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This is an edited version of an article by Alison Heath that originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Vitality, Toronto’s monthly wellness journal.

Success Story

A wonderful example of the body’s ability to heal and repair itself when given full-spectrum nutrition and exercise

by Alison Heath

Why do some people have so much to bear?

My younger brother Greg is one of those people born with so many strikes against him. When I was eight years of age and he was only three, his trials began. I remember the never-ending trips to the hospital my parents and little brother would make. First, trips to the local hospital; then they began making a two-hour drive to the city hospital with specialists who were finally able to diagnose my brother's condition.

He had a rare type of hereditary brain damage called tubular sclerosis. At the time there were only five people in Canada diagnosed with that condition.

Brain damage is an odd thing; only part of the brain is affected. The rest of the brain works as well as, and in my brother's case, perhaps better than most.

With my mother's gentle guidance, my brother underwent every test imaginable over the years spanning his childhood and into his teens. He was so brave and never complained about the barium tests or any of the other uncomfortable procedures he was subjected to. He kept his sense of humor as his medical file grew to be several inches thick. My parents' theory was that much knowledge could be uncovered about this rare hereditary condition involving a union of recessive genes from both parents. Allowing my brother to be a "guinea pig" would not only advance medical knowledge in general, but could also benefit my brother's condition if he had any complications in later life.

Medication helped control the mild epileptic seizures, but the side effects risked damage to his gums, among other things. My mother's patience never wavered and she did everything possible to help him deal with the frustration of knowing he was different, that parts of his brain couldn't function as well as that of others around him. She accepted his temper tantrums and obsessive behavior, all the while providing unconditional love and a safe environment for him to develop and grow.

Many years ago when my parents retired in the country, my mother started an organic food cooperative, long before health food stores and coops were popular. As she removed all prepared foods, food coloring and additives from Greg's diet, the whole family benefited and Greg's tantrums diminished in frequency and severity. She kept honeybees, sprouted seeds and legumes, and created simple feasts from the organic garden or freezer full of organic bulk food.

Once my brother finished high school, it became evident that country living on the farm could not provide the stimulus and challenge Greg needed for a fulfilling life. After years of caring for Greg, my mother did what I think was the most heroic act of all. She let him go. Arrangements were made and my brother Greg moved to a group home in Toronto where he learned the practical skills of laundry, cooking, and banking to prepare himself for living on his own. Next came a job at Goodwill and his own apartment. Just when he seemed to have settled into his new life, one Christmas, his world seemed to fall apart. He stopped sleeping and had a full-blown manic episode. Again my mother accompanied him to hospital, where he received a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder and had another powerful drug added to his daily arsenal. This time the side effects were visible with an obvious trembling of his hands, dry mouth, and frequent urination. There was also a hidden risk to his thyroid gland.

Greg took this development in stride, continued working and pursuing social activities. Before long he met his wife and proudly began married life. He wanted it to work so badly. After years of feeling like an outsider who couldn't fit in, he finally belonged. Greg guarded his home life with a complete devotion to their privacy. But there were some differences in this new lifestyle that almost cost him his life.

The nutritious organic diet was replaced by the fast foods his wife knew only too well. Her condition of cerebral palsy made it impossible for her to read and she had no background or interest in healthy food choices. Over the seven years of marriage the safe and nurturing home life slowly began to erode. Soap operas replaced Greg's books and he became more and more isolated from the family. A gradual form of abuse and spousal domination created new stress factors that had never been a part of his home life before. Greg's next visit to my mother alerted her that once again, something was very wrong with his health. He was in an advanced stage of emaciation and looked many years older than his age.

This trip to the hospital revealed Greg's blood sugar was at an astoundingly high count of 58. He should have been in a coma or dead! Oral medication could not stabilize his diabetic condition and it soon became apparent that Greg was a late onset type one diabetic, although now the doctors feel he was type two. So many changes were now required in his life with diet and exercise. His wife couldn't adjust to the new dietary demands and much to Greg's sorrow his marriage ended. Somehow, Greg managed to pull himself up once more and bravely deal with learning to test, monitor his blood, and give himself daily injections of insulin.

