My natural health journey and interest in health started in 2009.
I had stopped smoking in 2005, with the help of Allen Carr's brilliant book: 'the Easy Way to Quit Smoking', after several failed attempts in the 13-years of my smoking life. I was 26-years old when I stopped, and just finishing my degree at a university in London. In a way I chose the worst time to quit, which proved for me - in fact - to be the best time.
After many years of party-filled lifestyle in London, I moved to California to study, funded by scholarships and a sizeable student loan. I was curious about the healthy Californian lifestyle and for the first time in my life I ate at a raw food restaurant, and was positively surprised how tasty the food was but a little surprised about the huge portions. The local young crowd living a healthy life also made an impression on me - they consumed very little alcohol and for them exercise was the norm.
This was in 2007 and my diet was junk vegetarian. I remember not being able to eat a full salad for lunch because I would get a headache. I saw a homeopath, who thought I was in very bad shape healthwise. I couldn't sleep well at night and had nightmares. My lifestyle was very stressful and I was struggling with a daily alcohol habit - often not more than one beer a day but a problem nevertheless - while studying hard, having occasional breathing problems, tiredness and sleep disorders. I also had developed a beer belly, which I tried to combat by daily 30-minutes of pilates exercises and by going for a very short run around my two neighbouring blocks. That winter I also ended up very ill in bed for 2 weeks - when a cold I had developed into bronchitis. I had to take strong antibiotics before getting better and at the time I was also on birth-control pills.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend discovered the Bob Beck Protocol, a healing method based on attaching electrical wires to the wrist and running a low current of electricity through the veins using battery power (blood electrification). I was sceptical at first, but then started experimenting with this method, slowly building up to 2 hours of 'electricity' per day. We would literally just hook up three 9-volt batteries together, attach some wires to each end with crocodile clips and tape the other two ends to the arteries on the wrist for up to two hours at a time. (Need 100% cotton thread around the exposed ends of the wires to stop burns.) It is crucial to drink plenty of water while doing this, because otherwise you will get ill. This low current of electricity is harmful for bacteria and other single-celled organisms, which are less sophisticated than human cells, and should not be in the blood anyway. (The beneficial bacteria are in the intestines, and other places of the body, not in blood, as I understand it). The human cells are unharmed when this simple method is done correctly.
Since starting on 'electricity' in 2007, I have not been ill and neither has my boyfriend. I may feel like a cold is trying to get to me and feel a bit under-the-weather but within two days I feel normal again.
That is except my bout with swine flu, which took a little longer to cure using this method. The fever went away quickly but it took some days after for the coughing and other symptoms to completely disappear.
I felt that the 'electricity medicine' kick-started my health and I discovered many benefits from it. I believe I might not have had the strength to become a raw foodist unless I gave my health a jump-start with the electricity - as well as silver colloids - drinking silver! My immune system definitely improved greatly as a result.
I discovered that silver colloid, which is another part of the Bob Beck Protocol, seemed to work incredibly well for me to smoothen the skin of my face as well as to clear sinuses (I used it in a similar way to the neti pot).
Returning to London in 2008, I still had not gotten rid of my beer belly and was still trying to combat it via exercise. I would try to regularly go for a 30-minute run around the nearby park, as well as to do pilates, but the belly seemed unaffected. But my experience with the 'electricity medicine', as well as some natural health remedies which were readily available in California, such as wild yam cream (which helped my menstrual pain to a degree that I didn't have to take painkillers again) had opened my eyes to new kinds of alternative health cures.
I had always had a good understanding of natural health as a result of my upbringing (in Northern Finland) but my interest in health was suddenly growing by leaps and I was discovering many new things in fast succession.
I had read Jeffrey McCombs' book the 'Lifeforce Plan' and had self-diagnosed my 'beer belly' as candida. I also had joined a gym for a short while (before quitting when I could no longer afford it) and the instructors there had told me that a bloated belly was a diet issue, not something that could be 'cured' by exercise.
I did the full Lifeforce Plan in the autumn of 2009, which lasted a little over four months. I had learned that anyone who had taken antibiotics or pain killers at some point in their life was likely to suffer from candida overgrowth. After completing the plan my health had greatly improved: I lost weight and looked a lot younger, my beer belly was completely gone, and I never had to take antibiotics again. After the diet, however, I got slowly used to the junk vegetarian diet again but with a renewed confidence that I was indeed in control of my own health.
