Sunday, 16 November 2014

Remission & Natto (NSD Book Chapter)

The following is a draft of content which I intend to be added to my NSD Chapter

-- Combatting fungi --


In 2013 and 2014 I have been quite focused on combatting fungal infections. I tried out a product called Kolorex and in January of 2014 noticed that it helped with the dehydration that I had been experiencing at night. I looked up its active component Polygodial, found that it was an antifungal, and is found in Dorrigo Pepper, Australian Mountain Pepper, Horopito, Canelo, Paracress and Water-pepper. The Maori's of New Zealand traditionally used Horopito to treat fungal infections. Some interesting properties in this compound - it inhibits the ability of pathogens to form attachments to, for instance, your gut wall, bladder etc. 

By chance I found some Australian Mountain Pepper (also containing Polygodial) whilst browsing an Oxfam shop in Sydney. It cost about $10, which I considered pretty cheap as far as experiments are concerned. Worth a shot. I took a little Mountain Pepper and found that when taken on an empty tummy it very quickly cleared my nose (sinus/rhinitis), and Proctitis (itchy bum) cleared quickly too, as did the constant fatigue of my condition. Those three only took about 30 minutes to clear up. I found this remedy worked well if taken on an empty tummy with a glass of juice or water. When taken at dinner I would wake feeling refreshed and well rested - a state that I had become completely unaccustomed to. For so many years I have been waking up feeling tired, lethargic and as sleepy as when I went to bed. 

Another useful property was that Mountain Pepper would clear the dreaded "brain fog" that was so disabling, particularly at work. There was a downside however, it sometimes caused a bit of a headache, but only for a short while (possible die off reaction). 

Is it possible that so many of those little gremlins that are eating away at my quality of life .. that so many of these symptoms are caused by a fungal infection? Sinusitis, proctitis, brain fog, and fatigue, these all cleared after consuming a known anti-fungal, ie. Polygodial from Australian Mountain Pepper. 

After a few weeks of usage of Mountain pepper it seemed to take larger doses to achieve the same result, and after a month or so it just stopped working. Typical.. I have experienced this several times before with other things (Ginko tea, and Bromelain for instance). I expect it will only work again after a long pause in its usage.


I had read about an interesting compound called Lufenuron a while back - most likely in 2013. In February of 2014 I plucked up the nerve to finally give it a try. The first two days nothing happened of note as it needs to build up in your system until the right concentration is reached. I was taking about a half teaspoon daily and it had to be taken with fatty foods. Typically I used yoghurt or almond butter.. or both all at once. 

On the third day was when things started to happen. My head was very clear, that was nice. However the jock itch I was experience became -worse-. Not only that, but the Proctitis was noticeably worse, there was a burning sensation when peeing, and there was some abdominal pain in the vicinity of the prostate. All very interesting but it didn't phase me at all and I pressed on. This was almost certainly a fungal die off reaction. 

On the fourth day things improved. My head was still very clear and I noted that I could think and make decisions better than previously. The jock itch had calmed down and now there was some skin peeling where it had previously been a bit inflamed. Proctitis was completely cleared, as were the abdominal pains, and prostate. It did burn a bit when urinating still. That afternoon I drank a bit of alcohol and unfortunately that undid much of the good work! Back came some mild proctitis, mild prostatitis, brain fog and also the night dehydration. I think the alcohol only temporarily worsened these issues. About a week later after finishing the course of Lufenuron I made a note that the old problems all seemed to gradually return. So typical. These little gremlins sure are tough to shift. 


In very early May 2014 I was taking Lufenuron again but stopped before going on my holiday to Fiji. I felt it was better if I didn't have to try and explain the product as someone may find a white powder strange or suspicious in some way. Instead I would take my Australian Mountain Pepper with me since it was apparently nothing more than a condiment. Of course it is much more than that to me. 

I was taking my mountain pepper quite regularly during my holiday. The extra energy was most welcome as we went travelling and snorkelling on gorgeous little islands. One island was so small you could walk across it in thirty seconds. The snorkelling was wonderful, the coral were both beautiful and fascinating, and those vibrantly coloured fish!. 

