Battler takes natural path
Doctors told Jill Dunn her rheumatoid arthritis would confine her to a wheelchair.
But there are few signs she is plagued by the auto-immune disease more than 20 years later.
Head of herbal medicine at Wellpark College of Natural Therapies, Ms Dunn says she is proof that natural therapies work wonders.
Albany resident Ms Dunn was given a horror diagnosis in 1982 at the age of 26 that she would slowly lose her mobility from rapidly progressing rheumatoid arthritis.
"I just woke up one day and noticed a little red area on my knuckle," she says.
Refusing to accept the doctor's prognosis and with limited other options, including the drug methotrexate, used in chemotherapy and to induce abortion, Ms Dunn set off on the path of natural medicine.
"Because I was a nurse I knew exactly what it meant so I started to do everything I could to help myself.
"I was told I was pipe-dreaming, but that kind of thing can either break you or drive you," she says.
Ms Dunn overhauled her diet, enrolled in naturopathic college and gave just about every natural therapy a go.
"I stopped tea and coffee and began to search for answers," she says.
Meanwhile she suffered excruciating pain while doing her best to care for her two small children.
"If I'd knock myself I would go through the roof. I had it in my jaw at one stage and I could barely fit one finger in my mouth. It was in my feet too, it was like walking on rocks," she says.
Complementary therapies like hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and emotional freedom techniques worked well for years and saved Ms Dunn from the confines of a wheelchair.
But around menopause the condition flared up.
"I seemed less responsive to the therapies," she says.
"I hunted down a rheumatologist who would prescribe me an antibiotic called minocyline. At that stage I was quite bad."
Ms Dunn immediately had a herxheimer reaction, meaning she got worse before getting better.
But after six months she went into remission.
"I surprise myself how resilient I am. I always feel there is something that can be done. I don't believe you're ever stuck," she says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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