Joel’s Story

Hello. My name is Joel Sprechman.  In 2001, while working as a Sr. Multi-Disciplined Engineer with a Top Secret clearance, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, specifically Ulcerative Colitis and pancolitis, very severe UC spread throughout my entire large intestine. During 10 years of experimenting with many medicines, my disease only worsened, the side-effects, debilitating.  I got tired and angry when doctors would tell me I’m fine, yet I knew, on the inside, I was not. I got tired of following board certified medical recommendations that led to worsening of the same symptoms, new symptoms, new diagnosis’s, more pain, more time in the bathroom. Time away from my friends, hobbies, and family. When Conventional and Alternative Medicine failed me I had to figure it out on my own. I refused the surgery, and chemotherapy type drug prescriptions and used parts of Integrative Medicine to heal myself. I have been flare free and off IBD medication for years. 

I’m a former caffeine and sugar junkie who was raised on pizza, pasta and antibiotics. I had Lucky Charms for breakfast, triple-decker grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, Twizzlers and Kit Kats for snacks, and TV dinners for dinner. I also had little energy, anxiety, brain fog, cramps, inflammation, and a broken digestive tract.

One Great Gut is dedicated to sharing information about Integrative techniques and tips to heal chronic disease such as IBD and IBS. Some doctors believe that all diseases begin in the gut – this knowledge is important, potentially life-changing.

I’ve researched medical literature and experimented heavily with supplements, diets, treatments, lifestyle factors and medical devices.  I’m committed to sharing this information with you.

There’s a lot of health information online. In my opinion too much. Including misinformation and claims of miracle cures. There are no miracle cures. 

I got sick of mainstream doctors telling me that I was perfectly healthy when I knew I was not. I got sick of mainstream doctor’s recommending treatments that wound up causing more harm than good. Harm that took years to heal.

I’m also sick of misrepresentation and disingenuous doctors, healers, and quacks.

Spiritually, I’ve experienced what I can only call magic. I believe there is no one treatment for everyone. No one diet, pill, medicine, supplement, or surgery that will cure you.   Each of us are uniquely different, there is no one size fits all.

Regarding western medicine, where medical doctors and other healthcare professionals such as nurses, pharmacists and therapists treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation or surgery, I’m a fan. There’s a time and place for drugs and surgery. Both have saved countless lives. Inflammatory Bowel Disease used to have a 60 or 70% mortality rate. 60 or 70 per 100 people diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis would die. Today that is down to 3%. We have prednisone is to thank for that. Immunosuppressant and steroid’s has saved many lives. [1] Western medicine is also known as allopathic medicine, biomedicine, mainstream medicine or orthodox medicine.

We recently saw a presentation that said “Antibiotics and prednisone are the path to a colostomy bag” Is this true? I don’t know. I’ve heard Prednisone described as “The devil’s bargain, or a double-edged sword.

Integrative, Functional, Conventional, Holistic or Alternative Health the choice is ours.

Thanks for reading, and joining One Great Gut.

 

My Personal Manifesto

My Personal Manifesto

 

My Timeline:

1973
Born in Suffern NY to Holocaust survivors Herta and Marcus Sprechman
Dads family was hidden like Anne Frank
Moms family were forced to walk in a death march. Some survived

1976
My brother Steven was born

Steven Sprechman

With my brother Steven

Throughout my childhood I often experienced debilitating headaches.  A mix between  tension and migraine

Infrequently I’d feel intense stomach aches at night

1983

My normal bowel movement elimination  frequency was every three to seven days

1984
First Near Death Experience(NDE). My brother and I are rescued by a lifeguard in the Mediterranean Sea, saving us from drowning

Graduated Eldorado Elementary School

Eric Fields Todd Smith Brad Ratsprecher Joel Sprechman Kevin Reilly Jana Cooperman Amy Zimmerman Betsy Kaye Karen Katzman

Eldorado Elementary School Graduation


Eldorado elementary school Steven Pflaster Eric Fields Todd Smith Scott Wexler Brad Ratsprecher

Apparently I found this moment funny


1985
My best friend’s Father asked him to spend less time with me as my chronic stuttering was causing him to begin to stutter

1986

Celebrated the Jewish ritual of becoming a man. At my Bar Mitzvah I recited the haftarah

1991
Graduated Spring Valley Senior High School

Brad Ratsprecher Eric Fields Joel Sprechman

Graduation Day, Brad, Eric, and myself

1995

Dad threatened to disown me if I didn’t end a relationship with my first love, Tracy. She was Filipino, Irish and German, not Jewish

1996
Graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, with a Computer Science minor. Deans List(one semester).

After deciding between job offers in NY, CA and VA I chose to work for E-Systems, later acquired by Raytheon in Falls Church VA.

