Healing the Gut

All disease begins in the gut. ~ Hippocrates

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If that is true, then I’m on my way to a cure… Recently, I underwent testing with Doctor of Environmental Medicine, Professor Rob Allen, at the NIIM Wellness Clinic, Hawthorn East, Victoria, Australia. The Professor is a lovely older man, who is quite serious in nature, yet surprisingly humorous, which makes visiting him always a pleasure. (A doctor with a cheerful bedside manner is always a plus when you feel like putting yourself out in the back paddock to die off.) The last time I saw him, before my most recent visit as of October 2012, was at the end of 2009, and I’d had such a great improvement, I thought he’d be surprised, but at the time he just said that was to be expected.
This doctor agreed with the ‘practice of avoiding chemicals’, which is recommended by my other specialist, Immunologist, Dr Colin Little (and most other experts who treat this condition), but he also told me his theory of how, perhaps, some exposure to chemicals would actually be helpful by building up my immunity, and that complete 100% avoidance may be harmful as then my body wouldn’t be able to build up any resistance to fighting off reactions (meaning that complete isolation could actually be very bad for me in the extended future). (It’s just a theory, people.) At the time though, it was like a green light because, just like most people, I like going places—even with a mask, I don’t care (mostly), I like to get things done.
Now, fast-forward to October 2012, when I last saw him, and he was Professor-raising-old-spidery-grey-eyebrows-at-me surprised that I’m now much worse than ever. (Most of my readers know that I never had problems with foods; it was just ‘inhalant allergies’ to chemicals.) He asked me what happened, so I told him, this and that and rattled on for a bit; and you know what he said? I should have stayed living on the organic farm out at Mt Macedon! Well, I knew that already, but now it’s clearer what it is I have to do to help myself get better: Find a Time Machine! Seriously though: After picking myself up off the floor of My Impending Doom, I have this amazing plan for the future, but that’s another post coming up. So, back up now, back to Professor Allen (and his raised eyebrows):

These are the tests that the Thorough Old Fox ordered:

  • Functional Liver Detoxification profile (post coming up about this soon);
  • blood tests for vitamin levels: my vitamin D came back at 29 nmol/L, which is under what it should be (50 nmol/L is ideal);
  • allergy blood tests for mould mix, house dust and grass mix. Surprisingly, well, for the mould at least, these came up negative. Professor Allen said: “All that means is it’s a different kind of ‘allergy’, not the conventional type.” (Any perspectives on this will be appreciated, if you could pop them in the comments below. When it rains, or gets damp and cold, I know I get mould effected, in that my sinuses, face and head aches and pulsates with pain, and I would love to know of a blood test/scan that can show what this is. Note: I have had the sublingual-drops type of testing (with Dr Colin Little), where they make you sick by provoking a physical reaction to Cladosporium, and Aspergillus moulds, and then give you drops to take home);
  • And, finally, the CSAD level 1 test.
I was given two kits to take home, these included a Complete Digestive Stool Analysis – (CDSA) (and the Liver Function Profile). I’ll spare my readers the collection details of this test–except: it’s a shit of a process better left to emanate in the silence of the tail end of days gone past, behind this post. Okay, Poohy jokes aside… This is what the kit looks like:
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The test cost about $120 and it took about half an hour to complete: unwrapping it, filling out the forms (such detail!) and doing the biz. Funnily enough, I then had to give it to a delivery man who came knocking on my door a couple of hours later; kindly, Healthscope Laboratories organised for him to come pick it up. It’s a strange feeling handing over a box of my own poo to a delivery guy, I can tell you. Okay, in my usual practice of over sharing information, now for some important facts about this kit from the Healthscope website:

Complete Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

The Complete Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) is a functional test that provides an overview of the components of digestion, absorption, intestinal function and microbial flora, as well as identifying pathogenic bacteria, parasites and yeasts.

The CDSA is a non-invasive test providing invaluable information for the patient and practitioner in terms of understanding the role of poor digestive function in disease states.

Poor digestive function and imbalanced gut flora may play a crucial role in the underlying cause of a number of health conditions. Symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating, abdominal discomfort and bad breath are all indicative of poor gut function.

