My Health Journey Part 4: What Goes Up…

High Blood Calcium 4This parathyroid surgery alternative post is number IV in the series.  If you missed number I, then start here: What I Didn’t Know.  Now where was I…?  Oh yes…

There was one final lab number that the surgeon really wanted to see before diagnosing me as primary hyperparathyroid:  my parathyroid hormone blood level (PTH).  If it was elevated, then the diagnosis was solid.

As soon as I completed the final lab draw, I rushed home and immediately took my first dose of boron.  One soda-capful was equal to 3 mg of boron, which was an average daily dose.  I was told to start there and work my way up slowly to 9 mg.  What I did instead was to start there, and work my way up QUICKLY.  Here is an excerpt from my diary:

“Started taking the boron last Tuesday, after getting my blood draw. I took 3 mg (1 t. of concentrate) to my water bottle. The next day, I did two water bottles with 3mg each. The following day I did 3, for a total of 9 mg, as directed by my doctor. I’m holding there, because my focus is really bad right now. I am also eating dates, raisins, and walnuts from S. California, as they have very high boron concentrations in their soil, which makes their produce a good source.”

Oy.
I do not recommend that as a “slow” start.  And my doctor just suggested stopping at 9 mg…not the speed at which I worked my way there.

My fatigue, mental fog, memory loss, hair loss, sleeplessness, anxiety, and…I can’t even remember what all else.  (Dang memory loss.)  Anyway…I felt awful.  But I hung in there, and I faithfully took my supplement every week day!

I had read that it’s easier on the body to take the weekends off when loading supplements, so I only took my boron Monday through Friday.   The fog gradually lifted, and I really began to feel better.  This could be working!

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Love, Hate, Labs

My first PTH lab test came back in.  The top end of the spectrum of normal is 65.
My pre-boron level?  93.
This was definitely a classic parathyroid tumor!

Seven weeks into my boron therapy, we retested PTH.  I was antsy and excited to see how all that boron was paying off!

But my labs came back with my pth level at 114.
NOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo!
I might have said a cuss.
Talk about discouraging.  I went from below 30 points away from normal to almost 50 points away…that sucker must really be liking the boron!

I let myself really feel the disappointment all afternoon, but by the time evening rolled around, I knew it was time to get over it and just decide what to do.  Only I didn’t know of anything to do.  Was the therapy a fluke?  Was I really just an idiot drinking detergent water?

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My weekly protocol…all laid out. The horse pills in front are 50 mg. iodine. I snap them in half. Or you can buy the teeny tiny 12 mg. tablets, and just take 4 per day.

Last Hope

This was new turf for my Doctor and I both.  I decided that the only one who probably could answer my question the author of the Boron Conspiracy, Walter Last.  So I decided to look him up and write him an e-mail.  I briefly explained my desire to treat a parathyroid tumor with borax, and shared my lab results, asking for feedback on what I’d done wrong.

I hit send.

The next morning, my eyeballs flew open, and I ran down to see if I had mail.
YES!  My inbox had an e-mail from Walter Last.  I couldn’t believe it!high-blood-calcium (6)

He wrote a short note, indicating some other factors that are often at play with parathyroid tumors, and then he wrote this:

“Initially, boron supplementation would increase hormone production of enlarged parathyroid the same as additional iodine increases hormone production of enlarged thyroid…remain for some weeks with 3 mg boron and 1 drop of Lugol’s and increase further only gradually; eventually sufficient supply should normalize both.”

I felt a new flush of hope.  The rise in parathyroid hormone was normal.

I took his letter in to my next follow up appointment, and my doc and I came up with a supplement strategy to support my endocrine system through this stressful time, since my energy levels and hormone levels were really suffering.

I did additional research at home, and put together a protocol to stick to.  I would follow this through.  I needed to see if it will work.  For myself, and maybe for others like me who really don’t love the idea of surgery.  I’ll share my protocol below.

Next Hurdle?

Right around the 6 month mark of being on boron, I went back in for labs.

This time, I had something to sing about!
My levels had dropped from 114 (4 months prior) to now 85.
NOW we are moving in the right direction!

