rhythmogramtest. The results will be sent to Heurtgen, who I will see again tomorrow afternoon.
I ended the day with an infusion that was a saline solution with added vitamins and minerals. It took about 75 minutes for all of it to be absorbed. This would have been a different solution, had I not mentioned the sulfur allergy but, now that I am negative to the skin test, I imagine I will get something different next time.
I can't believe that I am actually describing all of this in a mostly-public forum. But, at the end of the day, we all live in our very human bodies and really there should be nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe my story will even help someone else get non-traditional help that could save their life? I am sure there are some wing-nuts who take pictures of their detox gall stones and post them on Facebook; I promise that you will not see pictures.
My first appointment this morning was at 8am. We got back to the Santis after 6pm. I am supposed to arrive "well rested" tomorrow for the Thermograpy test. I imagine I will sleep well tonight.
Tuesday Nov 29
Due to the nature of today’s first test, I had to choose my clothing carefully: no synthetic fibers, something loose-fitting and that buttons down the front, no bra. What’s more, I was instructed not to shower, wash my face or even brush my teeth. No face, body lotions, deodorant either. I was to have a very light breakfast -- 3 spoonfuls of porridge (today it was millet) with just a bit of cooked fruit. Broth was okay, but no avocado because of that saliva test tomorrow.
I was hoping I could squeeze out the stool test this morning too, because I will be so busy tomorrow with the “second urine of the day” and saliva goings-on, plus the detox ritual of the morning bitters and lemon/olive oil concoctions...but I choked under pressure. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised since I had that colonic yesterday afternoon. Truly, was there anything left? My body is so regular that I was hopeful I could go anyway. But I couldn’t do it, and once the window closed and we left the pension, we were off to the races and it just wasn’t gonna happen.
My first appointment of the day was the Thermography test. First I sat in the small, coolish, temperature-controlled room for about ten minutes. I was clothed and sitting on a stool. No leaning against the wall, no crossing of the legs, arms or hands, no reading, just resting. The technician came in and touched a sensor on various parts of my body, starting on the face, neck and moving down the front, also including the inner elbow. The front-button shirt was loosely open and the chest points were included. Then four points on the back.
Then I was asked to undress to my panties and I waited again for ten minutes in the same way. Again the exact same touch points, which I believe are the acupuncture points of Chinese medicine.
Then I was done with appointments until after lunch, but I met up with Bernhard for his consultation with Dr. Huertgen and Dr. Lieberherr where they talked about medications and supplements for home. They are concerned about his body staying as stress-free as possible in order to detoxify properly. They also noted that toxins are mostly stored in fat, so as he goes through this process he will be losing even more weight; he must discuss this with the nutritionist tomorrow, as he is already too thin. Our diet since September has been exacerbating this, but there are supplements that can help apparently. His body also needs way more hydration via drinking and lotions.
We stopped by bookkeeping and took our pre-lunch bitters, had a de-briefing among ourselves to process everything and then headed down to have our detox lunch. Today there was even a detox-friendly lasagne, but I can’t eat tomatoes because of that saliva test! It was pumpkin “curry” on rice for me with zucchini, leeks and fennel. And broth. Bernhard had my avocado.
After lunch we headed to T2 floor for therapies. Bernhard had a massage with Lukas and then Indiba (local hyperthermia) and the liver hotpack with Shaji. Shaji, by the way, is from Kerala, and he gave us information about an ayurvedic center there that he highly recommends. I had a liver hotpack as well; it’s part of the detox, to encourage those ducts to release the gall. And then I had a half hour of local hyperthermia (Indiba) on my right kidney.
Bernhard joined me at my consultation with the doctors, where they gave me the disappointing news about my test results. I am loaded up with all kinds of heavy metals -- every single one was well above the normal range. These levels will later be cross-referenced with the more finely tuned urine test results when they come back in 2-3 weeks. (This was the same urine test that Bernhard had taken in October, so the clinic had his results before he returned to start his treatment program.) Anyway, the worst offenders seem to be aluminum, silver, cadmium and mercury. And I am deficient in virtually every mineral. Results from the thermography this morning showed major disturbances along my neck, indicating lymph blockage. And my face is a mess -- probably due to the metals from the fillings and also from sinus issues which are related to my asthma. Asthma, an autoimmune disease, is apparently pretty common when you are filled with heavy metals.
