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A fruitless search for digestive experts

iodine, poor digestion, vitamin A

(Last updated April 2023.)

In September 2008 I started a journey that serves as a good example of the limits of the American health care system.

Over three months, I had 15 doctor visits, $7,000 worth of medical tests, three prescriptions, and five over-the-counter medications as I attempted to find a solution to my abdominal pain. After I lost ten pounds due to said pain, I was asked by the “specialists” if I had an eating disorder.

Eating becomes a chore

To make a long and unladylike story short, starting in the fall of 2008 I would inflate like a beach ball whenever I ate a full-sized meal, and my innards would feel like they’d been aged in a smokehouse and then stretched, creaking, over an anvil. One day I discovered that I could no longer feel my psoas muscles, which was alarming.

Eventually I was able to manage symptoms by eating only small meals and never after 6 p.m., although all bets were off when it came to carbonated beverages, which had taken on napalm-like qualities regarding my digestion.

Nutritional therapy experiments

I briefly worried that my year-long ascorbic acid (vitamin C) habit, which I used to reduce histamine, had burned holes in my gut, but 18 months after stopping it there was no improvement.

I tried digestive enzymes and betaine hydrochloride, but they didn’t help.

Vitamin A helps a bit

Going on the simple evidence that it felt as if something that should be gooey and stretchy had turned dry and crackly, I started researching mucous membranes and tissues and moisture and deficiency, etc. I came up with vitamin A deficiency as a possible factor, and taking that supplement did indeed help to some degree.

. . . and iodine

When I was beginning my iodine megadose experiment, I found other Yahoo Iodine group members who had suffered from similar abdominal issues. In addition to a gazillion other things, iodine is needed for mucous membrane health. After a month or so I saw some improvement, enough that I could once again binge on supermarket sushi without too much grief and abuse Pepsi with a much reduced discomfort level. However, it never solved the issue entirely and I eventually had to stop the iodine since it, too, gave me complete insomnia.

. . . and vitamin D3

I discovered that big doses of vitamin D3 helped this a lot, as it did with my fatigue issue, but only when I started following this neurologist’s recommended doses for repletion. Unfortunately it also gave me debilitating headaches after a few days on it. I had the same results when I switched to using a vitamin D lamp.

The culprits? Mold, too much sitting, and . . .

Eight years later, I became much more comfortable after moving out of my moldy apartment building. That resolved a lot of issues, but I continued for several years to have a low-grade pain that waxed and waned.

It began to disappear with twice-weekly acupuncture sessions, then some more when I began doing stretching backbends in order to counteract the years of cubicle farm work that had distorted my posture (and probably my soul). I also spent all summer getting blazing hot sun on my torso, on the theory that that part of the body is the best vitamin D3 factory.

Then it disappeared when I quit chocolate.

When this content was published

The content on this page was posted in August 2011 and updated in January 2013 and April 2023.

20 thoughts on “A fruitless search for digestive experts”

  1. Marjorie,

    I used to have very similar abdominal pain problems. My problems lasted four years and, thankfully, ended last September.

    Do a blood test for H. Pylori. I specifically asked my doctor to test for it, and it turned out that this was he source of all my agony. Two weeks later, after consuming a cocktail of antibiotics twice a day, the pain went away permanently.

    • Thank you for this, Ingrid. I started probiotics and colustrum a while ago. I’ll look into his approach. I can’t say I’m looking forward to drinking garlic for ten days, though.

    • I think its my issues for sure. Having to figure out all my deficiencies and vitamin interactions is just crazy.

    • Alas, not yet. It waxes and wanes. Soda pop, alcohol, carbs and large meals make it worse. I have a feeing it won’t go away until I kick the sugar habit for good.

    • Hi, Ingrid. I had to look back at my iodine experiment page to remember — it looks like it took a month or so (see entry for days 43-47), and I was using up to 150 mg of iodine a day. HOWEVER, in hindsight I believe that I had to take so much to see results because I wasn’t taking anywhere near enough selenium, which iodine needs to work. The common wisdom about not taking more than 400 mcg did not serve me well. Stop the Thyroid Madness has a page about selenium — see the second to last para.

    • Oh, and as for other improvements — most of all it seemed to get my histamine levels under control. And it got rid of a LOT of joint pain.

    • Sorry for the delay in replying, Ingrid. That is interesting about bile supplements. I don’t think I’ve tried them. I guess I assumed they were for gallbladder-less patients only.

    • I was trying out as a “natural antibiotic” for gut issues (diarrhea /gas/pain). You take two caps inbetween meals and before bed. I did it for three days. Rid me of the digestive issue and a side effect was the joint pain I believed to be arthritis disappeared. (though I went through extra painful joints during those three days). A year later the pains started to come back and I cured them again with bile. Its been five years now and they havent come back.

      (off topic..do I need to check both notify boxes after a comment to get responses?) thanks

    • Can you tell me the brand, dose, mgs etc? And I thought you only had to check the first box for comments. But I’ve never actually experimented with it myself.

  2. I’m curious of how you reacted to the HCL (betaine hydrochloride), did you do a HCL trial and increase 1 per meal till warmth was felt? Some people don’t see improvements until they reach higher doses per meal of HCL, especially in cases of hypochlorhydria (no stomach acid). About 90% of Americans have less than adequate stomach acid, and therefore, they have a hard time absorbing nutrients from their food. Loved reading about your journey!

    • Thank you! That is what I started to do, but just one tablet felt like it was burning, so I figured acid was not the problem. About six years before, long before this episode and for other reasons, I had found I needed something like four a meal for a month or so, which helped a lot. Anyway, now I’m trying an alkaline diet, which seems to be helping.

    • Interesting! What brand/dosage (mg) were you taking? Do you crave acid/vinegary foods?

      How about your liver function? Every any nausea/pain (below right rib cage) or problems digesting fats? Indicating sluggish bile flow?

    • I used Country Life BHCl with pepsin in 600 mg tablets. I can’t say I ever crave acid/vinegary foods. I had mild pain but not nausea in that area, and was sure it was gallbladder related. Tests showed nothing, although the doctor offered to take the gallbladder out anyway. (I declined.) It did definitely get worse with a lot of food or anything rich, so I avoid those foods and eat less at a time.

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