Below you can watch the full interview to hear Doug’s journey firsthand and learn how he cured himself with raw milk, fermented foods, and a high fat diet. (If you’re more of a reader, see the write-up underneath!) Doug went from pharmaceuticals, to steroids, to chemotherapy drugs, and then even faced surgery to remove his large intestine. Today he is completely symptom-free and has been for 2 years.
How He Got Sick
Doug was once like any other teenager eating a “SAD” (Standard American Diet). He was a self-professed “human garbage disposal,” eating anything and everything in sight with no issue. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was the reason he got out of bed each morning, and if you’ve ever seen MMA fighters in the act, you’ll know that a strong, healthy body is essential for success.
One fateful night, Doug got into a fist fight in the midst of defending someone very close to him. He ended up splitting his left hand open on the teeth of his opponent. As soon as he told me this, my eyes widened – we harbour some very dangerous bacteria in our mouths. That’s the last place you’d want touching your open wound!
My fears were confirmed when Doug told me what happened next. The cut, of course, became infected, so Doug went to the hospital for what he thought would be a simple round of antibiotics. He walked away with a script for doxycycline and a smile… until a few weeks later, when his hand turned green with the added bonus of leaking pus. Fun.
This time he went straight to the emergency room and was greeted with a shocking, “Prep him for surgery. We’re going to have to remove his fingers.”
A nurse stepped in moments before surgery and begged the team to save his hand. She suggested a pickline, funneled through a vein in his chest, with a daily IV antibiotic that would send the medicine all the way down his arm. Thankfully they listened, and every single day thereafter that incredible nurse was at his door to administer a fresh serving of IV vancomycin.
The IV antibiotics saved his fingers but came at a costly price. Halfway through the treatment he collapsed with a 104* fever, which doctors feared could be caused by meningitis. He was rushed in for a spinal tap, cleared of meningitis, and continued his last month of IV therapy like a champ. Unfortunately, the secondary infections and fevers continued. His immune system was taking a huge hit from the constant administration of IV drugs that were destroying the microbiome of his gut. The next two years he was sick a lot, but grateful to have a hand, nonetheless.
Then one day, he came down with a flu unlike any other. It took weeks to get over, and although most symptoms disappeared with the virus, his stomach symptoms remained.
Every night thereafter, Doug was plagued with stabbing pain, nausea, diarrhea, no appetite, and blood in his stool. This went on for weeks until he actually began throwing up blood as well. He was losing weight quickly and knew something wasn’t right.
Doug made his way to a gastroenterologist, who he was confident would be able to diagnose and swiftly treat whatever was plaguing him. This was exactly what I thought when I went in for the treatment of my IBS. Unfortunately for me and Doug, we quickly learned that doctors knew just about as much as we did in terms of what was wreaking havoc in our guts.
Fecal test – negative for bacteria and parasites (so was mine, and yet check out the worm I passed with herbs!)
Endoscopy/Colonoscopy – positive for severe inflammation.
“You have ulcerative colitis,” the doctor told him. “We don’t know what’s causing it, but we do have a protocol to treat it, so let’s get started.”
That protocol, unfortunately, was a guessing game of pharmaceuticals that left Doug in even worse pain, depressed, and desperate for answers.
Let’s Play A Game
1. Lialda, an anti-inflammatory drug, was first on the roster. Alongside Lialda was an anti-spasmodic that did nothing but make Doug’s symptoms worse.
In the interview above, Doug and I decided to take a look at the side effects of Lialda vs. the actual symptoms of ulcerative colitis. We discovered exactly what Doug did when he was wondering why he felt so bad: they were the same. Severe stomach pain, cramping, bloody diarrhea, nausea, upper stomach pain, loss of appetite. Doug experienced severe heart palpitations that scared him and his entire family. “This isn’t worth it,” he thought to himself. The side effects were worse than the disease!
2. Steroids were next on the list.
It started with 20mg of prednisone, then 40, then 60. Doug’s face blew up into the shape of a moon and he could not get to sleep no matter how hard he tried. He said the brain fog he experienced from these steroids was the worst of his entire life. The joint pain was unbearable.
3. Time to go with the big guns: chemotherapy drugs. 6MP to be exact.
“This was the darkest period of my entire life,” said Doug. “I was so depressed and weak, I could not get out of bed. I wanted to die.” He was 137 lbs and wasting away before his family’s eyes.
At this point, Doug was told he would have to either stay on these drugs for life (no matter how bad they made him feel), or he would have to have his entire large intestine removed.
