Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Choose your Doctors Wisely

First off, I must apologise for posting as infrequently as I am at present. I will be sailing across the South Atlantic Ocean in January, competing in the Cape to Rio yacht race from Cape Town, South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Ahead of my departure for the start of that race I am very busy completing as much work as I can and working very long hours. That leaves little time for writing on my Psoriasis Spot blog.

Yesterday I was chatting to someone who had called me to talk about psoriasis. He is very seriously afflicted and is on one of the biologic drugs. I don't use any prescription drugs of any kind because I don't want to intentionally put anything into my body that will weaken my immune system in any way. I believe that weakening my immune system is going to open the doors to all manner of possible infections and one of those infections will be serious enough that it may be the cause of my demise.

I am a very active person and hardly a month goes by that I don't open up a big hole in my skin through some activity or other. Last month it was a collision with my surfboard that left my head bleeding and my left ear ringing for 4 weeks. This month it has been a big gash in my hand when a socket spanner exploded under load while doing a brake job on my wife's car. Both were in situations that can definitely not be described as clean conditions, so infection is a very real possibility. Anyway, you get the message. I am not going to undermine the sterling job that my immune system is doing in protecting me from my own stupidity.

While chatting to this man I asked him about his diet and he told me that his doctor had told him that diet has no effect at all on psoriasis. The doctor put him onto various prescribed medications and eventually onto the biologic drug as a last resort. I agree with this in only one respect. The biologic drug should have been the last resort. But, the last resort option means that you have already tried everything else and none of it worked. The fact that this doctor said that diet does not affect psoriasis means that there was an option that he did not try before choosing the "last resort" drug option. It also means that he is uneducated in the research that has been going on for decades into diet and psoriasis and it means that he has a closed mind to alternatives outside of his drug solutions.

I have a major problem with this. It may come from the fact that I spent most of my life in South Africa, where the doctors are not trained in schools that are heavily sponsored by the drug companies. The result is that in SA the doctors that I was able to choose had an open mind about options outside of the influence of the big drug companies. Here in USA the drug companies hold too much financial influence over the training of the medical profession, so there is a strong leaning toward popping pills and jabbing flesh with hypodermic syringes instead of encouraging healthy eating habits.

I have also noticed that many of the doctors and nurses here really aren't as healthy as they should be. They are health-care professionals and should know what is good and what is bad for people. It is very apparent that many of them don't know, or they really don't care. Whichever it is, I don't want any doctor or nurse who is in self-inflicted bad health to give me any advice about how to treat my body.

If your doctor is unfit, obese, drinks heavily or smokes, why would you want them to look after your health? They obviously don't know how to treat their own bodies and will do no better on yours. I say, walk out the door and find a doctor and nurse who are in prime health to take over your care.

I know that I am not the "average person" when it comes to my health-care habits. I very seldom visit doctors of any description but when I do I want it to be a doctor in whom I have confidence that the advice will be balanced and well considered by someone who knows good health options from bad ones.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sensible Lifestyle Decisions

I have written before on this blog about the need for people to take responsibility for their own health and to make sensible lifestyle decisions. Most of this comes down to educating ourselves about the likely outcome of stuffing all sorts of junk food, sweet drinks, chemicals etc into our bodies and of becoming rolly-poly couch potatoes instead of getting outside into fresh air and sunshine to do some kind of physical activity that will keep our muscles and joints working. It also means having some interests in life outside of the home and away from the TV or computer games.

Beyond that, it also needs this information to be passed on to our children, so that they can live long and healthy lives. This information is passed on by setting a good example and by enforcing standards that are healthy within the home. What kind of parenting is it if a child is allowed to consume whatever tasty snacks they want from the almost infinite variety that the $-hungry food and drink industries have been able to concoct? The child doesn't know what is good or bad, other than what their taste buds are advising them. Don't blame an over-weight 10-year old when their health starts to break down, blame whoever was in charge of them and allowed that to happen.

The manufacturers of those products are somewhat to blame for bringing them to market but don't rely on those factories to have your health at heart, their financial bottom line is all-important to them. They will not change the formulation of their products until their bottom line starts to hurt. The best way to help that happen is to just stop consuming those junk products.

How often don't we hear people say that their excess weight is "in my genes". They are taking the easy way out and blaming their heritage for the bad state of their health. "I come from a long line of chubby people." Another one is "My family is big-boned." No, you come from a long line of people who have passed on unhealthy eating habits and family recipes that have done harm to all of them before you and will continue to do the same to your children and grandchildren and those who will follow them. It will not stop until someone breaks the chain and accepts that it does not need to be that way.

Bad health can come from inherited conditions for those unlucky to inherit those genes but most who use that excuse are simply too uninformed to know better or too stuck in their ways to do do anything about it. A rut is a terrible thing to break out of, in all walks of life. It is easier to continue along the same comfortable route, no matter how much we realise that we should do different, than to make the effort to climb out of that rut onto ground that allows us to travel in whatever direction we want.

