A-Fib Success with Naturopathic Assistance—Over 10 Months A-Fib Free!
By Kathy Reynolds, Hollister, Missouri, May, 2014
This is how my story begins. I was not handling even minor stresses very well. What I called mini panic attacks (lasting about a minute) often woke me in the middle of the night. I was no longer enjoying things like sewing or writing or even reading, which I usually love.
“Dizziness, fatigue, headaches, slowness of mind and body, inability to concentrate and think properly. What is going on? Is it the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis? Another autoimmune disease? Detoxification from my healthy diet change? Adrenal exhaustion? Are my hormones just really screwy? …Sometimes, I would like to just not wake up in the morning. — From my journal, July 2012
RUNAWAY HEART! COSTLY TRIPS TO THE ER
Thank goodness my four sons were all young adults, no longer home or needing Mama’s attention. I worked in a law office four mornings a week. And after fixing lunch at home, I had no energy to do anything except what was absolutely necessary. Many afternoons I felt ill. My core cried of inflammation—sometimes accompanied by a headache or an upset stomach. I was taking a thyroid prescription and many vitamins and supplements along with a mostly plant-based diet. And amidst trying to make healthier lifestyle changes, something new and terrifying happened—I awoke early one morning with a runaway heart.
In October 2012, at the age of 58, I received the diagnosis of Lone Atrial Fibrillation during my first hospitalization. I was hurled into even more of an anxiety mode, not knowing when my heart was going to flip-out on me again.
“Even little things sometimes cause me to cry, or I want to crawl under a rock, or hit someone, or run away altogether. Of course, I talk myself out of those things. I push and push and push myself to have more energy—to feel better—and it’s exhausting. I cannot relax on the inside. Outside, I may appear slow and inactive, but inside, my mind is unsettled and reeling.” — July 2012
As many folks know who share my A-Fib diagnosis, it’s a horrible, SCARY thing to experience. All my episodes started by waking me in the early morning hours. When I had that very first episode, my crazy heart jumped-all-over-the-place creating the overwhelming distress of losing control. After four hours at home trying to manage, we headed to the ER.
I made an appointment to see a doctor that afternoon, but things turned worse when I got very light headed and started to pass out. I thought I was going to die. I saw lights in front of my eyes and my body went limp. Upon arrival in the ER I perked up a bit and regained my senses. My heart rate was erratic and elevated, over 200 beats/minute. Nurses kept me monitored and gave me medications which stabilized me, yet I did not return to normal sinus rhythm until over 24 hours later when I was discharged from the CCU at a cost of over $9,000.
MORE A-FIB ATTACKS―FEAR OF TOMORROW!
That was a turning point in my life! My thoughts turned to my earlier years as a practicing RN on a medical/surgical ward which shared a wing with a rehab unit for stroke victims. I witnessed frightening cardio vascular accidents (CVA) first-hand in several of the patients. An underlying fear transposed itself into nightmares—I was stuck in an invalid body, unable to communicate. This was serious. Please God, I couldn’t live like this.
Over the next eight months I had five more A-Fib attacks including another trip to the hospital. These lasted from 40 minutes to three hours in length. The frequency of attacks got sequentially closer together like I later discovered was the normal pattern with A-Fib.
I stressed and I worried. Every morning I awoke with a regular heartbeat was a new glorious day, but then the fear of tomorrow overshadowed everything.
I’m a retired RN, but I had little experience with A-Fib. Heart palpitations have occurred over the years, and my husband and I were no strangers to them. Some of my five siblings took blood pressure medications. My father nearly died from V-Fib but lived well for many years on medication alone. I had a grandmother who died in her late forties from heart ailments and three other grandparents who died of cardiac arrest later in life. Two of my four brothers have heart disease and mal-formed valves and/or arteries. My echocardiogram was normal. My diagnosis of Lone A-Fib meant there were no known causes.
ABLATION? WHAT ABOUT ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES?
On my first visit to the cardiologist, my doctor broached the idea of ablation, and it shocked me. When I asked him, he offered no recommendations regarding alternative therapies or natural supplements or diet suggestions. I realized that he simply was not educated along those lines. He recommended a holter monitor which I never got around to doing due to the added expense without my having insurance coverage at the time.
From the date of my first attack I took metoprolol ER 50mg daily. I had a short four week run of Coumadin wherein I never reached a therapeutic level, which meant I was in the doctor’s office every week requiring a change to my medication dosage. On becoming more informed about Coumadin and frustrated with the treatment plan which I was told should have lasted at least six weeks, I decided to discontinue it. I included natural supplements with anticoagulant properties like garlic and turmeric and I continued to make fresh vegetable/fruit juices at home and eat a high nutrient, anti-inflammatory diet limiting most processed foods.
