And here it goes…
I’ve had Psoriasis for seventeen years. It’s a long time to feel such negativity about your body – shame, embarrassment and insecurity. You should love your body right? It’s part of you…a big part! My journey with this humiliating skin condition started at 19. I was in Cancun, Mexico on spring break with a group of friends. We were hanging out by the pool and my legs were covered in these small, red, scaly spots. The sun was blazing and the spots were lobster red! At that time I had no idea the sun was a good thing! A few of my friends were asking what that was all over my legs and I had no idea. I managed to act as if it wasn’t a big deal and would quickly jump in the pool! Meanwhile, inside I was DYING of embarrassment! I was 19! All I did was care about what people thought! All the female friends I was with were feeling so good in their skin, so confidant:(
I was beyond self conscious and spent the week thinking about what it could be and why it chose this moment in time to ruin my life! My trip was ruined by all of my negative thinking and I’m sure my negative thoughts only brought on more spots! It didn’t help that I had a huge crush on one of the guys we were with who I’m sure could sense my insecurity from miles away! Ugh! Worst trip ever!
So I returned home and saw my first dermatologist. That’s when I learned Psoriasis was hereditary and it was a condition where the normal person’s skin sheds once a month and my skin sheds everyday, sometimes several times per day. This explanation has changed slightly depending on the dermatologist! So I started my journey on applying steroid creams, constantly having to change them up over the years. They certainly helped at times. Tanning has helped me too, but it’s expensive and deep down I knew it wasn’t good for me. It’s funny because people in my life will learn that I have Psoriasis and say to me “you have Psoriasis? I never knew that!” Most people don’t know because I’ve covered it up so well over the years and if I have a break out I’m ALL OVER IT! Whatever it takes – new creams, tanning, Revlon cover up! Anything to not feel at its mercy!
I do feel very grateful to have it mildly compared to other people. I’ve been on the public forums, read books, seen pictures and my heart breaks for all the people suffering out there. That brings me to writing this blog. After seventeen years of feeling so out of control when it comes to my skin, I now have never felt so empowered! Even as I write this I’m smiling because I feel free from Psoriasis!
It doesn’t control my life anymore! It’s not 100% gone, it’s 90% gone and I can’t believe it! These past few months I’ve watched it slowly disappear before my eyes. My elbows look like normal elbows! No more feeling insecure wearing t-shirts! No more feeling insecure when a person’s hand goes to grab the back of my arm when talking to me closely in a loud bar (this tends to happen a lot!).
I’m not used to this at all by the way! I find myself at work checking my elbows in the bathroom mirror to make sure it hasn’t appeared all of a sudden. I want to help you, the sufferers of this devestating skin disease because I know how bad it feels to have it and to feel so helpless. I want to share my journey and hope it can make a difference for some of you out there. I am aware that everyone is different, our bodies and personalities are all so different, but just remember you have nothing to lose but your red scaly patches and severe itch! Here’s what I’ve learned – it all started with my dog, Max:) To make a long story short, Max was a rescue and I took him in with a slue of medical issues. His weight was always an issue and I had been trying to get him to lose weight for years, but nothing worked! My vet suggested I try feeding him human food such as chicken, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc., healthy foods instead of dog food. She said dog food, even the most expensive, organic kind, was still processed, leftover scraPs from who knows what! Around the same time a friend of mine was writing a book about saving her dog’s life from obesity by changing his diet. She created her own regimen for him including vegetables and fruits, etc. Between my vet’s advice and my friend’s book, The Amazing Treat Diet For Dogs, in four months my dog lost 9 pounds and went from struggling to walk to outright running! Most of his ailments were gone! This changed my view about food altogether because I now proved that you REALLY are what you eat!
It was at this time I started to eat healthier and became addicted to films such as Food Inc., Food Matters, Hungry for Change, Crazy Sexy Cancer, The Gerson Miracle, and The Beautiful Truth just to name a few. I started to juice fresh vegetables and fruits every day and gave up meat, not just red. I started reading a lot of books written by amazing women who had healed themselves of ailments or disease. One woman whose book changed my life was Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Diet.” She’s an amazing woman who was diagnosed with stage four cancer and beat the odds through her healthy lifestyle!
My new healthy way of eating was definitely helping me feel better, I had tons of energy and was beyond regular if you know what I mean! After many months of this I felt great, but my Psoriasis wasn’t clearing up and every so often I’d find my legs covered in those red scaly bumPs! This past spring I had a particularly large patch on my shin and I decided to visit my dermatologist to see if there were any new creams I could try. Now, every time I went to see her I’d find myself asking about diet and the effects on my skin. She’d always have the same response, she’d roll her eyes slightly and say there is no proof that diet makes any difference.
