My Experience With Radon Mine Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis, Part 1

My Experience With Radon Mine Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis, Part 1
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First in a two-part series.

In 2014, I took a road trip to Montana to receive experimental treatments in the underground radon mines.

(Photos by Andrea Wyckoff)

Visiting the “radon resorts” of Montana was actually one of the best solo vacations I had ever been on. The trip itinerary was a dream for me. It included trying out new healing therapies, exploring ghost towns, soaking in hot springs, picking wild berries, eating bison burgers, shopping in thrift stores, and even attending the annual cowboy poetry event at the local church. 

I first heard about the “fountain of youth” radon mine therapy in the KickAS.org online forums where users share their experiences kicking ankylosing spondylitis (AS). A few KickAS members reported they had visited the radon mines in Montana with great results.

One member with AS commented that she was able to walk across Spain after receiving mine treatments, and she has continued to get mine therapy every year for the past 13 years. She shares a testimony on her blog, H20 Girl Adventures.

Reading success stories like these definitely inspired me, but I didn’t take action right away, as there are risks involved, detailed later in this column. It wasn’t until a year later, when I found myself in one of the worst AS flares of my life, that I decided to finally try this mysterious mine therapy. I figured, what did I have to lose? From what I read, I would be exposed to just twice the average annual dosage of radon that we as humans breathe just by being on earth. And when you are in immense crippling pain, sometimes you are willing to try anything.

Fellow Ankylosing Spondylitis News columnist Janneke Phung’s recent column, “What My Nightly Struggle With Invisible Illness Looked Like,” really hit home. It was exactly how I felt during that flare in 2014. Being unable to sleep and in sheer pain is the worst! 

So, in June 2014, I booked a 10-day mine vacation and loaded up my car with low-/no-starch groceries and warm clothing for the mines, and I drove 12 hours from my home in Oregon to mine country in Boulder, Montana.

In 2014, I was still on the low-/no-starch Paleo diet, and eating that diet helped me immensely at the time, but sometimes I still got flare-ups of nerve pain in my spine and my neck. Most of the time, I could calm down these flares with my favorite self-care therapies that I shared in my column “Have a DIY Spa Day for Your Aches and Pains,” but some flares took me to my breaking point, including the flare that took me underground to the radon mines.

(Photo by Andrea Wyckoff)

I booked my healing vacation at the Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine in Boulder, Montana. Its website explains why it believes radon therapy works and why radiation dose is important.

In short, “Exposures to low doses of radiation is a mild stressor that stimulates cell mechanisms into performing functions such as DNA repair and suppression of inflammatory reactions. … Radon is stimulating your body to suppress inflammation which is essential in fighting all auto-immune diseases and enhancing natural cancer barriers.”

The radon gas we inhaled in the mines worked like a very low-dose chemotherapy on our bodies, simply by sitting and breathing in a natural underground setting. It triggered our immune systems to reset, and in the process, reduce chronic, systemic inflammation.

Once you start digging, you will find endless information about radon mine therapy on the internet. For instance, check out this Forbes article: “In Germany And Austria, Visits To Radon Health Spas Are Covered By Health Insurance.”

People have been using radon for its healing qualities for centuries, but there are also warnings about the risks of breathing in too much. According to the American Cancer Society, being exposed to radon gas for long periods of time can lead to lung cancer. This exposure typically occurs indoors in homes, offices, or buildings that are near types of rock or soil with elevated levels of radon. Radon gas density varies by geographical area, and elevated levels have been found in every state in the U.S.

However, when you are at your wits’ end like I was, you are sometimes willing to try anything. I have no regrets about my visits to the mines. I actually returned for a second two-week stay in September 2014 because I enjoyed my time there so much.

I wish I could tell you that radon therapy was the one trick that cured my AS, but alas, I was not miraculously healed of my ankylosing spondylitis after spending four weeks trying this therapy in 2014. And honestly, that is OK with me. After all of the radon and relaxation, I can say that I did feel some relief of my AS symptoms while I was there, but no lasting results as miraculous as many others have experienced.

In part two, I will go into more detail about my personal healing adventures in Montana and share links to all of the mines I visited as well as sightseeing tips.

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Note: Ankylosing Spondylitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ankylosing Spondylitis News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ankylosing spondylitis.

Andrea lives in a little off-grid cabin on Mt. Shasta with her cat, dog, and a forest full of critters. She currently works on a cannabis farm with the nicest co-workers on the planet. Andrea has found medical marijuana to be a lifesaver for treating the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and she feels so lucky to enjoy working in that industry, too. Over the years she has shared many of her favorite anti-inflammatory paleo, keto, and raw-food recipes on her blogs, BettyRawker.com and ForestandFauna.com. She looks forward to sharing her adventures in “Kicking AS” with all of you.
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Andrea lives in a little off-grid cabin on Mt. Shasta with her cat, dog, and a forest full of critters. She currently works on a cannabis farm with the nicest co-workers on the planet. Andrea has found medical marijuana to be a lifesaver for treating the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and she feels so lucky to enjoy working in that industry, too. Over the years she has shared many of her favorite anti-inflammatory paleo, keto, and raw-food recipes on her blogs, BettyRawker.com and ForestandFauna.com. She looks forward to sharing her adventures in “Kicking AS” with all of you.
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2 comments

  1. Bill Field says:

    Regardless of the perceived benefit of radon “therapies”, please do not dismiss the risk posed by radon exposure. Protracted radon exposure, even at “lower” concentrations, is responsible for thousands of lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. There are approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S each year among people who never smoked. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in this population. Please See: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2018/0901/p280.html

    • Andrea Wyckoff says:

      Yes, long term exposure to high doses of radon everyday, for years on end, like the amount of radon a person who works everyday in an underground uranium mine would be exposed to, has been linked to causing lung cancer in non-smokers.
      The therapy folks are making the pilgrimage to Montana to do is such a tiny dose of radon exposure, just a few hours per day, or about 60 hours per year of “mine time”, compared to what your typical miner breathed in over a 20 year Mine career, which would be tens of thousands of hours they spent working and breathing underground.
      And there are many homes and commercial buildings that have been built on bedrock where unsafe levels of radon leak into ones home, again causing a situation where someone is breathing in high levels of radon for many years, and chronic lung conditions can result.
      I look at it like this, sunshine is also form of natural radiation. Too much sun, like the amount of sun I would be exposed to if I worked as a lifeguard on a beach all day would likely cause skin cancer for me, as I sunburn easily and skin cancer runs in my family. But I still am able to enjoy soaking up those beautiful sun-rays each day, when done in smaller doses, and not have my skin burn or worry about the risk of cancer the sun can cause.

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