Dad unexpectedly passed away

1999
From the bleachers of the old Yankee Stadium I watched the New York Yankees win the World series.
In total, I’ve seen games in 30 baseball stadiums, in four countries and one territory. 


2000
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy by my first gastroenterologist  in Arlington VA appears to find Ulcerative Colitis, inflammation to 30cm

Promoted to Lead Hardware Engineer for a Multi-Million dollar DOD and DOJ program
Promoted to Sr. Multi-Disciplined Engineer

2001
Recruited to work at Themis Computer as a Sales Engineer/Field Application Engineer

Per CDC recommendations for upcoming travel I received the Hepatitis A , Typhim VI and yellow fever vaccines

Traveled to South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, met my first Medicine Man, of the Lozi Tribe

Medicine Man in Lozi Tribe Zaire

Medicine Man in Lozi Tribe Zaire

2002
My first Colonoscopy

2004
“Diet does not cure or treat inflammatory bowel disease” – What I’ve heard at this point in my life from three Medical Doctors

2005
Yearly respiratory issues do not respond to multiple courses of antibiotics. Symptoms naturally subside

Biked 156 miles in one weekend
NYC Century ride in New York and the Civil War Century ride in Pennsylvania

2006
Headache frequency increases and fatigue begins
Bowel movement regularity ranges from zero to eleven daily


My second colonoscopy revealed active Ulcerative Colitis to 35cm

2007
Volunteered for CCFA Take Steps Washington DC 

CCFA Take Steps Washington DC Henry Yu Joel Sprechman

CCFA Take Steps Washington DC

My third colonoscopy found severe active inflammation

Whitewater rafted one of the World’s Most Notorious Whitewater Rapids – The Upper and Lower Gauley River in West Virginia

Gauley River Pillow Rock

Gauley River Pillow Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008

Our 6×6 Volleyball Team took 1st place in our division

Moved to San Diego. I drove cross-country, for two weeks, from Washington DC to San Diego. Sleeping in my tent, and crashing with friends along the way while exploring many National Parks

2009

CCFA Research Leader Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America Joel Sprechman
Moved to Mission Beach, San Diego. Ocean Front Walk is my new Address
The boardwalk, beach and ocean were my front yard

Admitted to Scripps Memorial Hospital ER in La Jolla experiencing mind numbing, body paralyzing pain the day after I returned from Guatemala . CT scan revealed ileitis and sigmoid colitis.
Percocet and Vicodin do not numb the pain, I was sent home

My third Gastroenterologist prescribed Prednisone 50mg daily

My fourth Colonoscopy finds no evidence of active colitis and no findings to explain recent diarrhea and abdominal pain. Stool testing reveals no ova, parasite, giardia or clostridium difficile(c.diff)

Prednisone side effects crush my trust in the medical establishment
Against Doctor recommendations, I look to Google for answers


2010
Three months of recurring respiratory and frequent urination at night(nocturia) prove resistant to multiple courses of antibiotics

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Hiked the Grand Canyon. South Rim to Colorado river to South Rim

Volunteered at CCFA’s Camp Oasis for children with IBD

Grand Canyon Hike

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Vaccines and Immunizations required for camp: Chicken Pox, MMR Vaccination, Tetanus Booster, TB Test, Hepatitis B, and Flu Shot

Consulted with a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor

Consulted with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at UCSD, UC San Diego Health

Consulted with a Medical Doctor at UCSD, UC San Diego Health

2011

Consulted with Integrative GI Dr. Pratha

Graduated as a Yoga and Meditation Teacher from Pilgrimage of the Heart under Nikole Fortier

Total testosterone: 114
For reference: average Male in their 20’s: ~700 ; average Male in their 60’s: ~600: Mine in my late 30s: 114. Basically a baby kitten, after being neutered

Total testosterone: 595

Free testosterone: 14.2

Consulted with a Nutritionist and Health Coach

Certificate Of Recognition CCFA Research Leader

Total Testosterone: 283
Free Testosterone:  6.5

Consulted with Eric Sjoberg, Somatic Craniosacral Therapist – my first out of body experience 

2012

My fifth Colonoscopy showed normal colon with mild inflammation in splenic flexure

Total Testosterone: 475
Free Testosterone: 9.6

Taught  Yoga at CCFA Take Steps San Diego. Olympian Carrie Johnson was in my class

Consulted with a second Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at UCSD ,UC San Diego Health

Landmark Education Forum

With symptoms getting worse, CBC(Complete Blood Testing) once again showed no irregularities

With my health, and life degrading, I was forced to resigned from Themis Computer to focus on getting well again. This became my Full Time job

Denied health insurance due to preexisting condition

Consulted with a Chiropractic Doctor  who claimed he could cure UC
(If you ever heard this from a health practitioner, turn around, and run fast!)