Other health problems still remained, however, the period pains came back, a slight but chronic cough persisted, as did tiredness and I also developed allergies. Luckily, I was able to self-diagnose myself with estrogen dominance and keep the menstrual pains in control with wild yam cream, without the need for pain killers.
Her book started my interest in raw foods and this interest would only grow over the next few years. I first started having raw breakfast every day as well as experimenting with raw dishes and raw cakes. I was completely blown away by how tasty and quick to make many raw foods were. I gradually increased the amount of raw foods by starting to have huge salads for lunch almost every day. I also gradually weaned myself off coffee, only to begin drinking copious amounts of green tea every day.
2011 was definitely a year of big achievements on my raw food journey, whereas 2012 was a little slower in terms of achievements but very fruitful in terms of self-reflection, theoretical learning, and also in terms of new realisations on juice fasting, caffeine and food intolerance.
I tended to, however, go back and forth between 1) very strict diets and 2) eating quite freely and not so healthily. This is a typical problem called yo-yo dieting. I was also worried that even during my longest raw food trial, which was three months long, I didn't eliminate some of my health problems. I also had a nagging feeling that something was missing. Although I did experience many benefits, I didn't feel the huge energy increase that other people reported on raw foods. And increase in energy was one of the main things I was since the beginning hoping to achieve with my health trials.
So I thought I would spend some money on the advice of nutritionists, to see if I was missing something important.
Despite all these findings, I was generally in good health, as the Chinese doctor confirmed as well, and the doctors at my local health center could not find anything wrong with me.
Each of these nutritionists also advised against raw foods until I was feeling stronger again, for various different reasons.
It slowly dawned on me that once one part of the body is out of balance, all of it is out of balance. I spent a lot of money on supplements, and started slowly to build my adrenal glands back up. I also learned to have some form of protein on every meal to keep the carbohydrate intolerance in check. And I started to have some more energy.
However, around the summer of 2013 I developed a new problem: anxiety. I gathered that it might be due to my stressful life circumstances, as I was doing some soul searching, not sure of my direction in life, and I was also living quite poor despite working hard due to student loan payments. I also had put myself through a lot of stress all throughout my adult life, living in different countries, and studying and working hard. I found out through research that anxiety can be linked to an imbalanced gut flora, allergies, lack of sodium, etc. In the end I managed to overcome the worst anxiety fairly quickly by quitting some supplements (adrenal glandulars), and not eating sugar or alcohol. The Chinese doctor was an important help in this process, as were the acupuncture and the herbs she administered.
I was caffeine, gluten and dairy free, but now ate some organic meat here and there. I followed the advice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and at the same time, paid more and more attention on keeping my subconscious mind happy. I tried to balance my sometimes tiring office-job as an architect with exercise, stretching, yoga, meditation, and other right brain activities - each in small but frequent quantities. I found that this improved the quality of my daily life. And finally, after so many years, I started a morning 'ritual', which made a real difference to how I felt each day.
In July 2014 I stopped working for a while, which allowed me to focus more on my health. I came out of a situation where I had had to commute four hours per day in total, work a fair bit of overtime, and try to work on this website when not in the office. I felt burned out and my body felt out of balance. I didn't seem to be able to keep to my eating plans as well as I wanted due to a busy lifestyle, a very tight budget, and new health problems. The anxiety was getting worse again, accompanied by alternating cold and hot body temperature. I had developed headaches, occasional insomnia, tiredness, often flu-like symptoms, heart palpitations, and I felt like I needed a real change in my life.
So I took as much time off work as I could (10 months), and went sugar-free, grain-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free and dairy-free again. But two weeks into the diet I was suffering from new problems: headaches, throat aches, and nasal congestion, which I then thought were just classic detox symptoms.
I did start to have more energy, though, since I taking methylcobalamine B12 spray (and working less). I would sometimes wake up naturally at 7am after going to bed at 10pm, so that made 9 hours of sleep. It may seem a lot but it was less than I had needed before.
I was eating an approximately 50% raw diet, with quinoa, potatoes, fish, some organic meat, eggs, and some fried or boiled vegetables. I ate very little packaged foods and processed condiments, some of the ones I had, though, included sugar-free peanut butter, vegetarian yeast paste, stock cubes, Tabasco sauce, soya sauce, etc. I did found out later that some of these included foods I was allergic to, like celery, which had been causing the flu-like symptoms and fatigue.
