In January 2016, I began to have weakness in my forearms, more so in my right forearm. I initially attributed it to soreness associated with activities. Over the course of a week, it became so severe that I could not lift a tea mug with my right hand, without the assistance from my left. It was at that point that I realized it was not just muscle soreness. After a quick Google search, I learned that statin medications can cause this type of weakness and I had taken statins to manage my high cholesterol for several years. I knew I would be seeing my physician the following month, so I decided to see what happened if I stopped taking the statin. Within a few days, all weakness and soreness subsided and I was basically back to normal. When I did see my physician, he wasn’t happy with me and prescribed a different statin for me to take. I started the new statin and, within days, the weakness/soreness returned. I stopped. When I saw my physician again in August, he gave me an even different statin and suggested I try taking one pill every other day, or a half a pill every three days or some other combination to see if I could take any without the weakness/soreness returning. I tried every combination I could think of, including a half pill once a week and the weakness/soreness still returned. It was now September 2016 and I vowed not to try another statin drug (after even more research). I did not know what to do and just continued to research.

By October 2016, I had found multiple sites recommending fermented vegetables and, after looking at many pages and several videos, I found one that just spoke to me. It was Donna Schwenk’s video on making sauerkraut. But, it wasn’t just a how-to video. She shared so much background information and stories of her own life. So, I watched that video over and over again, purchased the things I would need to make some sauerkraut, and made my first batch on November 2, 2016, while watching that video again! That was the beginning of my life with cultured foods. On November 7, when I opened that Mason jar, I said a little prayer and took a bite. It was awesome and I was so proud of myself that I shared it on social media. By Thanksgiving, I began brewing Kombucha and by Christmas, I began making milk kefir. Around that time, I realized I had not taken an Advil since my first bite of sauerkraut in November. Before then, I usually took 4-6/day for headaches and general aches and pains. I thought it must be normal for a 56-year old to feel that way. I was wrong!

As I prepared to return for my 6-month checkup on January 16, 2017, I was very nervous, not knowing how my physician would react to the fact I was not taking the statin and I had started this regimen of cultured food in its place. As I expected, he rolled his eyes a little when I told him, but I was so excited, it didn’t bother me. He annotated in my file that I was intolerant/allergic to statins and said he would fight with my insurance company to pay for a new drug that isn’t covered. He told me to “continue with your fermented things” until he called me back the next day with my lab results. That was a Monday and by Thursday, I realized he never called. When I called, his nurse told me “your labs are good and the doctor will see you back in 6 months”. I was so excited and asked her for my detailed numbers. My cholesterol dropped 41 points!!

Since then, I have posted about making sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir on my social media, offering to help anyone who would like to start. I have shared my cholesterol story and encouraged others to try fermented foods/beverages. It has brought me so much joy to (1) find a food that I love that can improve my health more than any medication and (2) share all the information I have learned with my friends. I am so grateful to have found Donna’s video on Youtube, which led me to Cultured Food Life

Thank you, Donna!