Per the CDC, NP and overseeing MD I received 8 Vaccine injections:
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and HPV(Human Papillomavirus- aka Gardasil)


As health continued to decline I consulted with Naturopathic Doctors Dr. Monique Mazza ND and Dr. Heidi Wittmann ND at Bastyr University

Landmark Education Advanced Course

Consulted with Acupuncturist Bertram Furman LAc at The Wellness Source

Graduated from The UCSD Natural Healing & Cooking Program with Dr. Gordon Sax MD, Ph.D., MPH and Lauray MacElhern from UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine

Total Testosterone: 719

2013

Interviewed for the book: Gut Feelings – Social and Emotional Struggles with Crohn’s and Colitis by Linda Kriger

Graduated as a Certified Health Coach from Integrative Institute of Nutrition


Consulted with Dr. Erika Albani whom I discovered through the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine

Founded San Diego Gut Warriors, an Integrative Support Group

2013 CCFA San Diego Take Steps

Leading Yoga before CCFA Take Steps


2013 CCFA San Diego Take Steps

CCFA San Diego Take Steps

Led Yoga at CCFA Take Steps San Diego

Consulted with Dr. Kuperman Integrative Doctor at  New Beginnings Health Care. Lab results continued to look normal while I felt far from it

I had difficulty concentrating, working, getting out of bed, even after 10 solid hours of sleep

Consulted with Dr. Pratha, a mixture of Medical, Ayurvedic and endobiogenics principles for healing

Consulted for Crohn’s.net(now Good Gut Solution) as Marketing Director, worked with Dr. Pamela Nathan DHM

Became Vice President of Public Relations at Toastmasters of La Jolla

CalProctetin 53
CalProctetin measures inflammation in the intestines. Per LabCorp 25 is healthy, 50-120 is borderline, above 120 is Abnormal

Consultation with Dr. Mark Davis, ND Natural Gastroenterology in Portland, Oregon specializing in Fecal Microbial Transplants

Traveled to Sydney Australia, elected for Fecal Microbial Transplant at the Centre for Digestive Diseases(CDD ). Australia is the 30th country I’ve visited 

Colonoscopy #6 showed moderately severe distal colitis at 70cm

Gastroenterologist recommended 6MP(Mercaptopurine) and a S.A.D. diet. I refused both.

Climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge

2014

Attempted to surf for the first time in Byron Bay Australia. Caught my first wave, not quite

As a Marketing consultant I worked with Michael Filippone with Asia.com, Micha Mikailian with Intently.com, Ryan Ellis with Charity Stone and Glenn Stokoe with Float North County

The Conference for Men  with Men’s Coach Mike Hrostoski

Total Testosterone 670
Free Testosterone 10.4

Foot pain diagnosed as Metatarsalgia, possibly gout. Steroids were recommended. I refused, have not had foot pain since.

Landmark Education Communication Course – Access To Power

Blood and stool testing by Dr. Shikman  at Institute for Specialized Medicine
“HPV vaccine – that’s the bad one”
CalProctetin 125

Consultation with a Traditional Naturopath, Master Herbalist, Nutritional Therapist, Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist

Started working with Catherine Housseau – Cranial Sacral Massage Therapist per Rx from Dr. Pratha

Founded Cure IBD Foundation NGO, researching safe and effective IBD treatments, researched and discovered hundreds who have healed naturally 

2015

New Warrior Training with Mankind Project

Blood and stool testing with Functional Medicine Doctor Dr. Novak
Spectra Cell Labs showed numerous functional deficiencies
CalProctetin – 258

Consultation with Dr. Duc Le The Optimal Change MD

Became Certified Reiki Level I practitioner

Consultation with Dr. Marcus Ettinger B.Sc., D.C. Certified NET; advanced NAET and paleo-functional medicine practitioner. Chiropractor

