How I stopped my Esophageal Spasms
When I discovered what was causing my esophageal spasms I wanted to tell the world - or at least anyone who was having them and didn't know the cause. I can't gurantee this is the cause of yours, but if you want a shot of not experiencing those scary and ultra painful cramps then take just a minute to read this.
I'm not selling anything, there's nothing to download, no further links, no newsletter, just read the following paragraphs - that's it
Originally I started to look at the forums where people were asking about this. I found something highly frustrating. I'd come across a forum from say 2007 with 20 people complaining of these symptoms, I would then create an account to place my comment on the cause only to find the thread locked. Hello!! You have something wonderful here in a forum that is searchable and readable by millions yet someone who has useful information can no longer contribute? So...I created this site. I will make others as well, as this cured other symptoms (more on that later).
So what's the cause? Food - that's it. Not the hot or cold or acidic food etc that is often quoted on websites. It's a bit more complex and interesting than that. If you're of the opinion that having some ice cream shouldn't cause an excrutiating three hour spasm, then read on.
The short story
Here's the short story - food intolerances cause me to have several weird symptoms that the medical community can't diagnose. Once I cut out wheat, gluten, and dairy for 30 days I no longer have any of these symptoms.
The longer story - Undigested or unappreciated proteins in certain foods can find their way into your blood stream where they are recognised as 'invaders'. Your body creates an immune response and antigens are produced to deal with these proteins. When this happens inflammation occurs at the point of the immune response. Some of these proteins cross the blood-brain barrier resulting in inflammation of areas within the brain. One of which controls the contraction of your esophagus. Cutting out the problem foods results in less antigens being produced. It can take up to 14 days for these levels and inflammation to drop down to normal. For me it's 10 to 14 days. After that I am symptom free.
The long story
I went from a normal happy go lucky guy to being constantly nervous, experiencing panic attacks, having asthma for the first time, esophageal spasms (I thought it was my heart at the time), a weird feeling of vibrating internally, severe lack of energy (unable to walk), heart palpitations (sometimes it would speed up, other times it would stop then start again. I hate these)...all in the space of a few days.
My Drs wanted to prescribe me exercise (I ran and weight lifted before getting sick), anti-depressants, and tranquilizers - I said no and pursued my mission of finding the cause, not putting a band aid on it. With the help of my mother (who is celiac) and the web I decided to try a food elimination diet. I eliminated gluten, wheat, eggs, and dairy. My symptoms improved after one week, almost disappeared after two weeks, and after four weeks I was myself again. I had pretty much lost my job, my marriage had suffered and I was close to having to register for disabilities. How many people don't discover the cause and their life changes forever?
I told my Drs and a gastroenterologist about this and they all laughed and me and dismissed the possibility of food intolerance causing these symptoms (they would only acknowledge the effects on my bowel, nothing else). This is a common theme. I have come across countless folks who had similar symptoms that were caused by diet. Drs briefly learn evolutionary biology and nutrition and pretty much forget it at the first opportunity. Those who do remember seem to focus of saturated fat causing cardiovascular disease and not much else.
If you suffer from esophageal spasms, or any of the symptoms mentioned above and you have been unable to find the cause, please consider a 30 day autoimmune elimination diet. Don't consume any grains, dairy, or legumes. This is hard. If you're a cereal, toast, sandwich, pasta type of person this transition will be very hard, and these ingredients are in so much processed food - read every ingredient list. The easiest way to do it is to adopt a whole food diet. If you can manage it - I am sure you will feel better, and hopefully you can eliminate your symptoms for good.
I hope to have a comments section on here sometime. But in the meantime, if you try this and it works for you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why would food be causing this?
The human genome is millions of years old, we have evolved throughout this period. We adapt to our environment well, both behaviourally (quick adaptations) and biologically (slow adaptations). Our bodies are mostly geared to process foods we were consuming since the Palaeolithic age. Neolithic foods such as grains and diary are relatively new for the human species (10,000-50,000 years) and some of us are not adapted to coping with these foods. Note, I am not a Paleo nut that espouses no one should eat wheat or milk - but undoubtedly these foods are severely problematic for a good portion, perhaps the majority, of the population with symptoms ranging from mild lethargy to complete digestive shutdown as seen with celiacs. If you can tolerate milk - great. Notice an increase of lactose free food on the supermarket shelves? Humans produce the lactase enzyme up until around the age of 4 to enable us to digest our mother's breast milk. Some populations have a gene mutation that means they continue to produce lactase (although in diminished amounts) into adulthood. But most of us don't - resulting in gas and bloating when consuming large amounts of dairy.
I will add more links regarding the paleo diet and autoimmune responses to food later on, but the main point was to make a site that people suffering with esophageal spasms can find and benefit from. Remember to let me know if this helps you too!