My story: An interview with Dr. Ettinger
I wanted to share my story through a testimonial and interview I had with Dr. Marcus Ettinger, owner of Advanced Healing in Orange, California.
- When were you feeling well? I do not recall ever feeling “well”. All my life I had some type of intestinal issues. I was overweight at age 11 and started dieting. My first dieting experience started at Weight Watchers. I lost weight and gained it all back. At age 17, I was diagnosed with H. pylori. I had weight issues all my life. Bloating. Gas. I had bulimia in high school and college. To be completely honest, right now I am 39 and I feel better than I did at 15!!!
- When did symptoms start and who did it make you feel? I always felt symptomatic. Had bad PMS in college and intestinal issues, constipation, bloating. Weight issues. I felt like if I looked at Pizza, it went on my hips. I knew I didn’t digest certain foods well, especially grains and some fats like peanut butter. I just never felt right. I had urinary urgency in college. My nickname was “pisser” as a result. I also suffered from depression. My symptoms took a big turn for the worst in 2009 when I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis after bouts of urinary pain without a cultured infection. I felt horrible. It was the worst pain in my life, a constant burning, stabbing, throbbing feeling. It hurt upon urination and after urination. I would cry when I went to the bathroom. I had bruises on my thighs from hitting myself during urinating so that I did not have to feel the pain as much. I shoved ice cubes in my vagina during urination to numb the pain. I refused to drink water because urinating was so darn painful. I avoided intimacy with my partner. And I hated my life. In 2014, my symptoms escalated and I started to get urinary tract infections and kidney infections. And I started bleeding from my urethra. This was the most frightening thing I have ever experienced in my life.
- Tell me about everything you did (tests, products money spent…) and everyone you saw to get better or try to find out what was wrong.
- I do not know how much money I spent because I just stopped counting. It must be close to 10,000 dollars or more. Doctor after doctor. Urologist after urologist. I had one doctor insist I conduct hydrodistention and a potassium sensitivity test. I refused. Another doctor wrote me a prescription for Elmiron. I refused. A few wanted me to try Uribel and Elavil. Tried them both for 1 month. Horrible side effects. I stopped. We ran stool tests, organic acids, blood work, Lyme, Lyme co-infections, food sensitivity tests, tests to check for intestinal permeability, nagalase. You name the test, I probably ran it!!! The medical doctors did not have any answers. They only prescribed the antibiotics for the UTI. Once I cleared one infection, another one would come immediately after. Most of my infections were Group B strep, Enterococcus, and E coli. I even went to an immunologist who indicated I needed long-term antibiotics. Really the only 4 people who helped me were Lonnie Bagwell, Ruth Kriz, Marcus Ettinger and Rebekah Wittwer.
Lonnie Bagwell is a good friend of mine and a functional chiropractor in Huntersville, NC. I went to him in 2016 when I had reached the end of my rope. With him, we ran the Organic Acids test and the GI test through Genova laboratories. It was pivotal for me because it told a story. I found out I was very sick. I had a severe bacterial overgrowth, mitochondrial dysfunction, metabolic dysfunction, yeast overgrowth and very high oxidative stress. My gut test indicated dysbiosis and intestinal permeability. This was very eye-opening for me. But I still did not know what I needed to do to heal. I was just not in the right mindset and I still needed more investigation.
Ruth Kriz was next in the line-up, however, she charged me a fortune! I worked with her for almost a year, and this is probably where most of the 10k went! I will say I do not regret it because I found many more answers. First, I found out I had some chronic Lyme and the related co-infections mycoplasma and chlamydia pneumonia. I also found out I probably had a pretty deep bacterial biofilm in the wall of my bladder. This was important information because it told a story of my immune system. We also found out I had some genetic SNP’s related to methylation and detoxification that were contributing to my body’s inability to handle the things that have assaulted my immune system over the years. She recommended that I do long-term antibiotics, which we did for 9 months. Those were really good 9 months! Although the first 2 months were very difficult as I was experiencing die off from the endotoxins from the death of the bacteria. We first treated the UTI and I was able to eradicate E coli. The GBS and Enterococcus were quite stubborn, so we treated that concurrently with the mycoplasma. I also did Full Cowden (not cheap!) for 9 months. It was the first time I had experienced herbs for treating my condition, and it opened my eyes to a new world of medicine using plants! I also started to supplement the nutrients I was low in, such as magnesium, Vitamin D3, etc. However, I feel like I was on the antibiotics too long, and felt we should have been pulsing different herbs or even antibiotics to prevent the bacteria from developing resistance. In July 2017, I went off the antibiotics and my bladder began to hemorrhage. This was frightening! This is when I took things into my own hands. I became certified in clinical nutrition and functional diagnostic nutrition and enrolled myself in a doctorate program at MUIH. During this time I started to work with a new practitioner (Dr. Ettinger) and started to self-treat the bladder using herbal antibiotics.