I’m so encouraged by my progress so far!  My doctors and I were going to give this a year, and then re-evaluate, but I’d love to be done with the continuous high blood calcium deal well before a year is up, and get on with the important task of rebuilding my bones and calcium stores.  I’ll keep you guys in the loop as we move forward with labs and new challenges.  So that’s my story, up to today.  Which happens to be my REAL 39th birthday.  I have SO much hope for this year.

And even if all of this ends up in me having surgery for some reason, I have learned so much that it’s totally been worth the roller coaster ride.

And now, I’ll show you what I take everyday.  It’s really just a few extra things besides what I used to take just as an everyday supplement.

parathyriod-surgery-alternative

This is what I’m using on a daily basis…

My Protocol

This is my daily protocol for treating the primary hyperparathyroid.  This is not “one size fits all”, since a systemic issue like calcium depletion can affect each person differently.  My protocol is based on my symptoms and lab tests, and is the end result of my Doctor’s expertise, my research, and my own comfort level (instinct?) on what I feel like is a good fit for me right now.

AM

  • Handful of pills:
    • 25 mg. iodine (Iodoral)
    • 400 mcg. Selenium
    • 1,000 mg. Vitamin C tablet
    • 2 capsules Vitamin Code Women’s Multi
    • 1 capsule Vitamin Code B complex
    • 1 capsule of milk thistle extract (a liver supporting herb…I highly recommend this for anyone who is experiencing hormone issues,  weight loss, or both.)
  • Boron/Mag/C Cocktail: boron concentrate (I’ve SLOWLY worked my way up to 2 capfuls now or 6 mg per day) in 8 oz. of this magnesium supplement, with one packet of Kroger’s version of Emergen C.
  • 1/2 a small bottle of Zija (a whole food multi-mineral drink from the Moringa Olifera plant…this is why I only take half of a multi vitamin dose.)

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PM

  • 25 mg. iodine (Iodoral)
  • Magnesium/vitamin C cocktail just before bed.

Other Therapies

  • Skin brushing (when I remember)  This is just really helpful for moving lymph, as well as to firm my skin.
  • Trying to add in 20 minutes a day of high intensity exercise
  • THM style eating- You’ve GOTTA read my next post!
  • Trying to head to bed before 10 PM-important for adrenal recovery.
  • 1 t. lemon flavored cod liver oil
  • 2 T minty chlorophyll…I’m just like Iron Man. :)  This is awesome stuff for energy slump days.
  • Pregnenolone: a 5 mg tablet used as a suppository style…not orally, as it will be broken down by the digestive system, and is either largely ineffective, and possibly harmful.

This is a hormone precursor, or basic “ingredients” for the body to create a variety of different hormones.  And the ones that are made with the pregnenolone are the ones that I’m at “post-menopausal” levels of when we tested.

This is only used on an ‘as needed’ basis, because I’m rather chicken about using “real” hormones…even bio-identical ones. One of my main concerns with bio-identical hormones is that using them can suppress your body’s natural endocrine production.  That is not supposed to be the case with pregnenolone. I love that pregnenolone provides the endocrine system with the raw materials to create its own hormones…which makes a lot more sense to me than trying to figure out dosing amounts and a schedule for using bio-hormones.

This has really been a great fit for me, and I can go days and even over a week so far without needing to redose!  I’ve noticed a BIG improvement with memory and energy with the pregnenolone.

…MUST Come Down!

Now, my friends, next come the ugly pictures. I REALLY needed to get some other numbers moving in the right direction: I NEEDED to drop some weight.  I’ll dish on my weight loss success, complete with hideous before photos in the next post!

My Weight Loss Before and After Photos

The Rest of my high blood calcium story- Part 5: Decisions

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  1. Ali says

    Thank you for sharing your story, Gwen. I have recently been diagnosed with a parathyroid adenoma, and am looking for alternatives to surgery. Do you have the results of your blood calcium for all of your lab draws that you can share, as those are quite important?

    • Its_Gwen says

      Hi Ali,
      I do have blood calcium readings from my labs, and they have been consistently high, as would be expected due to the presence of excess parathyroid hormone (pth).