He learned everything he could about how to help himself and started a regular exercise program. He also agreed to give up the junk foods he had enjoyed in his married life and added whole food supplements to his daily diet. Coffee, donuts, all prepared foods were replaced with fresh organic vegetables and fruits. The baloney sandwiches and hot dogs were removed from his diet along with all fried meats. He reduced his intake of dairy and cooked grains.

With all his complicated conditions we worked very closely with his family doctor. She was wonderfully supportive and was familiar with the food enzymes, probiotics, coenzyme Q10, and the wild edible blue-green microalgae he was adding to his diet. A very close friend had been educating her on the benefits of these products.

Interesting things began to occur when Greg started with this full-spectrum, whole-food nutritional supplementation. He started eating digestive food enzymes before every meal as well as two capsules of coenzymeQ10 daily. He also ate a variety of probiotics. The enzymes and probiotics were blended with wild blue-green algae. The Q10 was cold pressed with flaxseed oil, the wild blue-green algae, fennel, and rosemary. Once he had repopulated his gut with friendly bacteria, he was able move to a maintenance level of probiotics and began introducing more of the wild blue-green algae into his diet.

With the reduction in stress, the regular exercise routine, and his improved diet, the first noticeable change in Greg's demeanor was his improved speech. A support group met to help him through the transitions to single life and learning to live on his own once again. Greg spoke at the meeting and articulated his needs with a level of focus, insight, and clarity that surprised everyone. Gone was the hesitation and mild stuttering in his speech pattern.

Greg continued with the full-spectrum supplemental support. He noticed the increase of energy and enjoyed the benefits of a stronger immune system. He was starting to adapt to his new lifestyle and his improved health. He was living with my sister waiting for an opening in a group home.

As is sometimes the case, my sister barely tolerated the idea of Greg eating supplements. She preferred the conventional medical model and used many prescription drugs for her numerous health challenges. So when Greg began to lose weight, my sister took him to the family doctor and suggested he stop all supplementation at once. Although the doctor knew the benefits of enzymes, probiotics, coenzyme Q10, and wild blue-green algae that Greg had been eating for several years, she suggested he stop everything for a short period, except his prescription drugs. The theory was that this would make it easier to determine the cause of his weight loss. She promptly arranged an appointment for Greg with a specialist.

This time, my sister accompanied Greg to the specialist. It was delightful listening to Greg recount the details of the visit. After examining Greg's condition, the specialist informed them that Greg no longer needed injections of insulin. His diabetic condition was cured! Greg laughed when he described my sister's disbelief. She told the doctor, "That is not possible. Diabetes is for life!"

It has now been several months since that appointment. Greg continues to monitor his blood but he no longer needs insulin. The doctors are now looking at reducing the lithium he takes for his bipolar disorder with the goal of eventually removing it completely.

Although the doctors are currently assessing damage to his kidneys caused by the diabetes and are still monitoring his weight loss, he is a wonderful example of the body's ability to heal and repair itself when given full-spectrum nutrition and exercise. Greg continues with daily exercise and is very careful with his diet. His example illustrates how we do not have to accept the prognosis of every hereditary or lifelong ailment. We can take responsibility for our health and well-being. With a common sense approach to our lifestyles we can make optimal health a reality.


Author, mentor, and lifestyle coach Alison Heath has included wild blue-green algae in her diet since 1989. Alison left her career as CEO of InfoMedQue, Inc., to share with physicians the latest research on a new approach to health and well-being when she began writing a regular column titled "The Natural Path" in M.D. News magazine. As a "longevity rescuer" Alison hosts Your Vibrant Health Secrets, a multi-expert telesummit that offers the Easy Natural Facelift program, the Longevity Toolbox, and other practical health-promoting information. Visit her WishingHealth2U blog to learn more.