Epstein-Barr virus protein can “switch on” risk genes for autoimmune diseases

I just wanted to share with you this new piece of research that I have come across….

Basically, it is saying that if you carry the genes for autoimmune diseases (and many of them – celiac disease for example) are genetic, then if you contract Epstein-Barr (also known as the kissing disease, mononucleosis or glandular fever) the virus can “turn on” those autoimmune disease genes and result in the development of an autoimmune disease.  This “turning on” of genes is called Epigenetics which is a new and emerging branch of science.  Basically certain environmental conditions (could be external environment or internal environment) can trigger the genes to start expressing whatever they are coded to express.  This can result in disease states such as the autoimmune diseases.

Well I guess that this explains why I developed celiac disease. I am heterozygous for all of the celiac genes (this means I have a copy of them each of my chromosomes), and I had EBV as a young adult when I was in my very early 20’s… Interestingly, I started developing the symptoms of a gluten sensitivity in my early 20’s as well, a couple of years after my EBV Dx…. but it was not diagnosed as full celiac disease until I was in my 40’s. That means I was probably suffering from it for a good 20 years as an undiagnosed celiac, which explains the extensive gut-damage that they found at the biopsy.

“the researchers found that EBNA2 [a protein produced by EBV] and its related transcription factors activate some of the human genes associated with the risk for lupus and several other autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and celiac disease.”

In other words for me, celiac disease was a foregone conclusion….

And it was probably the damage to my gut-lining that resulted from the Celiac diseases, that lead to my development of the dairy (Casein) allergy in my mid 30’s. Not only is casein cross-reactive with gluten, but the damage to my gut lining would have lead to the partially digested casein molecules leaking into my blood triggering the autoimmune response. And it is probably also responsible for my sensitivity to nightshades as those proteins will also leak through the damaged gut lining.

Now it all makes sense.

But this also demonstrates the importance of a few things:

  1. if you have a close family member with Celiac disease or another autoimmune disease, get genetically tested. .A close family member is defined as a sister, a brother, a child or a parent.  (Please my children take NOTE of this!  I have celiac disease which increases your susceptibility to getting it yourself!).  These tests are non-invasive, they are a simple blood test that can be ordered at the same time that you have blood taken at your annual health check – just ask your doctor to include them.  For the genetic testing you can also use companies as simple as 23-and-me or Ancestry genetics that use saliva or mouth scrapings, and then run the results through a program like genetic genie (there are others too).
  2. if you find that you have the genes for any autoimmune disease (this includes celiac disease) get regular blood tests (best done at the time of your annual bloodwork) to test for autoimmune antibodies specific to the AI disease that you carry the genes for.  If you test positive for the autoimmune antibodies, it means you have developed the autoimmune disease and then you can get treatment for it before it becomes problematic.  In the case of Celiac disease, this would mean eliminating all gluten in everything you eat to avoid further gut-lining damage.
  3. If you have the genes for an AI disease but not the antibodies, get tested regularly for the antibodies (at your annual blood check) to monitor if you develop the antibodies which would signify that you have an AI disease.
  4. If you develop EBV (Epstein-Barr) in any of its forms (kissing disease, Mononucleosis, Glandular Fever etc,) even if it was in the past, get tested for autoimmune antibodies in your blood work.

And if you test positive for all of the above, consider AIP (the Autoimmune Protocol) to help control the development of the symptoms and manage it.   The best jThs would be in addition to any recommendations that your doctor makes.   AIP is not an “instead of what the doctor says” kind of protocol, it is an “in addition to what your doctor says” protocol.

New Photo’s

Over the last few months, I have been sadly remiss in keeping up with my blog posts – With working and school, I simply do not have the time!  And there have been a few things going on in my personal life that have meant that I am taking a bit more of a back-seat on social media.

But there is something I wanted to share with all of you.

A friend and school-colleague of mine is a very talented photographer, and recently she took some amazing headshots of me.  Her name is Megan Barefoot, and her website is Megan Barefoot Photography.  These photographs are absolutely amazing – quite the best I have ever had done, and they totally blew me away!

See what you think….




The difference in quality between these pictures and the amateur ones that I was using previously are night and day!  It goes to show, it is worth getting professional pictures done!

Just because someone says they are a good photographer does not mean that they are in reality!

And the best thing about Megan is that she made me feel totally at ease in front of the camera.  And she really made my personality come through in the pictures!

Autoimmune Disorders in a Nutshell

I found this meme on facebook, and it really does sum up what an Autoimmune disorder really is.



