Nutrition Experiment Update
The Nutrition Experiment I discussed last week has already had some noteworthy results. Though I didn’t plan on providing an update so soon, but there have been some observations I deemed worthy of sharing. If you haven’t read that article yet, I highly recommend you do so before continuing.
Upon writing that original article, my friend and I had been following those guidelines for approximately three weeks. We are now into our fourth week of the “nutrition experiment”.
Here are some observations courtesy of my friend, and I’ll chime in later with my personal experiences as well.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food” ~Hippocrates
I should make a few things clear regarding my friend’s asthma. She was diagnosed with asthma at the age of three (she is now 30), and she doesn’t take daily medication. Whenever she has an asthma attack she uses an inhaler, which alleviates her asthma immediately; the inhaler is her only form of medication for asthma. She primarily suffers from exercise induced asthma, but anytime she gets a cold or the flu, her asthma comes on full force.
A couple of weeks ago, about two weeks into the “experiment”, she came down with a cold. Interestingly, and to her surprise, it was the first time she didn’t get even a hint of asthma even though she had a cold. She was ecstatic about this.
Regarding her menstrual cycle, it was normal for her to start taking NSAIDs (Ibuprofen) approximately two days before her period, and then once she started she took the maximum dose of both Migraine Excedrin and Ibuprofen for at least the first three days of her period. This didn’t even eliminate her cramps; it made them “tolerable”.
At their worst, the cramps (usually on the first day of her period, even after taking pain pills and using a heat pad) would cause her to end up in the fetal position writhing in pain, and sometimes vomiting would accompany the severe cramps.
Furthermore, she typically suffered from headaches or migraines right before, or at the beginning, of her period.
After three weeks of our little nutrition experiment, she started her period and noticed a huge improvement immediately. She didn’t take any pills leading up to the first day of her period and had no cramps. On the second day, she did take two NSAIDs because she was experiencing moderate cramps and the medication alleviated them completely within 30 minutes or so. That same day she took two more NSAIDs, not because she had cramps, but to make sure they didn’t interrupt her work day.
That is all she took during her period. She also noted that her flow was lighter, and her period was a day or so shorter in duration.
Here’s a closer look at the symptoms and the amount of pills she was taking before and during the nutrition experiment.
Before the Experiment
Two days before her period: maximum dose of Migraine Excedrin (two pills in 24 hours)
First day of her period: excruciating cramps with nausea or vomiting; maximum dose of Migraine Excedrin (two pills in 24 hours) and two NSAIDs every 4-6 hours. Regardless of the amount of pain pills she consumed, she still had severe cramps.
Day two of her period: maximum dose of Migraine Excedrin (two pills in 24 hours) plus two NSAIDs every 4-6 hours. She still experienced moderate to severe cramps.
Day three of her period: two Migraine Excedrin and no NSAIDs. She still had moderate cramps.
Day four: still experienced moderate cramps and took two NSAIDs every 4-6 hours.
Pill Totals & Headaches
Headaches/Migraines: Right before, or at the beginning, of her period
Total Migraine Excedrin Pills: 10 pills
Total NSAIDs: 14-16
Even with all of the pills, she was never “cramp free” and still experienced headaches.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ~Thomas Edison
During the Experiment
Days before period: no pills and no cramps or headaches
First day of period: no pills and no cramps
Second day of period: she woke up with moderate cramps and took two NSAIDs; cramps were completely alleviated within 30 minutes. She took two more NSAIDs later in the afternoon, not because she had cramps, but to make sure they didn’t come back and interrupt her work day.
After the second dose of pills on the second day of her period, she didn’t take any additional medication and didn’t have any cramps or headaches.
Pill Totals & Headaches
Total Migraine Excedrin Pills: 0
Total NSAIDs: 4
She went from taking a total of 24-26 pills over the course of her period to only four pills.
Her goal was to be able to take just NSAIDs to alleviate her cramps. The experiment allowed her to surpass her goals because the NSAIDs didn’t just tame her cramps, but eliminated them completely, and she only used them one day.
Needless to say, she is ecstatic with the results from this little nutrition experiment. She, and I, will continue with this experiment to see if things improve further with her period. It’s our hope that she can stop taking pain pills completely.
- She suffers from seasonal allergies, and thus far, they haven’t been an issue.
- After approximately two weeks following the “experiment”, her sugar cravings disappeared.
- One thing we should have done was a before and after blood profile. It would have been interesting to see what changes occurred.
What Have I Noticed?
As mentioned in the initial article, this experiment was originally put into practice for the sake of my friend, and I went along for the ride to help hold her accountable, and just for the heck of it.
While I don’t suffer from asthma or menstrual cramps, I did notice a few things.
- My period was a little lighter and a day shorter in duration.
- My typical sugar cravings disappeared after the second week, and my friend noted this change, too. We both love ice cream, and expected to be miserable going without it for an extended period of time. However, the cravings were gone after two weeks. We still appease our sweet tooth, but we do so with homemade, natural desserts. I’ll share a couple of these recipes in the near future.
- I suffer from seasonal allergies. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to go from the beginning of spring until late fall with a chronic stuffy nose. In the past I’ve used various antihistamines and a neti pot, but neither provided complete relief. Plus, I don’t like taking medications for extended periods of time (as was the case with allergy pills), and the neti pot was a pain to use, was quite gross, and never provided relief beyond a matter of minutes. Even though tree pollen is currently very high in my area along with low-moderate levels of grass pollen and mold spores (according to maps on Weather.com), my nose hasn’t been congested or runny. I’ve sneezed a few times during the day and had to blow my nose, but it’s not something that goes on all day. I’m quite curious to see if I remain symptom free as we progress further into spring and rag weed levels increase.
“He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skills of the physician.” ~Chinese proverb
Will This Experiment Work for You?
I don’t know, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
In the past (approximately two years ago) my friend experimented with eliminating dairy from her diet because many people experienced improvement in their asthma and/or menstrual cramps from doing so. But over a two month period of eliminating dairy, she noticed no differences in her asthma or menstrual cycle/cramps. When she reintroduced dairy into her diet, there were no changes again. I will note, however, that the milk she drinks now comes from local, grass-fed cows. She typically consumes 10 ounces of two percent milk about five days each week.
Case in point: some people experienced positive changes in their asthma or menstrual cycle/cramps by eliminating dairy, but this had no positive effect on my friend. Bottom line – one thing will not work for everyone. Results will vary depending on the individual.
But, you will also never know unless you try.
The main point I want to reveal with this nutrition experiment is that food itself can be used to treat, or at least alleviate, some issues. Several women (and men) have reported in the comments section on the original article, and on my Facebook page, that they experienced positive improvements in their menstrual cycles (not the men, obviously), allergies, skin appearance, energy levels, digestion, and many other areas through changes in their diet.
Undoubtedly some people will claim that I’ve gone crazy and off the deep end. But, I’m fine with that. If making a few simple nutrition changes was all that was necessary for my friend to stop taking copious amounts of pain pills each month, then it is well worth it.
Finally, please don’t think for a second I’m suggesting that the nutrition experiment I am doing is the end-all and be-all for everyone, because I’m not.
I just want to encourage people to do their own experimenting and discover what works best for them.
Additional Update April 2012!
We’ve been following the experiment for several months now, and during her last menstrual cycle my friend had no cramps or headaches whatsoever! And she didn’t take a single pain pill before or during her period! She said this is the first time she has ever had a cramp-free period and didn’t have to take pain pills. The experiment has clearly been a huge success for her.
If you found this interesting or helpful, please share this by clicking the “Like” or “Tweet” buttons below. And please share any experiences you have had with your own “nutrition experiments” below!