I recently met up with a friend while walking my dogs around the neighbourhood. He is my age and does way more exercise than I do. I am more active than than most men of my age but I work very long hours, which cuts deeply into available time for exercise. He is retired and spends much of his day riding his bicycle, walking or in the gym. Despite all that exercise he has a big gut. He said to me "You are so lucky you are so slim, it must be your genes". I told him that I eat healthy and that makes the difference. His response was that he also eats healthy but it doesn't help. I listed my meals for the day, which were oats for breakfast, fruit and salad for lunch and grilled fish with salad and vegetables for dinner. He said "Oh, I don't eat like that" and walked away.

My friend and his wife eat out very often, mostly at all-you-can-eat restaurants, which is likely to be a big part of his problem. My family eats at those same restaurants but we do so as a treat rather than on a regular basis. The danger  is not only a risk of over-eating at the restaurant, to get the best value for money, it is also that you have no control over what is going into your food. Most restaurants in USA use way too much salt and/or sugar in their recipes, both of which are very bad for health if not used in moderation and both contribute to obesity and risks of cancer, diabetes and other serious health issues, if taken in excess.

Eating at home is not going to solve the problem either, if you are in the habit of taking the easy way out by opening cans or TV dinners. Those easy meals are possibly even worse culprits for over-stuffing with salt and sugar. Last night my wife opened a packet of rice/pasta mix to go with salads and the chicken that I had on the grill. The rice dish was OK but it was so salty that I would never buy it. I prefer to cook brown rice with herbs, for a more flavourful dish that is also much more healthy. Salt is not a flavour. A small amount of salt will accentuate flavours but more salt does not add flavour, it only adds bad health and a dry mouth.

This morning my email copy of Bottom Line's Daily Health News arrived in my computer, with two excellent articles related to what I am writing about today. One is Dangerous Food Additives that Sound Safe and the other is The Prescription that's More Important than Some Pill . One deals with all the things that are in pre-prepared food that should or shouldn't be there and the other covers changing your lifestyle for the better instead of popping pills.

My advise is that, no-matter what rut you are in, climb out of it and you will see many more options in front of you. Don't just continue along the way that you are just because that is the way that it has always been. Every day brings new things and opportunities into your world, many of which are out of sight when you have the limited field of vision that results from being in your rut. If your personal rut is the root of ill-health, that is the best reason of all to climb out of it and improve your life.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Betaine Hydrochloride & Psoriasis

Over the past few years my efforts and experiments have gradually improved my psoriasis, to the point that nobody realises that I have the condition unless I show them the few very minor lesions that I have. I have written before on this blog about my testing methods and waiting patiently to see the results.

A few months ago my sister told me that she had been suffereing from vitiligo, a different skin condition that is also rooted in imbalances in the immune system, like psoriasis. She had done some reading about the use of  Betaine Hydrochloride (Betaine HCL) to increase stomach acid and kill off a Helicobactor Pylori (H Pylori) bacteria infection. She was seeing good results.

There is much information on Helicobactor Pylori online but it seems that there is not much that is known about what it does, except that it does increase inflammation in some people, which can lead to cancer and immune system problems. Infection is in the region of 50% of people worldwide, with higher infection rates in developing countries, lower rates in Western countries and varying rates among different population groups. Although there is such a high incidence of infection, few people show signs of illness resulting from it. Some researches speculate that it is actually a beneficial bacteria that does a job inside the digestive system.

There is much info available online if you Google "Helicobactor Pylori & Psoriasis" or "Betaine Hydrochloride & Psoriasis". I won't go into it but my sister saw good results on her vitiligo by supplementing with Betaine HCL so I decided to try it also.

Within a few days of starting with Betaine HCL supplements I started to feel changes in my skin before I could see them. Unfortunately, the changes were itchiness followed by increasing redness and lesion thickness. I persevered with the Betaine HCL supplement for 5 or 6 weeks, on the assumption that, if an H Pylori infection really was the root cause of my psoriasis then I should suffer through the deterioration to kill the infection and reach improvements once the H Pylori was gone.

Unfortunately, the improvement didn't come for me. After two bottles of Betaine HCL capsules I stopped taking them and my skin is now gradually improving again. At no time during the process did my psoriasis become more than mild but it definitely was deteriorating. This is very much in line with my past experience that acid foods aggravated my skin.

So, Betaine Hydrochloride didn't work for me. That does not mean that it won't work for you. There are people who say that it worked for them. Read up on the subject for yourself, you may be one of the lucky ones who can be cured this way. Just beware of those who claim that they have the final answer to cure all psoriasis and other immune conditions for everyone. Such huge claims are normally a clear give-away of someone wanting to separate you from your hard-earned money.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beware, Young People are Growing Older

We have all heard for years that the life-expectancy of modern man is continually increasing and in the future humans can expect to live much longer lives. We also read headlines in periodicals that proclaim that "50 is the new 40" and "60 is the new 50". This is because baby boomers are living healthier and longer lives than their parents did. Some scientists have said that we can possibly live 150 years and more in the future.

