By Niamh O’Connell
I have been dealing with an autoimmune disease for the last 18 years. Beginning as a simple case of psoriasis on my elbows, with patches on my abdomen and legs – when it spread to joint pain and inflammation, I realised I have psoriatic arthritis, a condition which runs in my family and has severely debilitated a family member, impacting their quality of life and necessitating long-term steroid treatment.
At it’s worst I had an inflamed knuckle on my left index finger, hot and sore and visibly knobbly. I had pains every morning in my feet and left hip, my knees and toes cracked when I walked and going upstairs was painful. The psoriasis on my torso spread and became unsightly and itchy. It affected my confidence and energy levels, and with two young children at the time I was determined to take charge of my condition.
I did a lot of research and made a homemade herbal ointment to treat my psoriasis patches and the sore joints. I realised my diet was causing the inflammation, and cut back on sugar, alcohol and caffeine, which were my worst triggers. I increased my intake of EFA’s and omega 3s, in the form of Flaxseed oil as I am vegetarian, and I found the joint pain decreased. I ensured I drank enough water, as I was tandem feeding I was prone to dehydration which made my symptoms worse. I used Ayurvedic principles and avoided chilli and very spicy foods while adding turmeric to my diet in the form of turmeric tea and as an ingredient in main meals. I also cut out the nightshade family from my diet (tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers etc) which helped too.
My training as a Nutrition and Lifestyle coach consolidated this experience and gave me a lot of explanations for the processes I had undergone, reducing inflammation, gut healing and making sustainable changes among the most important.
I am now free from symptoms, and I consider myself to have this condition under control. If I neglect my diet for a few weeks the joint pain returns in my hands and feet, and I will develop a patch of psoriasis on my abdomen. So I return to my healing protocol and the symptoms disappear again. I consider it a delicate balance, with the scales tipping one way and the other as my self-care waxes and wanes. As a busy working mother I try to prioritise self-care and awareness and keep an eye on my health so I can provide the best care to my family.
I will be sharing this story in my talk about “Autoimmune conditions and Diet” at the annual Reynaud’s and Scleroderma conference on June 29th in Co. Cork. This is a great day of support and knowledge sharing and also suitable for people living with Lupus.
I hope this story has inspired those of you with inflammatory or autoimmune conditions. I aim to share my knowledge and experience with my clients at The Wellness Clinic, so they can manage their own health issues through dietary and lifestyle changes with natural remedies and pharmaceutical medications only where necessary.
If you have any queries about your own condition I offer a free 20 minute Skype session to discuss working together one-on-one, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book yours now.