The good news is that the fillings should and can be remediated and replaced. Once they are replaced we can move forward with a more aggressive detoxification program. As with Bernhard, however, it is important to go slowly with detoxification so you don’t re-introduce the offending substances into the system. There are multiple approaches and it will take several years. But, hey -- better to find out now and start to do something about it. And we can do it together, which will help us to stay focused and motivated.
Saturday, December 2
Okay, so time slipped away from me and I didn’t keep up on a daily basis. I can tell you that on Wednesday I had a magnetic field therapy on my “middle” (encompassing both kidney and liver) and a Procain infusion, plus Bernhard and I met Sonia Bacus the nutritionist, who was interesting and helpful.
It was “the big day” for the cleanse and at 6pm at the Santis, Irene gathered all seven of us who were detoxing, to give us our first dose of Epsom water and describe the process for the rest of the evening. At 8:30pm we were to take the second dose of Epsom water and then exactly at 10pm we were to drink the grapefruit juice/olive oil/wormwood cocktail and then lay down on the bed (head raised 45 degrees) with a hot pack on our liver and *not move* for twenty minutes! During that time we are meant to focus on the liver and cleansing the body and not, say, watch tv or even read. We were encouraged to go to sleep shortly afterwards but I had to wait until 11pm and take my final saliva sample.
I got up once or twice during the night to use the bathroom but it didn’t seem like “the big event”! As directed, we set an alarm for 6am to drink the third and final portion of Epsom water, and then at 8am we went down for breakfast. I don’t think I have ever been to a meal before where so many people were openly discussing their bodily functions! Suffice it to say that each of us were at a different place in our purging experience and our subsequent feelings around it!
We had the rest of Thursday morning at the hotel to “finish up” with the cleanse, and then we had lunch over there before therapies. Bernhard had a bunch of them but I, just being on the detox and not part of a program, had only a hot pack which felt delightful on my liver and the local hyperthermia, also on my liver. I also had a consultation with Dr. Huertgen, but he didn’t seem to have anything to say to me and showed me videos of mercury vapor coming off of people’s teeth… It was kinda weird.
We had a nice dinner at the hotel Thursday night. Sat with Maria and Paul, a couple from Germany, although he is originally from Norway. They were both getting treatments; I am pretty sure he has complications from Lyme and I’m not sure what she had going on, but they were really neat and had lots of experience with holistic treatments, albeit not previously at Paracelsus. I think they were pleased with their first week there though.
Friday was a mop-up day -- getting to the pharmacy to pick up the supplements that the doctors prescribed for home, finalizing bill payment, a last meeting with the doctor (more on that later). I had a cupping therapy, which is a type of massage that is used to increase circulation in the body, probably to enhance the effects of the detox. And, last but not least, no one gets away from the clinic without a final colonic -- this time topped off with a “shot” of good flora at the end!
My final questions consultation was with Dr. Kimbels, which is interesting because I only saw him once before at my Darkfield test. I like him though, and he is American, so the language part is never an issue. He asked me a few questions about my treatments and how I felt, but I wanted the gist of our conversation to be more general, more like taking a step back and seeing my time there from a broader perspective. We talked about diet (to eat animal protein or not? Vegetarian vs vegan?) and we talked about metals in the body -- what they can do and what they can’t do. He is very laid back and helped me not feel too triggered by everything that I discovered during the week. Basically, it will be a great idea to remove my silver/mercury fillings. If I do nothing else, I should do this. Metal detox should be slow and steady, but shouldn’t happen at all until the gut is considered healthy, or else the metals can be reabsorbed through my intestines and make things even worse.
So, steady as she goes. In other words, my life isn’t going to have to change too much. We should probably try to stay on this diet as much as we can. After the detox part is over (the body is still processing for another week or two) I can continue with my beloved coffee ritual, and we can have some wine with dinner and occasional bits of contraband! As long as we continue eating mostly vegetables (organic ones) we will be just fine.
Today, back in Munich, we are trying to organize our supplements and figure out how to keep taking them from interfering with our daily life! I don’t want to be beholden to them and feel like I need to schedule my life around when I take them. This is something I think can really hang people up. Some of the people we met at the clinic seem like professional patients; I don’t want to live that way. The whole purpose of getting healthy is to have a life after all, so it is important not to lose sight of that.
