I have arthritis. My rheumatologist thinks it’s psoriatic arthritis because of my eczema history, even though I have the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – pain and inflammation in all my joints on both sides of my body. That’s by the by.
First, let’s get to the facts. Here are my inflammation blood test markers* –
C-Reactive Protein (C-RP) and
Erythrocyte Sediment Rate (ESR):
April 2018 Blood Test.
C-RP : 8.1
C-RP should be 3; 10 you need hospitalisation.
My ESR was not tested.
C-RP : 2.1 (normal - aiming for zero)
ESR : 6 (normal – it was 27 in March 2020)
How did I manage to reduce my pain and inflammation levels? A caveat is that, even though my blood tests showed a massive improvement in my inflammation levels, it was only from June 2020 that I could physically SEE my inflammation coming down in my most stubborn joints.
How did I get here? It all started with a cake of Dove Shea Butter soap that I bought in October 2018, as I thought it would better moisturise my dry skin than the original Dove soap I had been using since about 1998, after I had been diagnosed with Nummula Eczema - all other natural soaps irritated my skin.
If I look back on this journey, I can divide it into 2 phases, which was not my intention - it is just how it evolved, due to my ignorance and misplaced fear;
- Managing pain
- Managing inflammation
When did it all start?
In January 2018, I woke up in the middle of the night with pain in my right knee. Pain had never woken me up before. It happened again and again and then moved to my left knee. I had no clue what was happening to me. I was at that stage in about month 13 of my right frozen shoulder (it lasts 18 months). I called my physician who tested me for gout (I have had an on/off relationship with gout since 1974). There was a marginal decrease in pain, which didn’t last long. The pain had moved to my ankles, wrists, fingers, elbows, shoulders and hips. Then to my feet and toes. My physician told me to see a rheumatologist which I did in April 2018. She ordered blood tests and offered me a cortisone injection which I declined. She said I was making it much harder on myself. I saw her in August again when I begged her for the cortisone injection as I was in extreme pain and found it difficult to sleep and work. I had increased my daily strength of anti inflammatories from Arcoxia 90 to Arcoxia 120. She told me to immediately stop taking Arcoxia 120 as that high strength of prolonged use could cause heart attacks or strokes. I went back to the 90 strength.
The blood tests taken in April showed that I tested negative for osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, so, because of my history of eczema, the deduction was that I have psoriatic arthritis. One of the blood tests, C- Reactive Protein (C-RP) measures inflammation in the body: 3 is normal, 10 means you have very serious issues. Mine was 8.1.
She prescribed Methotrexate, a chemo agent. I was hesitant to take it but as I was in desperate pain, I took the first weekly dose. I reacted terribly to the drug – it wrecked me and it wrecked my guts. In fact, I had to take one of my dietary supplements from the beehive, Gastomel, to fix my digestive system.
Let me say this that, if I had no major side effects from the Methotrexate, I would not have had this two year journey and I would not be talking to you about it; I would be taking Methotrexate if it reduced pain and inflammation..
I took stock of my situation. I realised I was now on my own and had to find my own path to manage my arthritis. I would continue taking anti inflammatories until I didn’t need to anymore.
In October 2018, I saw that Dove soap had a new one, called Shea Butter soap. As I have a dry and sensitive skin, I bought a bar to try. After showering, I noticed a slight decrease in pain levels. After a couple of days I realised that the only thing I had changed was my soap. That got me thinking. My diagnosis was psoriatic arthritis; the eczema diagnosis of 1997, as per my rheumatologist was probably psoriasis. 30% of people who have psoriasis end up with psoriatic arthritis. If I treat my skin, will that help manage my arthritis?
I decided to see a functional doctor, for a cortisone injection and to get guidance on what natural stuff to take.
In early January 2019, I saw a functional doctor who was very curious about my ‘treating my skin’ theory. He gave me a cortisone injection which I needed to start me on my natural journey. I bought joint restore supplements, Omega 3 and others. None helped but Omega 3 is an important one to take (which I still do).
