Erin O’Donnell Natural Health
Misty Letner had battled migraines and fatigue for 12 years. Her symptoms were so severe that when she was laid off from her job shortly before her Natural Health makeover began, she had no energy to look for a new one. She was sleeping almost 14 hours a night and suffering from weekly migraines and daily tension headaches. She loved to hike and snowboard, but it was impossible to plan outings: She once slept through a snowboarding trip with friends because she was too tired to drag herself from the hotel room bed. Letner contacted us last year when we put out a call to readers looking for help to improve their health. We signed her on for one of our all-expenses-paid makeovers. We arranged for Letner to be treated by Keith Halperin, D.C., a chiropractor in Bellevue, Wash.
Looking for Clues First, Halperin asked Letner to keep a food diary for a week. It revealed that she was eating tons of sugar, including sugary cereals, candy, soda, and fruit juice. He asked her to start eliminating all sugars and simple carbohydrates, including pasta, white bread, and white rice. Letner launched in enthusiastically, purging her cabinets of everything she couldn’t eat, and restocking them with alternatives from her local natural food store.
Halperin advised her to get more protein and eat smaller, more frequent meals. When she told him she often forgot to eat, he explained that would make her blood sugar level crash, triggering a headache. To make sure her digestive system was working at its best, he prescribed digestive enzymes, as well as a supplement with ingredients to balance her blood sugar.
One of the biggest changes came when she gave up caffeine. Not only had she been drinking coffee and soda, but she also took Excedrin, a pain reliever that contains caffeine, any time she felt the twinge of a headache. Halperin wanted her to eliminate caffeine gradually, but Letner misunderstood and gave it up cold turkey. The result: more headaches and a miserable week. The next time she saw Halperin, they formed a plan to wean her off the Excedrin, cutting the tablets into pieces so she could eliminate a little bit every few days. In about two weeks, she was no longer taking it.
Halperin began to suspect that Letner’s thyroid and metabolism needed repair. A blood test showed that her thyroid was functioning normally, but Halperin believed the gland had a blockage in its energy (or qi). To clear it, he performed acupressure and chiropractic techniques along her spine. He also prescribed supplements to support her thyroid.
Then he began muscle testing – an important step in the therapy called BioSET – to determine if Letner was sensitive to any foods or other substances. She would hold a small vial of the substance in one hand while holding the other arm out straight. Halperin would apply even pressure to the outstretched arm. If Letner was sensitive to that food, her arm would go weak. Practitioners believe this is because the sensitivity creates a block in the patient’s energy meridians, weakening the muscle. Letner was sensitive to chocolate, caffeine, and some proteins. Next Halperin performed acupressure to help make her body less sensitive to those substances.
Seeing a Difference
Six weeks into her makeover, Letner suddenly had more energy and needed a lot less sleep. On one particular day, she woke at 7 a.m. to run errands and was still going strong when she arrived at Halperin’s office at 7 p.m. “This isn’t normal,” she said. “Normally I would be dead around 2.”
She also realized that she’d gone more than a week without a headache. In fact, she’d successfully warded off two headaches she knew were coming. “I get this dull ache behind my right eye,” Letner said. To try to prevent a full-blown headache, she’d breathe deeply, drink water, and eat a snack to keep her blood sugar steady. “My first thought is still to grab Excedrin before it starts hurting bad,” Letner said. “But now I feel like I have other options.”
She was able to go hiking with her roommate for the first time in months. The world seemed to be opening up to her again. “There used to be mornings that I would lie on the bathroom floor and cry, thinking I couldn’t even get myself dressed,” she said. “I thought I just had to live with it.” She couldnÕt explain why these techniques (particularly the BioSET) worked, yet she knew they were helping.
As she started feeling better, Letner began looking seriously for a job. In the final month of her health program, she was hired by a loan company as a collections assistant. Halperin relaxed her diet restrictions because foods like chocolate were now less likely to trigger headaches, but Letner still tried to stick to healthy choices.
At the end of her makeover, she decided to continue to see Halperin now that she had insurance through work. Halperin was impressed with her progress, especially on the day she called to cancel an appointment because she had two tickets to a Seattle Mariners baseball game. He hadn’t expected her to have the energy for things like that so soon.