This may all be changing. I have read a brief but very interesting article titled "30 Is the New 45" in the June/July issue of ACAnews, the magazine of the American Chiropractic Association. Written by Dr William Morgan, it highlights recent research in Holland into modern adults, who have been followed for 25 years to monitor their health.

The essence of the article is that the trend of increasing lifespan and good health into old-age is changing and is likely to plateau and then start falling. This is all because modern young adults are not eating properly and not exercising enough. The research has found that their bodies are ageing much faster than their parents and even their grandparents. Their bodies at 40 years of age are the equivalent condition of their parents at 55. This is showing up in a massive increase in obesity rates and health conditions like diabetes and heart conditions. This is despite reductions in the number of people who smoke and continually improving medical care and technology.

Those conditions are developing much earlier than in previous generations so those people will die sooner and have more health problems to burden their shorter lives. I guess that a short and unhealthy life may be better than a long unhealthy life but isn't the best option a long life that is filled with good health and happiness?

The numbers are pretty bad and much more so among women than men. They show that obesity has increased 20% among men and a staggering 50% among women, when comparing generations. This latter fact is particularly disturbing because it is the woman of the family who takes care of the entire family and makes the major decisions about what her family will eat. If she can't make sensible food and beverage decisions for herself then what chance is there that she will make good decisions for her family?

I was at a trade show this past weekend and had the opportunity to observe the visitors for three days. Often there were families of three generations roaming around together. For many of them one can see the progression in those three generations, with mother more obese than grand-mother and the children obviously continuing the trend. If the children are being started off so badly in their pre-teens then they are destined to a short life that is filled with bad health.

At this trade show there were also many, many fit and healthy people, men and women who very clearly take good care of themselves, with plenty of exercise and decent food choices. As can be expected, their families looked good as well. Those are the people that can expect to live longer and much more satisfying lives.

What has all this got to do with psoriasis and arthritis? Plenty. Severely excessive body weight and bad food choices impact on all manner of health conditions, including psoriasis and arthritis. Both are conditions that are characterised by inflammation, which is aggravated by bad nutrition. Psoriasis is aggravated by perspiration and chafe, both of which are made worse by having rolls of flesh rubbing against each other. Arthritis is aggravated by the joints having to support more weight than they are intended to carry, wearing out the cartilages and bone surfaces sooner.

We all have to take decisions for ourselves about all aspects of our lives and then we have to live with the results of those decisions. We should not expect society to fix our lives or our bodies when we were just too lazy or too careless to do a proper job of it ourselves. Pumping our children full of absolutely trashy food and sodas because they want it or it is the least hassle for us at the time can only result in seriously diminished quality of life in the future. Why would anybody do that?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nightshades and Arthritis

I have heard rumours for decades that nightshades may be bad for my psoriasis. I have always been willing to experiment with different foods, including those that may help my skin or excluding those that may aggravate it. Somehow I never did experiment with nightshades, possibly because the stories that I heard were just rumours and never backed up by personal experience from any of my friends who had the same health problems.

Most people have either never heard the word nightshade or have heard it but don't have any idea what it means. Nightshades are not the dinky little eye covers that long distance airlines give to their passengers on overnight flights. Nightshades are plants that fall into a group of 2800 different species in the scientific order Polemoniales. They include some fruits and vegetables that one never thinks could be related in any way, yet they all have some common characteristics.  Primarily, they are all related to the tobacco family and all contain varying amounts of nicotine and other alkaloids.

Maybe you don't smoke because you know that nicotine is very bad for your health. Yet you are almost certainly unknowingly consuming nicotine every day in what you eat because of nightshades.

As for the other alkaloids, these are components of nightshades that vary widely in content in these plants but are the reason why all nightshades are considered to be drugs. Alkaloids can have bad effects on nerve-muscle function as well as the digestive system and joints of all animals that consume them. The amount of alkaloids in food are very small, so most humans are not affected. However, people who are sensitive to alkaloids may have very bad effects. Autoimmune diseases are generally rooted in the digestive system, so any food that can deteriorate the digestive system is likely to cause problems.

So, what vegetables are we taking about here, as nightshades? The most common ones are all types of tomatoes, potatoes (normal and sweet varieties), eggplant and all varieties of peppers, from sweet to chili and cayenne species. I have found over the years that tomatoes give me bad reactions with both psoriasis and arthritis but I have still eaten them because of the good effects of lycopene. One of my favourite dishes is an Afrikaner dish that I have cooked regularly in winter. It is a red meat, tomato and potato stew over rice.  I always showed a deterioration the following day or two but this stuff is so good that I lived with the after-effects of a well-loved meal. Red meat plus two nightshades over rice, that is a big mix of bad ingredients for someone with psoriatic arthritis. In future I will keep that for the occasional treat instead of cooking it weekly in winter.