There are 5 different CDSA Level tests, click here, on the Download Different CDSA Levels link, if you’d like a rundown on all of them.

Digestive analysis and gut bacterium have been discussed extensively in the media lately. And I’ve been paying great attention due to the fact that so many foods are causing problems for me. At first I thought it was food allergies (don’t we always blame an allergy when something effects us?) but as the list of foods expanded, I realised my system was having a bit of a tanti. Now, after the results of this test, I’m thinking the whole system is having one-hell-of-a-massive meltdown, and I’d better find out what my body needs and damn well give it exactly that, cause it’s holding me hostage in here! I’m not kidding.
You could say, apples and vegetables are my best friends, and organic apples are now out of season, which is making life difficult (hey, there’s still chocolate!) but if I don’t eat mostly apples and veggies, my food won’t digest properly. And if eat the wrong foods (any junk food, pizza, toast, biscuits, too much meat), I get awful indigestion to the point where I nearly throw up in my mouth. And during extended chemical exposures (like in the car or a room where there is a lot of fragrance in the air) this is intensified and horridly uncomfortable [think vomit in your mouth, while wearing a mask over your face?!]; whereas, if I eat only apples or vegetables before an exposure, this doesn’t happen at all.
I’m also subsisting on chicken from this recipe. (It’s amazing.) My freezer is stock full of little meal size sandwich bags of the stuff. It’s cooked with the bones (As an aside to telling you about my cooking with chicken bones: In Mythology this year, we learnt about tribes who ate the whole animal because that’s like, way more respectful. And being an intensely passionate animal lover, I can relate to that. [my dog runs off.]; also cooking with the bones is supposed to facilitate healing the gut. So it’s yummy and good for me.)
My CDSA came back with 3 out of 4 of the good bacteria missing: Escherichia coli (0), Strep/Enterococci (0),  Lactobacalli (0)! (The exclamation mark means this is a good thing because finally, there is something effecting me that is within my control. I hope.) The last good guy, Bifidobacterium sp, came in at a (3)! Yay for Bifi! These ranges are expected to be 2-4 +.
Anyway, the good ol’, always ready-to-help-one-of-his-patients (at a price) Professor has given me Mutaflor, which I’m struggling with (the price and the Mutaflor). First, I left it out of the fridge for the last few weeks where I wasn’t thinking straight (My Mutoflor arrived from FXMeds, New Zealand without any information about keeping in the fridge. Two weeks later, I’ve found this instruction leaflet online. (So, there’s a link in case someone else needs it.), and I’m not sure if it’s gone off, or my system doesn’t like it (or both). It’s given me nausea and indigestion. As I said, if I don’t eat solely from fruit, veggies and chicken, indigestion is my constant companion, so I need to test further with the Mutaflor but going by the nausea, it’s a heads up that makes me hesitate. (I’ve found an interesting article on indigestion, which supports the ideas behind the paleo way of eating here. I’m eating paleo mostly, although I don’t think 3-4 apples a day is very paleo; but, I can actually visualise our ancestors doing that! It was probably akin to, like, a Mars Bar or something. (Oh, and I asked one of the Healthy Bloggers that I follow, about this very topic, and I got this reply. Nice! Thanking you, kindly, Life with Elizabeth Rose.))
