A story not many people know is that shortly after having my third child, I started having severe gut issues. Cramping that felt like I was in labor again...only worse. But then it seemed to ease up and I wrote it off to hormones needing to balance out again.
Fast forward a few months and I started having panic attacks. As in chest pain, heart beating crazy fast, cold sweat, freaking out, fast breathing, thought I was dying.
I went to the nearest doctor who did an EKG and basically just told me everything seemed fine. "You've probably had a panic attack."
And then I thought I was fine for a bit. Although it left me really weak. Then I started having more of these "attacks" shortly after meals. Which made me afraid to eat.
I also realized I'd recently cleaned some mold from a bathroom wall shortly before the attacks started.
And my husband was working out of town which increased stress levels. And I had no support in the town where we lived.
Basically it was the perfect storm to take a body down.
So what does this all have to do with gut health?
At my lowest point, I reached out to a functional nutritionist who consulted with me about what might be going on. I had a lot of bloodwork, including an hours-long blood glucose test. Basically my blood sugar was all over the place. He said that blood sugar could definitely cause a stress response and trigger a panic attack. As could fermentation taking place due to poor digestion. And the response from leaky gut.
Now, I had a lot of things going on. And to say my body was giving me some warning signs is an understatement. What caused all of this? It wasn't one thing, that's for sure. It was the culmination of many stressors and environmental toxins (including Lyme) that took me down hard.
So panic (or anxiety) attacks are definitely related to stress...and that can be physical as well as emotional stressors. If the body is stressed by poor gut health, blood sugar imbalance, environmental toxins, hormone imbalance, even injury or pain, it can lead to a panic response. Kind of like the alarm bells going off at a fire station. Emergency! Emergency!
And at that point, we usually panic (pun intended) and head for the nearest doctor who is going to do their best to knock down the current symptoms at hand. It's a rare practitioner who will dig deeper with you to find a cause of the turmoil.
Now I'm going to say something you may think is crazy. Are you ready?
Regardless of whether or not you know the "root cause," you can get better.
Take a moment to digest that. Read it again.
Even if you don't know the exact root cause, diagnosis, or name of what you're experiencing, you absolutely can heal.
Which is how so many people have survived all this time without specialists, tests, labwork, imaging, etc.
So, while it's nice to be able to point a finger and say, "This is the cause of all of my troubles." And eliminate it. There are most likely (almost 100% of the time) multiple factors causing your current symptoms.
For me, I can say that mold exposure, Lyme disease, SIBO, leaky gut, blood sugar issues, and high stress levels were contributing factors to my health crash. But to get better, I did not go after each one of these things separately, unlike conventional medicine where I would have been prescribed medicine to treat each individual symptom.
Instead, by focusing on the things I could do to support my body as it was trying to heal, it took care of all of the symptoms simultaneously. It took me a few months and lots of consults to finally figure out how to do that, but once that happened, healing came quickly...finally.
Here are a few things that help the body heal...no matter what's going on.
Hydrotherapy - Like hot/cold contrast baths
Castor Oil Packs
Slippery Elm Powder or Aloe (no aloe if SIBO)
Celtic Salt - Eat a crystal with every glass of water for mineral balance (can also supplement with a Trace Mineral blend)
Sleep - Make sure you get plenty while you're healing
Water - Drink plenty (plus the salt)
Exercises - General movement and exercise is helpful, though targeted exercises tailored for you will help you heal even faster. Did you know there are exercises specifically for your gut/digestion?
Sunshine - It's extremely healing when used in moderation. Make sure you get enough on sunscreen-free skin daily. For best results, sun your liver/gut directly as well.
Excellent Nutrition - Maybe you are already eating healthfully...but sometimes it takes a different approach for healing to happen.
Sounds too easy right? It is simple (not easy), though it takes careful planning, persistence, plus a bit of tweaking to get it right for your body.
It's not magic, it just works because it's how we were made to heal.