Today I am coming at you with a bit different post than usual - my dermatitis story. This photo illustrates my healing, and the picture on the left is not even the worst I had, I just didn't want to scare you or put you off your dinner! (if you are really really interested to see it at it's worst, click here).
About 6-7 months ago I started to get these horrible blisters all over skin that erupted mostly on my upper body and soon traveled to the face - it was horrible! Assuming it was a reaction to the change of laundry detergent I quickly booked an appointment with my GP (a family doctor if you are not from Ireland) and I got a round of antibiotics from her - three times in a row. That didn't stop my rashes nor it subsided the itching - it drove me crazy, and while I tried my utmost best not to touch myself in the daytime, I found myself scratching my skin in my sleep - even to the point that I'd wake myself up doing that. Like a fool I dutifully took three rounds on antibiotics thinking that the doctor knows best and I should do what she tells me to do. The antibiotic cream that I had to apply to the skin (mostly face) helped a bit to stop it spreading further, because at that point I was a month in and the patches were getting bigger and bigger, as in the blisters were pooling together and forming one giant sore on my face! One side was affected worse than the other, and needless to say it drove me to the brink of depression because no woman (or a man) wants to look like I did, and I was at a loss of what to do or where to turn to for help! I was in and out of my GP office, and I took to the giant sunglasses and a hat to hide my face, because people stared and kept their distance. My doctor sent a referral letter to the dermatologist in the nearby hospital with a note saying "Please see such-and-such patient who has this unexplained rash and it seems to be getting worse at the time goes by". Which would sound good, if you are not familiar with Irish medical system - it turned out I got an appointment to see a specialist wait-for-it in a years time! (more on it later). Needless to say I felt helpless and as well as researching any info about dermatitis like crazy, I went to the Chinese Clinic which happened to be nearby to my doctor. The Chinese doctor examined me and summoned me to do a couple of treatments straight away, saying he wanted to see my body's reaction and then he will see what needs to be done. So I had the acupressure massage, acupuncture and cupping therapy there and then, and straight away I was told it is a very strong allergic reaction! He told me I needed 10 treatments of the mentioned treatments plus two courses of their herbal remedies, all of which added up to more than thousand euro. The amount shocked me and of course l tried to weasel my way out of it, but he sort of bullied me into paying for six treatments and I am so glad he did, because this was what helped me the most! After every treatment my skin was clearer, less red and angry and even the worst patches shrunk in half. These acupressure and acupuncture treatments work by stimulating the body's self healing points, and the cupping therapy draws out toxins from the body. At the end of my treatment my skin was almost back to normal, and even though I was told to book six or ten more treatments to continue healing, I never did, as I didn't had that much money and what I had, I had to spend it on my kids to get school ready. At the same time I did the hair mineral analysis test with the same Chinese clinic. Hair mineral test showed strong allergy to wheat, gluten, and dairy, as well as moderate level allergy to perfume, creams, shampoos, etc as well as dust mites. So I cut out all the wheat, gluten and dairy products on the spot, and in two days time my skin was almost healed, it was a miracle! the creams/skincare items allergy was also devastating, as I thought I have to kiss the blogger in me goodbye and I won't be able to do what I love - as in test new products and review them, but it turned out I react to the gluten in the products, and ass long as i avoid it, I am fine. Around the same time I did two blood test with my regular doctor, and that is also worth mentioning - my first test showed eight "abnormal" results out of 16 things tested (don't ask me what they were, ass the results were never explained to me) - a week later I got a call from the doctors secretary saying that my cholesterol is high and I need to come back for more testing in three weeks time to see if I have lupus, because they suspect it. I almost dropped my phone and asked why in three weeks, can I get it done sooner - she told me it's because the nurse is on holidays and then hung up on me. Can you imagine how I felt for those three weeks? Even now, a good few months past it I have tears in my eyes.. Zero compassion or interest in one's problems or feelings.The visit to dermatologist (220€ for 5 minutes, how about that?!) not only was expensive, it was worthless too, as she treated me like a naughty schoolgirl too, telling me off when I mentioned natural treatments or treatments at the Chinese practitioners.She also forbade me from using any products I was using, despite me telling her I was using only fresh aloe vera leaf and purest natural oils on my skin. She told me to get this product instead, and use it to wash my body and face with, and also use it as a face and body moisturizer too, it has only a few ingredients she said, and this is the only product you will use for the couple of weeks and it will help. So let's take a look at the ingredients of it, shall we? Aqua, petrolatum (derived from petrol if you don't know), cetearyl alcohol, SLS (or sodium lauryl sulfate), methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben. I am lost for words here! I mean are you kidding me? Petrol by-products, harshest cleaning solution possible (it's the same stuff that cleans car engines!) in a form of SLS and three parabens are prescribed to people with skin conditions?!
Let's skip a few months of more of this, turns out I have dermatitis herpetiformis - nothing to do with herpes, mind you, it is a form of Coeliac disease where you don't have all these other symptoms, just skin erupting in painful blisters all over).
(You can read more about my visit to the dermatologist here. This link will take you to my Instagram post where I talk in depth about my visit to the dermatologist - and make sure to read the comments too.)