In mid May my fiancé and I were exploring Nadi town and became hungry. We sat down at an Indian restaurant - not a good choice for someone on a No Starch Diet. I ordered something but apparently chose quite poorly.. well, poorly according to my dietary needs. But my senses were telling me otherwise and I did succumb to these. The curry was delicious and couldn't resist!

Here are the notes which I made at the time:

"Ate quite a starchy indian curry yesterday whilst eating out. My partner told me it definitely had besan flour in it to thicken it up, and it reacted immediately to iodine. Decided to try it anyway, "for science!" Hehe. It was just tooo yummy to turn down.
About an hour or two later I started to get very very tired which is a classic symptom for me when eating starch .. But the painful inflammation never came! Looks like the anti fungal compounds I have been taking are keeping this disease at bay!?!"


This year I had moved into a new flat in Sydney. My neighbours from unit 7 were very kind, they greeted me and asked if we could meet for a chat to which I agreed. Whilst we chatted in my flat they noticed my interest in supplements and quite sensibly realised I had some health problems. When they asked, I mentioned that my condition was very much linked to the health of my digestive system. They were both quite keenly into health, but from a uniquely Korean, or Asian, perspective. They recommended things a westerner might never consider: homemade Natto and Kimchi. 

One day my neighbours made some homemade Natto for me. I tried it on Tuesday night (10 June 2014) and soon posted a photo on my blog. At first I was not noticing much in terms of immediate changes. A few days later I believe my jock itch became a bit more inflamed and then calm down again, this much was similar with what I observed taking Lufenuron. It was that weekend when things became interesting. My fiancé had booked us into a winery tour of Canberra and the surrounding region. There are some really nice ones in the area if you know where to go. For lunch we stopped at the Four Winds Winery. They focus on their wines really, and for food it is just pizza and more pizza. I brought my own food as I had been forewarned of this situation. But wow the pizza looked sooo good! I told my fiancé it would be worthwhile trying starch again and seeing how well I tolerated it. Usual excuse. Lets face it, I have a weakness for good food. My fiancé was a bit wary but I said I would just have a little and see how I went. I suppose that when the only thing you have on the menu is pizza, then it ought to be bloody good pizza.. and they did not disappoint. The pizza was as amazing as it looked and smelled. And did I stop at one slice? Oh noo .. I couldn't stop. So yummy!

When we were back on the bus a few hours after lunch I mentioned I my fiancé that I should have been feeling some symptoms by now.. But I wasn't. For over 10 years I have reacted to starch like clockwork, but not this time. Why didn't I react?. I believe I hadn't yet put two and two together and made the connection with Natto. It may seem obvious with hindsight but my first suspects would have been Lufenuron and Polygodial.

Normally my reaction after a starchy meal shows up within less than 4 hours and then peaks at 24 hours, then gradually subsides over another two days. Three days of pain all up. The only exception is that on very very rare occasions after months of very carefully following a no starch diet I can sometimes get away with some starchy food.. but just once though as after that my immune system is primed again and a full blown reaction will occur. 

I kept taking the Natto for several weeks and noticed that it made my eczema worse, so I decided to stop taking it for a while and let my eczema calm down. It took about a week but the starch sensitivity returned (on 10th July 2014) and AS came with full force after eating some cheap hummus. It wasn't even good hummus. I would put up with some pain for good quality hummus but this it was not. Anyway, I decided to try the Natto again and lo and behold the AS calmed down within 24 hours of consuming Natto. Not bad eh. So that was it then, the Natto was surely the thing which had brought me into remission this time, although it didn't explain my experience in Fiji. Why didn't I go into full blown inflammation, as I should have, when eating that starchy curry in Fiji? Was it the Lufenuron or the Mountain Pepper, or perhaps both?
Bacillus Subtilis is a very very closely related strain to Bacillus Natto which is found in commercial Natto. It just so happens that Bacillus Subtilis is a popular alternative remedy for fungal problems. This is the one common thread I can see, both in my observations in Fiji and now with Natto - in both cases we see an anti-fungal at the heart of my remission. 
I asked my neighbour how she makes her Natto .. and she doesn't add any starter culture. So it is quite possible that wild Bacillus Subtilis strains have entered their Natto culture. Wild Bacillus Subtilis is found in soil and is an extremophile, which means it tolerates very extreme conditions. You can boil this one and its spores can still survive! The B. Subtilis culture could even be originating from the soy beans themselves.