At my weekly surf club meetings many chili peppers are consumed by my friends. I have tried them a couple of times and found that the following day or two my skin breaks out a bit. I had read somewhere that some people consider them to be good for arthritis, so I tried two one evening just to see if they affected my arthritis. They did and not for the better, so I decided to leave them out of my diet.

Lets go back to the bad stuff in nightshades. The alkaloids can block the signals that go back and forth between the nervous system and the muscles. The nervous system is the network via which the brain controls the whole body, so blocked or intermittent signals can cause big problems. These include muscle twitching, trembling, paralyzed breathing and convulsions. They also cause inflammation in the joints and arthritis problems are the result of inflammation.

Follow this link to an excellent article on nightshades and their effects on arthritis.

It is only about 3 weeks since I stopped eating nightshades, so I am still testing the results. Last week I did a surfing/sailing/camping trip for 4 days. I slept on an uncomfortable folding bed and abused my body with long hours of surfing and sailing (3 hours of surfing and 4 hours of dinghy sailing in one day alone). I had not the slightest hint of arthritis pain in those 4 days. Consider that I am no spring chicken, I turned 64 last month.

As I have said elsewhere on this blog, I follow many strategies to help my psoriasis and arthritis. Overall they work. Some will be helping more than others but it can be difficult to sort the good from the really good. Leaving nightshades out of my diet is looking very promising to become one of the best decisions to improve my health and well-being.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is Salt Affecting your Psoriasis?

Here is one that I have not heard of before or even considered it being a possibility. It popped up on my psoriasis radar today and is worth reading, posted on the Daily Health newsletter. Psoriasis is one of the many autoimmune conditions included in this wide range of afflictions that appear to be aggravated by excessive salt intake.

I am not a heavy user of salt and have been reducing its use progressively in the past few years. I use herbs and spices to flavour what I cook instead of relying on masses of salt. I do tend to increase my salt intake to boost my blood pressure on occasions that I sense it dropping but even that does not occur as often as it used to. Supplementing with ginseng complex capsules and CoQ10 capsules has stabilised my heart beat and blood pressure, mostly removing my reliance on salt to serve that function.

Excessive salt consumption is a big problem in the modern world of fast foods and convenience foods. In USA almost all of these foods are packed with ridiculous amounts of salt. I inadvertently bought two cans of Progresso soup a few months ago by picking up the wrong cans. I opened one and it was so unbelievably salty that I couldn't eat it. The can shows that one serving includes nearly 1/3 of the RDA for an entire day's eating. It also says that one seving is only half a can, so my quick and easy can of soup meal is giving me nearly 2/3 of my allowance for the whole day, before I add a couple of slices of bread.

A year ago my ladies took me for a birthday treat to Red Lobster, knowing my love of seafoods. Everything that we ordered was so salty that we have not been back.

A little salt is nice to draw out the natural flavours but why would I, or anybody else, want the salt to be the main flavour? Excess salt kills the natural flavours of the food. When it has been absorbed into the cells of your body it holds water, so you gain weight, encouraging other health issues.

So, I encourage you to cut down on salt intake. Instead use antioxidant herbs and spices to flavour your cooking. They will fight inflammation and, at the same time, reduce the harm that is being done by salt. Double the health benefit and at little cost.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stress-relief from Meditation

We all have stress in our lives, some more so than others. I realised many years ago the toll that stress was taking on my health and decided to do what I could to reduce stress. I changed my whole lifestyle in a way that few people can. Most others think that I now have an ideal stress-free life, my own boss, working from home and with very flexible hours that allow me to surf or sail when it suits me. A surfing acquaintance once told me that, unlike me, he had to earn a living so had to leave the beach. I told him that I also had to work and would be doing so until midnight to reclaim the hours spent surfing that day.

Being your own boss with your own micro business brings its own stresses that someone with a secure salary from a corporate or government job cannot comprehend. I have not known from one week to the next what my income would be for that month for nearly 30 years. Not knowing if you can pay the mortgage or some other big expense can be extremely stressful. Balancing a sorely-needed new computer against a repair needed on the car or the house when there is no way to predict with any accuracy how much money will be available is sure to raise the stress levels.

So, as I said, we all have stress to contend with. Recent research into the effects of stress has shown that stress causes inflammation. And anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows my opinions about inflammation. It is the root cause of psoriasis, arthritis and other auto-immune conditions and I do what I can to minimise inflammation in my system. You can read about the meditation research in a Daily Health News article written by Tamara Eberlein. It highlights the stress-relieving benefits of mindfulness meditation and the resulting reductions in inflammatory response in the body. The article includes links to more information about this type of meditation, which is very simple and easy to do almost anywhere and anytime.

