After years of fighting mysterious ailments that nearly took her life, a local woman has found her own unique path back to health and happiness.
Now, Krystal Harrell, 39, of North Vernon wants to help others who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” she said.
Harrell suffered crippling gastrointestinal symptoms that prevented her from being able to work, travel or attend public events. She withdrew from her family, friends and normal day-to-day activities.
“I didn’t know how sick I was,” she said. “I thought my gut was just messed up, and that was how it was going to be. But it got progressively worse.”
Her blood pressure skyrocketed, and she feared she was going to have a stroke. At the time, she was just 35.
She had her gallbladder removed and thought that was going to be the end of it, but soon she broke out in a rash, gained weight and suffered from depression, bloating and joint pain.
“And I still had all the gastrointestinal issues,” she said.
After experiencing some internal bleeding, Harrell said she was afraid she had colon cancer or Crohn’s disease. So she had a colonoscopy, but it showed there was nothing wrong.
So they diagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome and prescribed medication. Harrell had already been injected with rounds of fertility drugs previously and spent a year on antibiotics for a sinus problem and bronchitis. She believes the different medications played a role in her gastrointestinal condition.
At one point, she thought she was experiencing early menopause, but that wasn’t the case, either.
She visited doctor after doctor looking for answers to why she was so sick and a solution to get her life back on track.
“It affected so many aspects of our lives,” she said.
Harrell’s hairdresser suggested she be tested for food allergies and recommended her to an osteopathic doctor, who examined the bottoms of her feet and ordered a blood test.
“She was pretty sure I was allergic to dairy and said I was ate up with yeast,” Harrell said. “She also said I was intolerant to gluten and nightshade vegetables, tomatoes, anything that grows on a vine you can’t eat right now.”
The doctor placed her on a special 30-day diet of chicken, chicken broth and brown rice and prescribed a yeast medication. Harrell also was instructed to take a probiotic and drink aloe vera juice.
This went on for another 30 days. By the third month, Harrell said she didn’t feel like she was getting much better.
“I was literally ate up with the yeast,” she said. “And yeast leads to cancer.”
A year later, still experiencing her symptoms, Harrell visited an Amish medicine man in Jefferson County on a whim. It’s there she was introduced to holistic and alternative medicine.
The medicine man agreed she had too much yeast in her body. He wrote down what she could eat and prescribed a few herbs and supplements.
“I do what he tells me, and I do start to feel better,” she said. “But I still wasn’t receptive to the whole idea.”
Not wanting to drive all the way back to Jefferson County, she searched for an herbalist closer to home, and she located the Herbal Solution in Vernon, where she began taking classes, receiving massage therapy and learning more about alternative health methods.
She did a yeast detox program and diet and began to see major improvements. Her life began to change, she said.
Now, Harrell said she owes her life and new business venture to her journey and learning how to read and understand her body.
“My motto is you have to work to be the champion of your life,” she said. “Your body is telling you what you need. You just have to learn to listen to it.”
In February, Harrell conducted a yeast detox workshop at her house, and 15 people attended.
“I couldn’t believe so many people wanted to do it,” she said.
Next Friday, she and her husband, Tom, will open their new business, The Herbal Alternative, at 828 N. Ewing St., in Seymour, where customers can purchase a variety of all-natural wellness products. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 4 p.m.
Currently, she carries two lines of products, Nature’s Sunshine and Pure Herbs Ltd., which manufacture high-quality herbs and supplements, vitamins and minerals and essential oils.
There are probiotics and enzymes for intestinal and digestive health, products to boost immunity and improve mental function and even products for children’s health.
Being allergic to gluten and dairy, Harrell also tries to carry allergen-free meal replacement shake mixes, which are made from vegetable products.
She sells all-natural, organic personal hygiene products and household cleaners, too, and said she is working to offer organic cooking spices and teas.
Besides being able to purchase products, clients can enroll in nutrition and weight loss, management and lifestyle programs, yeast detox workshops and classes on how to use essential oils to improve physical, mental and emotional health.
Harrell is a certified IN.FORM health and wellness coach and is working on getting her herbalist certification.
Although she wants her business to succeed and provide income for her family, Harrell said it’s more important she help people find ways to feel better and reach their health goals.
“It makes me happy to help people feel better,” she said. “The whole world would be such a better place if everyone just felt better.”
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Grand opening of The Herbal Alternative
Where: 828 N. Ewing St., Seymour
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 22; ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m.
Hours: Monday, by appointment only; Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Information: Call 812-271-1850; email [email protected] or visit theherbalalternatives.com or The Herbal Alternative on Facebook