When Pamela Wirth’s six-year-old son Ryan began to developmentally regress, she did what any parent would do: she took him to the doctor. Unfortunately, several doctors could not adequately explain or treat his tics, anxiety, lethargy, or unusual vocalizations. Refusing to accept that her son was forever altered, Pamela went on a search for answers—and found the right people and right treatments at the right time to bring him back to health.
In her book, Hello, Health, Ms. Wirth details how she found workable solutions, with contributions from other parents and doctors who help families, including pediatric neurologist Melanie Alarcio, M.D., immunologist Ryan Casper, M.D., and Jeremy Appleton, N.D.
After a scary and lonely journey of trial and error, during which Ms. Wirth did not know what was happening to her son, she was advised to take a different path. A new doctor reviewed her son’s lab work which showed 2 active viral infections and high strep titers even though he never had strep throat. The doctor then prescribed Ryan cephalexin, a new antibiotic for him, along with olive leaf extract, a multivitamin, Omega-3s, and round-the-clock Motrin (olive leaf extract contains bioactive compounds with antioxidant, antiatherogenic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties†). Over the next five weeks, Ms. Wirth saw a calmer child who was performing again at school – but her son was still dealing with constant eye blinks and headaches. His sense of humor wasn’t back and his mood remained off. He also grunted while trying to fall asleep and spent 12-14 hours per day sleeping. Given that her son’s nickname had always been the Energizer Bunny, Ms. Wirth knew that they still had a long road ahead of them.
New lab work ordered by her son’s neurologist showed improved vitamin/mineral levels and decreasing Epstein-Barr virus and Cytomegalovirus levels. Unfortunately, Strep tiers were not decreasing. Ms. Wirth’s son was then switched from cephalexin to Augmentin/azithromycin, and he improved more. After seeing a specialist in child neurology pediatrics at the area Children’s Hospital, Ms. Wirth was asked to schedule a tonsillectomy for Ryan (even though her son had healthy-looking tonsils); she was also advised to remove gluten and sugar from his diet.
One doctor explained that they were going to “flip Ryan’s immune system” and that it would take a long time. Meanwhile, Ms. Wirth remained diligent and focused on learning everything she could about inflammation, infection, and genetics to ensure her son was on the path to normal levels. What once seemed like difficult and monumental tasks and regimens soon became commonplace and routine. Ms. Wirth thought that her son would never take the antibiotics since they tasted terrible. “Mommy, I can’t swallow pills,” her son told her. The first time the doctors had to draw blood for lab work, Ms. Wirth had to hold her son down. Later, Ryan could have eight or nine vials of blood drawn at once without incident and he took capsules or tablets regularly without protest.
After Ryan had his “healthy-looking” tonsils removed, the tonsil microbiology showed a highly antibiotic-resistant form of a Strep that was resistant to clindamycin and Erythromycin. Once they were removed, Ms. Wirth felt like they had gotten “the enemy.” Ryan’s doctor then switched him to Ceftin and while he still had eye tics, they were minimal. The color in Ryan’s cheeks came back and so did his sense of humor. His headaches were gone. Ms. Wirth felt cautiously optimistic, but remained hyper-vigilant. They were even able to enjoy a family vacation together.
By this point, Ms. Wirth was unsure of the best course of action, so she decided to stay the course. Research and literature showed the length of a given treatment depended upon how long the child had been ill before they were treated. Ms. Wirth had been prepared to plan for years, not months.
At the time, doctors were trying to figure out how to classify Ryan’s illness, which was similar to Rheumatic Fever. Some say these cases can require years of antibiotics to ward off future infection and reduce inflammation.
The doctors felt good about the fact that we had caught the problem within six weeks, but Ms. Wirth’s son’s immune system had a long way to go. It takes a long time to rebuild someone’s immune system. Today, Ryan’s illness would be classified as Autoimmune Encephalitis (AE).
The road to recovery was long, but ultimately successful.
Along the way, Ms. Wirth learned to identify and minimize environmental triggers of autoimmune disease, as well as discover that by introducing essentials oils supplementation (particularly frankincense, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, clove, and copaiba), Ryan did NOT experience environmental triggers the same way.Her son’s immune system could fight the infections that would make others around him sick. Ms. Wirth also became diligent about giving Ryan a daily probiotic, B12, methylfolate, and vitamin D3 to bolster his immune system and balance his mood.
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The Hello Health® community and all of our nutritional supplements are here to support, working together to encourage parents and carers like you to find trusted formulations and optimal wellness for your child. †