We are heading back to Paracelsus on December 18th for more dental work for both me and Bernhard. This time we will be there for only one week and will stay in a little apartment very nearby the clinic. Therefore we will cook for ourselves and not be in a beehive of social interaction as we were at the Santis, which could be quite tiring at the end of a long day. The Santis had many good points -- there is something to be said for learning from other guests’ experiences. But it’s just hard to hear about sickness all day and then again all evening.
Overall, we had an amazing experience. I am really glad to know about the state of my health from the perspective of the body as a whole, integrative unit and not as a series of test results that are each taken as separate entities. I think it is important use the information in relation to how we want to live our lives and not the other way around. It’s nice being at a bit of a distance now to get more perspective on this. To be continued!
Swiss Detox Diet
Today we start our 3-week Swiss diet, the one Dr. Rau describes in his book The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health. It’s a catchy title, and the book is directed at Americans, but the principles make a lot of sense when you read the book. And there a a few other people and places where you hear the same ideas. Basically the deal is this: we need to get the crap out of our bodies -- our liver is meant to function as a filter and it is seriously overtaxed.
First, we need to heal our intestinal system. Stop eating anything processed and buy only pesticide-free, organic produce. No cow dairy, no gluten, no refined sugar, no iodized salt. Mostly, we need to reduce the amount of animal protein we are putting into our bodies. We also need to make the body more alkaline.
So, here we are on Sept 1st, as good a start date as any! I have never been on a diet in my life, actually. I have been in reasonably good health through moderation and self-control in my eating habits. I don’t binge or eat foods that are egregiously bad for me (no fried foods, chips, soda). I don’t smoke or use recreational drugs. Generally, I lead a pretty boring life, and I like it that way. I do yoga daily and I walk, at least when it is not very cold outside. Later on , when I am on the “maintenance plan” I will be able to have a glass of wine in the evening; the doctor is Swiss, after all.
I am excited and also a little nervous. This three-week diet should be followed pretty precisely. Later on, I will be allowed to take “liberties” as long as I stay within general guidelines. The first week is the most draconian, with no dairy at all, no meat or chicken or eggs. Next week we can layer in some nuts and other dairy products.
Dr. Rau says that we won’t feel hungry on his diet -- that we can eat as many vegetables as we want. And indeed, I was almost too full after breakfast this morning: a large cup of his special vegetable broth, a half grapefruit and a bowl of steel cut oats with a date and half an apple shredded into it. We must drink 3 liters of pure, unchlorinated, spring water or herbal tea daily. Oh, and the tablespoon of Flaxseed oil. I’d like to point out that a tablespoon is three teaspoons and it tastes like motor oil. But perhaps it is an acquired taste. I did finally get used to the herbal water in Kerala, so who knows?
The first day went without any complications. Dr. Rau was right -- I didn’t feel hungry! However I did have a few moments where I thought about junk food (cheesy corn puffs, to be exact) but it wasn’t at fantasy level.
I started the day with a half cup of cappuccino -- I just didn’t think it would be fair to my class to go cold turkey on the caffeine. Bernhard went without and go the customary splitting headache. This morning I also had a half cup without a class as an excuse, but I did buy some organic decaf at Soul Food today, so I can wean myself eventually.
My big epiphany today was that this diet is going to make a serious change in the way I socialize with my friends. I enjoy hosting cocktail parties, meals, and other get-togethers which are often centered around meals or food in some form. I mean, who doesn’t need to eat? It’s fun and convenient. Except now I can’t get the specific foods I need for my meals anywhere but home, and I am not sure many of my friends would want to eat grated vegetables and steamed vegetables for lunch or steamed cauliflower and Swiss chard for dinner. In fact, I only know of one person who would enjoy that, and she has to eat this way due to a chronic illness. So, it has been interesting planning some “dates” today with friends. Right now I have scheduled “tea” and also a walk. We have upcoming plans to meet my brother and sister-in-law in Boston later this month; perhaps we can visit a museum together? Although... we will be starting the “Maintenance Diet for Life” that night, so we could probably whip up something that they will enjoy.
But no dessert.