So, I have added mindfulness meditation as another implement in my toolbox to help me to eradicate inflammation from my body.

Friday, April 12, 2013

More Thoughts on Inflammation

I have written a few times about the benefits of a diet that is high in anti-oxidant foods and supplements. Anti-oxidants get rid of the dangerous free-radicals in our bodies and to which our immune systems react and create inflammation. Removing or reducing the free-radicals tones down the response of the auto-immune system so also reduces the inflammation.

Psoriasis lesions (spots, patches etc) are inflammation of the skin. Arthritis is inflammation in the joints. Research has shown that those of us who have these conditions don't only have inflammation in those areas, that inflammation can show up almost anywhere within the body, hidden away where we don't see it. This hidden inflammation can only be seen on X-Rays and other imaging devices that can see inside the body, unless they show up as lumps. I have such a lump on my left Achilles tendon, which can give me very bad pain if I wear shoes that press on it or if I knock it on anything.

There is a proven connection between psoriasis and various other conditions aside from arthritis, like diseases of the heart or liver. Some of them are not only conditions that make life uncomfortable, some of them are potentially lethal, so we should do all that we can to reduce the problem and its effects on our lives.

I don't mean that we must jump headlong into the latest unpronounceable product brought out by the drug companies; the drugs that they offer almost always have side-effects, some of which can be worse than the conditions that they are supposed to be treating. I mean that we must do our best to stop dumping unhealthy food into our digestive systems. Most junk food is inflammatory, so stop eating it. Sodas are highly inflammatory, find something more healthy to drink, like filtered water and herbal teas, without loads of sugar or other bad ingredients. It is OK to have these things occasionally but many people live on nothing but junk food.

I know that I have a heart condition. I have had an irregular heartbeat from about the same time that my psoriasis and arthritis appeared about 30 years ago. If I allow my blood pressure to get too low then I feel the irregular rhythms in my chest and know that I must eat or drink something to get my pressure up and the rhythms regular again or I may soon be on the floor. I need to look after my heart but am not prepared to live like an invalid or on drugs.

I can see the obvious signs of inflammation on my skin and my tendon but I can't see it anywhere else that it may be in my body. Other than having X-Rays, I have to find another way to judge how I am doing with my fight against inflammation that could be damaging my internal organs. I use the condition of my skin for that purpose.

Topical creams and lotions have obvious benefits in treating the skin lesions from the outside and getting rid of itches, redness and scaling. They can even reduce the inflammation in the layers of the skin, to make the lesions disappear completely. What they cannot do, though, is to remove any inflammation elsewhere in the body. That has to be treated from within. My tactic has developed over the years to one of treating as much as possible from the inside through diet, with some support from topical treatments on the outside.

If we treat only what we see on the surface then the other locations of inflammation, like the heart, liver and joints, are going untreated and will eventually present insurmountable problems.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PSO Medis Body Cream

I was recently sent a sample pot of a product of which I had not heard before. It is PSO Medis Body Cream, supplied by Kamedis Bio-Herbal Skin Care. I visited their website to read about their products before accepting the offered sample and it looked interesting to test.

Their products are made from plant extracts with anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties. I won't go into the details, you can read those on their website. This post is intended to give readers a preliminary report of what I experienced with PSO Medis.

I received the product a few weeks ago and next day stopped my normal regimen of light topical applications of tar and hydro-cortisone on my lesions, each applied once daily in rotation. Instead I started to use the PSO Medis twice daily and watched for changes. Part-way through I had a trip abroad and carelessly left the unfinished pot of PSO Medis in my hotel room when I left for home. It prevented me from fully completing my test but I had used enough of it to get a good feel for the product.

It is an unusual cream, almost more like an ointment than a cream and it seems slightly fibrous in texture. This means that it doesn't spread smoothly like a true cream but it does rub in quite well. It is air force blue in colour and I found that it needs to be applied very lightly and well rubbed in, otherwise the blue colour makes it look much like light bruising if any is left on the skin.

I experienced a very rapid improvement in itching. I am quite tolerant of my psoriasis itch and, while I seldom scratch it, I can feel it somewhere or other on my body much of the time. Some people have an itch from their psoriasis and others feel it as a pain. I read recently that the sensations of itch and pain are carried through the body by different nerves. I have always described mine as a painful itch, so I don't know how that sensation is carried through my nervous system. After I applied PSO Medis to my spots, all feelings of itch/pain disappeared within minutes.

The moisturising ingredients also seemed to work very well. All signs of dryness on my skin disappeared while I was using it.

By the time that I lost my pot of PSO Medis, I had not yet established whether my lesions were expanding or contracting due to the change in treatment. However, since then there have been definite improvements that may have been initiated by the PSO Medis. I felt encouraged enough by the initial results to pay for another pot of the same product. I will have that next week and will continue with my testing.