She was clearly not a believer in that and I would leave feeling a little stupid for some reason. I trusted that she HAS to be right because she’s a doctor. I talked to her about my extra large patch and how stubborn it was being. She suggested laser therapy for the 10th time, but I didn’t feel I could make the commitment of 3 days a week for 6 months. She then suggested giving the patch a shot of cortisone and warned me that it would be painful, but promised it would do the trick! I felt like puking! I honestly felt gross. It all felt so wrong. Deep down I knew that treating anything from the outside in was not the answer. I’ve watched too many documentaries to know that food is our medicine or at least it was years and years ago before it was processed or sprayed with chemicals! I declined the shot and left with a bunch of free samples of a new cream I couldn’t afford.
I came home and felt this urge to google Psoriasis. I was stunned at all the information that was out there! I wondered why I hadn’t thought to google it before. Why? Why did I never in 17 years think to do my own research about this? I still don’t have an answer to that question but, I do believe that everything happens at the time it happens for a reason! I found everything from online chat grouPs to youtube videos!!! It was amazing to me to find all these thousands of sufferers, most in worse condition than me. I stumbled upon the Merry Clinic which practices traditional Chinese medicine through using herbal supplements. On their website it stated that Psoriasis was “Toxins in the bloodstream exiting through the skin.” The second I read that a light bulb went off and I thought it made total sense! How interesting right? At least I thought so! After reading more about this clinic’s process I had this feeling I was onto something.
I couldn’t ignore the fact that this concept of toxins in the bloodstream made so much sense to me and my gut felt something I hadn’t felt before…relief. I just felt in the dark for so long and now a little bit of light was being shed and it was relieving. On my search I then stumbled upon Dr. Pagano’s book “Healing Psoriasis” (The Natural Alternative). I don’t feel it was an accident I found this book! His definition of Psoriasis is the following “Psoriasis is the external manifestation of the body’s attempt to throw off internal toxins. The skin is doing what the bowels and the kidneys should be doing. The skin is not ordinarily designed to remove waste matter to any great extent, but, due to the toxic overload produced by a leaky gut, it acts as a back up system and takes on the task of removing toxins – thus the rash, irritation, and lesions.”
I don’t know about you, but my whole body was screaming “YES!!! That makes TOTAL SENSE!!!!”
He goes into detail about how toxins get into the bloodstream and why that happens and how to heal it. His entire philosophy was about healing the skin from the inside through various healthy avenues including diet, herbal teas, vitamins, a positive attitude, internal cleansing, etc..
The book inspired and motivated the crap out of me! Before I even finished the book I started this new way of life that I knew would be difficult, but I was on a mission to heal my skin and nothing would stop me! Something in me was just so done living with it! The diet is mostly alkaline, less acidic foods. Also staying away from food that causes inflammation like red meat and some dairy! Sounds terrible huh? Want to hear the worst part? Coffee and alcohol are acidic! This is the hardest part for me living in New York City! I walk with a coffee everywhere! It completes my walk, I can’t explain the comfort in it, but it just does! He also lists a few foods to absolutely stay away from because they carry an enzyme that are powerfully destructive to Psoriatic patients. This list was shocking to me! They are tomatoes, tobacco, eggplant, white potatoes, eggplant, peppers and paprika. They are known as the nightshades.
These were foods I ate on a daily basis! Tomato is the most difficult because this eliminates pizza, salsa, marinara sauce, etc! There are also special teas he strongly suggests to drink everyday to clean out your intestines and thicken your intestinal walls, American Yellow Saffron tea and Slippery Elm Bark tea. I drink them everyday! On top of changing my diet drastically and drinking these teas, I was already juicing vegetables and fruits, and taking a slue of vitamins like vitamin D, B, omega 3, blue green algae, and kelp. All I have to say is thank God for vegan recipes! This isn’t a vegan lifestyle because you can eat fish (no shellfish), but vegan recipes tend to use the ingredients you can have! For example, I swapped milk for almond/soy milk.
I know how hard this could be for people especially after being set in your ways for most of your life, but I find it’s not that hard when your goal of healing is priority. The hardest part for me is making the time to prepare and cook, but I actually enjoy the food and have never felt healthier! I’m very excited to share my journey with you and will be checking in once a month to let you know where I’m at struggles and all. I’ll leave you with this – a few weeks ago I took my dog to the vet for his annual check up and she said that Max’s insides are that of a six month old puppy! He’s 13! Amazing huh?
Hope this finds you well:)