The good doctor also gave me a probiotic called BioCeuticals Ultrabiotic 45 (which I’ve kept in the fridge because it said to do that on the jar), and I’m fine with it. This is the first time I’ve ever taken a probiotic, and if it’s true that the gut has 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body (which actually makes us more bacterial than human!), then, from what I’ve been reading, the probiotic is supposed to facilitate the multiplication of good bacteria, which in turn, should outnumber the bad guys, and create a healthy gut environment!  (So, Bang, Bang, you guys; you’re gonna be outnumbered and die!) My General Practitioner gave me Lamisal for a toenail fungal infection two years ago [over-share much?]; it was only one course but from what I’ve read on another blogger friend’s blog allergictolifemybattle, this could affect the good guys. Plus, recent studies have shown that antibiotic use causes a profound and rapid loss of diversity and a shift in the composition of the gut flora. However, I did go to Thailand in 2010, so I could have caught a travel bug while over there, which could have depleted these good guys too, which leads me to this next tunnel in the Labyrinth:
This: The other thing that Professor Allen prescribed for me is Paracea Forte, which I’ve been okay with too. The pathologist found Blastocystis hominid (a bad bug), hence the need for Paracea. (Some research suggests that its normal to have these parasites; however, other research suggests that it’s really bad. Me, I’ll metaphorically, and physically swallow anything in the hope that I’ll get better. There is also the suggestion that these bugs can make people crave sugar. If the shoe fits… ) The Kinesiologist I was seeing last year had me on this too, and the funny thing is, he didn’t order any tests, just pushed on the resistance of my arm, and said: “Yep, you have a bug!” I will post about this treatment another time, as I’ve been asked about it in comments; and ever since I’ve been so chemically-sensitive-like-retarded (Hey, I can say that about myself!), people keep saying to me: “Have you seen a Kinesiologist? I think you should see a Kinesiologist.”  So, yeh! I’ve seen one, and he was all right, didn’t cure me though. And cost a lot…
There is a whole bunch of other stuff I’m taking but I’ll share that in the ‘Healing the Liver’ post, coming up. But the other thing I’ll share that I’m taking, relating to my gut health issue, is a digestive enzyme called Biogest. Earlier this year (Jan 2012), when the digestion issues began to take control of my life, I met someone online who suggested I take Ox bile. (Yes, I took medical advice from a stranger on the internet. Doesn’t everyone?) You see, I posted my symptoms on an online forum called ei-resource (the ‘e.i’ stands for Environmental illness), and someone with similar symptoms said my immune system is down due to the mould exposure, and this would have affected my gut lining. He said I should try fermented foods, Kefir, Komucha, stomach enzymes, vitamin B12, and raw bee’s honey. I tried it all, of course. Who wouldn’t? Sometimes I feel like I can’t live like this you know? But really, of course I can, because if I look at it like this: my body must be sending me a message that I’d better heed, yes?  So I ordered the B-12, and Ox-bile from I-herb, and found them to work. I told Professor Allen about these and he said to keep taking them too. So, to stranger: thank you. You’re advice was right on for the healthy harvest. But, these last few weeks, since I’ve been taking the Probiotic 45, the Biogest has made my stomach hurt so I’m giving them a rest for now. (I haven’t tried the Kefir, but would love to know if it’s been of help to anyone else who has symptoms from moulds and chemicals! The Komucha I tried but it was with sugar, and I’m not good with much sugar right now too.)
I’ve found that when prescribed new medications and supplements, that it’s best to start each one by itself, that way I know what I’m okay with. Ideally, I should be able to take the Biogest, Probiotic 45, Mutaflor and the Paracea and be fine with them but as that’s not the case, I’ll keep mixing and matching until I get it right. I’ll be interested to know if anyone has any thing to add about Mutaflor.
Somewhere else where I always find useful information is over at Kathryn Treat’s, allergictolifemybattle blog, and I’ve been amazed at the similarities. This is a person who has trail blazed through it all and come out the other side! Kathryn posted a link to Wikipedia and Mutaflor, where I found this:

“In 1936, after the long term and intensive stress of being Chancellor and Führer of Germany, Adolf Hitler became sick with gastrointestinal cramps. Dr. Theo Morel gave Hitler capsules of Mutaflor, which contained ‘bacteria cultured from the faeces of a Bulgarian peasant,’ and Hitler, for a time, felt better.”

Which I posted on her blog because it was interesting in a what-a-weird-history-fact!/oh-my-god-am-I-really-taking-this-freaky-stuff? kind of way: But being a good researcher (hey, I passed the Writer Research module at Victoria University (VU!), and before reposting it here, I re-checked my facts with the intent to follow Wikipedia’s links and find their sources. And you know what? It has mysteriously disappeared, which means, perhaps, because they took it down, it wasn’t factually true?! But I’m sure this absurd fact still resides on the internet everywhere. I knew it was one of those history facts that was so bizarre there was no way it could be for real. So here, from Mutaflor Australia, are some more reliable facts about it:

Mutaflor ® capsules contain as the active substance the defined non-pathogenic strain Escherichia coli strain Nisssle 1917. Probiotics are defined as live non-pathogenic micro-organisms that, when ingested in adequate numbers, exert a beneficial effect on the health of the host.

The Mutaflor ® strain had its origins in 1917, isolated by Professor Alfred Nissle during the First World War from the faeces of a particular soldier who, “in contrast to the large majority of his comarades, had suffered neither from dysentery nor from any other intestinal diseases” The strain, Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917, designated DSM 6601 in the German Collection for Microorganisms in Brauschweig is arguably one of the most examined and therapeutically relevant bacterial strains worldwide.

The therapeutic effects of Mutaflor® are strain specific and have been demonstrated by in-vitro and in-vivo experiments and clinical studies.

And according to a different manufacturer’s site, Mutaflor contains:
  • E. coli strain Nissle 1917 (2.5–25 x 109 viable cells (CFU))
  • Talc
  • Methacrylic acid-methyl methacrylate copolymer (1:1)
  • Macrogol
  • Dibuytl phthalate
  • Glycerol
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Iron (III) hydroxide oxide monohydrate
  • Gelatin
  • Beeswax (yellow)
  • Carnauba wax
  • Shellac
  • Purified water

The first time, I had this nose-bleeding-frustrating illness, I didn’t have food allergies or intolerances, only sensitivities to chemicals. Most people who I’ve met with chemical sensitivities have stacks of problems with foods. For me, in 2005, there were some early symptoms with tomatoes and potatoes but these disappeared as I got better. As did symptoms (face rashes and upper respiratory (eyes, and nose) breathing problems) related to eating foods (dates, fruits, nuts, seeds) that were even slightly mould affected–they came and they went. The only ‘real’ food allergy is one, with eggs, that I’ve had since I was a child. (And from a Paleo perspective that’s pretty horrid because they’re in so many recipes.) So, going by all this, if I look at it all as one Big Stupid Experiment: thrashing myself with chemical exposures while sensitive to chemicals can cause food intolerances. I mean, the symptoms, and the exposures have been relentless, it hasn’t stopped and it’s been 18 months now, culminating in my body’s tantrum chucking over foods (I know it can work the other way for some people too.) Whether this is via good bugs missing or bad bugs stripping them from the gut, or via some other biochemical process taking place in the body, it’s not clear, but it does suggest the problem can be fixed. And that’s the bright side!

I’ll be retesting in February 2013, so I’ll see how all these treatments work and re-post then.

(Oh, next I’m going to try Kefir. And I’ll let you all know how that goes!)

Three questions for you:

Do you have any tricks for healing the gut?

Do you have a theory on why food allergies/intolerances attach themselves to people who have allergies/sensitivities to chemicals?

And, this is what I’d really like to know: how can some people develop chemical sensitivities, and then later, develop intolerances with foods, and then other people who have the food allergies/intolerances first and then later, develop sensitivities to chemicals? 

 

More Gut Stuff from Two Gutsy Souls: Sarah Wilson and Dr Chris Kresser

9 Steps to Perfect Health – #5: Heal Your Gut

Moody? flat? it could be your leaky gut

And, more from Sarah Wislon: stuff I’m not paid to endorse: my best stomach fixes

Or, click here to listen to Dr Chris Kresser’s Podcast on these topics:

  • Digestive function – normal and abnormal, signs and symptoms
  • FODMAPs
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Gut pathogens
  • Maintaining healthy gut flora
  • The best nutritional approaches for gut healing

~

Update 2016:

The Lovely Professor Rob Allen has retired. I am yet to work out who has replaced him at the NIMM Clinic as Hawthorn is too far away for me to travel to now. However, hopefully, one of my readers will drop down a comment below of who they’ve found helpful.

Other Doctors at the NIMM Clinic in Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia

Due to the fact that I have such problems digesting meat (and other foods) I have gone onto a vegan diet (this may be a permanent decision based on the ethical realisations I’ve become aware of since making the switch). You can read My Vegan Story here.