The USA suppliers of the products have given me a discount code that can be used by any of my readers. Go to the Kamedis Shop and select your products. When checking out with your order, enter the code K883S1XFA41C to receive a 30% discount off the cost of the products. Try it for yourself. I will post again when I have used it longer and have a clearer feeling for the benefits over a longer period.

Please note that I have no financial relationship with the makers nor distributors of these products. I receive no incentives except that they sent me a free initial sample. I only report my experiences and all others must ascertain the safety and suitability of the products for themselves.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spinal Update

I have written before about my history of back pain and what I was doing in my attempts to improve it. Here is a summary of what I have been doing.

  1. Supplemented with glucosamine/chondroitin for about 15-20 years and changed about 5 years ago to a brand that includes small amounts of hyaluronic acid.
  2. Increased my intake of hyaluronic acid considerably about 4 months ago.
  3. Started hanging from an exercise bar and doing pull-ups (chin-ups) on that bar multiple times each day a few months ago.
  4. Increased my core exercises to strengthen my back and abdominal muscles. Although I am an active person, I don't do enough of this type of exercise when there is a long period without surfing or sailing.
  5. Increased the twisting type of stretch exercises that I do first thing each morning, to make my spine and supporting muscles more supple.
  6. Attempt to sit straight whenever possible, rather than slouched.
  7. Sit less often with legs crossed. When I do cross my legs I make sure to sometimes cross left over right and other times right over left. This was because my spine became distorted by always crossing left over right. To remedy this distortion I crossed right over left for about 2 years, which was uncomfortable until my spine straightened to the point that I now feel no difference either way.
  8. Stand up and walk around as often as possible when working or travelling. I have also gotten into the habit of standing instead of sitting when I have to be in one place for a long time.
  9. Stand squarely on both feet, with my weight evenly distributed and my hips straight. I used to stand with hips cocked and more weight on one foot than the other. This added to my spine alignment problems.
The results of these changes have been excellent. My back now feels stronger than it has for many years.  For the first time in decades I have minimal discomfort when I get out of bed in the morning. That minor discomfort is gone within 2 minutes of standing up. I used to sit on the bed to pull on my socks because of back pain. Now I can stand on one leg, bent over with my other knee against my chest while I pull on socks.

On my way downstairs I stop and do 5 pull-ups on my bar. I do my stretches and exercises before I sit down to work. Almost every time that I go upstairs, maybe 8-10 times each day, I do another 5 pull-ups, including last thing at night before getting into bed. Each time I hear pops in my back as it pulls back into alignment. My back no longer hurts when I stand up after sitting for a long time but I continue the habit of standing and walking as often as possible. Overall, my changes have made a big difference.

My wife also hangs on the bar but less often than I do. She doesn't have the upper body strength to hang for long nor to do pull-ups. Still, it is helping her back problems and sciatica as well, with reduced pain. It may be that older women would benefit more from using an inversion table to stretch the spine if they cannot hang comfortably from an exercise bar.

It is for everyone to experiment for themselves to find what works best for them. What I have done works well for me and may do the same for you.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Another view on Psoriasis

I have exchanged emails with Brian Eiland for a few years. He also works in the boating industry but in a different way from me and on a different continent. Only recently did we come to know that we both have psoriasis. Brian sent me an email a few weeks ago detailing his own self-treatment of his psoriasis and other skin issues. I am posting that email below, as written, as a guest post on my blog. Brian's methods differ from my own in some respects but I am including all of what he said, so that you can decide for yourself what to try and what to leave alone. Please note that I am only passing on this information, not endorsing it or otherwise.


Like you Dudley I spent quite a lot of time out in the sun as a result of boating and the boat business. I am fair complexion and was red headed in my youth.

At one point about 40 yrs of age I developed a scaly rash that covered much of my upper body, but particularly my arms and hands,....even the palms of my hands. I went to a dermatologies and they ran numerous test on me to try and determine some allergy. They gave me some shots of cortisone and a prescription for cortisone tablets. This was affective, but only as long as I continued to take the tablets and get shots every once in a while. They never did 'discovered' the thing that might be causing this skin reaction.