In June 2013, I had my sixth, most recent A-Fib attack. It lasted almost three hours at home while I did all the tricks and antics I could think of, to no avail. Fifteen minutes after arriving at the ER, my heart converted and I asked to be discharged. I was not there long enough to even receive any medications from them, though they managed to swing in two ECGs. Back at home my BP was 103/61 and my pulse 47 and regular, and I inherited another ER bill. I swore that the next time, I would camp out in the car until my heart converted, since on my arrival at the ER I always calmed down significantly and felt safer. And since I knew that most often A-Fib is not life threatening, I would wait it out and see what happened. (I’m not suggesting anyone else does that!)
“BEAT YOUR A-FIB”―BUT NO STORIES OF CURES USING NATURAL REMEDIES ALONE
Many months into my diagnosis, following several attacks, I discovered the book Beat Your A-Fib at Amazon and immediately ordered it. Chapters five and six were of great interest to me, which focused on mineral deficiencies and drug therapies. I looked forward to reading the first-hand accounts from A-Fib sufferers that had beaten their A-Fib, but darn, there were no stories of successes utilizing medication and supplements or natural remedies alone—all of them spoke of ablation or other surgical procedures! I refused to believe that those invasive procedures were the only answers to my problem. Though I believe that conventional and emergency medicine has its place, even if I’d had insurance, I wanted no part of purposeful injury to my God-designed delicate organs.
So, while reading Beat Your A-Fib I gained insight into the typical patterns of patients and their treatments and the variety of surgical cures available. But my anxiety level rose—none of their scenarios were what I was hoping for!
My NATUROPATHIC CURE
A naturopathic route was of great value to me with A-Fib! Dr. Laurell Matthews ND (practicing now in Fayetteville, Arkansas) was new on staff at Harrison Optimal Health where I was a patient treated for thyroid and hormonal issues.
A naturopathic route was of great value to me… After consulting Dr. Laurell Matthews, ND, in July of 2013, I left her office with a renewed sense of hope.
She had successfully treated patients with A-Fib! She added several supplements to my daily regimen which made a huge difference and I have been free of A-Fib attacks for over 10 months now!
I no longer live in fear of tomorrow, though I do realize that time will tell. With the guidance of Dr. Matthews I found relief with supplementation. Potassium and magnesium are very important (though none of my hospital blood work showed any mineral deficiencies, and I attempt to eat a high mineral and nutrient diet) but I take no added calcium. What was added to my growing list of supplements?
My daily regimen includes:
• CoQ10 100mg
• Taurine 1000mg twice/day
• Hawthorne Solid Extract 1/4 tsp twice/day
• Convallaria (Lily of the Valley) 8-10 drops in water twice/day
• Magnesium Citrate 200mg twice/day
• High-Omega 3 fish and flax oils, and coconut oil
RECOMMENDATION: TRY SUPPLEMENTS BEFORE GETTING AN ABLATION
I discovered through a little research that other NDs may prescribe much higher doses of some of these supplements, and I would not advise anyone to self medicate. Seek an understanding, competent MD or ND who keeps you informed so that ultimately you can be in charge of your own care. In my opinion, there may be some cases where it’s worth trying supplements before resorting to what could be an unnecessary procedure and expense.
At this time, I am successfully weaning off of metoprolol, down to taking ½ dose every other day. Though I’ve continued with sporadic fatigue and untoward symptoms that I’ve come to realize may be side effects of metoprolol, I no longer have panic attacks, my energy level has improved, and I’m not so much in a brain fog. In February 2014, I switched from progesterone cream to Young Living’s Progessence Plus essential oil resulting in an improved mood and restful sleep.
Though I still inhabit an aging body in need of healing measures, I hope to continue on a natural A-Fib recovery plan. And, in future editions of Beat Your A-Fib I expect to see some hopeful stories of success with supplementation and medication use alone, without requiring a need for surgical remedies. You see, not all A-Fib stories are alike.
When writing “Beat Your A-Fib” we tried to find every type of A-Fib story to illustrate that one-size doesn’t fit all. While some patients discuss natural remedies, supplements etc. we did not come across any stories of people cured of A-Fib by natural remedies alone. The biggest proponent of natural remedies for A-Fib used to be Hans Larsen and his AFibReport and book “Lone Atrial Fibrillation Towards A Cure” International Health News, 2002. But when he went to Bordeaux for a successful catheter ablation to fix his A-Fib, our perspective changed.
We are very grateful to Kathy for her story and for introducing us to Dr. Laurell Matthews ND. The A-Fib world may well beat a path to her door. We will try to feature her work on A-Fib.com. (I personally take everything on her list, except for the Convallaria which I hadn’t heard about before.)