Today’s challenge was going to the Stop & Shop in Orleans. We have been shopping at mostly local, organic farm stands and natural food stores, but today we needed a few extra things that we were not finding there and we took the plunge. Clearly it is not a good idea to go before a meal, but I thought I was still pretty full from breakfast when we left the house. I was really rushing through so as not to become distracted by some of the goodies I normally buy when I am there. The imported pate and salamis, for example caught my eye when I was looking for roquefort cheese, which is is on our diet in a few more days. I am definitely thinking about foods that are not on the diet (especially in this first week), and could have used a good pair of horse blinders! Still, it is way too early to “cheat”, and so I held out. My impulse items were AA batteries and two Pro Kadima sets, since mine are busted.
Tomorrow I will explain why I am doing this.
Today we decided to take our flax seed oil from shot glasses and it worked quite well! Since most of our taste buds are towards the front of the mouth, this is a great avoidance technique! I will also tell you that, although I am not on this diet to lose weight, I have lost a pound a day for the last five days. I have plenty of energy, despite transitioning to decaffeinated coffee this morning (with no side effects so far). I haven’t felt hungry between meals, but I still do think about foods that are off the list. In fact, today there was a lot of thumbing through the book to see when I can add certain foods. Next week will get better with the addition of whole grains and some non-cow dairy, even an egg!
Okay, so if I am not doing this to lose weight, why (you may ask) am I doing it? I stumbled across The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health, by Dr. Rau when I learned about the Paracelsus clinic in Switzerland. Most people go there when they are diagnosed with cancer and don’t want to take the traditional western approach to treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation). Don’t get them wrong -- they are all top-notch medical doctors, but they believe that most of our “dis-ease” starts in the gut -- with our intestinal system being overwhelmed and thereby unable to do the job of absorbing the good nutrients we need for optimal health. They will take the surgery route if they are racing time, but they prefer to treat through diet, detox and other non-traditional modalities (including acupuncture, tai chi, psychology, to name a few) in order to cure the whole body.
In addition to treating cancer patients at Paracelsus, they treat other chronic illnesses. Apparently, they have very good success in treating advanced stages of Lyme Disease which, unfortunately, I know much about. Although I don’t have it myself, someone near and dear to me has been suffering from its ravages for about 10 years, and I am always on the lookout for news about effective Lyme treatments. When I heard about this clinic and then read the book, it was a no-brainer to try the detox diet. Who wouldn’t want to purge their middle-aged body of toxic wastes that have been building up for decades (and cause cancer)? I can do almost anything for three weeks! And so far, it has greatly increased my awareness of what I am eating and how my body feels. Even if I don’t go on to continue with the maintenance diet plan, I am sure I will be much more conscious of what is going into my body.
Last night I woke up and had trouble falling back asleep, which is unusual for me. Crazier still, was that I had no desire to meditate and get myself back into a peaceful state. I was agitated and I was just gonna be agitated! My monkey-mind seemed to have little or nothing to do with the diet. However, Dr. Rau assures us that we are going to sleep better than ever, so that makes me a little worried! It has been a seriously long time since I have woken up fretting about something. Hopefully last night was an anomaly.
Additionally, I was also a bit hungry. (Was I hangry??) Breakfast and lunch are rather filling, but dinner is pretty simple, at least this first week. So, I was decidedly grumpy when I finally got up. I considered drinking a cup of green tea for the caffeine but stayed with the decaf coffee since it had been prepared for me and smelled heavenly. Fortunately, I had gotten over myself before I headed to the yoga studio to lead an 8am class.
The rest of the day has gone pretty well and I am mostly enjoying my meals knowing, of course, that I will be done with the toughest part of the diet tomorrow. Three weeks on this first-week regime would just be too long for me. And I am pretty sure already that I will not be an absolute stickler once I get to the maintenance diet after week 3. Although I would like to believe that there are certain foods that I won’t ever want to eat again.
Hooray -- this is the final day of the difficult first week! I ended up not having even my decaffeinated coffee this morning, due to the fact that the minuscule amount of whole milk we had left had turned sour, and I just couldn’t get the coconut milk to froth up; it didn’t appeal to me. In fact, it was just the wrong color. I believe that some of you know what I mean about this. Color is critical.