2016 Post: Environmental Medicine Doctor, Dr Mark Donohoe‘s Document on Healing the Gut: Is Stewed Apple the Perfect Functional Food for the Gut?

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder

Comments

  1. I have taken Mutaflor recently and just went off of it. And yes it caused lots of discomfort for me. the funny thing was that at first it was fine but if I take it now it causes lots of stomach upset and ache. It’s also hard to tell because my stomach is always in pain, there’s not one moment during the day when it doesn’t have some kind of pain associated with it, so at times it’s hard to tell what is really causing stomach problems. Just recently I had another stool test done and the good news is that after taking it just for about one week my levels have grown to really high ++++ so it’s one of the bacterias that will colonize quite easily in the colon whereas I took upwards of 4billion lactobacillius LGG per day and I think the effects were minimal. I think that the reason that mutaflor causes so much problems is when it is in the small intestine, because that is where my pain was when taking it. (I don’t think much bacteria is supposed to be in the small intestine) And when it moves down to the large colon it becomes beneficial.

  2. Heather McKessor says:

    Why does it seem that when we are at our sickest and can’t even find the energy to breathe (Well, you know what I mean) we have to visit “Health professionals”, do tests, hand over lotsa dosh and start popping pills and potions that are bound to have a bad reaction, and to top it all off….eat even less than we do already??? The whole thing SUX!
    I am about to have tests (The infamous poo test you mentioned, which will have to be mailed cos I’m in WA and it’s from Vic, lol) a hair analysis test, in which I have to have a chunk of hair cut off from the back of my head, (Have not used any “natural” hair dye for 4 months so the real hair will be available, and I detest looking at the greying old lady in the mirror, I KNOW she’s not me, looks a bit like my mother actually). Then the Dr app in which I will shell out more of my poor hubby’s hard earned, and all so I can be put on costly pills and potions which WILL cause me intestinal grief, and be put on a strict-er diet than the one I’m on already???? (PRIMAL SCREAM…cancel that, don’t have the energy)
    How are you going on your regime?

    • Hi I am about to take paracea and have so many sensitivities to food and chemicals I am so scared of my reaction to it? Did you have any side effects ?

      • Michellina van Loder says:

        No, no side effects. I went through two bottles and found it to be rather useless. I saw an immunologist who said that the bugs are common and it’s controversial to say they are actually harmful. I had a test for candida because I had symptoms with eating sugar, and itchy skin and scalp (really itchy). I ended up taking two courses of Nyastatin (Nilsat) and giving up sugar totally. This has worked for me. You could try getting a second opinion? Good luck.

  3. Michellina Van Loder says:

    I had no idea about probiotics until late last year (apart from what’s in yogurt!).

    He-he, you make me laugh. As always…

  4. I am a strong proponent of probiotics even for healthy people. I started taking them long before I developed any stomach problems. Vitamins and probiotics – they’re just plain good for ya!

    What a poopy post! I think I had my jaw dropped the whole time.

  5. btw wanted to say interesting what linda says about the food/trucking, etc. as well as soaps, etc. i never thought about that and the absorbing of the chems.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Are you eating organic too?

      • to answer this question, yes i only eat organic and no gluten, soy, dairy, eggs unless organic…etc etc… i am fashionable boney too!!! 😀

        i had a reaction similar to what your doc is explaining…a little bit is a good thing i think because i had a very toxic reaction to an inversion layer here a few months ago and locked myself in our bedroom with the air purifier for 3 days or so. when i came out it seems like i was so much more sensitive and my sense of it was that i had gotten too used to the purified air and needed to expose myself to some of the other so as not to over-react!! it’s a pain in the butt.

        you have posted so much info on this post and since i am new to your blog as well, i have lots to catch up on! i was glad to read you are having these tests. you ARE low in D, a very important vitamin for cal/mag absorption among other things like depression, SAD, etc. i am sure you know that….

        i didn’t know about bloods for allergies and am going to ask my doc when i see him in a couple of weeks. he has told me he is suspicious i am now reacting to the mold SPORES in the air that we get this time of the year……isn’t that sweet? not to mention all the rest. i feel like a lab rat!

