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.  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.
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
My brother Steven was born
Throughout my childhood I often experienced debilitating headaches. A mix between tension and migraine
Infrequently I’d feel intense stomach aches at night
My normal bowel movement elimination frequency was every three to seven days
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
My best friend’s Father asked him to spend less time with me as my chronic stuttering was causing him to begin to stutter
Celebrated the Jewish ritual of becoming a man. At my Bar Mitzvah I recited the haftarah
Graduated Spring Valley Senior High School
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
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
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.
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
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
My first Colonoscopy
“Diet does not cure or treat inflammatory bowel disease” – What I’ve heard at this point in my life from three Medical Doctors
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
Headache frequency increases and fatigue begins
Bowel movement regularity ranges from zero to eleven daily
My second colonoscopy revealed active Ulcerative Colitis to 35cm
Volunteered for 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
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
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
Three months of recurring respiratory and frequent urination at night(nocturia) prove resistant to multiple courses of antibiotics
Hiked the Grand Canyon. South Rim to Colorado river to South Rim
Volunteered at CCFA’s Camp Oasis for children with IBD
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
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
Total Testosterone: 283
Free Testosterone: 6.5
Consulted with Eric Sjoberg, Somatic Craniosacral Therapist – my first out of body experience
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
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
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
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
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 normal.
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 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 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.(Standard Australian Diet) diet.. I refused both.
Climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge
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
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.
Blood and stool testing by Dr. Shikman at Institute for Specialized Medicine
“HPV vaccine – that’s the bad one”
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
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
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
Unaddressed stress 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, in her 40 years of practice indicating an 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(March 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.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Disease of the Intestine
Malaise and fatigue
Unspecified disease of the intestine
Frequency of micturition(urination)
Capillary hypoperfusion(Too much aerobic exercise can cause us to crash)
Chronic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/CFIDS)
Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS)
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Severe food allergies
Heavy metal toxicity
GBS (group b streptococcus)
GI staph aureus(Staphylococcus aureus)
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
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.