I’m not sure I would have lasted even this long on the diet if my partner wasn’t doing the vast majority of the cooking. (Okay, or all of it.) I simply don’t have the patience for it -- all the chopping, grating and measuring. And then the resulting meal isn’t even that exciting. I am not sure how someone could hold down a full-time job and spend this much time preparing food! Hopefully this dynamic will change in the upcoming weeks, as the food becomes more varied and tasty.
I have somehow forgotten either the mid-morning or the mid-afternoon snack every day, and have fallen prey to the low-blood sugar that they warn about in the book. Naturally, this has not been an intentional omission, just an oversight when I am focused and involved in something else. Then, when the hunger hits, it hits hard, and I am just really mad at myself.
Today I was so excited at the prospect of eating a rye crisp tomorrow, that I braved the market again to get them. This time, I went to our tiny local market instead of a supermarket, and it was much easier to get through. Tomorrow we will need a few more items, which we will get at Soul Food, the even tinier local natural food store. It is amazing, though, how many things in that store are prohibited on this diet.
Did I mention that I am really looking forward to starting week 2?
I understand now why most detox diets are only one week long. It is amazing how accustomed we are to feeding our cravings! By the end of week 1 I was feeling pretty cranky. Day 8 offered glorious freedom compared to the diet’s first week -- today at breakfast we added a slice of spelt toast with butter and homemade jam (made with agave syrup, no refined sugar), and it was heavenly! It was our first bit of sweetness outside of the single date we have been allowed with our steel-cut oatmeal at breakfast. Then, for mid-afternoon snack, we had 8 oz. of plain goat yogurt, which was delightfully refreshing :-) Believe it or not, we almost forgot the single rye crisp allowed at lunch time. Almost. That, too, seemed beautiful. Dinner was twice baked potato with roquefort and broccoli -- practically sinful!
I continue to lose weight, about a pound a day. I’m not too worried; who can’t stand to lose a few pounds? However, my partner can’t keep his dang pants up without a belt -- not good, as he is pretty darn thin to begin with. I don’t really want to lose more weight either. Fortunately, our diet is becoming more varied and “richer” this week with cheeses, nuts, and some fruits, so we will carry on take it a day at a time. Today we enjoyed sheep's milk cheese on our spelt toast and had a whole peach with our steel-cut oats. We had creamy fruit salad as a dessert after lunch (this included apples, bananas, grapes, goat yogurt, cinnamon and even honey)! And for mid-afternoon snack, we had sweet potato-pine nut spread on our rye crisp. So, while I am making fun a bit, it was really not difficult to get through the day at all. Still, it is pretty labor intensive. And we can’t keep enough fresh veggies in the house; frequent shopping runs are unavoidable.
Halfway there --yaay! Today was mostly good. First of all, we had a soft-boiled egg and spelt toast (which is actually quite good) with our breakfast. That was pretty epic right there. Having grown tired of unsuccessful attempts at “milking” my coffee, I had a cup of black decaf this morning with my eggs and was happy with that. However, as tonight’s recipe for pea soup required a tiny bit of heavy cream (yes, cream!), I have decided that I can put a drop of that in my coffee tomorrow. So, you see, I am starting to take a few liberties, which I realize is a slippery slope...At lunch we had our regular grated raw salad and then our steamed portion was swiss chard, zucchini and celery root. I ate it, but I am pretty sure that won’t be happening again!
Our second expedition to the super Stop & Shop went much better because we were more familiar with where they hide the organics. It is not very organized -- there is an organic section, but some organic produce is simply next to the non-organic produce in other sections. And, if all else fails, there is a freezer section in the next aisle with organic frozen vegetables. I am surprised at how much organic food they actually do carry, although the store is massive and most of it is full of foods that are incredibly unhealthy.
Sorry to have missed a day -- we were transitioning from one town to another -- a stress in itself after being gone for three months! Before leaving the cape, we went shopping in Orleans to make sure we we would have something to eat for lunch and have a few diet staples when we arrived in Boston. Then after lunch, we headed over to the new Whole Foods (well, the newest one around here) and stocked up for our week here. I’ve got to say, they had *everything* we had on our list. This was a new experience for us, as we had been accustomed to patching together foods from the local produce stand, Stop & Shop and the natural foods stores. Just knowing that Iggy’s makes a spelt loaf was epic! It is really delicious, and a huge step up from the frozen spelt loaf we got at our tiny natural food store (and about half the price).
