Diagnosis: Eosinophilic esophagitis
The matriarchal side of my family has been plagued with hereditary gastrointestinal (GI) issues. My grandmother died of an unknown GI disease (this was back in Poland around 1986). My mother was plagued with years of heartburn and then eventually the inability to swallow food as a result of her esophagus shrinking. By the time she had these severe symptoms, my mother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and died when she was 65…this was 10 years ago.
At the age of 41 I noticed I was having some difficulty swallowing, so I decided to get an EGD (scope of my esophagus) to see what might be going on with me. I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). This was the source of the painful constricting feeling I would have in my chest. The doctor told me that EoE is not linked to esophageal cancer, but it is a hereditary condition. Hmmm…EoE is a relatively new diagnosis and not well understood, so my hunch is that we will find out later that somehow it is linked to esophageal cancer.
I was given the choice of taking a topical steroid to reduce the inflammation caused by my EoE. I am not a huge proponent of taking steroids, and I am not keen on treating symptoms. I would rather find out what is causing my body to produce too many eosinophils and perhaps remove it from my daily life. Right now, the general thought is that eosinophils are created when there is an allergic reaction, and in my case, to food.
So I went to an allergy specialist and was tested for potential food allergies. I was tested for over 30 different allergens ranging from wheat to hops. Only two allergens looked like potential threats: garlic and cauliflower. The skin test is only the first step in allergy testing. To definitively confirm the allergy I had my blood tested and it came back negative for allergic reactions to garlic and cauliflower. My husband was ecstatic since he loves garlic in his food.
I was back to square one, feeling like esophageal cancer is imminently looming out there for me. I am not at all angry or disappointed with the current state of medical treatment for EoE. I completely understand it takes a long time to observe and figure out what is going on in these complex bodies of ours.
So in the mean time, I am reading up on the most recent NIH studies on EoE, and taking a holistic approach to “treating” my disease. Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory, so I am increasing this spice, fresh and dried, in my daily meals. In fact, I have a great recipe for salad dressing I’d like to share with you, see below. I also take turmeric tincture as a supplement in my water so it “coats” my throat like a topical steroid. To complement my dietary changes, I am going to my acupuncture provider Robin Schiesser L.Ac. (www.acupuncturboulder.com) for general treatment of inflammation. I was told I am “hot”, which explains why I can’t stay in water for too long without becoming cold (even at 85F).
I’ll probably be getting another EGD in a year or two and will see whether my new habits have helped my condition. Until then, here is the dressing recipe I promised. It’s great on salads and steamed/sautéed veggies.
- 1/4 cup Tahini
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
- 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup (or Agave Syrup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Liquid Aminos (I used Mrs. Braggs)
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined, chill until ready to use. Enjoy!
Ed. Note: Do you or a friend have symptoms like EoE? There's not a lot of communication among people who have experience it. Leave a comment below or get in touch with Ela via Ticklepaks.com.