Dr. Ettinger didn’t charge me nearly as much as Ruth, yet his healing delivery was worth much more! And now he is my CNS mentor and a friend for life. Dr. Ettinger is a digestive and gut expert, and he created a protocol for me to heal my gut. Through my own research, I learned that most people with IC also have some type of intestinal issue. IBS, SIBO, dysbiosis, permeability, or some level of gut dysfunction go hand in hand with IC. Research is also showing that the bladder is in fact not sterile and should not be treated with this expectation. In fact, there are hundreds of different bacterial strains in the bladder.
IC is a disease of a dysbiosis of the microbiome of the bladder and dysfunction of the immune system.
In fact, the newest research is saying that the large intestine can infect the bladder and if someone has overgrowth in their gut, the same overgrowth can appear in the bladder and cause infections. I found this to be true! My GI test indicated an overgrowth of GBS and the same bacteria was giving me problems in the bladder. In addition, I had an overgrowth of Klebsiella in my GI tract, which is indicated in autoimmune diseases. I was clearly autoimmune and dangerously risking another autoimmune disease. We tweaked my diet (which was already clean) and started taking a variety of things such as Ig-26, collagen, MSN, Restore, colostrum, and increased my antioxidants. I also started to take herbs for the infections on my own. I did not really follow a protocol, but I did use the Buhner books as a guide. I non-systemically pulsed different herbs. I used berberines as my base, and pulsed in uva-ursi, cryptolepsis, houttuynia, sida, bidens, and other herbs. I tried a non-systemic approach because I wanted to trick the bacteria as much as I could to prevent adaptation. You see, bacteria are highly evolved prokaryotes and they are smarter than us! I wanted to, in essence, outsmart them. In the beginning, I was still periodically bleeding. But over time both the pain and bleeding have lessened and I am fairly confident that I will only get better with time.
The final piece of the puzzle was my friend Rebekah Wittwer. She is an herbalist and natural healer and runs a blog called Live Strong for women with UTI’s. She has a blog called Pantry Pharmacy. Her protocols are amazing. I am using many of them often. I use a variety of different formulations that consist of horseradish, olive leaf extract, oregano oil, coconut oil, and activated charcoal. I am preparing vaginal bullets and rectal bullets. I cleanse with charcoal once a week and use olive leaf as well. I think this has really helped me with yeast/candida overgrowth in my gut and really been monumental for my bladder to heal. She is an amazing woman and dedicates so much of her time to help women get out of the misery and the vicious cycle of our broken medical system.
- Where you are at now and what you learned.
Today I can say I am about 80-90% healed from IC. I do not think this disease “goes away” but I think I have successfully modulated it. I am currently taking many supplements, including CBD oil and LDN, which I think may be long-term for me for a while. I also still do antimicrobial herbs on a rotation basis. Following the ideas from Malone, I think it will take time for the deeper layers of the bladder to purge the bacterial biofilms. Although I am not sold on the idea of full eradication as many biofilms in the gut are actually supportive of gut function. Currently, I am following a partially vegan diet with some fish as a condiment. I do not currently eat eggs or beef, and will occasionally have a bit of organic chicken or turkey. have and I am slowing re-incorporating back in the foods that were reactive on my food sensitivity test, being very slow and very careful. I have cut back on animal protein substantially per Ettinger’s recommendation and follow about an 80% vegan diet. I eat 75% vegetables and the rest are fruit. I am continuing to do my gut healing shake 5 times per week as well. I am also working on optimizing gut immunity, with drinking pure aloe vera, adaptogenic mushrooms and herbs, immunoglobulins and colostrum, and intermittent and extended water fasting. I am also going to try the new prebiotic by Microbiome labs as well.
The next steps in my healing are above the shoulders and working on stress management tools to heal my soul, which feel are hugely interconnected with my body’s dysfunctions. It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to work….your heart committed, and your body to function again. That is why my motto is, “Believe and you WILL Achieve”!