I grew up in Puerto Rico where there was not much knowledge in nutrition and healthy habits, but there were many natural remedies. My interest in reading self-help and home remedy books started as a teenager after experiencing health complications at a very young age. My health issues began in my teenage years, but my real obsession for health, nutrition, and natural remedies started in my mid-twenties after many health issues arose. As a young adult and mom, I felt tired all the time, weak, in pain, and like I was 10 times older than I really was. All I wanted was to figure out what was wrong with me and how to fix it. When I didn’t receive many answers from my doctors, I decided to start doing my own research. Since I wasn’t prone to prescription medications anyways and had an inclination to natural remedies, my journey as an obsessed researcher began.
I still remember how my mother and grandmother would make these concoctions that worked wonders. Sometime in the 1990s, during a hot Summer day in Puerto Rico, I came down with some sort of flu. I must have been 11 or 12 years of age. I was feeling weak and had a very high fever. My grandmother asked me to lay down, then started applying an oil concoction on my feet. The oil had a very strong smell to it, at the moment I had no idea what it was. Later in life, I found out it was an oil of “camphor”. She then asked me to put on socks, bundle up and go to sleep. “But it’s the middle of the day and it’s hot!” I complained. But grandmother said I had to, so I did. After falling asleep around noon, I woke up a few hours later feeling refreshed, energized and with no fever whatsoever. That was my first experience with natural remedies, and I was impacted at such a young age.
Shortly after that experience with my grandmother, I ended up in the hospital with gastroenteritis. I remember I felt bad because my sister was chosen to represent our small community in a parade, as a princess, and my parents and I weren’t there to see her. As my sister was getting ready that day, I was running to the bathroom nonstop. I don’t remember much after that, except being in the hospital with an IV attached to my arm. After I got dismissed, I remember being very hungry and asking my mom to buy me treats. She gave me soda crackers, apple sauce, and ginger ale for a few days. I never understood why soda crackers, apple sauce, and ginger ale until I started learning about nutrition in my adulthood (which I’ll explain in a bit).
After these experiences, I started paying attention to my mom’s remedies and even reading some of her self-help and natural remedies books. I found all the remedies so intriguing. I started learning all sorts of remedies and would look up different symptoms just for fun. In the core of my being, I knew natural remedies work wonders and it’s a better alternative to prescription medicine in some cases.
When I had my son at age 21, I realized I don’t react well to certain medications. I remember being in the hospital after my C-section asking the nurses for pain medications. After the nurse gave me one of the strongest pain killers, I had a massive panic attack. I was shaking, couldn’t sleep, felt paranoid and much more. I remember calling the nurse asking her for something to calm me down. Not sure what she gave me, but the way she put it was, she gave me a medicine strong enough to knock down an elephant and wasn’t sure why I was reacting that way. A few years later I ended up in the hospital for something else and I had a similar reaction. I remember wanting to rip out my IV and just run away. I imagined myself as a crazy run-away woman in the hospital. Thank goodness I was able to internally calm myself down and waited until the doctor came to see me. That day I decided that I was going to avoid visits to the hospital as much as possible and that I would figure out how I could deal with any symptom in a natural way.
My health and nutrition obsession began. After my mom’s natural remedies books, as a young adult, I subscribed to Prevention magazines. Shortly after that, I started buying their books and other books they recommended. I was determined to learn all about health, wellness, nutrition and how it was related to my conditions. I read, Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, Bottom Lines Health Breakthroughs of 2013, New Choices in Natural Healing and more. A few years and many books later I decided to join the largest nutrition school, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2015. After graduating with a Health Coaching Certificate in 2016 I was excited to share with others what I had learned about health and nutrition.
Little that I know, life had other plans for me. I was feeling extremely ill. I started presenting symptoms in 2016. I felt mayor daily headaches. Doctors diagnosed me with Chronic Migraines. Even though inside of me I knew that migraines weren’t the case, but I was desperate for relief. After months of daily headaches, I decided to give their suggestions a try. I tried every medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic and more. Nothing was working. A few months later, my headaches started going away on their own, but a new symptom arrived. Now my feet were hurting. I was immediately diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and was told to stretch and exercise my feet. Then my hips and lower back started to hurt. “What now?” I thought to myself. I finally told my doctor “I feel like I’m 90 years old, what’s going on with me?” At that point, every inch of my body was in pain and sometimes I couldn’t walk or get out of bed in the morning. After many tests were done, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease in August of 2017.
And again, the researching begins. “What the heck is Lyme Disease?” I asked myself. I never learned about this in my books or in school. I became, once again, obsessed. One of the first books I found was Unlocking Lyme by Dr. Rawls. Even as an MD, he as well had struggled with Lyme Disease and all its symptoms. He precisely described what is Lyme Disease, how what and why one gets symptoms while others don’t. Plus, he shares his journey and how he overcame the disease using practical solutions. Learning about Lyme was fascinating to me. Although some days I despised the symptoms I had to go through, in a way I loved learning about it. I learned that optimal health is much more than balanced nutrition, it’s also detoxing, eliminating food triggers, replenishing the gut, lots of self-care and more. It opened up a whole new world for me. Soon after I meet Ariel Wachowiak, a health practitioner that took my health to the next level. She is a Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturist that specializes in Lyme Disease. With her help, I was able to learn about herbs, botanicals, traditional Chinese Medicine, recommended nutrition for the disease and more. That’s when I learned that the digestive issues I experienced at a young age had followed me all throughout my life.
The Gut and Immune System. With the help of Ariel and Dr. Rawls book, I learned that 80% of our immune system lives in the gut. When our gut (digestion) is compromised, so is our immune system. And with a weak immune system, our body can’t help us fight against disease, which can lead to the growth of bad bacteria, pathogens and even parasites in our body. With their recommendations, I started implementing gut healing foods, herbs and more. One of them was ginger. Which is why many people associate ginger ale with being good for the stomach. I told you I’d get back to the ginger ale. As for the soda crackers and apple sauce, my mom gave me, the starch in the soda crackers help absorb the acid in the stomach and mashed foods like apple sauce are easier for digestion. Plus, apples are great to open up the gallbladder ducts that help eliminate toxins. It’s all an overall win-win.
Today, thanks to my obsessions and research, I’m glad to say that my symptoms have improved more than 50% and I’m well on my way to remission. I’m excited to have a long-lasting good relationship with my body, nutrition, overall health, and wellness.
Thanks for reading.
Wishing you much health and happiness,
Mayra – The Nutrition Dork