On day 11, our dinner included the standards: vegetable juice, Dr. Rau’s Alkaline broth with diced vegetables, a steamed veggie (in today’s case Swiss chard) and herbal tea. However, today’s menu also included the truly delicious entree of fennel gratin (recipe in the back of the book in the section with recipes for the Maintenance Diet). I’m not kidding when I say it was fabulous. As an accompaniment we had some cooked chestnuts as well. My general mood has improved greatly with the new range of yummy foods we have added!
Today we have a houseguest (who is about 5 days behind us on this detox diet) and we have been sharing our explorations and notes on how we are all feeling on the diet. I am happy to report that, in general, we are all feeling pretty good! If nothing else, we are much more conscious of what we are putting into our bodies and, importantly, what we are omitting (and why). None of us is desperately missing more than a few favorite items. We know that, when we are done with the three week detox, Dr. Rau says we can go on a bender every now and again, as long as we get right back on the plan!
There has been a marked improvement in everything about this diet. As I mentioned yesterday, the recipes are really quite tasty and I am not longing for anything that is not allowed. In fact, I am feeling better every day. Not that I was feeling bad before I started, but I feel really well. No caffeine is needed to have the vim and vigor to get through my day, and I am excited about eating so well! Preparation and cooking still takes a long time -- to follow all the recipes exactly, but we are in it this far, so we are going to keep going. Just one more week of precise following of the rules and then we can return to fun and creativity while cooking cooking dinner!
As week two progressed, we had a few opportunities to entertain. First, my Swiss-dieting friend (see yesterday’s entry) enjoyed lunch, dinner and breakfast with us. Last night, a loved-one joined us for a dinner of Ruby Beet Soup along with steamed spinach and sweet potatoes, and she seemed more than content with her meal. And, this evening, a brave friend came over for “cocktails” -- carrot juice with turmeric and homemade guacamole with organic corn chips. Although she enjoyed these goodies, she didn’t seem eager to try the diet! Honestly, it isn’t for everyone. But, if you have read the book, it all makes so much sense; if you can just work a few of the principles into your life, I am sure it will be beneficial to your overall health.
They say it takes 21 days for a ritual to become a habit, and I can this this principle at work now. A pattern has emerged. Breakfasts have become easier to manage, despite the array of dishes involved. A typical breakfast this week looks like: a cup or small bowl of Dr. Rau’s special Alkaline soup, no vegetables, a half cup ruby red grapefruit juice (organic, naturally and with no added ingredients) or a half grapefruit, 1 tablespoon of pure flax seed oil (my very least part of the meal), steel-cut oats cooked with one date, no other sweetener, one small banana, or apple or peach, one slice of spelt bread, toasted, with a half ounce of goat or sheep cheese, and a cup of tea (green or herbal). It is a LOT of food, much more than I had been eating on an average day. Of course, it is important to follow the diet precisely during the three-week detox, but I imagine I will eat (and drink) less when the three weeks are over. It is quite time-consuming to prepare and to eat!
Despite the large meal, we are expected to have a mid-morning snack to prevent a dip in sugar levels that can make you ravenous (and perhaps cranky?) by lunch time. This would be something like one carrot, or one rye crisp with a bit of cashew butter or a half avocado with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Lunch is the largest meal of the day and includes a raw salad and a steamed vegetable plate. It’s a lot of vegetables and I have felt very full after lunch. On the third week, we are now allowed a couple of rye crisps, a small spelt roll or some other carbohydrate as well. Now, too, the steamed vegetable plate is sometimes replaced by more of a hot vegetable entree, such as Pita Pizzettes with Basil Goat Cheese and Black Olive Tapenade or Pecan-crusted Catfish fillets with Pineapple Slaw.
The mid-afternoon snack is typically something like cucumber and carrot sticks with Lemony Hummus with toasted cumin seeds or a rye crisp with Sweet Potato-Pine Nut Spread. All recipes are provided. Other days it is a half avocado with lemon or 8 oz. of organic goat or sheep yogurt, or five cashews. Easy.
