I was born and raised in a small town in Vietnam right at the time the boom of western medicines hit the country. People were amazed by the fast solution that western pills provided, including my parents. My parents both worked for the government, and so the western trends hit them even faster. Since a very young age, I was taught how to use antibiotics to kill colds and flu. My dad stored a lot of different types of antibiotics he bought from the pharmacy in town in case someone in the house needed them. Pills were sold like vegetables on the market in Vietnam. We could easily buy almost any kinds of medications and drugs without a prescription from a medical doctor as long as we have the money to buy. And no one ever bothered to read the small, and long paper filled with tiny words about the drug’s side effects inside the package. Oftentimes pills were brought home in small plastic bags having no name and whatsoever. And yes, you don’t have to ask, I took tons and tons of antibiotics from my childhood years to my early twenties. People are better educated now, and they are more cautious at taking pills. Sadly, that dangerous habit of selling, buying and taking medicines is still popular in most parts of Vietnam.
My tonsils were removed at the age of thirteen because they got inflamed at least one time per month. I remember feeling so happy to hear that I would not be sick anymore after the surgery. Unfortunately, that was not the whole story. My body started getting imbalanced since then. When the messengers were cut off, the inner systems, especially the gut, became so vulnerable to the outside. I felt discomfort all the time with gas and bloating. In addition to that, at the age of fifteen, a cascade of health problems occurred to me. My period became so painful to the point I could barely walk when it came. I managed to look normal and acted normal, but I did not feel well from the inside. I was tired, anxious, and could not focus on learning as I used to. Then, all of a sudden, terrible headaches and migraines attacked me. The pain was all that I could recall from my memory. It started first from the top of the head, then move to the right, and then to the left. I felt like my head no longer was mine. Mom and dad took me to so many doctors, but no one was able to help because no one knew what was happening. Luckily, Grandma gave us a remedy that she called “Thần Dược Cứu Mạng” which literally means “Magic Pill To Save Life”. She learned the remedy somewhere in her lifetime, and I did not have a chance to ask her about it. I missed you, grandma!
My parents were skeptical, but nothing had worked for me; hence they decided to try the remedy. The ingredients of “Thần Dược Cứu Mạng” were our regular foods, so it could not do any further harms. The ingredients included black bean, mung bean, ginger root, rau bồ ngót (sauropus androgynus), and Địa long (earthworm). Earthworm??? Yes, you heard it correct! It sounds gross, I know. But as weird as it sounds, the remedy saved my life. All the pain went away completely after ten days. Yes, all together, and completely. Wow, really? A food-based remedy could heal when other expensive drugs could not?
A whole new perspective on food has grown in me from that moment. I used to consider food as what I eat to make me full, and I eat them simply because they taste good. But this experience taught me a totally different lesson. It taught me that food is potent medicines, and food cures illnesses. Until today, I have not got a clear-cut answer to the question what exactly in the remedy had done the magic. There is not yet a scientifically proven research of it. All I can take for now is that the magic remedy seems to be full of vitamins and minerals which boost the liver to detox. Also, I recently do more research on Earthworms and have found lots of fascinating information about this amazing creatures. They have the ability to regenerate their own body cells. They have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousand years. Lumbricus, a widely known earthworm in Traditional Chinese Medicine extract shows increased nerve cell regeneration in damaged nerves in rats. I was not surprised when I read those findings because I have witnessed them myself in my own body. But I was still amazed.
I went to the US at the age of twenty-two, and my life changed. I became sicker and sicker without knowing why. The first month living there, my hair fell like crazy, my scalp was infected with fungus, my facial skin broke with acne and scars. I could not fall sleep at night. My brain did not go to rest. What was wrong with me? I was terrified!
I felt uncomfortable about every part of my body. I felt like my body had betrayed me in every single way. I compared myself with other people, and I tried my best to hide all of my shame. However, the more I tried to be like the others, the more I kill my self-confidence. I could not define my direction and life purpose. I denied my true passion in order to chase some kind of so-called standard achievements. Yes, I achieved some, but my life was so miserable. At one point I secretly withdrew from the outside world.