Returning home to starchville

Now that I could eat starch again I went thoroughly overboard. Several kind hearted souls mention their concern for my sudden eagerness to jump in the deep-end of starch consumption. It was certainly testament to my lack of will power, but I wanted to try everything. All these starchy foods such as croissants, Vietnamese pork rolls, potato wedges, porridge .. All these many foods had been forbidden me for over ten years. Can you imagine not bring able to eat chocolate for ten years?

Observations about resuming starch

After a while I calmed down as I gradually started to take note of which starches were best for me. For instance deep fried starch as found in batter or doughnuts and the like can still cause me mild AS symptoms. This inflammation however is far far milder than the usual reaction, less than a tenth of the usual starch reaction. What's more the reaction is not only quite mild, but also short lived and always dissipates by the next morning. On several occasions certain foods (for instance cheese) caused my starch sensitivity to briefly return. Initially I had thought that I needed to keep eating Natto in order to keep my A.S. in remission, but it gradually became clear that this was not the case, and that the remission would always return. 

I tried eating normal rice, and even basmati rice, but both very reliably bring on quite severe proctitis, just as with glutinous rice. All those years ago when I first started cutting out grains I had kept rice until last. Well now I know why I had so much difficulty with proctitis and yeast infections at that time. How strange it is now to find that wheat, my mortal nemesis, is now my kind friend and rice now shunned. How the tables have turned. 

Sugar, in the form of sucrose, still poses a real threat to me. When I eat foods that are adulterated with refined sugar I experience pain in the region of my prostate & bladder. I also can experience proctitis and a strange dehydration that seems exactly like Sjögren's syndrome and which inexplicably worsens greatly when I sleep, followed by fatigue and weakness. 

I'm unsure at the moment but I fear the same problems as found in sucrose may also be found with very high glycemic loads such as with white bread? I reacted badly to a Vietnamese pork bun, however it is quite inconclusive since the sauces they use certainly do contain refined sucrose. I have some doubts though, since pasta and wholemeal bread are quite safe thus far. Well, I certainly do find that the same wheat starch can digest quite differently depending on how it is prepared - deep fried versus steamed, al dente versus over cooked, or fluffy white bread versus a denser wholemeal or rye bread. 

Whilst following the NSD a cavity in a molar on the lower right side of my jaw had healed to some extent. It lay dormant as long as I stayed away from dried fruits and excess of sweets such as chocolate. But upon eating starch (including amylopectin starch) I found that this cavity would become a problem again, and I must now be far more vigilant about dental hygiene. Weston Price would have much to say on this, I have no doubt (if he were still alive). 

My eczema has also returned once I resumed eating starch. It isn't too severe though, and I find that apple cider vinegar helps (both oral and topical) and 500mg of vitamin B3 also brings relief (taken orally, and this too can be used topically if you wish). But I have dwelled far too much on the negative aspects of starch thus far. Time for some positive words..

Eating starch again has made life so much easier, I now have far more energy and not nearly as prone to debilitating bouts of fatigue. My body temperature is very noticeably warmer, something I believe my fiancé may have first noticed when holding my hand. Normally I was significantly colder than her, whereas now I am noticeably warmer and tolerate cold weather much better. 

I had difficulty getting the energy I needed whilst following the NSD. Unfortunately my body never adapted well to burning fat as fuel. In fact fats from fatty food I ate would regularly be seen floating as an oil slick after going to the toilet. This inability to assimilate and make use of fat as fuel makes me a rather poor poster child for the NSD and it is not my desire to dissuade others from following it, but rather to be realistic about its benefits and shortcomings. An inability to assimilate fat doesn't seem to be common, and yet I'm certainly not the only person as I can think of one other who complained of this issue. He found that he needed some starch to help digest, or "bind" the fats in our food. Coconut oil is an exception here, as even my body finds this an acceptable fuel at most times. 

Now that energy levels had normalised I was also starting to gain weight, a situation I was quite happy with as I was a tad too skinny before. After putting on about 5 kilos my weight stabilised nicely. 

There seemed to be noticeably less muscular tension. For the most part I attribute this to eating less animal fat. A heresy for those following a Paleo-diet of course that I should say so, but too much animal fat was a problem for me. To each their own. 

