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Psoriasis and Skin Clinic Changed Her Life
Hi Ed: My name is Sara Scully. I wrote to you a couple of times, over a year ago. I had been traveling around the world when I got a quite bad flare-up in Thailand (Globe Hopping When a Flare Happens). I treated it with coal tar ointments, and after a few months it calmed down, but was still bad enough. By the time I got to Australia it was bearable and I got a job there and everything was fine and dandy for a couple of months.
You had suggested to me to try Dr. Tirant’s clinic, since you had heard good reports, but I was skeptical, and thought I'd grin and bear it — since I had been a lot worse.
That was fine until I spent a couple of weeks traveling around Western Australia, when we got back to Sydney we were again looking for work, and we decided we'd try to lose a bit of weight, that we'd put on over the past months of traveling and gorging ourselves on all the lovely food and drink. We tried this CSIRO diet, which is basically a high protein, low GI diet — it suggests 300 grams of meat a day (twice that recommended by your average nutritionist). So we did this for a few weeks, and lost a few pounds, and slowly but surely my skin got worse and worse until my whole trunk and neck was completely covered, with no healthy skin showing, and the rest of me varied between huge red blobs and small raised lumps. I couldn't sleep for the itching and my skin was cracking and bleeding anywhere it folded. In short I was miserable, not the way you want to be when you're on your trip of a lifetime. I was reluctant to see a GP, since in my experience, at best they do little to help, and at worst they can make the matter worse, prescribing strong and expensive steroid creams.
So I decided to take your advice and make an appointment at Dr Tirants clinic. I rang up the office in North Sydney, and I found I couldn't get an appointment for a month. At this point I was distraught, I was due to start my next job in 2 weeks, and didn't feel at all suitable for public consumption, but I just had to get on with it. Would you believe when I was in work, I'd go into the bathroom a couple of times a day, and strip and cover myself in emolient, I was that bad! I can't imagine what my co-workers must have thought, but I didn't get any comments (Australians are very polite). Luckily it was winter and I could wear trousers and long sleeves — even though the average temperature was 20 degrees C (70F). Anyway, I digress. I eventually did get my appointment as described below:
Dr. Tirant’s Psoriasis and Skin Clinic in North Sydney is part of a bigger alternative medicine center — acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractors etc. Like I said, I was a bit skeptical (a family trait), and the office didn't inspire confidence, but at this point I was willing to give anything a try. So when it was my turn I went inside, I was expecting a physical examination, but there was none, just a list of questions about my eating habits and my toilet habits from the female medicinal herbalist, then she gave me this little drink to taste and asked me how it tasted. I thought it was pretty tasteless, something like water, she told me it should have a strong unpleasant metallic taste and that this showed that I wasn't absorbing minerals as well as I should and that I was deficient in zinc. Then she started on the recommended treatment — this involved a progression of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, a regimen of ashes, lotions and ointments and an extremely strict diet. Basically it was super doses (up to 9 times normal) of zinc, fish oil and vitamin A with a chaser of numerous herbs including milk thistle with some selenium thrown in, most of which were delivered in Dr-Tirant-patented tablets (skin biotic, liver formula, alkalising formula, bio balance).
The skin regimen was a coal tar wash for skin and scalp which was to be used twice a day, followed by an herb/essential oil ointment on affected areas and rub down all over with skin conditioning oil (more herbs and essential oils).
The diet was the most difficult, but I decided if I was going to try it I should give it the best possible chance and follow it strictly. Absolutely No nightshades: Potatoes, tomatoes, Aubergine, Tobacco, Peppers, Chillis. Reduce/Eliminate All dairy, All refined food including sugar, All artificial additives, pork, beef, citrus fruit and pineapple, alcohol, Coffee, Tea. 80% of the diet was to be made up of fresh vegetables and fruit including 5 large portions of dark green vegetables per week. 20% of the diet was to be made up of lamb, fish, chicken, pulses, grains, nuts and dried fruit in approx equal measures.
Luckily there is a really good and cheap Asian fruit, veg and fish market in Sydney where myself and my husband did most of our shopping on a Saturday. We'd buy so much fresh produce we'd barely be able to carry it home. Also luckily I am a good and inventive cook, so I could try to make my diet interesting within the allowed parameters, though it was tough.
I stuck strictly to the regime for 6 weeks. In this time I had 3 consultations (each time varying the supplements) and went through a ridiculous amount of ointment and skin conditioner. I was examining myself (depressedly) in the mirror after each application. It took about 2 weeks to see any improvement, but would you believe that in 6 weeks I was totally clear, except for maybe 10-20 small dots around my abdomen and back? I really couldn't believe it, though I was totally thrilled. It was just in time to begin the last leg of our travel — 1 month down the east coast of Australia and 1 month in New Zealand. My parents came and did this 2 month trip with us, it was fantastic. I couldn't believe the results, and the effects on my mood — I went from crying every night to happy and energetic. The treatment wasn't cheap, I spent nearly 1,100 Australian dollars (not recoverable from insurance of course) on the consultations and ointments/medications, but it was totally worth it.
After the six weeks, I slowly reduced my intake of vitamins/minerals/herbal supplements, you're not supposed to keep taking them at those levels, I believe it would become toxic and dangerous.
Though I do still take zinc and fish oil every day or two. I also slowly introduced back in the banned foods, though my diet still contains a large proportion of fruit and veg. I do drink alcohol regularly and if I want pizza or chocolate I have it. I haven't had any major reoccurrence of my psoriasis since then (finished the 6 weeks august 2005). My scalp is quite dry and flaky, and I have the odd dry spot here or there, but nothing like the levels of psoriasis I consistently lived with before. I can say I have never been so clear in my life — and I've had various treatments from light, coal tar (a month in hospital being covered in it every day), and I've even had my tonsils out.
I probably haven't had a reoccurrence because I haven't had a major trigger since then, and hopefully I won't any time soon. I've noticed a number of primary triggers — sore throats, morning after pill, sunburn, malaria tablets — all physical stresses, I've never noticed any worsening from emotional stress though. Also secondary triggers seem to be diet (noticed since this treatment), lack of sleep, alcohol and weather. Who knows what could be added to this list, triggers seem to change all the time. At least if I do have a flare up, I know I can try this treatment again, and hopefully it will be as effective.
Sorry that this email is so long, I've been meaning to send it for ages, but I wanted to give it a chance to see if the effects would be long term. Also I didn't want to tempt fate by sending it.
Hopefully it might help someone who is considering trying the treatment. At least you can see that you don't need to keep up the restrictive diet forever. I know my skin might be better if I stayed on the diet, but then if I did have a flare up, I'd wouldn't be able to use the diet as treatment. Also it's impossible — who could live like this long term?
Hope to hear your thoughts; all the best, -Sara S.
Ed’s Response: Success is sweet! Congratulations to you, Sara. You are not only a seasoned traveler of diverse geographies, you’re also a seasoned traveler of diverse P therapies. And it’s about time you came up with a winner.
Hopefully by posting your report here we’re not generating any negative mo-jo. Hopefully your good fortune won’t change! Do stay in touch. -Ed
P.S. - To read everything here about Dr. Tirant’s Psoriasis and Skin Clinic in Australia, use keyword ‘Tirant’ in the homepage search feature.