Thursday, January 19, 2006

Okay. Confession. I've got a funky fingernail.

My left ring fingernail was broken off way down into the quick about a year back. I was putting a book on the bottom shelf at the library and hit my nail on the edge of the shelf and it broke off about 1/4". (Ouch, needless to say. That is, the nail broke. Not the shelf...) It never healed correctly and I probably got some kind of germ in there since it was so weak and exposed. For a year or more now I've had a U-shaped white part on that fingernail.

I thought I had just permanently damaged that nail and it would never see normalcy again. But the doctor told me it was most likely a type of fungus, which would be very hard to treat. I could buy this prescription stuff that insurance wouldn't cover, that would cost about $100/month, and I'd have to use it for at least a year ($1,200+) and it might work, and it would probably damage my kidneys. Or I could buy the OTC version which was not as strong (and wouldn't be as likely to damage my kidneys) but probably wouldn't work at all. Nope, sorry, I'm just not going for that. I'm not a medicine kind of girl.

But I discovered on my own that tea tree oil is a very good anti-fungal/-bacterial, and at the recommendation of the local pharmacist, I could use that along with iodine twice a day on the nail. Use the iodine first, let it dry, then put the tea tree oil on, morning and evening. I'll be the first to tell you that iodine makes a mess and takes a long time to dry. Not to mention that the bottle quite plainly says that as iodine dries, it makes a seal over the skin to protect it as it heals. So that seal-thing there, doesn't it therefore keep the tea tree oil from penetrating?? Seemed to. And besides, I don't want those germs sealed in there! I want them out!

Don't get me wrong, I love that pharmacist and she has some great suggestions from a viewpoint I agree with (mostly), but that whole program took too much time and I wasn't seeing results. She had said it would take a long time to recover from a nail problem like mine.

Needless to say, I had kind of skipped that regimen and hadn't been doing much to my nail. It was slowly growing deeper. Occasionally I would think to rub a little tea tree oil on it, but I wasn't faithful about it and there wasn't very much progress. But I was beginning to become a little self-conscious about the whole nail fungus thing and didn't like how I was always trying to hide that finger from sight. (Besides, someday (maybe) I might (perhaps) need to wear a ring on that finger, and I don't want to have an ugly nail with a pretty diamond. It just doesn't match.)

Then about 2 weeks ago I developed a tiny spot of ringworm on my left forearm. Don't know how or where I got it, but it was there. I pulled out The Prescription for Nutritional Healing (I love that book!) and when I looked up ringworm, it was classified along with nail infections as a candida-overgrowth. Hmm... connection here? I think so.

As it turns out, candida, which is a normally good bacteria, can become a parasite if it is fed the wrong things, primarily breads and sugars (even fruits) in my case. Yep, good ol' carbs. Actually bread is my biggest weakness, second only to sugars! (I had been trying not to eat so much sugar. But whole grain bread and fruits- that's healthy!! Right?? (Yes, in moderation.))

I had a few other symptoms of candida overgrowth as well, but I would never have guessed that they were related. Cold hands and feet? Who'd a thunk it?

I started looking at some herbal remedies for yeast overgrowth/parasites and came across which has an article describing in detail a diet and supplement regimen for conquering this. (Not to mention the fact that you can conveniently purchase the products from their site. I didn't do that, though; I'd have to wait for them to arrive before I could even start! I went to some local stores and bought what I wanted in person.)

So for thirty days now while I follow the diet I can't have any fruits but lemons, limes, cranberries and an occasional grapefruit. No breads period, and only millet, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice (and later, rye) if I have to have a grain. No soft drinks (I didn't drink them anyway) or fruit juice. No green peppers, sweet potatoes, no starch, no gluten, no cheese... It's a pretty long list. But I can still have quite a bit of things- vegetables as long as they're not on the bad list, nuts and seeds (except peanuts), plain rice milk (yummy!), and plain yogurt, things like that.

I am supplementing the diet with a lemon juice/water drink first thing in the morning and last thing at night, drinking a tablespoon of ground flaxseed in water in the AM and PM, taking Superfood, garlic, echinacea, acidophilus, oregano oil, and a tincture of black walnut, wormwood, and cloves (a parasite cleanse), at various times during the day. I periodically apply tea tree oil to the nail directly and massage it in and under the nail.