So one weekend I was down in OC MD racing catamarans, and I woke up with a little bit of a hangover (partying the night before...ha...ha). I'm having breakfast and a friend hands me an article in the local paper that discusses skin problems. Basically it says that sun exposure and alcohol consumption both act to deplete the vitamin B in your skin. That was an 'Ah Ha' moment for me. I was guilty of both sins.
I began to take Vitamin B in a regular fashion, and stopped the cortisone. It worked. To this day if I ever see that scaly condition starting to return (and often it starts between my fingers) I simply start with a heavier does of Vitamin B. Of course at my older age I don't spend as much time out in the sun, so it comes up much less often.
Of course the dermatologist emphasized an unscented soap. I used that for years, basically a unscented bar soap. But after I married my Thai wife she purchased some 'body wash' for me. I use this all the time now, even in a scented form......and not even the expensive ones. I use the very basic one offered by CVS. It keeps my skin much more subtle than ANY of the bar soaps offered.
There was one almond scented one I liked very much, but I don't see so often now. And speaking of Almonds I think they are suppose to be good for your skin? Turns out I really like almond flavored pastries in my older age. Maybe that helps with my skin as well?
I still get little bouts with psoriasis on occasions, particularly around my neck and ears and eyebrows. It got particularly bad during the past 5 years. I went to see another dermatologist, and this time was prescribed a cream called Triamcinolone 0.1%. This stuff works like magic for me.
Whenever I am having an attack, I put some of this on for several days, and eventually the redness and flakiness goes away. Often I can remain free of this condition for months now.
I am at the beginning of diabetes so I have some skin conditions associated with that, particularly in my legs and feet, and particularly in the winter months when the skin is so dry. My fingertips can get particularly dry and cracked in the winter. I have found that a 100% Lanolin Cream is a wonderful help. This is also available at CVS in small tubes,....and it goes a long way with just a small application.
And finally my last 'home remedy'.....H2O2 hydrogen peroxide.
I am concerned about skin cancer somewhere down the line. I believe I have already suffered from some 'pre-cancerous' spots on my skin. A number of years ago I read that cancerous cells need an oxygen supply (those tumors need a blood supply from which to source oxygen). Turns out they don't like too little oxygen, NOR too much oxygen !! So I began to think where I could source 'too much' oxygen easily,....why not hydrogen peroxide which is water with an extra oxygen attached, that it gives up easily??
Most us of know of 'traditional' H2O2 that you purchase at most stores,...that is at most 3% stuff. I wanted HI-TEST. I got some 35% stuff from a health food store and I keep a bottle in the freezer to preserve it. Now the full 35% stuff will practically burn your skin, so I dilute it to about half that strength, ...that is what I dab on my suspect skin spots most of the time. Occasionally I will use the full strength stuff. You need to be careful not to get it on any skin (including fingertips) other than that spot you want to treat. I use a Q-tip to apply, then throw it away so I don't accidentaly touch the other end.
I have eliminated some moles, some warts, and some definite pre-cancerous lesions on my skin. Those 'wayward cells' truly do NOT like too much oxygen. Some wayward cells might take repeated applications once or twice a day for a week. 
I have also experienced one failure to attack a pre-cancerous growth on my leg. After I had it surgically cut out I could see why my hydrogen peroxide method may not have worked. It was a very deep cone structure, so I believe what I was doing was attacking the surface cells (which appeared to be working), but I was not getting to the deeper cells in that cone structure. I have given thoughts to using a needle to inject some H2O2 into that core structure the next time, but I don't care much for needles....ha...ha. We will see, the next time.
Regards, Brian

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Cost of Psoriasis Treatment

University of California, Davis dermatologist Dr. April Armstrong has done research using data from the files of the National Psoriasis Foundation into various aspects of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and how these conditions affect the lives of the more than 5,600 people analysed. Read about it here. 

One of the interesting things to come out of it is the high cost of treatment. 91% Of those studied have some sort of private or public health insurance. Despite that, out of pocket costs for co-pays and other costs are more than $2,500 per year for most patients and can be upward of $600 per month, or more then $7,200 per year. That is an awful lot of money to pay out for treatment, aside from what is being paid by the insurance. That can add a whole lot to the misery that you might feel from fighting these conditions.

We each have to fight it in our own way and I only really know the way that I find best for me. That is to fight it primarily by eating a very healthy diet and living a very healthy lifestyle. I don't smoke and I consume very little alcohol or sodas, all of which can have major detrimental effects on both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

You have to deal with it in the way that you can manage. But, if you are one of those people paying out enormous sums of money to doctors and specialists then your health insurance is likely paying out even larger amounts. If, while this is going on, you are abusing your body by eating all sorts of highly processed or junk food, smoking and drinking large amounts of alcohol or sodas, then think about what you are paying out unnecessarily.

We often hear the argument that it is too expensive to eat healthy, that junk or convenience food is so much cheaper and easier. Add onto your food costs for whatever you are paying out to the medical profession to treat you and that junk food is no longer so cheap. This doesn't only apply to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, it also applies to many other conditions that are affected by diet. Many of them are self-inflicted conditions, brought on by over-eating and by eating cheap junk food.

Everyone complains about the high cost of medical insurance and of medical treatment. A major factor in the high cost of insurance is so many people refusing to take personal responsibility for the state of their bodies. We can't help it if we are born with a genetic problem that leads to a disease or health problem but we can help it if we abuse our bodies into bad health. If we do that we should not expect those who do look after themselves properly to help carry the cost of treatment.

So, please rethink the way that you eat. Work hard to clean up your bad dietary habits, get more exercise and get out into the sunshine more often. Your body and your wallet may both benefit from the changes.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Helpmekaar - Soap for Psoriasis

I am going to start a series of posts called "Helpmekaar". This is an Afrikaans word meaning "help each other".