Because I always have a strong curiosity for medicines and human wellness, I read constantly about the subjects with a hope to figure out what was going on in my body. I enrolled in Business school, yet took many classes in human anatomy, physiology, brain, and diseases. I started to adopt a better diet with lots of vegetables and green juices. Things got so much better. However, the bad energy from those past experiences was still trapped in me, and I wasn’t even aware of it. Then I got pregnant my son, Nam. I took multivitamins daily and ate organic foods as much as possible. The pregnancy and labor went through easily. All the nurses and doctors were amazingly caring. I could not be more grateful for the care I have had.
Unfortunately, the drama began right at the end of my labor. In typical US hospitals, foods have no role. I remember Paul (my nurse) handed me a cup of cold Coke, and a hamburger when I told him I was hungry after all the intensive pushes. I ate them all without thinking twice because I was literally out of energy. And, can you guess what foods the hospital provided us during three days? I was served a Standard American Diet with pizzas, low-fat yogurt, angel cakes, white bread with butter and cheese, sweet tea, and a bit of salad here and there.
According to Vietnamese traditional medicine, when a woman finishes her labor not only one part, but all parts of her body will be widely opened to the outside world. It is considered to be the most sensitive time in her life. If she is not careful about what she put in her body at that time, she will have a tough life with lots of illnesses show up very soon. I learned it the very hard way.
Nam got bilirubin in the first week and terrible “baby acne” in the fourth week. The doctor admitted that Nam was the worst case he had ever seen. Phototherapy (light treatment) did not work for him. The bilirubin level went down a bit, but then it was up again. His little feet were full of marks as the result of daily blood drawing. It was so hard for me to see my baby suffer when he just a few weeks old. But what scared me the most was the bilirubin level just kept going up, and we didn’t know the reason why? Finally, the doctor suggested me to stop breastfeeding. He suspected something in my milk made Nam sick.
The doctor was correct. The blood bilirubin went down significantly after the first day we put Nam on baby formula. That means I was the actual cause of all the problems. My heart fell apart pieces into pieces. Once more time, life had affirmed to me that I was a loser. I failed from the very beginning of my mothering journey. It hurts so badly!
Nam was able to thrive on breastmilk after that. At month two, all the acne and cradle cap was gone. He was completely healthy until the third month. But the question what was in my milk that made Nam became so sick remained unknown.
We moved to Boston when Nam was two months old and new problems occurred very soon. Because the renting in Boston is too high, we were only able to rent an old, one- bed in the city close to my husband work. I smelled the bleach odor in the water and sometimes saw the color of the water changed as well. Still, I kept my belief that everything in the US must be good enough for everyone to use. So we drank and bathed in that tap water daily. In addition to it, the lack of sleep, the cold weather, and the loneliness living in a new city deprived me. We shopped at Costco often for already cooked meals, frozen meat and vegetables, canned foods, and bread.
From a happy and healthy boy, Nam became a colic baby. He cried and screamed many times a day, sometimes all day long. He then developed diarrhea, blood in the stool, and eczema. I noticed that when I eat some certain kinds of foods like canned beans, cow milk, almond milk, bread, bacon, eggs, and frozen shrimp his blood stool occurred, but when I stop the blood disappeared. So, I made a detailed journal for what I ate and his related symptoms. We brought that journal with us to all his visits with pediatric doctors, gastroenterologists, and allergists. Every time I mentioned about my concern with the food or the tap water no one wanted to listen. They shook their heads and said it was just coincidence. After hours and hours waiting and asking, we came home exhausted with a handful of hydrocortisone, moisturized creams and no clue for the root cause.
Mother instinct told me that wasn’t right, so I tried to eliminate those problematic foods out of my diet anyway. Amazingly, not only diarrhea and the blood in stool were gone, but also eczema had healed. Seeing Nam got better, my husband agreed to support me at first. But then, my diet went down too restricted with no packaged food, no chips, no bread, no eggs, no frozen desert, no cow milk, no almond milk, and commercial juices. Dad got impatient about all the “cannot eat” kinds of stuff. The already stressful life now became even more intimidating. And as a scientist himself who only believes in proven science, dad started questioning if this restriction was even worth it. I absolutely understand him because I was skeptical too. It was a tough time for all of us. Too tired, I gave it up!