After the 30 days I'll gradually start reintroducing some breads and fruits. I'll try to stay sugar-free (as in, nothing sweet but my fresh fruit), and keep on my garlic pills for another 30 days.

I've been on the diet since Sunday, and the supplement regimen since Tuesday, and I'm already seeing an improvement. The nail is slowly growing back to where it shoud be. I've got a ways to go, and I may need to repeat this process later on, but first we'll see just how much can happen in 30 days.

So basically the allopath (regular) doctor and the naturopathic-minded pharmacist both recommended that I treat the nail itself. Neither suggested that I find a cause for the problem, and get rid of that. (Have I told you that I hate symptom-treating?!?!)

If the problem lies in the fact that I have a candida parasite, which manifested itself in the weakened fingernail, then strengthening the nail alone does not solve the problem. Who's to say I wouldn't (don't) have other problems from yeast/parasites? If I get the root of the problem under control I'll be better off all-around and for a longer time. Treating the nail, keeping the candida, might have led me into a never-ending cycle of fingernail (and ringworm, or worse) problems.


Blogger Sabine said...

Oh, Jessica! I was wondering what was going on in your life lately.

Restricting your diet like that is quite a challenge. I hope it clears everything up. At least it's healthy and can only be beneficial. I know it's trying though. I have a lot of food sensitivities and live with a restricted diet myself.

How are you doing with your dream of having a sewing business?

1/19/2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger Samara said...

Fascinating! Natural wellness/medicine & herbology is something that I've long been interested in but know very little about. Please let us know how the treatment is going :)

1/19/2006 11:38 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Thanks for your comments, Sabine and Samara. So far so good; I am already noticing an improvement. The nail is slowly growing back bit by bit. The diet is a little restricting, but I figure that in the grand scheme of things I'd rather go full-force for 30 days and see how much progress I can make, than to have to keep up with harmful medicine (and eat "normally") for years to see a slow improvement.
Thankfully I don't have any regular food allergies/sensitivities except for milk. It gives me a lot of congestion, especially in the back of my throat. Cheese and other products don't affect me so badly, and yogurt gives me no problem at all. (Well and sugar is bad for me too, it gives me headaches right away.) The hardest thing about this diet is that I can't have fruits. I can talk myself out of eating treats and goodies, but a big bowl of fresh berries or a banana are awfully appealing right now! It'll come in time, though, right? : )
I kind of view this diet in an "Iron Chef" style (do they have that show in Canada, Sabine?): Here are the foods I am allowed to have, now- how many ways can I fix my meals before I get tired of them? So it's a fun challenge.

1/20/2006 7:30 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

My sewing business is going pretty well so far. (Thanks for asking!) I've finished a skirt for one client (a girl from my church) and I'm currently working with a lady I know from the library. She's supposed to deliver her fabric on Tuesday and I can get started on a skirt for her. I still have a long to-do list before I'm actually "official" but I'm getting there!

1/20/2006 7:31 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Thanks for the very interesting post, Jessica :).

I had a yeast skin condition on my midsection and underarms a few summers ago, reoccurring the following summer as well. It was orangeish, flaky, and patchy. It was irritated by heat (hence the summer appearance). I dropped my sugar and bread intake also, although not as strictly as you are doing, and took a natural supplement called "yeast-away" (?), I think. It didn't come back again, so I guess that did the trick :).

1/20/2006 8:52 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

That's interesting too, Susan. I've heard of Candida Clear; I wonder if it's similar to Yeast Away... I probably would've picked up something like that when I went to the store last Tuesday but they were out. I have heard that yeast is sometimes more active/bothersome in the heat. It's not been exactly cold here, but it's definitely not hot! I'm thankful for that.
I'm glad you're yeast problem is gone now- and you are too I bet!
I'll be e-mailing you soon; I haven't forgotten : )

1/21/2006 9:33 AM  
Blogger Sabine said...

I just received my sweet new aprons today, Jessica. Thank you so much for all the care and detail you put into them. I wore one today while working in the kitchen. I hope your sewing business goes well and that you will enjoy it.

Yes, we have the Iron Chef shows here, too. The funny thing is that they were inspiring me to try new dishes with the foods I can eat. The internet is such a good source of recipes, too.

1/24/2006 12:23 AM  

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