        i have done the stool testing for gluten and other things i am now not recalling. i wasn’t having so many MCS then. more food issues than i could count tho! i have gluten sensitivity and cannot eat dairy exc. a little fermented-kefir primarily. a bit paleo i think… meat a little, well not really, i don’t like it but i do eat fish when it’s fresh around here. salmon, crab season now, etc…. veggies-root veggies esp are good for us. i roast up a bunch with lots of garlic and herbs and olive oil-lots. so good. and then have lots for a few days to eat too.

        your test was a third cheaper than mine!! isn’t it fun handing over your excrement to a delivery person? sigh…..well thats enough for now…i am OK from my fall yesterday but very sore and hurt my back-naturally-i have a very bad back with DDD and two back surgeries, one fusion so falling like that is not a good idea.

        thanks for all your info and what you offer here. it’s invaluable and we all have to stick together because it is the sufferers who inform the medical profession not the other way around.
        xox

  6. left a comment but it didn’t go i think…i fell today and tonight, you’d think i was run over by a truck. i don’t know about you but for me, anything is much worse having to do with pain. so can’t do write about this for a few days but i won’t forget and if i do, just remind me! so mad at myself tonight-it’s about all i needed to do to myself. xox

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      You need to take it easy. Don’t be mad at yourself, cause it’s not going to help. I hear you about the pain. Rest up. Big loves ♥♥♥

  7. No wonder the Mutaflor didn’t agree with you! Sheesh, phthalates and the other crap… sigh…
    I only skimmed everything else here… but if you are buying your food from places that sell laundry and cleaning products, use pesticides etc, then your food is absorbing all those chemicals at the store (or in the truck even, if they transport dryer sheets and the like in the same trucks as food) and might be one reason why we end up developing difficulties with foods.
    Also, any packaged /prepared /restaurant foods will contain GMO’s. Since GMO’s were widely introduced in the mid 90’s, gastro problems have skyrocketed!
    Watch the film Genetic Roulette.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      A friend goes to an organic shop for me, but whatever on my list that’s not fresh, then has to come from an independent grocer (who still sells cleaning chemicals). If the food is not fresh I can get mould affected, which is immediately after eating the food (sinus, eye symptoms). all our jars, cans etc. come from the big supermarkets and have to be aired outside for at least three days. I could never eat bread or fruit and veg from there because if I can smell the cleaning and fragrance products on the food, there is no way I’m going to eat that!

      Have you read or seen any of Martin Pall’s research? I’m thinking about taking these http://www.allergyresearchgroup.com/proddesc/discuss/MartinPallAntioxidantSuggestions.pdf Have you tried anything like this?

      When I recovered the last time, the one thing I had that was different from now (besides clean air) was our tap water came from a spring, so no chlorine. But I don’t seem to have any obvious symptoms for showering in chlorinated water, yet did have an accident with swimming pool chlorine a few months before I became C.S.

      • I have some serious water filtration here, absolutely have to, and I’d have more if I could afford it. We have chloramines, not just chlorine, and I can also smell and taste fragrance and laundry product residues in unfiltered city water!
        Re Martin Pall’s protocol, yes it’s good.
        I haven’t used the ARG products because I have a hard time finding safe for me supplements, and his combine a lot of ingredients, so was looking to incorporate what I could in foods and supplements that I could tolerate and afford.
        What I was able to put together helped a lot at first, but didn’t prevent my deterioration under the dreadful circumstances/ countless serious exposures in the house where I got sick in Toronto.
        Safe housing is still a must.

  8. I’ve got some thoughts but need my laptop to type…bbl! :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] cysteine (NAC), Flavonoids, Vitamin B6, and Selenium. Professor Allen recommends I take these, and other things, three times a day, but depending on whether I have any gut issues or not (usually meaning […]

  2. […] the question also itching for an answer: what does this mean? I’ve blogged extensively about gut issues and my efforts to heal mine, and the fact that eating fruit, apples mostly, soothes my indigestion […]

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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