Essentially, it is where your immune system has become “confused” and over-sensitized and has started to attack your own body’s cells thinking that they are foreign invaders.

This is the reason why they can be so damaging, and why they can be so destructive to our bodies.  It is also the reason why, once you have developed one Autoimmune disorder, you are far more likely to develop more.  Once your immune system has become sensitized to one type of your own bodies cells, it will start to recognize other cells as being foreign invaders as well.

It is also the reason why it is not recommended that people with Autoimmune disorders take anything that is an immune stimulant.  The last thing you need to do is to stimulate an already over-stimulated immune system as that will make the problem worse.

I have not been able to find where this meme originated.  If anyone does know, please let me know so that I can give proper credit.

Canada Health Regulation of Natural Health Products

This is a VERY important post for ALL of my Canadian followers, and even for those of you who have Canadian friends and family members.

Health Canada is proposing to regulate “Natural Health Products” in much the same way that they regulate drugs.  But the big problem is that natural health products are NOT drugs!

What they are proposing is a 3 stage regulation process with any products that have not undergone rigorous scientific testing to prove their effectiveness being relegated to the highest category, where they need to be prescribed by a medical doctor.

This will affect a very wide range of natural health products from vitamin and mineral supplements, other dietary supplements (probiotics, fish-oils, digestive enzymes and more), homeopathic remedies, herbal remedies, traditional Chinese remedies and even Essential Oils.

So what this means to us, as the consumer is that a very large number of these products will disappear from the shelves and we will not be able to purchase them.  Some will remain (if they do the expensive testing that Health Canada  requires – costs that they will pass on to us, the consumer), so the cost of the product will rise astronomically.  Others will only be available with a Dr’s prescription – can you imagine going to your already overworked Dr to get a prescription to buy fish-oil supplements?

What this is going to achieve is to take away our rights as a Canadian citizen to decide on our own health matters, to make decisions as to what supplements we want to take, what route we want to take with our health.  It will reduce our options leaving us no choice but to buy what “Big Pharma” produces in the way of drugs, because there will be no natural options available to us.

And for those of you who love essential oils (as I do!), you may well find that you cannot buy your essential oils – they are not specifically mentioned in this proposal, but they are just as “unproven” as homeopathy and many of the other products that are specifically mentioned.  Can you imagine going to your Dr and saying “I want you to prescribe me Lavender Essential Oil to help me sleep?”…  First of all, he/she is most likely not going to know what Lavender Essential Oil is, he/she will not know the appropriate dosage of it (so how will it be prescribed!) and then you would have to find a pharmacy that carries it…  That is just NOT going to happen!  What the Dr will do instead is write you a prescription for one of “Big Pharma’s” sleeping meds…  because that is what they are taught about in med school.

Should Canada’s already overworked Dr’s really have this kind of workload put on them in addition to dealing with already sick people?  NO!

So, what can we do?  Well first of all, there is a simple way to send a letter to your MP expressing your concern about this.  Go to THIS link.  All you have to do is follow the simple instructions and the letter will be automatically be sent to your MP.

Then, if you are Canadian, PLEASE share this on your Facebook feed and tell all your friends and family.  And if you are not Canadian, please share this with all your Canadian friends!

For the few of you who actually live in Calgary, you can also visit Community Natural Foods as they have a TON of information about this and postcards that you can fill in that will be sent to Parliment at no cost to you.

This is the only way we can protect our rights to be able to make decisions about what health care products we use and what we put in our bodies.

If enough people send letters to their MP’s saying that they do not agree, this will not go through.

We can stop this happening!

Artichokes with AIP Bagna Cauda (Instant Pot/Steamer)

I seem to have a real problem – I have become totally addicted to artichokes!


Artichokes are an edible variety of thistle.  They are high in fiber, and are a good source of niacin, potassium, phosphorus, copper, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese.  They have a large number of health benefits – they are very high in fiber, and contain more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables.  They are reputed to be able to prevent cancer and to be good for the heart.  They can help to reduce blood pressure and can function as a liver tonic.  These are just a few of this amazing vegetables benefits – they truly are a wonderful vegetable that everyone should be eating!

The first time you cook or eat one of these spiky looking vegetables, they can be very intimidating.  How are you supposed to get down to the delicious tender heart.  What do you do with all the spiky thorns that may be present on the ends of the leaves.  How are you supposed to cook it?  And more importantly, how are you supposed to eat it?