I don't regret following the NSD, as it was what my body needed at that time. Without the NSD my disorder will have continued its course of degeneration and calcification of my major joints. And let's not forget the years of great physical pain that I have been spared. For this I have much to thank those at the forum, and perhaps a little thanks should go to the indomitable spirit and the kindness of strangers. 

“There is in this world no such force as the force of a man determined to rise. The human soul cannot be chained” - W.E.B. DuBois


  1. Hi I’m Charles from France and I’m 21 years old.
    I’ve been following your blog for weeks now and it’s a true gold mine of information for a AS sufferer like me !
    I am almost pain free now on a no starch diet, after one year and a half of struggle. Back in 2013, I was unable to walk without crushes and inflammation was really important in most joints (ankles, knees…) and back pain was awful.
    However, I am still unable to consume starchy foods despite consumption of homemade natto (so funny to make haha).
    I would really like to eat foods such as rice or potatoes to feel satisfied and not hungry all day long because I can’t have fat as a fuel (I can eat tablespoons and tablespoons of coconut oil and still feel hungry after !).
    Also, do you have any advice for me ? I will try glutinous rice soon to see how I react to it and I will start to eat fermented vegetables because as far as I understand, restoring gut flora is the basis of the cure.
    Anyway, keep on writing on your blog this is really useful for many people I’m sure and I wish you good health for the future !

  2. Hi Charles,
    What a shame Natto isn't working for others. It really does work for me.. I have taken a break from Natto a number of times now and each time the duration of remission has been less! And each time the inflammation went away in about 12 hours after eating Natto.

    I will take it regularly now lest it stop working altogether - for instance, if the key pathogenic flora (eg. H Pylori, Candida, or Klebsiella) became resistant to Natto.


  3. My advice...

    Glutinous rice - be very careful, and only eat in moderation. Both Betty Rawker and myself have had initial success but over did it, ate too much of it, and ended up in trouble! I no longer eat this very often, I won't eat sticky rice as it worsens my proctitis, but on rare occasion I will use it to make pancakes. Somehow by combining the flour with egg it is transformed, and digested better, and no longer causes proctitis. Fungal issues are still an issue though.

    Fermented foods - absolutely yes. My good neighbours who gave me Natto have been a godsend to me. They really opened my eyes. I had long known that cultured foods were good, but I had not previously understood that they were a crucial part of real healing. Natto may not work for many, but please don't be discouraged from trying other cultures. My next culture to try: homemade sauerkraut.

    1. Thank you for your answer, I think it's a good idea to vary the fermented foods to vary your source of bacteria !
      I was also thinking of doing a bone broth fast for a couple of days to try to restore leaky gut because I've observed that I sometimes have hard times to digest food and acid reflux after eating is more frequent than it was before.
      I will keep you informed if I do so, maybe after Christmas.

    2. >> good idea to vary the fermented foods to vary your source of bacteria

      Absolutely. What may be a magic bullet for me, may not be for you. We have to experiment in order to find which flora best suits our ecosystems, and which one helps to crowd out our specific group of pathogens.

      >> to restore leaky gut

      Go for it! I am all for it :) Even if it doesn't work, you will have a delicious and nutritious soup after you add some carrots, garlic, etc :)

      >> acid reflux after eating is more frequent than it was before

      Ahhh yes, I get these weird reflux hiccups. Everyone just laughs at it :). My sister and father both get reflux too.. Apple Cider Vinegar can help to reduce them, but I am not sure when the best time for you to take it will be. I know that for me taking ACV on an empty stomach suits best..10 minutes before a meal is fine for me too.

      I very often find earthclinic has great little tips and hints for common ailments (such as reflux in this instance). This time it is definitely informative:

      Please do keep me informed, I love hearing from others :) Best of health,

  4. Thank you! It's an eye-opening post.

    I never noticed any correlation between consuming starchy food and AS symptoms. But, during my vacation time in UAE I got pretty bad uveitis. A few years after an Israeli friend brought some hummus. The next morning was the worst in years, my AS really knocked me down.

    Now I realize that during the UAE vacation I must have consumed a lot of hummus. At least now I can say, despite being crazy delicious, hummus is no more welcomed on my table.