I was doing a promotion in that same month for my dietary supplements from the beehive when I met a delightful young lady promoting her elixirs. I told her about my theory of managing my arthritis by treating my skin. She is a biological scientist and had worked in the labs at a medical cannabis lab. She told me that they have a Shea Butter with Cannabis Cream which should help my arthritis. It provided instant relief! I spent 40 minutes each night after my shower, “oiling my joints”. Arduous but it did reduce the pain levels.
At more or less the same time, my feet were telling me that they wanted stimulation. I went to a pharmacy chain and asked for inner soles with rubber spikes that I could put in my shoes. They didn’t have but they had a foot massage spa for less than R300. I bought it. It helped me in those early stages of treatment and still does. In fact, soon after using it, I found that I could more easily stand up after being on the toilet i.e. my legs would hold me. Nowadays, it also helps to reduce the inflammation in the pads under my feet at my toes. I use it once or twice a week depending on my physical work load.
In March or April of 2019, I met another person who was producing a cream called Quantum Gold that has C60 as an ingredient. She told me about C60 and how it could help my arthritis and that I could get it at a particular health shop. I was doing a promo there a few days later, so I picked up a brochure which, when I got home I realised was the wrong one; the brochure was about PlasmaTech and how it could help pain and inflammation. I called Julie Beattie of PlasmaTech and met her. She told me about Theraphi, and the PlasmaTech range of products that deal with pain and inflammation. I asked her about C60, which she also sells. It is an experimental remedy that is a very potent anti oxidant and anti inflammatory. I think she noticed my hesitancy and suggested that I start with the PlasmaTech Foot and Body Soak, and the Shampoo and Body Wash. I told her that if I had no improvement using PlasmaTech, I would consider C60.
Plasma is known to be a 4th state of matter. It realigns your electro-magnetic system.
I started to use their products. It took me about a week to start using them. Why? I have showered most of my life; now I had to lie in a bath for 15 minutes! Think about it; if the PlasmaTech bath soak worked, my punishment 4 to 5 days a week would be lying in a bath for 15 minutes!
I didn’t realise how difficult it was getting into a bath, and how more difficult it was getting out, due to my arthritis. Then something strange happened; after about two to three weeks, I realised that I was in the bath and that I didn’t struggle that much to get in. Getting out was even easier! I had BETTER GENERAL MOBILITY!! I could do MORE things more easily!!
I also needed less anti inflammatories. I had been using one a day. Once the Plasmatech products started working I reduced the anti inflammatories to 4 to 6 per month!
With the exception of Omega 3, the treatments I was using were all aimed at managing my arthritis by treating my skin. By adding the Plasmatech products I was now treating my disease transdermally.
I was certain that I was now on the right path: I had better general mobility by using PlasmaTech products; I was taking 4 to 6 anti inflammatories per month and not 30, I used the Shea Butter Cream with Cannabis whenever I needed to. I also used the Plasmatech Pain Gel which is effective and is absorbed into the skin more easily than the Shea Butter cream. And my foot massage spa.
Even with all these improvements, I realised that the inflammation in some of my joints was not improving. By December 2019, my two baby fingers, especially the left one, were bending.
In that same month, I met a young woman who has lupus and arthritis, and took a barrage of medications. During our second meeting, the Shea Butter Cream that she had ordered on my recommendation, arrived via her friend. She put the cream on her one finger and I could see how she felt the relief!
I mention meeting her as she knew a whole lot more than I did and she suggested that I see my rheumatologist again, even if it was to monitor my progress, or lack thereof. She also told me to not conflate managing pain with managing inflammation, which I only realised later I was doing.
In January, Bev Feldman, an holistic therapist, told me to take Sunskin Gold Collagen which she supplies. It includes Collagen Gold, Vit D3 (which I need), Vit C and MSM.