Don’t be afraid – once you know how, they are very easy to cook.

You can cook them in a steamer or an Instant Pot (which is what I did) I will give you full instructions on how to do this in the recipe below.  It is very simple.

To eat them, you pull off a leaf, dip the base in a tasty dip – I used Bagna Cauda in this recipe, and then you scrape off the fleshy part of the base with your teeth, discarding the rest of the leaf.  As you get closer and closer to the center, more of the leaf is edible.  Once you get to the center, you will find the hairy “choke”.  This part is not edible.  Use a spoon to scrape it all off, and what you have left is the delicious choke.  This can be cut up,  dipped in the dip and eaten.  You can eat the stem – it is a personal preference.  It can taste a little bitter, so some prefer to trim it off.  I like to keep it on my artichokes and nibble at it to see how bitter it is – it can also be very fibrous, so even if you leave it on, you may need to discard it anyway.

It always surprises me that you end up with a HUGE pile of leftovers after eating artichokes!

When selecting artichokes, try to buy ones that are tightly closed – if the leaves have started to open they are old and will not taste as good.

This gets messy fast – drippy, oily – expect it to drip on your clothes and your chin…..  lots of napkins are recommended!  Maybe even finger bowls if serving to “company”!  There is no “dignified” way to eat artichokes!

This is a very hands-on, tactile, sense-driven way of eating – something that I absolutely LOVE!




Bagna Cauda is Italian in origin, and translates to mean “Hot Dip” or “Hot Bath” depending on which website you believe.  It is a blend of Olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies, that is served warm.  Obviously, because it contains butter the original recipe for Bagna Cauda is not AIP unless you have successfully reintroduced butter – and given my anaphalactic dairy allergy, this is something that I will never be able to do.  So I decided to come up with an AIP version of this deliciously savoury dip.

Don’t just keep Bagna Cauda for artichokes – it is delicious with all vegetables – dip steamed carrots, fennel, celery, asparagus and anything else you can think of into this warm, delicious and salty bath.  Or drizzle it over a perfectly cooked, rare, sliced steak.  Have fun with it and be adventurous.!

This recipe serves 2 as an appetizer or side dish, but I am a greedy piggie, and I ate it all to myself!  You can share the bagna cauda from the same dish if you like or divide it between 2 separate small ramekins or dishes.  It is also easily multiplied up to feed more than 2 people – in-fact, if you are feeding a crowd, with an instant pot this would make the simplest appetizer!


Artichokes with Bagna Cauda (AIP)

(serves 2 unless as greedy as me!)



For the Artichokes:

  • 2 artichokes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 of a lemon
  • a lemon cut in half

For the Bagna Cauda:

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup AIP approved fat – I used bone-marrow fat for this recipe, but bacon fat would make a delicious substitute.  You could also use a good quality coconut oil or home-rendered lard.
  • 3 anchovy fillets (read ingredients to ensure they are preserved in an AIP approved oil if canned.  If salted, rinse the excess salt off)
  • 3 cloves of garlic


The first thing that you need to doo is to trim your artichokes as these are going to take the longest time.  Take the artichoke and cut off the end of the stem – I do recommend that you leave some stem on, because while it can taste bitter and can be fibrous it can be edible, and you cannot tell if it is until after it is cooked).  Take a vegetable peeler and peel the stem around all its girth, removing any small and loose leaves.

Next, put the artichoke flat on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife cut an inch off the top of the artichoke – this removes a lot of the spiky bits that may be present.  Check the remaing  leaves for sharp points and if you find them, but them off with a pair of scissors.  Rub all the exposed areas with a cut lemon to prevent browning.

If you are using an Instant Pot, put the trivet in the bottom.  Add 1 cup of water, the bay leaves, the lemon and the garlic. Add the trimmed and prepared artichokes.  Turn on your instant pot and select Manual.  Press the + button to 20.  Let it run for 20 minutes, the  do a quick release of pressure.  Remove the cooked artichokes and test for done-ness by pulling off a leaf – if it does noBat pull off with minimal pressure/strength cook for 5 mins longer.  Keep warm until the Bagna Cauda is ready.

If you do not have an Instant pot, put the lemon, bay and garlic in a pot with a cup or two of water.  Place a steamer basket over the top and add the trimmed artichoke hearts. cover with a lid, and cook for 45 minutes.

Once the cooking time is done, if using an Instant Pot, do a fast steam release (I like to put a cloth over the vent to stop any damage to my ceiling and kitchen cabinets). check that the  artichokes are cooked by pulling a leaf out.  It should pull out easily – if it is not cooked, you need to give it 5-10 minutes more.