“The only other way is to cut out your large intestine. Once we do this, there’s no going back.”
“What about diet?” asked Doug. “Isn’t there something I can do?”
“No,” doctors replied. “If something bothers you, don’t eat it, but we believe diet has nothing to do with it.”
Doug made his way to the specialist’s office and was ready to give up his entire large intestine until the surgeon stopped him and said, “Look, you’re 21. Take my advice. Things can happen. Try to stick it out for a few months, and then come back to me.”
Doug went to the place we all come to when we’re lost (and the place you happen to be right now) – the internet. He scoured forums about Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. He tried every suggestion that seemed viable. He went on a vegan diet. Went macrobiotic, even. Nothing worked, and eating fibrous vegetables like leafy greens or grains such as brown rice just made the problem worse due to how damaged and irritated his gut lining was.
And then, someone said the two words that changed his life: raw milk.
Every single person on the forum laughed at the notion, but something in Doug’s intuition told him to give it a go. “I have nothing to lose. I can either try this crazy idea of raw milk. or lose my intestine,” he thought.
Doug started researching where to get the milk (www.realmilk.com), and realized that the FDA cracks down on this incredibly healing food because they know it will cut into their pharmaceutical profits. I highly suggest watching the documentary Farmageddon to see just how far our government will go to hide the benefits and prevent accessibility to this wonderful substance.
He ordered a gallon from a brave, local farm, took his first sip, and was amazed. “It was completely different from the milk you get in the store,” he told me.
“In fact, pasteurized milk was one of my worst triggers. With raw milk I felt incredible.”
He saw that the milk had this interesting yellow colour to it, and later realized that this is because the cows were grass-fed on organic land. Cows fed fresh green forage, especially those grazing on grass, have been shown to have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and essential fatty acids in their milk – the components that give it this rich color (1,2). Animal studies show that as little as 0.5 percent CLA in your diet could reduce tumors by over 50 percent, including the following types of cancer: breast, colorectal, lung, skin, and stomach (1, 2, 3). It’s also shown to lower body fat, increase lean body mass, and reduce inflammation, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease (1, 2, 3).
After 2-3 weeks, he started putting weight back on and was absolutely ecstatic. He began including raw cream and butter into his diet as well, and wondered what else the farm had to offer. He saw they offered “organic” produce and soon realized his milk was organic as well.
This, of course, opened the doors to the rabbit hole and he educated himself on GMOs, toxic food additives, pesticides, and so much more. This is a topic for another blog post, but essentially he completely cut out GMOs from his diet and went 100% organic. The difference was immediate.
Doug’s Healing Diet
At this point, Doug was knee-deep in research. He knew he wasn’t ready to digest irritating plant fiber, and knew that sugar, fruit, and carbs were some of his worst trigger foods due to candida and his leaky gut. He also knew that fats could be very healing to seal his damaged gut, so he went on a high fat paleo diet, eating predominately “low-FODMAP” foods.
The low-FODMAP diet is a scientifically proven diet plan which helps control symptoms of IBS and similar disorders. The theory is that eating foods high in FODMAPs increases the amount of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, resulting in common IBS symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates found in a wide range of foods from apples to kidney beans – even honey! FODMAPs bring more water into the bowel because they are poorly absorbed in the gut and are fermented rapidly by bacteria in the bowel. Both of these distend the intestine (stretch its walls) and this causes the pain, bloating, and change in bowel habits.
Why no leafy greens for the first few months? As you saw above, Doug’s intestinal lining was absolutely destroyed. You can imagine how it felt to have fibrous foods scratching against the raw, inflamed lining. Thankfully, he was very diligent with his high-fat diet, and after many months was eventually able to introduce cooked greens back into his plan.
So what did he do for vegetables and fiber? Doug found out that he was also unable to deal with the fiber in vegetables because he had absolutely no good bacteria left over in his intestines from his previous antibiotic regimen. Here comes the magic of fermented vegetables: they were already partially broken down by the good bacteria fermenting them! He may not have had any probiotics in his intestines, but he sure could eat them and the vegetables that they love to pre-digest. This way, he not only got his daily intake of veggies – he also got a TON of the probiotics he desperately needed to repopulate his microbiome.
You can read my article on the benefits of fermented foods here.
And now, the question you’ve been waiting for: WHY RAW MILK?
I know, I know. The internet has demonized dairy. And we should absolutely be against dead, pasteurized, factory-farmed dairy with no live enzymes to help us break it down. But here’s the scoop on this traditional food when it’s consumed raw, in its proper form.