      The thing that I’m most interested in watching is actually not the calcium levels as much as how much pth is being put out by my parathyriod. The initial introduction of boron really boosted the glands production, but it’s been dropping quickly since then. I’m due for more testing in the next couple of months, and hoping to see even more improvement there.

      However, I expect that my calcium levels will remain elevated until there is no more pth in the blood, so I am anticipating therapies to restore all that lost calcium when that time comes.

      • Its_Gwen says

        If you’ll look at the research links I posted for parathyroid.com, Dr. Norman says that calcium levels, and even pth levels are going to vary in labs from one day to the next, and can even bounce into normal ranges at times. So long as there is elevated pth, your calcium levels are going to be in the danger zone.

        I’ll continue to post my levels as I get them. :)

  2. RD Shugart says

    Gwen – I can’t believe I’m reading this. I have struggled with hormone issues for years and adrenal fatigue. For the past 4 months, I’ve worked with a chiropractic physician and have seen some success, but I’m still not “right” and I definitely have a number of these symptoms. If you get a minute, could you explain exactly how you take the boron? What about a supplement like Trace Minerals Concentrate?

    • Its_Gwen says

      Hi! I make the concentrate just like the Borax Conspiracy article outlines, and I started with 5 mg, and have slowly worked up from there at this point. I take it with my vitamin C powder, and my magnesium…just drink them all together each AM.

      I’m sure that there are ‘official’ supplements that are very good, but for my money, the DIY ones are just as effective in this case. You’re looking at basic, mined minerals that are in their natural form. I’m good with that. Also, I know how much I’m getting with each one, whereas with a supplement, they may be blended together.

      • RD Shugart says

        Thank you so much for responding! My understanding of the online protocol is to start with 1/8 tsp. Borax in 1 liter of water free of chlorine & fluoride (steam-distilled) and drink throughout the day for 5 days. Take 2 days off. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you use for magnesium? I’ve read that some people add 1/8 tsp. of unrefined sea salt to the drink, which would provide some magnesium, but I’m not sure how much. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions! This has been so eye-opening!

        • Its_Gwen says

          Actually, I do the concentrate in far smaller amounts than that…like a tsp or 2 per day. I use water from my Berkey filter…I don’t use steam distilled.

          I use the magnesium recipe in this post:
          http://gwens-nest.com/magnesium-deficiency-series-2/

          The mag supplement starts with Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide…poorly absorbed) and creates a chemical swap-a-roo to become magnesium carbonate when added to carbonated water. Mag carbonate is really, really well absorbed. The blog post links to a source that talks about how that works, and how it’s comparable to IV infusion as far as how quickly you absorb it.

  3. Andrea Bedford says

    Thanks for sharing Gwen! My issues are different (I don’t think I have the same thing as you, but I have IBS and skin issues), but I can SO relate to the way you were feeling prior to your discovery! I feel like my lack of digestive health is effecting my whole life…almost all I can think about, and I know I am not living my life the way I should be…I’m unfocussed, distracted, irritable…tired…always feeling bloated (and therefore fat, even though I’m not!). I feel encouraged to keep on seeking health, but not to let it overtake my life anymore… :-)

    • Its_Gwen says

      Bless you, Andrea…I understand the difficulties of finding answers when you’re not feeling well and mentally focused. Praying for clarity and wisdom for you!

  4. becca says

    Can you also tell me if the magnesium in your multi vitamin is suffiecient or should i make my own? I take the rainbow light pre natal…not pregnant but left over from my pregnancy.

    • Its_Gwen says

      I use the recipe from the Borax Conspiracy article that I linked to in the post. It’s been a while since I’ve made it, so I can’t remember proportions, though.

  5. Tonya says

    Thanks for this, so encouraging as I am researching my 11y dtr’s thryroiditis and subsequent hypothyroidism…hoping to have a marvelous story to retell. Let me know if you know of a great resource like the parathyroid website you found, but for thyroid.