We need to exchange information between us, to tell each other what we find helps or aggravates our psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. There are so many possible causes and factors that affect how these conditions affect each of us that we all respond differently to treatments, products and even weather conditions. What helps one person may not help the next.

I have found various ways to ease my symptoms, even to sometimes make them go away completely. Many of you have found other ways to achieve similar results. Yet, few of us manage to remain totally clear of symptoms permanently. It may be because we become lax and fall back into our previous bad habits or it may be because the particular treatment that we are using has a limited shelf-life, after which it is no longer effective and we have to move on to try something different. It may be that if we combine what we have found good for ourselves with what someone else has found good, we may stumble onto something that works to our benefit more permanently.

For whatever reason, we can only benefit from reading what others are doing and finding successful. So, I am inviting you to share with us what it is that you do that works for you, to alleviate your psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. Some of it will be purely relief from unpleasant symptoms, other may be getting deeper, into the root causes of these conditions, deep within our bodies. It just depends on the particular aspect that is under consideration at the time.

For each post in this series I will kick it off with what I am doing at the time or have done in the past. What I am doing might be good but may not necessarily be the best that I could do, likewise for you. I hope that many people will respond with their stories. This first one deals with body soap, as in the kind of soap that you use to shower or bath.

I have used various kinds of bath soap over the past 30 years. Popular wisdom is that we must use mild and unscented soaps and I have found this to be true. The one that I finally settled on as the most beneficial to me is Olay Ultra Moisture white bar with Shea Butter. This is a gentle soap that softens any light scaling that I may have at the time, allowing me to "roll it off", leaving sound and undamaged skin behind. It leaves a layer of oil on my skin as well, moisturising it to increase flexibility and prevent it drying out. That reduces itching, so overall my affected skin feels much better and more normal. Soap can dry out your skin, so using a moisturising soap is much better for psoriasis lesions.

Some of the high-end soaps that are supposed to be gentle are not really so gentle if you have psoriasis. I tried Pears soap years ago. I don't remember the exact effects but they were strong enough that I only used one bar and then changed to another brand.

Please post your story as a comment below this post.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Food Combining for Health

I have written before on this blog about the dangers of mixing the wrong foods together. Read about it in my post "Watch What You Mix". Thoughts of that were brought back into mind when I read an excellent article on the same subject, titled "Don't Eat Chicken with Rice" by Carole Jackson of Daily Health News.

I have long been aware of the health dangers of mixing sugars and protein, so I try to have sweet things like fruit, fruit juice etc before a meal rather than after it and leave a big gap between the main meal and desert. If we go out to dinner I seldom have desert because I can't separate the two by anywhere near enough time for it to be healthy.

What I have not really taken into account, though, was a similar problem with starchy food. I don't know why I didn't make the connection, I just didn't apply enough of my brain cells to the problem even though I knew the answer all along. I remember clearly in about Grade 4 or 5 the teacher of our hygiene class telling us that saliva converts starch into sugar, so we must chew our breakfast cereal thoroughly to mix it with saliva, which would start the digestive process even before it reached our stomachs. For some reason that memory kept recurring in my brain ever since, which has been a long, long time. Obviously my sub-conscious mind was trying to tell my conscious mind that this is important, so please pay attention. The Carole Jackson article made the final connection to get me to take note.

Sugars are simple carbohydrates and starches are complex carbohydrates. Ptyalin and amylase in saliva convert complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and move quickly though the digestive system. They should not be consumed with or after anything that is tough to digest, which is exactly the case with any kind of animal protein.

Animal protein takes a long time to go through the digestive system and it holds back any sugars that are with it or behind it in the queue. The sugars complete their digestive process quickly but can't get to where they can be absorbed into the blood stream. They sit around in the warm and cosy intestine and start to ferment, which produces toxins. While they are hanging around waiting, they cause bloating, heartburn and other very uncomfortable sensations. When the animal protein finally gets to where it can be absorbed into the blood stream, the fermented sugars and toxins go with it into the body.

I am a lover of stews and casseroles, generally containing potatoes and other vegetables, along with some pork or chicken and served on a nice bed of brown rice or yellow rice. I also love grilled salmon on rice and with a pile of steamed veggies. Now I realise that this is a toxic mix and may be contributing to my psoriasis symptoms. I must ditch either the animal protein or the starch from these combinations.

Although I don't have a lot of animal protein, I don't really want to go vegetarian. So, I must rather watch my food combining more carefully. The Carole Jackson article has some good advice on healthy combinations and has a link to an easy-reference food-combining chart. Basically, eat sugars and starches together or with vegetables. Eat animal proteins by themselves or with non-starchy, non-sugary vegetables.

You need only keep these basic principles in mind to modify your normal recipes and come up with slightly different ways to create tasty interesting meals.