So, long story short I had a choice - I can wallow in self pity and throw more money/time/energy in visiting yet more doctors or I can take the matters into my own hands and do something about it! So I started googling like a mad woman and armed with this new found knowledge I did start a new eating regime and new supplements, all of which worked like a charm for me, and I hope you too can take something out of this?
So what helped me?
1. Going gluten free. This was one of the biggest factors in healing my skin, turns out the gluten creates this chronic inflammation in the body, and where is inflammation, there is breeding ground for diseases, in my case dermatitis). Going gluten, wheat and dairy free is the key in my mind, you have to take away the inflammation, as well as heal the gut). It is not easy but it's worth it. (You can check out my Pinterest board here to help you out, I have 680+ recipes there)
2. Getting your body into alkaline PH. This is a big one, as the diseases won't catch if you are alkaline, but if you are acidic, which most of us are, it's the bad news for you, your body has this toxin threshold that is different for everybody, and when that threshold is reached, meaning your body can't take it anymore and will erupt into some kind of disease, in my case dermatitis herpetiformis. For a couple of months I didn't realise this, I was doing this restrictive diet and wasn't getting much better, but then I realised I just switched all those products to gluten free versions and tried to carry on as normal, but eating this way was what got me sick in the first place, so I had to do more than that! This meant looking more into alkaline products (mainly veg) and consuming lots of it, and
3. Consuming green smoothie every morning.
4. Drinking lemon water instead of coffee first thing in the morning - huge step for me as I tried and failed this many many times before. Lemon water is great for detoxifying your body, everybody knows that, but so few of us actually do it. If I really needed that caffeine kick, I'd have a coffee next, just not first thing in the morning. Gradually I switched to decaf.
5. I also stopped drinking tap water and started buying bottled water again after realising it has PH7, ideal for our bodies, and my tap water has 2, which is incredibly bad for us, and it is very hard not to be toxic if you dring and cook with this water everyday. This is something I am not proud of at all, after working so hard to wean us off bottled water and plastics in our household. But this is what's needed for my healing right now, so i will go with it for a while. All the good filters I looked at range at about 800€, and I am definitely getting one once I will own my own home, but for now we are only renting, so I use shungite (much better than Brita, trust me!) and this magnetic stick to purify my water, as well as buying bottled water. Let me know if you want to see a blog post about shungite?
6. Anti-inflammatory foods also became my new best friends, I was eating pretty healthy before, but I upped their intake much more, and since I love veggies, it didn't bother me at all. (if you are not familiar with anti-inflammatory foods - these are salmon and other cold water fish, berries, coconut milk, coconut water, turmeric, ginger, broccoli, leeks, papaya, maca, shitake mushrooms, grass fed beef, organic omega 3 eggs, olive oil, avocados, cherries, chia seeds, tomatoes, garlic, celery and so on. also specific plant compounds are strongly anti-inflammatory, such as turmeric (cucurmin), green tea extract, resveratrol, quercetin).
7. Reducing stress in your life! this is a huge one, and it is definitely something I have to work on. I just can't deal with it, I am sort of a person who takes everything in, and just explodes every couple of months, which is not good for your body at all! I also didn't do much to naturally relieve stress either, i didn't exercise or took yoga, nor I was in the nature a lot - all of those things do relieve your stress naturally. Please find what works for you and don't neglect yourself, do it regularly! People tend not to talk about mental health, but it is so important not to be in the constant stress! It is something I need to work on too, as I tend to put everyone else's needs before mine.
8. Sweating - I didn't realise before how much this is important in getting rid of toxins! I used to stop exercising once I started sweating thinking of it as a tipping point - ok, l did enough for today, let's stop for now". I never visit sauna either, so my sweating was minimum, meaning minimal riddance of toxins.
9. No sugar! Sugar does all kinds of bad things to our bodies, we all know that, but it also feeds cancer and all other diseases in our bodies, so in my mind the less we consume, the better. I have to be honest, I tried to do the Candida diet, but I failed in the third week, having found it too difficult. If you can stick it out and get rid of candida in your body, bonus points to you!
10. Caprylic acid. Some people take it in a supplement form and find relief, I didn't do it, what I did instead was I started cooking exclusively with coconut oil (it is high in caprylic acid) and in a few days I saw a huge difference in my skin! I used to use cheap sunflower oil for frying before, and that was probably part of the reason of having inflammation in my body.
11. Cleansing the digestive track and healing leaky gut. I won't go into much details here, as there is so much to say and it needs to be explained properly, meaning this blog post would be two thousand miles long. Please do your own research or check my Pinterest boards for references. (here and here).
12. Probiotics. This is also a key in healing, so please don't skip it! I take Udo's Adults Blend which had 17 billions of bacteria. it is costly at 24€, but I have yet to find a good probiotic that would be cheap. Pay attention to how many millions/billions of bacteria you are getting, also how many strands. The more, the better - this one place not to skimp on - cheaper ones will have significantly less of the good stuff, and bacteria might not survive until it makes it's way to your gut, meaning you would be getting zero benefits. There's also a milk kefir and water kefir (which I do own) - these also provide probiotics, s well as sauerkraut and fermented veggies. Should I do a blog post about the water kefir? Oh, I forgot to mention I take two capsules of the Udos probiotics daily.