  6. Polly Hattemer says

    What a beautifully written story. :) Thank you. Did you know that aluminum will get rid of your boron? To check if you have too much aluminum, you can do an EDTA IV chelation challenge. (My doctor said that a typical DMPS chelation challenge wouldn’t be useful for detecting aluminum.) If aluminum appears to be high, your doctor could use EDTA IVs or some other agent to remove the aluminum. You might be tempted to just use oral EDTA, which you can readily purchase from several places on the net. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the best way to get rid of the aluminum because only about 5% of oral EDTA is absorbed. (Oral EDTA is useful though. It helps to break up biofilms in the intestines.)

  7. Phillis says

    I’ve just found these posts after linking from THM. Wondering what your levels are like now. This sooo sounds like issues I am dealing with-am going to look into this more.

  8. says

    Thank you for your story. My good friend just told me about your website today, and I first saw the THM book at her house this past Sunday! I have tried every diet out there, and of course I’ve lost some weight, but always gained it back. After the birth of my fourth child, I have not been able to lose any weight and keep it off. I did a detox three years ago and I lost 17 pounds in 51 days, and yes I felt great! But, of course, going back to old eating habits has put this weight back on. I thought that something could be wrong with my thyroid, too, and my doc tested me in February. Of course the TSH levels were normal. But my blood lipids are out of whack. I have metabolic syndrome, so it’s just a matter of time before I’m a full blown type 2 diabetic! I’ve been doing research off and on for 6 years now because I want to get to the root of the problem! My weight stalling is just a symptom of what’s really lurking inside. I’d like to have my boron levels tested (as I never thought to test my parathyroid before), but I’m not sure my doc would be on board. I plan to start the THM plan as soon as I can get a copy of the book, and I’d like to find a good doc who will listen to me and just give me the “benefit of the doubt.” Thank you again for your story. I really needed to read it because I totally relate to what you are saying. Thank you!!!

    • Its_Gwen says

      Hi Jeanne! I found that THM worked really well for me, even with my underlying health issues. The THM approach is not one size fits all, but it is very successful for many ladies. But if you have underlying health issues, it can be important to continue to pursue additional support, testing, etc. even with a very clean diet. :)
      The neat thing about THM is that it’s actually *fun* and enjoyable enough to sustain long term, and that it removes the ‘junk food’ factor from diagnosing health problems, so you’re just really looking at internal issues/body responses instead of feeling guilt over unhealthy food choices.

  9. shirlee says

    This is wonderful to know. I have actually been doing my own research because I constantly feel thirsty, tingling in my outer extremities, tired, foggy, forgetful, like crying all the time, and losing my hair in droves. It started about 3 years ago, but has gotten progressively worse in the last six months. I decided to eat whole foods, really found a love of spinach and eat it most everyday, taking some whole food supplements suggested by my chiro, and taking additional vitamin D and C. I felt great for two weeks but now I feel worse than ever. I am constantly hurting my muscles. I popped a muscle in my calf playing tennis. My military doctors say that my hair loss is part of old age and hereditary, but that doesn’t explain everything else. I’m not depressed, and if not for hurting myself (frustration over that) and constantly feeling thirsty and tired, I think I would be one of the happiest people on earth. The military found several cysts on my thyroid about 8 years ago. Did a needle biopsy. My 46 year old hot flashes went away for six months, and my period came back for a month. Then everything started up again. I was told my TSH (I think that is the test) is normal. Now, I have another test to ask for. I know they haven’t checked my calcium levels, but they have found something slightly off with my liver function. I write all this because I think you are really on to something. Everything you described about yourself sounded so much like what I am still going through. Do you know where I can possibly send away or go about getting a series of blood tests done like what you did? I will pay the cost for them if it will finally give me some answers or at least some peace of mind. Thanks

    • Gwen says

      I’d ask your regular doctor to test your PTH and blood calcium levels, and have a full thyroid panel run (not just TSH, but T3, T4, free T3, etc…the whole panel). I’d also ask for MTHFR testing. Good for you for not buying the “old age and genetics” line. It might have genetic components, but there is HOPE if you identify what detox pathways are affected. You can support them with nutrients that bring your health back instead of just suffering. ♥

