This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a medical food and must be used under medical supervision.
It’s no secret that I fought a long 20 month battle with Ulcerative Colitis. That near two year period of my life was nothing short of physical, mental, and emotional hell. But I carried on, parented a two year old, and pretended that life was sunshine and glitter. If you didn’t know me well, you would have had no clue that I was waging a war internally.
Ulcerative colitis isn’t something many people are familiar with. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Chrons are two “cousins” of colitis that are more widely mentioned. IBS in particular seems to affect a lot of people at least once during their life span. Ulcerative colitis however? You probably will get a lot of blank looks of head shakes of confusion when you mention you have it.
In the event that you find yourself unsuccessfully trying to explain the ins and outs of ulcerative colitis, consider sharing these key points:
- Ulcerative colitis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the inner lining of the large intestine, which includes the colon and the rectum.
- The inflammation causes erosion of the lining of the colon, leading to bleeding, production of pus, sudden & frequent diarrhea, and severe abdominal discomfort.
- Ulcerative colitis affects more than 1 in every 1,000 Americans and mostly starts between the ages of 15 and 30.
What causes colitis?
In my case, an abscessed tailbone, MASS amounts of heavy duty antibiotics, a surgery, post-partum related hormones, having another autoimmune disease, and exposure to toxic mold all within a very short timeframe caused a train wreck inside my body. It really was the perfect storm of events and I am surprised that it took as long as it did for my first and only flare to happen.
How did ulcerative colitis impact my life?
Until now, I haven’t REALLY gone into detail about how colitis disrupted my life. You see, it’s not something you want to discuss, especially while a flare is happening.
Colitis is embarrassing. Mortifying. Humiliating. Most people can’t, don’t or won’t leave their homes very often. When they do, they have to know where a bathroom is and it must be within a 10 second sprinting distance. Or they have to wear a diaper.
I choose not to wear a diaper and instead, I made sure I knew EVERY single tree I could hide behind, bush I could crawl into, large boulder I could sneak around, infrequently traveled pathways, and of course public restroom.
I also had it down to a science how much time I had between the distinctive “gurgle” and accompanying shooting pain and when I needed to drop trough and hit the latrine. 4.17 seconds. Every. Single. Time.
Can you see the problem here? 4.17 seconds isn’t a lot of time to find a place to “go.” It’s barely enough time to get your pants down.
Have you filled in the blanks yet? I don’t wish to disgust anyone but I think you can see where I am going with this. There were many, many times in that 20 month period that I was lucky to just get my pants down. Never mind actually having a place to do what needed to be done.
When I say “do what needed to be done” it is important to highlight that YOU LOOSE ALL ABILITY TO CONTROL YOUR BOWEL FUNCTIONS when you have an ulcerative colitis flare. Your body is no longer under your control. Many a time my husband told me to try harder to hold it. Well, you can try as hard as you want but for the most part, you won’t succeed. Such is the nature of this debilitating disease.
Lest you forget, I was the primary caregiver of my then 2 year old daughter. 2 year olds don’t understand or care that mommy can’t really leave the bathroom let alone the house. And so, I sucked it up and went about life with her as most parents of 2 year olds do. I simply disassociated myself from the humiliation and hoped people didn’t catch on to my bathroom shenanigans.
My daughter is now 6 and will STILL point out what bushed I hopped into. Only now, she understands why.
How did I successfully send my flare into remission?
The gastroenterologists I was under the care of really were of no help. They just wanted to medicate me for life. Basically, they all told me that I would be on meds forever. Period. There is no other way.
My ass there wasn’t another way! They didn’t know who they were dealing with.
I stopped going to my appointments and instead decided to work with Lydia, a nutritional therapist who literally was my female knight in shining armor. I was a challenge for her to be sure. 20 months of an intense colitis flare isn’t something you can halt overnight. And yet, she kind of did that. It honestly only took about 8 weeks for me to be back to “normal.” And really, I was not experiencing so many humiliating moments after just a couple of weeks on Lydia’s protocol.
You can read all about my journey in these “Healing Naturally” posts:
So what was the big secret to getting my life back?
Probiotics! Yes, probiotics.
Of course I was on a host of other supportive short term supplements as well as practicing very, very clean eating. But really, an intense, therapeutic dose of probiotics is what allowed my gut to fight back against ulcerative colitis.
While many people are familiar with the general term “probiotics,” most do not understand the importance of knowing which specific strain of organism should be used for which specific disease or condition. It is easy to grab a probiotic off the shelf but in no way, shape, or form are probiotics created equal.
Probiotics work in three areas of the gut: the microbial barrier, chemical barrier and physical barrier. It is suggested that adults should take at least one billion cells (also called colony-forming units or CFU’s) daily and even more when a chronic condition is present.
At the time, Lydia had me on a powerful probiotic that didn’t require medical supervision. And while it worked, I can only imagine what might have happened had I had access to a high-potency probiotic medical food like VSL #3. I might have literally stopped my flare in half the time or less.
VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food that is clinically proven in the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), and ileal pouch. It is a proprietary formulation of a mix of 8 strains of live lactic acid bacteria, making it one of the few probiotics with this many strains. VSL#3 has at least 112.5 billion CFU’s. In addition, it can colonize the gastrointestinal tract with beneficial bacteria, reduce gas and bloating from IBS and maintain remission in UC or an ileal pouch.
VSL#3 is at least 10 times more potent than the average probiotic and differs from other probiotics in that it is a medical food, not a supplement, and therefore must be used under medical supervision.
Even though VSL#3 required medical supervision, it is available at your local pharmacy. So typically you can have immediate access to it.
There are several formulations of VSL#3. All formulations require refrigeration to preserve potency and are gluten free, Kosher and Halal certified.
- VSL#3® DS Double Strength (DS) packets containing 900 billion live bacteria. Due to the potency of this formulation, VSL#3 DS is a prescription only medical food.
- VSL#3® packets (lemon flavored and unflavored) containing 450 billion bacteria
- VSL#3® capsules containing 112.5 billion bacteria
While I myself did not use VSL#3, I wouldn’t hesitate to turn to this in the unfortunate event of another flare. In fact, if my colitis did rear its ugly head, you can bet I will have my provider order this in bulk for me.
I thoroughly vetted this product and the company and I have no doubt that VSL#3 works as well as they say it does. Testimony after testimony across many colitis support forums attests to this. And from my personal experience using a much less potent probiotic, I can say with confidence that VSL#3 has everything a destroyed, diseased gut needs to return to optimal health.
For more information about the high-potency probiotic medical food, VSL#3, that is clinically proven in the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC) and ileal pouch, visit VSL#3 here. Be sure to take advantage of the $5 discount by entering “Doctor” at checkout.
Learn more about how VSL#3 works, discover the difference and watch this short video.
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