The Long Road Back! How I Overcame 20 Years of Chronic Illness Naturally!

Reprinted with the kind permission of and Brenda Cosentino.

By 2007, my health had reached an all-time low. I was given a chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia diagnosis. I was on heavy psychiatric medications for bipolar disorder, major anxiety, chronic migraines and post traumatic stress disorder. Most days I relied on painkillers for my increasing levels of pain.  By this time I had been sick for over fourteen years. My life was a constant battle to find some kind of stability in the midst of symptoms that included the following:

  • severe body aches
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • ongoing constipation
  • intense head pressure
  • chronic coughing
  • extreme fatigue
  • overall body weakness
  • depression
  • suicidal ideation
  • anemia
  • weight gain
  • bloating
  • chronic left sided pain
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • blood shot eyes
  • dry skin
  • dry and brittle hair
  • ridged fingernails
  • body numbness and tingling
  • heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • panic attacks
  • debilitating anxiety
  • chemical sensitivities

On many days, I was barely strong enough to sit up in a chair. I would put on a brave front at mealtime, and afterward collapse onto a couch or my bed.

I went to several doctors and received little to no help. The psychiatric diagnosis comes with a bias that seems inclined towards, “you are depressed, and these are the symptoms of your depression,” or “these are the side effects of the drugs.” None of them ever asked me about my diet; no one seemed to be able to offer me a solution.

The problem with this approach is that a drug is seen as the answer: a new chemical, perhaps in combination with a different coping strategy will make life more bearable… without really addressing the underlying problem. And so, I was repeatedly told I was depressed and would have to put up with the side-effects of the medications – a necessary evil.

Finally realizing that the allopathic medical system could not offer real and lasting solutions, I decided to do a little research. Thank heavens for the internet. I knew that something had to change or I wasn’t going to live much longer. I spent many, many hours online, and discovered that the body is a highly adaptive self-healing system. If given the proper fuel, and toxins removed, the body can function the way that it was designed.

Researching online, I slowly began to understand that I needed a holistic approach – one that considered the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of chronic illness. Each aspect is equally important and needs to be addressed. What we eat, drink, think, breathe and believe have tremendous repercussions on the state of our health. Over time, I came to understand that wellness is like a three legged stool. If one leg is broken, the whole stool will fall over and not function as designed.

The body is a self healing system.

There were so many testimonials online from people who were healing themselves by taking a body-mind-spirit approach to finding optimal health. Intuitively, I knew this was the way for me. I became hopeful and determined to regain my health using natural interventions. Finally, I would start to address the cause instead of just getting treated for symptoms. It just made plain old common sense, the kind that my Baba (grandmother) from Ukraine would have used.

And so I began my return journey to health. Here are the major steps that were involved.

Remove the bad stuff

  1. Processed foods and sugar

  2. Foods that create allergy or intolerance – most common are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, shellfish and nuts

  3. Amalgam dental fillings

  4. Toxic drugs

  5. Personal care products – commercial body lotion, sunscreen, bug spray, toothpaste, make-up, hair care products, soaps, body scents and teeth whiteners, to name a few

  6. Toxic household products – heavily scented laundry detergents and fabric softeners, cleaning products

  7. Environmental toxins – off gassing from new furniture, carpets, new vehicle upholstery, fresh paint, mold in the home or workplace, EMF and dirty electricity exposure, cigarette smoke, air fresheners and  scented candles

  8. Chronic infections – I started with a bowel cleanse,  treated parasites, and lyme disease and co-infections.

  9. Stress

  10. Unhealthy relationships

Add the Good Stuff

  1. Real food, plenty of water,  Wahls Paleo Diet that provides all of the essential nutrients for great health.

  2. Natural supplements, probiotics , superfoods and herbs to target individual infections, nutritional deficiencies , correct digestion and heal the gut.

  3. Exercise that is enjoyable and you look forward to.

  4. Spending as much time as possible in nature.

  5. Sweating – sauna or naturally in a hot climate is ideal.

  6. Beach therapy – sunbathing, soaking in the sea and walking barefoot.

  7. Straightening out the body – chiropractic therapy.

  8. Laughter, fun and lots of love.

  9. Living as simply and stress free as possible.

  10. Develop a loving relationship with a higher power.

This is what I have done to regain my health. It really seems like a daunting set of tasks. It began as a very steep learning curve, and took me six years to complete them all. Why so long? Well, think of regaining your health like peeling back the layers of an onion. I just happened to be an onion with many, many layers.

I was very, very sick when I started to work at reversing my physical state. The report back from my first hair tissue mineral analysis looked like someone that was slowly starving to death. I was extremely low in all minerals except for two of them.

The slowest and most frustrating part of this entire process has been dealing with chronic infections; I spent about 4 years on this alone. I finally was diagnosed with Lyme and several co-infections in August, 2012. I tried and failed with several different treatments for the Lyme Disease and co-infections. I have now been in complete remission from everything since November, 2014.

Some people may be restored to health in a relatively short time by changing their diet and perhaps doing one or two other things. I think it really depends on the level of toxicity, length of illness, nutritional deficiencies and level of damage to the body. In other words, there is no set timetable for recovery from illness. The body sets its own pace, based on what it needs.

It doesn’t seem fair for one person to have to deal with so many health-related issues. However, in many ways, my poor health was not unlike that of many others today. In a real sense, our health is a product of our times. And we are living today in what is probably the most toxic era in the history of humankind.

Despite this, it has all been worth it. The changes I’ve made have become a lifestyle that I wouldn’t give up for anything. To wake up each day without a headache or debilitating body pain and be able to walk five or six  miles is a blessing beyond my wildest imagination. I am in complete remission from depression, anxiety, mania, Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, all co-infections, migraines,  hypothyroidism, chronic migraines, adrenal fatigue, anemia and nutritional deficiencies. I  have been medication free since October, 2007. Food is powerful medicine!

Blessings and Best of health!

Brenda has completely recovered her health after a 20 year battle with Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. She is a passionate natural health blogger, nutritional therapist and owner of In addition to writing articles for RFR, Brenda offers (HTMA) hair tissue mineral analysis and health coaching by Skype. You can also follow Brenda on Facebook.

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