Keep the artichokes warm and make the sauce.

To make the Bagna Cauda, put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a pan and heat up.  Simmer for 2 minutes (do not worry if it appears to curdle that is because of the protein in the anchovies).  Transfer to heated serving dishes (ramekins for single servings, a heated fondue pot for larger portions if you have multiplied up).

Serve at once as a dip…..

Shared at: Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable


This blog-entry does contain affiliate links that help support my blogging activities.  If you click on a link, you will never be charged more than the regular price for the item, but I may receive a small reward as a result.  Please rest assured that all of the items or ingredients I recommend in this post I have used personally.



I became a Reiki Master yesterday.


This has been over 10 years in the making, but I am so glad that I did it.  It was an important part of my physical, mental and spiritual healing – not only from my autoimmune issues, but also from the abuse that I have suffered over the years.

The peace that this has given me is amazing.  And I have to say that it was truly a life-changing experience.


For those who do not know what Reiki is, this is a brief description.

Reiki is a method of energy healing that originated in Japan and is based on Buddhist teachings and philosophy.  While originating from Buddhism, Reiki is NOT aligned with any religion and is not a religious practice in itself.   It is a spiritual practice (at least for me), but is primarily a healing practice.

Reiki uses the universal life-force or energy that surrounds everything on Earth to support and encourage the body to heal itself.  It can heal on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  The body wants to heal, it is smart and it knows what it needs.  Reiki allows that to happen.  It is also protective, something that gives me great comfort.

Reiki can be a hands-on treatment (laying on hands), but it can also be a totally hands-off treatment – either by just “hovering” the hands over the body of the person being treated, or by distance treatment – yes you can provide a Reiki treatment for someone who is not physically present – even for someone on the other side of the world!  The energies know where to go and what is needed.  It is very gentle and very safe.  This makes it ideal for those who cannot or do not like to be touched.

Reiki does not diagnose, and should not replace regular medical care.  But it does work very well alongside other treatment modalities, both alternative and allopathic.  It is a holistic treatment, treating the whole body on all levels.

I intend to use the Reiki along side my regular massage practice, incorporating it into my massages to make them more effective, but I can also offer a stand-alone Reiki treatment if requested.  For the stand-alone Reiki, you would not need to undress, and you would not need to even be touched.  This makes it an ideal healing treatment for those who do not like to be touched (for anyone who has suffered from physical or sexual abuse for example).

Anyone in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who wishes to book a treatment with me, I can be contacted via Hands On Massage Therapy or by email charlotte@handsonmassagetherapy.ca

I can also give distance Reiki treatments on request.  Please contact me at charlotte@salixisme.com for pricing and details.

New Tattoo

I went today to get one of the last vestiges of my marriage removed.

A new more positive tattoo

A new more positive tattoo

I had a tattoo between my shoulder blades that contained my ex-husbands name.  And I was finding it hard seeing it every time I looked over my shoulder while stood in front of a mirror.  And even when I did not see it, I knew it was there.  I could feel it dragging my spirit down.  And I felt a lot of anxiety knowing that I had his name on my body.



I know that there are some risks with getting tattoos, especially when your immune system does not work as it should (like in those of us with autoimmune disorders).  I am also aware that you are more likely to get problems with red pigments.  But I wanted the phoenix because of what it symbolizes.  Phoenixes really need the red of the fire!  And if I was getting a tattoo, I was going to get one I loved, one that looked beautiful, and one that really meant something.

The phoenix really does all that for me.  I have literally risen out of the ashes of my previous life with my ex-husband.  The process has been very empowering, and very uplifting, although it has been painful as well.  The pain of getting this tattoo (and it was really REALLY painful, especially around the 3 hour mark.  I nearly called a halt at that point!) symbolizes that pain too.  I may not be quite “all there” yet, I suspect I never will be – life is, and should be, about continual growth.  And getting this was an important step to me healing and growing.

It is a lot bigger than my previous one, but that was needed to ensure that the previous one was totally covered by the dark area.  I love the way that the tail extends down my spine.  I love the detail and the shading (the shading was the most painful part as she was repeatedly having to go over already sore and inflamed areas).

But I think the final result is worth it!


I had this done by Amber at The Arthouse Inc in Kensington (Calgary).  And she did a fabulous job!  She came up with the original design, then produced this wonderful piece of body art especially for me!