I got my hair mineral analysis redone as well. I kept searching for solutions while working on the website full-time and giving my body and mind a rest from office-work. This was a very important time in my life and I learned so much about my body, mind and health.
I started to come to a realization that my symptoms were in many ways now worse than before I started experimenting with raw foods, juice fasts, hair mineral analysis, supplements, etc. I suffered from hot flushes, my throat and sinuses were still near-permanently congested, I had managed to eliminate my menstrual pains only temporarily, and I often had a feeling of weakness in my muscles, combined with feeling cold and as if I had fever, sometimes chest pains and heart palpitations, etc. I also seemed to still gain weight easily, as if my body was unable to digest carbohydrates properly.
Of course I know knew that juice fasting eliminated my menstrual pains, raw foods improved my looks and mood, certain supplements calmed me down or gave me energy, and being sugar- and carbohydrate-free reduced anxiety and hot flushes. But I didn't feel well sticking to extreme diets for long periods of time. In some ways they increased stress because of the additional needed food preparation while my life was already way too busy. But also, I didn't feel in balance while sticking to them in the long term.
I couldn't eat most types of fruit anymore because I had developed an extreme sugar intolerance, so the raw food diet became much more limited. I had food intolerances, some of which only gradually started to become clear to me during 2015, which included some cheap raw foods that I had overeaten, such as celery and carrots. And my latest raw food experiment had failed, as I started feeling extreme fatigue when eating that way - this was a low-carb, sugar-and-fruit free raw food diet.
The last juice fast I did had to be a green juice fast, because I couldn't tolerate fruit. But I started to have a strong metallic taste in my mouth every day (a sign of being too alkaline), as well as fat cravings, and an out-of-balance feeling, so it didn't feel right sticking to it for longer than about five days at a time. Again, I got many benefits but in the end couldn't stick to it.
Staying away from sugar proved a good route to go, but completely eliminating carbohydrates did not. It seemed that I needed some carbohydrates to sustain my energy levels. And in many other ways I ended up, by May 2015, treading a path of careful balance between extremes.
I found - and eliminated - many more of my food intolerances, which got rid of the weak flu-like feelings. I managed to stop the heart palpitations by avoiding sugar, chemical foods, and by using some thyroid-calming herbs. I put more emphasis on daily exercise again, to balance my hormones, bring 'warm' energy into my body, and to help mucus elimination. I focused on partly-raw foods combined with alkaline cooked foods, avoided chilled foods and drinks, as well as cold in general, as advised by the Chinese doctor.
Most importantly, I realized that much of the weakness in my body was due to a systemic sinus and lung infection (probably aspergillus) that I had had ever since the beginning of my health journey, and probably for much longer. I had been looking for answers from diets, whereas this condition needed stronger means. I returned to blood electrification and started drinking ozonated water and the infection started clearing and I begun to feel stronger. I developed strong cough after two weeks (a cleansing symptom) and once that cleared, I wasn't as intolerant of carbohydrates and sugar as I had been before. But only part of the infection had cleared.
In May 2015 I was feeling good, and health-wise I was perhaps better than I had been for a long time. I found a certain way of eating, which was simple, satisfying, low-cost and kept me feeling good. I suspect that once the sinus infection is completely eliminated, I might be able to tolerate sugar again. Digestive enzymes helped a lot if I happened to eat a food I was intolerant of. I was then happily free of dairy and caffeine (apart from occasional butter). I gave up meat again, since it seemed unnecessary, but I ate seafood and cooked foods, including some carbohydrates and even gluten-products.
The overall outcome, however, is that I don't regret these health experiments, as in the end I do feel better and have eliminated many of the initial problems. I have also learned to know my body much better. Perhaps some mistakes have been made and I keep updating the diaries and reporting back on my findings, so that others can avoid those. But right now - even though I still need about nine hours of sleep per night, and more during my menstrual period - I have no more headaches, very little dehydration, a balanced mind (though not as inspired as during juice fasts), and my weight stays fairly stable. Exercise is starting to feel easier and more enjoyable than it has since at least 2007, probably longer. My eyes are rarely red anymore, and the heart palpitations almost never happen anymore. I did unlock some new mysteries (sinus infection, new food intolerances, yin deficiency, alkaline cooked foods, etc.), which allowed these promising changes to take place.
