‘I cured my own pso­ri­a­sis’

Plagued by blis­ters on the palms of her hands and soles of her feet and told they were ‘in­cur­able’ by doc­tors, 58-year-old Ali­son Chester-Lam­bert from Stafford­shire, Eng­land, be­gan re­search­ing al­ter­na­tives

Friday - - Living -

Have you got a fish tank?” asked the doc­tor. That seemed a strange ques­tion when I’d gone to see him about wa­tery and painful re­cur­ring blis­ters on my right thumb and palm. Any­way, I ad­mit­ted I did have trop­i­cal fish and he con­cluded it was a disease re­lated to that and pre­scribed an­tibi­otics. But the tablets didn’t im­prove mat­ters.

Three months later the skin prob­lem had spread; first cov­er­ing the palm of my right hand, then my left hand, the sole of my right foot, then my left foot. A der­ma­tol­o­gist di­ag­nosed it as pus­tu­lar pso­ri­a­sis (a rare form of pso­ri­a­sis) trig­gered by the im­mune sys­tem mis­tak­enly at­tack­ing the skin.

The blis­ters weren’t pro­duc­ing pus but ex­ud­ing white blood cells, and he said that while treat­ments could ease the con­di­tion, pso­ri­a­sis was in­cur­able. In­cur­able? I found that hard to ac­cept as med­i­cal sci­ence has cracked much big­ger prob­lems. Plus I’d al­ways had beau­ti­ful skin, so what had changed? Still, he was the ex­pert, so I ac­cepted the treat­ments he rec­om­mended.

I was 48, a ma­ture un­der­grad­u­ate psy­chol­ogy stu­dent at Stafford­shire Univer­sity and was strug­gling to take notes in sem­i­nars as the painful skin made it hard to hold a pen, let alone write. In shops as I held out my hand to take my change I felt em­bar­rassed notic­ing peo­ple look­ing and winc­ing, so I started wear­ing white cot­ton gloves. In sum­mer my sore feet made it dif­fi­cult to wear san­dals, or even

‘I opted to cut out su­gar and ini­tially my skin started im­prov­ing…’

walk at times. In win­ter I ap­plied foot cream then cling film so the cream would stay put, then put on two pairs of socks for cush­ion­ing.

For two years I tried all the treat­ments the con­sul­tant pre­scribed. Steroids stripped the skin off my palms leav­ing them even more red raw. Pre­scribed creams made the skin more painful. Sun lamp treat­ment didn’t help me ei­ther. The doc­tor sug­gested putting me on a trial for a new drug, but when he men­tioned it could cause liver dam­age I said, ‘no thanks’. I asked whether diet could make any dif­fer­ence, but he dis­missed the no­tion.

I was grate­ful that at least my con­di­tion wasn’t on my arms, legs or head and would sit in the hos­pi­tal clinic feel­ing sorry for oth­ers whose bod­ies were cov­ered in pso­ri­a­sis plaques. How­ever, some days I couldn’t walk, oth­ers I couldn’t do any­thing with my hands. Life be­came about do­ing what I could when I could rather than do­ing some­thing from choice. Frus­trated with un­suc­cess­ful pre­scribed treat­ments I de­cided to do some in­ter­net dig­ging about pso­ri­a­sis.

I found Chi­nese re­search pa­pers that sug­gested chang­ing the en­vi­ron­ment in the gut to im­prove the im­mune sys­tem so it wouldn’t de­stroy the skin. It be­came clear that I needed to work on my in­sides so I started email­ing Chi­nese spe­cial­ists for ad­vice – and got re­sponses! Their im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion was al­ways along the lines of, “What do you mean you’ve been told your con­di­tion is in­cur­able? It’s per­fectly cur­able.” The

Chi­nese sug­gested flood­ing the in­testines with pro­bi­otics (friendly bac­te­ria) to re-es­tab­lish a healthy gut flora. I couldn’t get an im­port li­cence for their pro­bi­otics, so I de­cided on a dif­fer­ent ap­proach – to look for what was mak­ing my gut un­healthy. I opted to cut out su­gar – dex­trose, mal­tose, su­crose – and ini­tially my skin started im­prov­ing. I be­gan eat­ing more fruit, at least five por­tions daily, and my skin got much worse. I couldn’t un­der­stand why.

Then I had a light-bulb mo­ment. I was lean­ing too heav­ily on fruc­tose – fruit su­gar – so I cut that out too. The pso­ri­a­sis van­ished within two weeks. I’d al­ways had a very sweet tooth, had en­joyed a large slab of milky choco­late ev­ery day, but I be­gan to re­alise that su­gar was my ad­dic­tion and messed up my sys­tem. It all had to go.

I had been in so much pain and dis­tress that I was pre­pared to try any­thing, in­clud­ing such a dif­fi­cult di­etary re­stric­tion – and it worked!

I still wanted to take pro­bi­otics to max­imise gut health and found a yo­gurt drink called Bio-Kult that has 14 dif­fer­ent bac­te­ria strains, whereas many only have one or two, plus are of­ten laden with su­gar. Hav­ing lived in the Mid­dle East for five years I also knew that many peo­ple drink la­ban to

‘If I slip up, I’m in trou­ble. Within two days of eat­ing toma­toes my pso­ri­a­sis re­turned’

sup­port the gut, so I do that too, plus I take milk this­tle to sup­port my liver and help it clear tox­ins, along with the whole range of B vi­ta­mins.

It’s been seven years now that I’ve con­trolled my skin, but if I slip and have a bit of su­gar I’m in trou­ble. Twice re­cently I’ve made that mis­take. While in Greece I couldn’t re­sist their de­li­cious toma­toes – but toma­toes are fruit. Within two days pso­ri­a­sis broke out un­der my right foot and on my palms. Then, a few weeks ago, it was my daugh­ter Jes­sica’s 21st birth­day, and she had a big cake. Bad­gered by peo­ple to have a slice I suc­cumbed, had a tiny piece and, again, within two days my palms were cov­ered in wa­tery blis­ters. Thank­fully I now know how to swiftly re­turn my skin to healthy again.

Su­gar-free, pro­bi­otic yo­gurt helped Ali­son

fight her pso­ri­a­sis

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