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Editor’s Note: The following is a personal testimonial written by an Apothékary community member, Bergen Baucom, who experienced tremendous healing from severe health issues after incorporating Apothékary products into her overall journey towards improved health. Warning: This first-hand account contains descriptions of Bergen’s health issues during times of illness, including diabetic complications, instances of vomiting, and hospital trips prior to her recovery.

When It Started

It was the summer of 2018, and I’d just moved to Denver from Tennessee. I was stoked to be in a brand new city and was having a blast exploring. For those not familiar, Colorado is a very “get out and do” kind of state. And let me tell you, I was making the most of it. Hiking, exploring, dating, trying new restaurants, making new friends, and candidly, crushing it at my new job in sales after more than a decade of working in television. Life was great!

And then it started.

Without warning, and with no explanation, I began having sudden bouts of uncontrollable vomiting. The waves would come on without notice and pass after several hours or a day. The first few times I dismissed it as a stomach bug or food poisoning, though neither scenario quite seemed to fit.

Not only was unexpected vomiting miserable, and at times very embarrassing (like the time I was running down the center aisle of an airplane mid-flight, puking on myself), but it was also very dangerous. I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for 28 years. Though I’ve always taken good care of myself, diabetes is a difficult autoimmune disease and can take its toll. Every time I’d have an episode, vomiting would dehydrate me faster than I could replenish – if I could replenish at all. If I couldn’t keep fluids down, my blood chemistry would quickly tip into diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that, if left untreated, is deadly. The first year of dealing with this, I went to the emergency room or was admitted into the hospital around ten times.

Mystery Symptoms with No Answers

I met with doctors who tested me for all sorts of things but kept coming up blank. I tried different medications, mostly to treat suspected indigestion (though I never thought it was indigestion). I’d severely reacted to a lot of different medications in the past, so trying new ones was scary for me but a risk I was willing to take.

Sure enough, I was severely allergic to one of the medications we tried and landed into a trauma unit at a hospital in the beginning stages of anaphylaxis. My skin was so inflamed that medical professionals couldn’t confirm what I was presenting, and therefore could not enter my room without hazmat suits on. I was alone, confused, and absolutely terrified.

By the second year of my still-undiagnosed issue, my vomiting became accompanied by constipation and full-body rashes. Like the flip of a switch, I woke up one morning with an itchy spot, and by noon, every square inch of my body, with the exception of my face (thank you, God!), was covered in hives. My primary care physician couldn’t see me until the following week, and thinking this would surely not last that long, I took a bunch of benadryl and tried to tough it out but went to urgent care multiple times that week for some reprieve.

At the same time, my GI tract had come to a screeching halt. I was only having a bowel movement every 7-14 days. The rashes and constipation persisted for another three years without answers.

By this point, I started working with a dermatologist who diagnosed me with eczema. She prescribed me an ointment and said I could try bathing in a diluted bleach solution, which I did, all to no avail.

By this point, my new Denver life was not exactly what I’d hoped for. And honestly, I was every bit as embarrassed as I was miserable. After 30 years of good health, I moved to arguably one of the healthiest states in the nation and became sicker than I’d ever been. I was so new to town, the few people I knew thought I was always sick. I was missing work all the time – either in the hospital, actively throwing up, or so completely covered in rashes that I couldn’t wear clothes. I remember going to the ER once, and when one of the nurses saw me, they said, “Oh hey, Bergs!” a nickname of mine. I bawled my eyes out.

The Start of a Turning Point

During one of my routine trips to the emergency room, the attending physician suggested I be tested for celiac disease. I immediately cut gluten from my diet and made an appointment with an allergist. Within three days of slashing gluten from my diet, my rashes cleared by about 70%. I knew I was onto something.