Dinners are still pretty simple. Now, though, instead of broth every night, we are moving into complex soups -- Ruby Beet soup, Sweet Corn and Potato Chowder, Lentil (tonight), Sweet Pea with Fresh Mint. Plus, typically, also a steamed green vegetable.
Last night we had Frozen Banana-Maple Mousse for dessert and today I baked some Maple-Pecan cookies for later!
We are still trying to adhere pretty strictly to the prescribed diet, although it is hard to fit in the snacks, as we are not really hungry between meals. Still, we usually manage one of them in a day. And tonight we don’t have escarole, but we do have broccoli, so it will have to do. We are back out on the cape this week so grocery shopping is a major event.
I can’t believe that this detox diet is almost over! It seems like a long time since that first week, when everything was so new and, well, difficult. I find myself wondering how close I will stay to the diet when Friday rolls around. Truth be told, we have plans for a celebration dinner, but it is at a farm-to-table place, locally sourced, mostly (if not all) organic. I’m sure there will be some animal protein, which I have only had in the form of goat and sheep milk cheese and a “dot” (a mom word) of half and half in my single cup of decaf in the morning. I don’t know if I should be excited or worried about the wine pairings -- it will be three weeks since that has crossed my lips and, as my kids say, I’m a lightweight to begin with. That ought to be amusing for my sweetheart, if nothing else.
Still, I wonder what the next few weeks of eating will look like. I am guessing that when we are eating at home, we will follow the diet pretty closely and stay away from the big no-nos, such as pork, shellfish, cow dairy, wheat and refined sugar. I would like to say that, after I chow down that almond croissant with my real coffee on Saturday morning, that I will go back to steel-cut oats and fruits for breakfast. And indeed, I like our lunches as well -- a raw salad and a cooked veggie meal (today we had succotash over rice and it was delicious). Dinners are meant to be light, but of course that is when we do most of our socializing and so this will be the true test.
Once we head back to Europe, we will have new challenges. Fortunately, it will not be difficult to find organic produce -- Germans say “bio” (pronounced bee-oh) for organic foods, which are much more plentiful there in the land of small farms! Still, it will be hard to pass up on some of the salamis and pates at the local Metzgerai to eat with our goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, fresh organic vegetables and artisanal breads. In the land of “wurst”, I think there are still lots of options, especially when eating at home. Again, eating out will be the hard part.
I would be remiss if I did not address how expensive it has been to eat this way. Organic produce still costs a lot more than conventional produce, and juices especially are out of control. I was about to pick up a bottle of organic beet juice today and it was $7.99 for less than a quart! I think I’ll stick with my organic Very Veggie juice (like V-8) for 3.89 instead, thanks. Pastas made without wheat (with artichokes or chickpeas, for example) are about $3 for an 8oz package. That is more than many kinds of meats. Organic eggs, organic goat yogurt -- it all adds up to quite a lot. Which is a crime, because it puts good health out of the reach of most people. If you want to eat food that has not been poisoned with pesticides, you are going to have to pay dearly for it.
So the detox diet has become pretty much a routine for us. The routine-to-habit ideal has indeed been achieved, as all those studies have shown it would! And, as much as I think you can get the general idea of this diet on an intellectual level from reading the book, it is quite another thing altogether to feel it embodied through the actual doing of it.
I feel really well. Overall, I didn’t end up losing more than five pounds, which is perfect for me. I have great energy without caffeine (although I do miss coffee and am considering whether or not I want to stick with decaf after the diet ends) and do not get hungry between meals. My body is running smoothly, I sleep well. Would I do it all over again, knowing what I know now? Yes, I believe I would. Will I stay on the Maintenance Diet? Mostly.
And if I stray...there is always the One-week Intensive Diet to get back on track!!!
This is the last day of our 21-day detox diet. In a way, it’s a bit of a letdown. All this leads up to, well, more of the same! That being said, we did had pecan crusted codfish for lunch today that was quite yummy, and tonight we are having pasta primavera with noodles made from chickpeas, along with some of the minty pea soup that I made and froze last week. Tonight we are having a guest joining us who is gluten-free, so this should work out just fine for him!
I am trying to think about the things I have missed the most while being on this diet. What will I turn to that was previously “verboten”? Chocolate pops to mind. And, of course, cheese puffs. Real coffee. But aside from those few things, nothing is screaming “come and get me!” But I’ll keep you posted about that.