Soon after writing the last update on the above I had to return to full-time work. The job I took on was more challenging than any I had had before. I was constantly working long hours (approx. 12-hour days) without being paid overtime and I never had time to take more than a 15-minute lunch break. And my diet and exercise regime suffered as a result. I didn't have time for blood electrification or sinus rinse anymore, and I stopped any energy-giving supplements (including C-vitamin and B12) because sometimes I found it difficult to sleep because of the stress.
On a positive note, however, I arranged my commute in a way that I had to walk to work 20mins x2 every day. I believe that these walks were the reason why I didn't gain any weight despite eating some less healthy foods, like croissants and egg-avocado-mozzarella wraps. On some days I enjoyed the challenge at work and it was easy not to eat too much because my mind was so busy. I still often had smoothies for breakfast (spinach, apple juice, avocado, lemon), salads with potato salad mixed in for lunch, lots of eggs, steamed salmon and kale for dinner (prepared by my boyfriend), etc. Lots of mandarins, dark chocolate and liquorice bars for snacks.
I handled stress better this time than at my last job, and most of the time I avoided heart palpitations, red eyes, fever-like feeling, extreme fatigue and weight gain, which had been problems before in my previous job. There were still quite a few anxiety symptoms, however, but not as many as before.
But on days when I tried to have just cucumber and berries for breakfast, then salad for lunch, I started feeling unwell - headachy. I'm not sure whether it's an intolerance to cucumbers or just that I don't handle cool raw foods very well. (I later found out the problem was probably the difficult-to-digest fiber ("insoluble fiber") in these raw vegetables.)
What felt like an amazing achievement was the elimination of my headaches despite plenty of stress. I ate carbohydrates regularly, although I tried to limit them. I took magnesium flakes and epsom salt baths every night as recommended by the chiropractor I had seen regarding the headaches. I noticed that if I had to hold my head in a forward-leaning position I would get headaches either soon after or the following day - so I lifted my computer screen high up to allow me to hold my head straight and was careful not to spend too much time looking down at a laptop of a mobile phone. Glasses also helped with headaches from screens.
Plenty of progress there, a little bit of back-tracking again, and more and more respect towards the complexity of nature and the human body-mind-soul entity. Every health story is unique.
I quit my crazy job to return to full-time study for one year. This will get me deeper into debt again, but at least by next summer I should be a qualified architect.
I practiced an aspergillus-busting diet and lifestyle around September with good results. It included oregano oil breathed in, very little dairy, and blood electrification on as many days as possible. Lots of mucus cleared again after about two weeks of continuing this practice. I also breathed in the oregano oil vapours directly from the bottle occasionally, and took 2 drops in water internally on many days, even though it burned my lips.
I had many new realizations in the autumn, which were summarized in Dec 2015 health journey update, and related articles. Putting these findings into practice improved how I felt by miles and inspired the new high-raw, vegan diet that I started at the beginning of the new year 2016 (link to diary below). This time there is no set length for the eating plan, as I hope to make this extremely healthy, high-raw diet a long-term lifestyle, while eating an abundance of amazing foods (as varied diet as possible while still feeling the best possible). It is important that this long-term diet works with my (still) busy lifestyle, so that not much food prep is required, and it is not stressful to stick to the eating plan. In addition, the diet has to be fairly low cost since I am again a full-time student (at the age of 37).
So I completed my studies back in 2016 which were both enjoyable and stressful, as you might expect. I had some time off in the summer and spent time with family back in Finland which is very important for my peace of mind and also very relaxing. Finishing the studies was a definite weight off my mind.
Afterwards, I went to work for local company (5 mins walk from my flat) four days a week, which was perfect. Nice people, no overtime, and I could come home at lunch breaks. It was only temporary, however, and in the spring I began to work remotely (from home) for an architect lady who lived on the coast, some 1h commute away from me. These freelance positions didn't offer enough work, however, and I had to go back to commuting to London and working for an office in London.
At the moment of writing this I am at crossroads again. Whether to continue working in London or to figure something closer to my heart which involves less overtime and less commuting.
Here are more detailed accounts of all the documented diet trials during my natural health journey, in time order. Note that the links often take you to a summary/ conclusions page, and you can follow the links from there to the full (lengthy) diary notes, if you wish.
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.