Landmark Education Forum Weekend Course – reviewed

Consultation with Dr. Michelle Wolford ND

Consultation with Dr. Heather Sandison NMD at Center for Advanced Medicine

2016
Founded One Great Gut Inc. A Benefit Company

Consulted with Dr. Jeff Harris ND in Seattle WA

Consulted with Laura Kepshire Styler in Encinitas CA

Consulted with Dr. Christine Tara Peterson PhD, AHP, RYT in San Diego, CA

2017

Unaddressed stressed led to a flare in January. Eventually I started Oral prednisone, which helped temporarily.  Symptoms increased including debilitating pain, bloating, dysbiosis and inflammation.  Some thought it was a slipped rib, but X-Ray showed otherwise.

Colonoscopy in June showed worst colon GI has ever seen, extremely high risk of perforation.

I checked into UCSD Thornton Hospital in La Jolla CA and am working with the staff here and the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine. The staff is great and open-minded to work with complementary evidence based treatments

June 2017: Will update remainder of page shortly



I listed emotionally charged events and some self-development courses in my Timeline. I’ve noticed certain events linger in my conscious, and subconscious for days, years even decades. I’m a serial optimist, and also a human being just like you. Self-Development has been a large part of my adult life, and health journey. It’s given me skills and tools for improving my self-confidence, courage, character, emotional intelligence, emotional resilience, breaking poor habits and forming good ones. It’s increased my self-awareness, lifestyle, communication skills and my physical health and happiness. 

As of this writing(May 2016), I consider myself at the peak of my health journey. When I consider physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health a full package, consisting of individual peaks that make a whole.  I feel I’m at the peak of all pillars.  I’m 42, have sustained caffeine-free energy that lasts all day, high libido, sleep well, feel little to no pain or inflammation, and have regular well formed bowel movements daily. Bowel movements quality, consistency, scent and look all tell us the current state of our health. It wasn’t always like this. Here’s a list of diagnosis I’ve had in the past few decades, some correct, some incorrectly diagnosed as false positives.

Disease is not singular. Our body is interconnected with each part, each organ, speaking to and, in some cases, relying on other parts to function properly. The digestive system alone starts at the mouth and nose, and ends at far end…rectum and anus. In between organs include your Liver, Stomach, Gallbladder, Spleen, Large Intestine, Small Intestine, and more. When one part malfunctions, fails, or is removed, there’s a cascade of effects elsewhere in the body.  I’ve spent the last few years diving deep into exactly what is going on. I geek out on this stuff, I treated myself as a lab experiment.  I almost didn’t share this list publically. I thought if you read this, and didn’t have a condition or diagnosis below, you would not relate. That’s silly, even preposterous. The fact Medical Doctors found all these diagnosis within me only proves further that healing is possible with anything that is going on within you. My intention is to show that one disease will lead to another if not treated Integratively, or Holistically. Western Medication may work, for a period of time, perhaps even decades. But that is only part of the solution, and like a Band-Aid, only masks the underlying symptoms.

This list is not inclusive. I’m listing these diagnosis to show that reversing your symptoms, that getting-well again, that improving your life is possible. I’m living proof.

Tension Headaches
Migraine Headaches
Epistaxis(Nose Bleeds)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Ulcerative Colitis
Aarthralgia(joint pain)
Mold Toxicity
Disease of the Intestine
Malaise and fatigue
Unspecified disease of the intestine
Frequency of micturition(urination)
Nocturia
Capillary hypoperfusion(Too much aerobic exercise can cause us to crash)
Painful urination
HHV-6
Mononucleosis
Chronic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/CFIDS)
Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS)
Gout
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Severe food allergies
Heavy metal toxicity
Candida
GBS (group b streptococcus)
GI staph aureus(Staphylococcus aureus)
MRSA
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
Male hypogonadism
Prostatitis
Prostate Cancer

Whew, that was exhausting to type, to research my past records.  Each Doctor I’ve seen, each health practitioner I’ve consulted with, have significantly contributed to my health journey. I’m grateful for each of their commitment to the health of their patients and humanity as a whole. Some doctor recommendations helped me, some hurt me putting me in a downward spiral for sometimes months and years. It’s been a beautiful journey and I’m grateful for each experience, for the lesson and the learning.  

Through my sharing, research, interviews and the One Great Gut community my hope is that this helps you and your family on your journey.

[1] Tangentially Speaking with Chris Ryan PhD and guest Dr. Mark Davis ND at ~1hr:40min