Communications (Mar/Apr, 1998)

Are We What We Eat?
from C. Love

I want to begin by saying that I enjoy your site, especially the experiences of people like myself. I have been dealing with P since I was 18. It started out as small lesions that I could control with coal tar and tanning. Over the course of ten years, it has spread into larger patches on my arms, legs, chest, and back. I could go on and on about the negative impact it has had on certain situations in my life. After reading your responses, I found it comforting that we've all had similarexperiences. However, I found it interesting that not one single person discussed the importance of nutritional therapy.

I feel that one's diet has a large impact on their overall well-being. I have read many natural healing books over the past year, and they all recommend eating a diet that is low in animal fat and protein and rich in fruits in vegetables. Many also suggest taking milk thistle, which will assist the liver in filtering toxins. Another important supplement is omega-3, which is found in cod liver and flax seed oils.

I am surprised that nobody mentioned this. I believe that the OTC and prescription drugs can be beneficial only if they are accompanied by drastic changes in ones diet. We all know that eventually our bodies build up an immunity to these drugs, and they loose their effectiveness. I think that P is often an indication of an internal health problem, like a nutritional deficiency. When was the last time a derm asked you about your diet? My doc never did. Well, here's what I've been doing over the past four months that has me 95% clean.

I take a powered vitamin and mineral supplement in the morning with cranberry juice. I also mix in a "colon cleanser," which speeds elimination and prevents digested foods from sitting too long (I take this 3 times a day). I also eat a diet that is low in sugar, meat, and fats. I'm eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fish. Most importantly, I take six tablespoons of pure flaxseed oil. I believe that this has helped most of all. The oil lubricates your skin, and I think that my skin is also smoother because of this. I am also smearing on coal tar lotion and petroleum jelly morning and night for good measure. This is all time consuming and a little expensive? Definitely. Would I kill for a bag of White Castles and fries? You bet! But, It sure is worth it to me. Some nice side effects to this regimen are increased energy and weight loss. I should also add that the powdered vitamins, colon cleanse, and flaxseed oil can be found at most health food stores.

I hope that you will pass this info along. Hopefully, it will help others. -C. Love

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NOTE from Ed: I sent e-mail back to C. Love asking the costs of these dietary supplements....

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Ed: In response to your e-mail, here's what I typically pay for what I'm taking. I buy a month's supply of powdered vitamins and minerals, which costs about $25. I simply mix a tablespoon with cranberry or carrot juice once a day. I feel that powdered vitamins are a better choice, because they are absorbed by the body quickly and efficiently. It has been said that many vitamin tablets do not break down completely (if at all) during digestion. So, I highly recommend the powders.

As I've mentioned, I also take a mix of natural fibers as a colon cleanser. I take 1 teaspoon three times a day. One container will last about a month, and I usually pay about $15. I believe that if solid waste is allowed to stay in the body for prolonged periods, it can release toxins that can aggravate our condition.

The most expensive item on my list is the flax seed oil. I buy the liquid form, which is more concentrated. A 16 oz. Bottle will cost about $15. I take six tablespoons a day, which is a little over the suggested dosage. Because I take a higher dosage, a bottle will last about a week. This can also be purchased in a powdered form, which is much less expensive (about $5 for a two week supply). However, the amount of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids is much lower due to the milling process. One can also take cod or salmon liver oil, which is often sold in capsule form. Because of the toxins often found in fresh and salt water fish, I prefer not to take that. Flax seed oil has a higher amount of beneficial oils, and there is no unpleasant odor. Flax seed oil has a nutty flavor, and it goes down quite easily.

Consistent use of these products has helped to keep me clear. I hope that others might benefit from their use as well. If anyone has any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at CLLV@aol.com. Thank you. -C. Love

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Ed's Response: Thank YOU, C. Love, for the challenge and the follow up. As I told you in my (private) e-mail, I, too, am a little surprised by the paucity of diet-related comments I receive—especially as so many of the wonder regimens we're lulled towards are diet-related.

Years ago, my sister worked at a health food store and hooked my parents on dietary supplements. As far as I know, I'm the only Dewke who doesn't possess one of those multi-sectioned plastic boxes to hold pills for days of the week. Where so many women my mother's age crochet or do needle point, she's into home pharmacy in a big way. You'll catch her, more often than not, counting and sorting pills on the kitchen table. (Things have changed a lot since the Sundays when we all piled into the car and drove to the Dairy Store for a big ice cream cone!)

I was relieved, about seven years ago, when I asked a derm about diet and P and he said, "There's lot's of practical evidence that changing diet can affect psoriasis, but no clear-cut cause and effect." This relieved me because I mulled it over for about twenty seconds and decided I was permitted to forget about it.

I've been forced to change my diet several times to counter other health problems and must confess there has been no appreciable change in my psoriasis as a result. But my intellectual conscience tells me that proves nothing. None of those changes were about my psoriasis.

Here's what I think. What (and how) we eat is so very fundamental it's got to be a part of every health equation, including psoriasis. I'll not be surprised to learn that everything about our health can be controlled through diet if it's a life-long exercise. Two hundred years from now, when our great-grand-children are in their 140s, they will look back on our time and pity the way we "ate ourselves to death" at early ages like 60, 70, or 80. (I imagine they'll muse about this while munching on plant roots and insect larvae—uncooked, of course—at their neighborhood cafe.)

What I see as the significant changes in human health to be achieved by similarly significant changes in diet are sweeping, revolutionary changes—like eating bugs. If somebody said to me today, "You'll add twenty years to your life if you chomp down those spider carcasses instead of throwing them in the trash," I'd be revolted. That's what I mean by revolutionary. What's best for us will probably revolt us.

Docs of many stripes like to poo-poo dietary supplements with lines like this: "If you ate right in the first place, you wouldn't need the supplements." I'm sure that's true, but when pressed to describe what "eat right" means, discussions decay into ambiguity and contradiction. Or, is it the way we listen to those discussions that makes them seem ambiguous and contradictory?

It tickles me to no end to watch how the junk food manufacturers try to stay abreast of the latest fads in dietary fitness. Every other bag of potato chips these days says "less fat." I say, "So what?" Why in the world are we eating potato chips in the first place? Nutritionally speaking, folks, a potato chip is a waste of time. 90% of what we eat is a waste of time! We don't have to eat at all to stay alive! We can get our carbs and our vitamins intravenously! ... Unfortunately, we love to eat. (Without popcorn—another total waste of time—I would be a zombie.)

Nature's greatest defense mechanism against our species growing wildly out of control: GIVE'M AN APPETITE!

Whew! Now I feel better. Got that off my chest. Excuse me while I consume that Liobium vittatum (Daddy Longlegs) nesting in my CPU....

... Really, folks. You cannot say you're in control of your psoriasis without at least thinking about the potential relationship between what you eat and drink and our disease. I would like to see more e-mail from P's who have made a connection between consuming and flaking. We should not avoid the discussion. Uh ... got to run ... there's a Gryllidae (cricket) in my tool chest that will make a nice garnish for my bean sprouts salad this evening.... -Ed

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