Nam’s blood in stool, then eczema returned not long after I was back to my normal eating habits. Eczema spread even further to both arms and legs, and all over the cheeks. I decided to go on elimination diet again, but it was not easy this time because we damaged his gut too much. We now had to use more hydrocortisone in a higher dose. His skin got so thin and inflamed. I could never wear shorts, or T-shirts on him because he would scratch the uncovered skin until it bled. I don’t want to describe more, it causes me so much pain just to think of those memories. Nam then developed sensitive to almost anything: clothing, carpet, air, wind, dust, and even with healthy foods like avocado, kale, banana, carrot, spinach. Later, he was officially labeled with tree nuts allergy.
How on earth could something like that happen???
That was too much for me. I could not take it in anymore. Staying on the side of not knowing what is going on, and praying for the help of other people never seems to work for me. I decided to take control back into my hands. And, that was the best decision I have ever made in my whole life.
I want to make an important note for all the young mothers out there. The saying “what you eat affect your milk” is not a myth. Your baby does eat your same diet through your breastmilk. I hope knowing that fact will help you make a better choice for both of you and your baby. Also, the side effect of hydrocortisone creams is enormous. Please do a lot of research yourself before using it. Because they claim it safe does not mean it is really safe.
Continue with the story, when I dug deeply into books and medical papers the link between leaky gut, food sensitivity, and eczema showed up. It brought me the desire to make a reverse for our health problems. We started to make a dramatic change in our diet, then we changed our living environment. We moved out of the old apartment, trashed all the toxic products, filtered the water, and tried several gut healing diets for both me and Nam. We tried GAPS, rotation diet, Paleo, and finally the low histamine and salicylate diet. The low histamine and low salicylate diet gave the best result for Nam. Also, it provided me a reasonable explanation why Nam reacted to even the healthiest food on earth like kale, banana, avocado, and broccoli. It is really true that “one man’s medicine is the other man’s poison.”
Nam is now twenty-eight months old, happy, healthy, and eczema free. He can eat almost all healthy foods, except nuts. I am not ready to try nuts on him yet. We will wait until the test is clear. I do believe Nam is not actually allergic to nuts. His gut was just “on fire” at the time we did the last test which was two years ago. But we still need to be careful.
About me, I am very committed to my healing journey and I am ready to do whatever it takes to honor this journey. I have seen how food healed lives from times to times. Therefore, it hurts me so much to learn that kids nowadays are fed with processed foods and sugary drinks. My heart bounces when seeing more children suffer from eczema, asthma, allergies, damaged liver, and obesity. Eczema and red cheeks are even considered as a very typical disease of children today. Even worse, the public has the tendency to believe that every child will have to have eczema at some points in their childhood life. Nothing is further from the truth more than that belief. In fact, healthy children are calm and healthy children do not have eczema.
With the belief that awareness will create changes, I found this site with a strong desire to raise awareness of healthy eating and healthy living to as many people as possible. My highest goal is to help parents educate their children to eat healthily and live happy because that is the greatest gift parents like us can present our next generations.
Fun facts about me
My eyelashes blink a lot. If you talk to me face to face, you will see that I blink every few seconds. I don’t know how that happens. But it has been with me for as long as I can remember, so I decide to love it anyway.
I am totally terrible when it comes to fashion. I can put on anything just to feel comfy.
I am an introvert personality. I am not very good at handling noisy crowds and streets.
I love writing, but I don’t talk much. In a conversation, I am always a listener.
I feel my best in nature.
Thank you so much for keep on reading. That was too much about me already. I have shared with you things that I have never shared anywhere before, and I feel wonderful now. It is like tons of bricks have just felt out of my back. Would you like to leap off your bricks as well? I would love to hear your story. Give me a comment below, or send me an email simply say “hi” so that I know you are there. It means a lot to me.
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