Doug knew that his journey to dis-ease began when he was given extended IV antibiotic therapy. He connected the dots and realized that his gut was bombed by an indiscriminate weapon that killed everything in its sight. And while this meant his infection was gone, it also meant that his gut soldiers were gone as well. His microbiome was destroyed, and the bad bacteria had taken over.
Dr. Deborah Gordon, M.D. explains it best:
Raw milk refers to unprocessed, untreated milk straight from the cow. The milk you buy from the local supermarket nowadays is a different substance altogether. It has been pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized, or homogenized. This liquid is not really milk. It is a chemically altered substance, heated to remove pathogens and bacteria and to prolong its shelf life. The resultant low-enzyme activity makes it difficult to digest, the altered fat content renders the vitamins and minerals difficult to absorb, and the residual drugs and antibiotics pose a threat to human health. On top of this, the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria have been destroyed.
The only reason commercial supermarket milk is pasteurized is because it would be incredibly dangerous to drink raw milk from a factory-farmed cow. Factory-farmed animals are routinely fed an unnatural, high-protein GMO soy and corn-based diet. This diet is so toxic to their biology that it causes severe illnesses that can only be combated by continually injecting the cows with antibiotics. These animals, kept in inhumane conditions far from their natural environment, are subject to enormous stress.
Raw milk from grass-fed cows is a whole new ball game.
Dr. Gordon, M.D. continues to explain that, “Raw milk is an incredibly complex whole food, complete with digestive enzymes and its own antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic mechanisms conveniently built into a neat package. It is chock-full of both fat and water-soluble vitamins, a wide range of minerals and trace elements, all eight essential amino acids, more than 60 enzymes, and CLA—an omega-6 fatty acid with impressive effects on everything from insulin resistance to cancer to cardiovascular disease.”
In fact, The Weston A. Price Foundation conducted an informal survey of over 700 families, and determined that over eighty percent of those diagnosed with lactose intolerance no longer suffer from symptoms after switching to raw milk. (1)
Why is that? Because raw milk actually contains the enzymes and probiotics you need to digest it!
When you’re a child, you produce the enzyme lactase to digest the molecule lactose from your mother’s milk. As we grow, we no longer produce it. Therefore, we would need to consume live, enzyme-rich raw milk that already contains abundant lactase to be able to break down the lactose. And that’s exactly what happens.
Raw milk’s probiotic content was able to repopulate Doug’s gut, and the healing fats and enzymes worked wonders on his inflamed, broken lining.
And speaking of raw milk’s anti-parasitic mechanisms: parasites play a huge role in all disorders of the gut, because as soon as the “good” soldiers are gone, the bad guys can take over. While drinking raw milk and eating a clean diet, Doug passed many different parasites including candida, pinworms, and more.
Ditch The Drugs
Doug felt so much better from his new diet, fermented foods, and raw milk that he decided to give up his chemo drugs and anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals… against his doctor’s orders.
Once he did that, his healing came full circle. He had not a symptom left in sight.
He walked into the doctor’s office a brand new man with 50 pounds of healthy weight and muscle put back on. “Wow, you look great!” said his physician. “The drugs are working, I propose?”
“Nope. I’m off every single one.”
His doctor’s jaw fell to the floor. “You are crazy,” he said. “You need them. This is a chronic disease. It will come back.”
“I’m sorry doc, but your medicine did nothing but make me worse. I found what works for me, and I’m not looking back.” With that sentiment he walked out of the office, and today he has been symptom free for 2 years.
“I feel like a bionic human now.”
If you met Doug in person, you would never know he was ill. He is strong, loving, caring, positive, and let me tell you – sharp as a knife. That’s what happens when you get sick and don’t have the answers. You have to teach yourself the truth from square one. He is so knowledgeable about so many facets of health and diet, and I am honoured to be his friend. Today he still eats a high fat paleo diet, but was able to re-introduce many wonderful foods such as sweet potatoes, starches, fruit, and nightshades. He still avoids gluten and grains (following paleo wisdom) and still drinks his raw milk every day, in much lesser quantities. He makes sure to include at least one serving of fermented vegetables with his meals and says he will never forget how important it is to care for your gut and the soldiers living inside of it, keeping you healthy and fighting off the bad guys.
“The most important part of my healing was a positive frame of mind,” he told me as we closed our interview.
“I never, ever gave up. I refused. That’s truly what kept me alive. That’s what got me through the worst days. I always believed I would get better.”
And you can, too.
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