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Zinc, Nutrition and Treating P in Sweden
From Karin E.

Backstory:  Fighting P with Zinc Supplements

Dear Ed:  Nice to hear about your Swedish background — there are a lot of Swedish descendants in the U.S., I believe!

First of all, I want to comment on the large dosages of zinc that you mentioned were associated with one therapy there. From my own research on the subject I have learned that daily dosages in excess of 150-200 mgs elemental zinc is toxic for the human body and will often result in vomiting and diarrhea just as the other FlakeHQ correspondents have experienced.  Taking such high doses is not recommended!

However, therapeutic dosages that are used to overcome a zinc deficiency usually range between 60-120 mgs elemental zinc per day. In order for the body to absorb this high amount of zinc there also has to be certain minimum levels of other vitamins, amino acids, enzymes etc. present in the body. Taking zinc supplements without regard for these other companion substances is also to be avoided.  A comprehensive supplement program is necessary and should be composed by an experienced nutritionist /therapist.

You are right about the nationalized health care system in Sweden, but there it stops! Traditional psoriasis treatment in Sweden is limited to topicals like steroids and Dovonex (Daivonex) as well as light therapy and immune response suppressors. Even mentioning diet and nutrition will make the Swedish skin doctors shake their heads.

One of the skin specialists that I used to see conceded that an allergy might contribute to my psoriasis, but he did not care to go a step further and find out what I was allergic to in the first place!

The blood analysis that I referred to in my last email [see Backstory, above] was performed by a lab at The Technical University of Luleĺ in Sweden, and financed by my private means (approximately $150 US for each test).  As I wrote in my last email, a new test should be taken every fifth month so that the proper dosage can be used. State subsidized hospitals normally test blood serum only, which is a simpler and, of course, much cheaper blood test. Their reference values are set with a very wide range so that almost every individual falls within the normal scope and therefore no one ever finds out about their nutritional deficiencies.

The Swedish health care system is slowly falling apart and is currently undergoing a financial crisis. In the future we might see our system moving towards the American way, for better or worse.

Thank God, there is some established psoriasis research in Sweden. Recently a professor at the University Sahlgrenska in Göteborg discovered the chromosome that carries one of the psoriasis genes. He had been working with Glaxo-Smith but before the breakthrough the company abandoned him since they did not find the area of skin diseases to promise much potential profit. The professor was then given support by the Swedish university and he personally invested in the research.  Finally, he received a patent for his work. For now the story ends there, but I hope that some other company (AstraZeneca?) will find it worth while to take up the good work with the professor.

Well, I am not an expert on the areas connected to psoriasis — immune system, nutrition, stressors, genetic materials etc. — but let's face it:  Who is?  I hope that in the future we will see enthusiastic graduates and professors dig into these areas, that they will see the whole picture, make their studies, and finally that their outcomes will give us flakers the path to healthy skin and joints — things that so many out there just take for granted!

All the best.  –Karin E.


Ed’s Response:  I’m sorry to hear that the Swedish medical establishment is no more open-minded than the Americans with regard to nutritional approaches to P treatment; I’m sorry to hear that the nationalized health care system in Sweden is in trouble; and I’m alarmed to hear that Sweden may be looking at the American medical establishment as a model.  About that last ... I hope they don’t take a snapshot of the way things are done here right now and then try to copy it.  Please assure us that they are making a prolonged examination of the controversies that define our medical establishment at this moment, and that they are analyzing with us ways to make medicine work better for all of us in the future. 

Every time I write like this I get a handful of emails in response telling me I’m a closet communist or simply belligerently unappreciative of the wonderful health advantages I enjoy in this country. 

I’m neither of those things. 

But let me front some statistics.  I just emerged from a three month battle with testicular cancer[cancer.htm] and have taken a moment to assess the bill for this battle.  Here’s the stats:

For my outpatient orchiectomy (removal of a testicle) I was charged a total of $10,500 by all the service providers involved.  My insurance paid $4,451 and demanded these providers “write off” the rest.  In other words, the providers received 42% of what they billed.  For the follow-on radiation therapy, the total bill was $11,667 and insurance paid $6,269 — 54%.  These percentages are ridiculous.  That they are accepted means the charges were ridiculous.  All of this is of no consequence to me because I paid somewhere between $10 and $30 for everything.  Because I am one of the fortunate insured.  If everybody in the United States were insured we would not care much about this ridiculous charge/pay dichotomy.  But unfortunately there is a large segment of our population that is not insured or is inadequately insured.  They face these charges — ridiculous as they may be — without help.  I have had some experience with inadequate insurance and am well aware that it means the difference between receiving health care and NOT receiving health care.  Our predicament is an economic class struggle.  (I know that as a U.S. citizen I am not supposed to suggest there are “classes” within our society.  But there are.  Health care is only one vivid indicator that there are.)

Well, I apologize for that little soap box speech, Karin.  I’m sure that as your experts try to salvage your own health care system they will be attuned to the error of our ways. 

The story of how your doctors have responded to your P sounds not that different from many  of the stories posted at FlakeHQ.  It makes me happy to know — and to be constantly reminded — that flakers are not as narrow-minded as some of their doctors.  We know that sometimes what’s not supposed to work, does work.  To a truly gratifying degree, we take charge of our own condition and, most importantly, we talk to each other.

On that note, please do stay in touch, Karin.  -Ed

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