Monday, July 27, 2015

The things I do for Psoriasis. Now it's Dandelion Tea

I've suffered from Psoriasis for about 15 years. It started off as a little spot on my right leg when I was camping with friends by the sea. I thought something in the sea had bitten me and my doctor gave me cortisone cream, which seemed to fix it.

It came back after a few months, with a friend. Cortisone cream sorta kinda kept it in check. Fast forward to 2015 and my lower legs are spattered with plaque Psoriasis. I am on a steroid ointment for four weeks, then I switch to a non-steroid cream. The ointment keeps it in check and my legs (and now, elbows and one wrist) look pretty normal for the weeks I'm on it. Once I'm back on the cream for a couple of days it flares up like you wouldn't believe and spreads. So I'm fighting a losing battle. Roll on 1 August so I can have my four weeks of ointment.

It's not painful, it's not itchy. It's just ugly. While I can cover up in winter (and it's usually worse in winter as there is less humidity and you don't get much opportunity for Dr Sunshine to do his stuff) summer is buggery for me. I still have to wear long trousers or tights with skirts.

So every so often I head to the interwebs and research more about this pesky auto-immune disease, which is incurable. It can be brought on by stress and is often inherited.

I'm deliberately trying to minimise the stress in my life by cutting back my work hours and spending time outdoors - working in the garden, going for a walk. As for the inherited bit, well, I'm adopted so I have no idea what my genetic cocktail is.

These are some of the ideas I've tried in the past couple of years:

  • Using olive oil, coconut oil or sesame oil on my plaques. All that did was make my jeans oily unless I then wrapped the offending area in cling wrap.
  • Using Vaseline on the plaques to keep them moist. See that bit about oily jeans above.
  • Drinking Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I didn't notice any improvement. And let it be said that the smell of any vinegar makes me gag.
  • Taking Vitamin D capsules. I'm doing this at the moment as I don't get to strip off in the sun much in winter. Sunshine in small doses is the best way to let Psoriasis have its necessary dose of Vitamin D.
  • Smearing Aloe Vera on the plaques. I have an Aloe Vera bush so this is one is a nice free of charge idea. I've been doing that for about a week. No difference.
  • Cutting down on just about every food I love. This has been a real bummer. Spicy foods are a no-no apparently (and nobody enjoys a seriously good curry like I do). Gluten? Out! (Nooooo... I love my sourdough!) Dairy? Out aside from yoghurt. Tomatoes and potatoes and other members of the Solanaceae family shouldn't be eaten. Nor should my winter joy Ruby Red Grapefruit (but apparently lemons are OK). Mangoes -! Mangoes -! Why, why, why? My favourite fruit ever. Oats are out - and porridge is one of our breakfast staples. Wahhhhh!!! Seafood - I don't want to live if I can't have the occasional seafood treat. And I shouldn't drink alcohol. Humph. >:-((((( I do love my glass of wine with dinner and have no intention of becoming teetotaller.  Fags are out too. So I have failed on the Food To Cut Out front. Totally. If I have to give up all the food I love I won't get much enjoyment out of life. I might not have plaques but I'll be utterly miserable. I'll be suffering from depression!

These last few days I have been reading up on both the Mediterranean diet and the findings of Dr Irene Prantalos, who is based in Melbourne. She has been a lifelong and very serious sufferer of Psoriasis and through diet is now plaque free.

In general it seems a Mediterranean diet is a pretty good match for Psoriasis. Dr Prantalos has taken it one step further and created a Mediterranean Diet for Psoriasis, and today I bought the e-book of this on Amazon, together with her book Feel Great in Your Skin, 7 Simple Ways to Heal Psoriasis. (Note the word Heal... it can't be healed truly but it can be controlled so it goes into hiding. But most people will respond to the word Heal).

Both these books sound the knell of doom as far as my favourite foods go. Whether I can stick strictly to these recipes for any length of time I don't know. There will come a day when I will scream, "I hate bloody cabbage - and dammit, I want garlic on my chicken tonight! Or chilli! I need curry - now!"

I think if I can incorporate a few of them into my daily diet and be mindful of all the naughties and cut down on them I may see a difference. Some of the recipes just don't appeal to me, especially anything with cabbage. And while Dr Prantalos stresses it's important to use organic when you can, I don't have the budget. I can grow some leafy greens organically but our local organic grocer charges an arm and a leg. Oh, and eat lots of fish. I love fish but it's bloody expensive. Having a chronic illness is not a cheap business.

I'm sure G won't like some of the recipes much either, and he'll have to eat them as I'm not cooking two different meals at any time of the day.

One of the things Dr Prantalos suggests is Dandelion Tea. It's apparently a real goody for Psoriasis. So I bought a box of Dandelion and Chicory Tea at the supermarket today, in the absence of a simple Dandelion Tea. I can't say I'm hooked on the taste. It didn't exactly make me gag but it's not something I'd choose if I didn't think it would do my skin some good.

G is away for two nights from tomorrow so I'll have the opportunity to test drive some of the recipes in the book and read more about the 7 Simple Ways.  And drink a lot of Dandelion Tea.

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