By 2021, my rashes remained about 80% clear, but my constipation and vomiting had yet to resolve. I’d been diagnosed with a gluten allergy (among others), so I was no longer consuming gluten, but it just wasn’t the cure-all I hoped it would be. Plus, my shins were still so broken out with no explanation. In 2022, I was finally referred to a GI specialist who, after testing, diagnosed me with gastroparesis – a rare condition that paralyzes the stomach – and suspected celiac.

I was told the reason I had gastroparesis was because it is a complication of type 1 diabetes, and can also be triggered by undiagnosed celiac, which is also very common with T1D’s. I was told to follow a strict, mostly liquid diet, with no raw fruits or vegetables, nothing high in fat, no more than 8 grams of fiber per day, and to blend as much of my food as I could. Next, I was given two medication options: the first, my doctor called “The Face Thing Drug” (I am 100% serious) because one of the side effects is Tardive dyskinesia, a drug-induced movement disorder that causes permanent, uncontrollable facial tics. The other option didn’t have any documented serious side effects, but it was only available in Canada. 

Cue the crippling depression.

Thankfully, my family encouraged me to get a second opinion. Gastroparesis is rare, so I had my work cut out for me in finding a provider who could help. I found a specialist, Dr. Michael Cline, at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. My boyfriend and I flew out, and I spent a day in their office getting a full workup. In addition to an EGG and 14 vials of blood, Dr. Cline sent me home to complete something called the Smart Pill test. I’d ingest a pill that would make its way through my entire GI system (and thankfully could be flushed down the toilet at the end of the test).

It All Changed with Apothékary

A few nights after my Smart Pill test in July 2022, and I was laying in bed scrolling on Instagram. I got an ad for a product called Claim to Flame by Apothékary. After exploring their Instagram page, I found myself on their website and literally said “what the heck do I have to lose?” as I placed an order for Claim to Flame and You Dew You. I was familiar with Ayurvedic—as well as eastern and herbal medicine—through my experience in yoga teacher training, but I’d never thought about it as a solution for my issues...and even if it were, I never quite knew where to start.

A few days later my package arrived, and I made myself a smoothie with the herbal blends with absolutely zero expectations. I’d been living on Miralax with no relief, so I honestly didn’t have the highest hopes for a smoothie with herbs solving my problems. But it did.

Twenty-four hours after my first dose, I had the first normal bowel movement in years. And let me tell you, I was absolutely ecstatic! I was call-your-mom, show-your-boyfriend (sorry, babe!), “I-absolutely-cannot-freaking-believe-this!” excited.

A few weeks later, I got the results of the Smart Pill test: I did not have gastroparesis. Instead, I had something called SIBO, or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. That (and gluten) were causing such severe constipation, my body was not releasing food from my stomach to digest, and hence, I would throw up. 

I remember looking at my doctor and saying, “Listen, I am as shocked as anyone by what I’m about to tell you, but I’ve been having a bowel movement everyday and haven’t thrown up in weeks. I’m using products by a company called Apothékary, it’s based on herbalism and Eastern medicine practices, and it’s working. The kicker? I found this stuff through an Instagram ad.” Candidly, we both had a good laugh. But that was quickly replaced by celebration. I read the labels and showed him everything I was putting in my daily smoothie. His response? “Well, don’t stop doing what you’re doing!”

Life Today

It’s been four months now, and I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in years—YEARS! I’ve only missed one (I’m looking at you, flight delay) of my daily smoothies with my favorite Apothékary products, and my skin is 100% clear. I feel as though I’ve been given a gift, and in a lot of ways, I have. The whole experience opened my eyes and changed my perspective. I’ve taken a new level of ownership when it comes to my health, and I am forever grateful to Apothékary for playing such a pivotal role in my journey to healing and total health. So is it safe to say I’m an Apothékary gal for life? Umm, HEAL yeah it is!

Inspired by Bergen’s story? Schedule a call with our Herbal Educators or check out all of our products to find the right fit for your needs. As with any product, please check with your doctor before starting to take something new—especially when dealing with severe health issues.

headshot of Bergen
Written by Bergen Baucom
Community Member