  10. DeannaR says

    Hi. I have enjoyed read your blogging on your struggles with hyperparathyroidism and your attempt to solve the issue with boron (Borax) this evening.
    I was just wondering, as I can’t find further info. in your blogs, on how taking it assisted you or if it no longer helped, once your PTH went from 114 down to 85. Did/do you continue to take it after these tests results, or? And did you eventually get your parathyroid hormone and blood calcium to healthy (normal) levels again by taking it?
    I have issues with candidiasis as well, so I think once I start the borax, I will try the excruciatingly difficult Candida Diet (I’ve made it thru 3 weeks in the past, but man!). But once I can’t go any longer, I will not just throw my hands up and say I guess I’ll just have to live with being overweight for the rest of my days… I’ll pick right up with the apparently satisfying “THM” plan!

    • says

      I’m so sorry I failed to link in the next one it the series…thank you for bringing that to my attention. I just fixed it! You can also find a landing page on the menu bar with links to all of the posts in that series. :)

      I did not treat for candida in addition to the borax, as the article I read suggested, and I did not have good results. However, I heard back from a lady who did both components, and she says that her numbers have gone back into the normal range and she considers herself recovered.

      • Tamal says

        Dear Gwen. Your website is fascinating and really useful. My wife just got diagnosed with hyoerparathyroidism. The symptoms were there for some time. She is not getting on well with Carbimazole. Did you use the pregnenolone on it’s own without other hormones? Please give the exact program you followed in this regard. Thank you kindly. Tamal.

        • says

          Hello, Tamal- thank you for writing. I’m so very sorry for your wife’s difficulties with hyperparathyroidism. For me, the protocol I followed did not ultimately correct my problems, and I did need to have the surgery. Later, I worked with a natural doctor to address some other underlying health issues, and I believe those were what the pregnenolone was helpful for.

  11. Nancy Williams says

    I had blood work done 3 years ago, my PTH was 84 and my blood calcium was 10.1. I was 41 at the time. I was sent to an endocrinologist who told me I would develop Hashimotos disease and to take vitamin B. That was it, he said my symptoms of being worn down feeling and depressed had nothing to do with my blood work. (it’s been getting worse as time passes) almost 2 years ago my ankle snapped, while I was walking, my foot slipped in my flip flop and I heard it break. It was broken so badly I had to have pins and there were bone fragments that couldn’t even be fixed. My foot was completely broken off my ankle. Now I’m noticing lower back pain anytime I’m up doing something for more than 30 minutes. I’m about the weight you were when you started your weight loss and have lost lost 12 pounds so far on this diet. Reading this series threw up a red flag for me and I have a Dr’s appointment Monday and am asking to get more blood work done. I was reading that taking calcium IF you have a parathyroid tumor, and I have a suspicion I might, can increase your risk for stroke. I’m pretty scared right now about all of this. I have 14 of the symptoms listed for parathyroid but it seems like the Dr’s around here have no clue.

    • says

      Hi Nancy,
      Can you look for a doctor in your area that specializes in ENT surgeries? They’d be more likely to be familiar with it. I had to give my doctor the information from parathyroid.com, and help them learn about it. It’s not uncommon that doctors are unaware of parathyroid disease. <3
      I'd discontinue taking calcium, and just get the labs run...no need to be scared. You just need to find out if this is what is going on, and get the tumor taken care of if so. <3

  12. Simon says

    Great blog, great information. I have often wondered about the availability of borax because of its poor water solubility. Boric acid on the other hand is water soluble and from what I have read is perfectly safe. Might be worth dropping Walter an email. A few other things to research are Manganese (stores in the thymus and pituitary gland) for thyroid issues and also Bromine toxicity. Bromine collects in the tissue and removes iodine. You can displace the bromine by high doses of iodine and then use chloride to flush it out (or salt flushing but chloride removes the bromine). Really worth doing and plenty of research online. One last thing is that Copper toxicity is also worth researching…this could be the root cause of many issues including thyroid issues. Copper accumulates in the liver and can be displaced by taking high doses of zinc. MSM is also handy in this process as well as boron to increase DHEA. Hope this information helps and good luck on your journey.

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