Why am I going into such detail? To illustrate that each remedy or product that I found turned out to be a building block in achieving the better management of my arthritis. Believe me when I say that I had times when I was in such pain that I questioned what I was doing; I feared that I would become an arthritic statistic. But I kept going as I had no option and I knew…I just knew I would find remedies that would allow me to hopefully lead a normal, physical life, with maybe a few more physical imperfections.
I saw my rheumatologist in March 2020. She was amazed at how my pain levels had improved, but that the joint inflammation was the same. She also told me that my hands would point in opposite directions within 5 years. That was a sobering thought that I kind of knew, but didn’t want to hear. But it told me that I had to focus on my inflammation.
She ordered more blood tests and wanted to see me in May.
Now started another journey; what supplements do I take and which make should I use?? I knew one supplement would be Curcumin but for the rest I was clueless.
Juliet, owner of a health shop in Sandton City shopping mall told me to buy the Good Health Curcumin that has ginger and Ashwagandha.
It was around this time that I met Robyn, a naturopath and creator of My Abby range of oils. My Abby products are made from Abyssinian oil and are totally natural and organic. I asked Robyn what she would recommend that I take to deal with my inflammation. She recommended Anti X by Real Thing. It contains Astaxanthin.
In January, when I went to the labs to give blood, I saw Menele, who has been with the labs for many years (he has taken my bloods for more than 15 years). He is an Ugandan herbalist. He has arthritis and uses Curcumin, Moringa 5000 and Outback Pain Relief.
So, what I started taking orally in March 2020 was Turmeric, Anti X and Moringa 5000.
My Abby has a body oil that I started using in my bath, which helped my very dry skin. I also noticed a bit of pain relief! Abyssinian Oil is rich in omegas which help reduce inflammation and moisturise my skin – Abyssinian Oil is really an unknown and underrated plant that really works! I now use it as part of my armoury!
I saw my rheumatologist again in May. There was no improvement in my inflammation levels and she wanted to refer me to a natural doctor as I wasn’t taking her prescribed medicines. I told her that I was not going to see anyone else; that I needed her to monitor me. I told her that I wanted to try one last remedy being C60, before I tried medication (not Methotrexate). She ordered more bloods.
There are 2 inflammation blood tests: C-Reactive Protein (C-RP) and Erythrocyte Sediment rate (ESR).
C-RP : 8.1
CRP : 5.
ESR: 27 – no test was done in August 2018. High normal seems to be 20 for my age
My blood tests May 2020:
CRP : 3.6. NORMAL!!!! Well, 3 is normal.
ESR : 21
What this showed is that even though my inflammation markers were coming down, the inflammation in some of my joints was not reducing. Maybe there is a delayed effect between taking the oral supplements and seeing the swellings go down. As I knew I was running out of time – my other fingers were now bending - I couldn’t continue on this path.
On May 15th, and yes I made a note of this date, I started taking C 60 under supervision of Julie Beattie of PlasmaTech. What is C60?
Carbon 60 was founded in 1985 by 4 scientists. In 1996, three of them received the Nobel Chemistry prizes for their discovery of this class of molecules. It is still an experimental substance that is being more widely used by humans. It can be taken orally and/or applied topically. It is a powerful anti oxidant and anti inflammatory and has other benefits.
Julie told me to start on 1 drop a day for a couple of days, then to increase to 2 drops per day. Because it is such a powerful anti oxidant, you have to take it in small incremental doses as you can get severe side effects. I had no reaction for whatever reason. So, after 3 days, Julie told me to take 12 drops in the morning and 12 drops in the afternoon. This was May 15th.
After a week I was taking 40 drops in the morning and 40 drops in the afternoon. 6 weeks later I was still detoxifying and on 2 days during the past 6 weeks, I had headaches.
I also had to make a decision. Whereas all the stuff I had been using until I started the oral supplements were inexpensive, it started to add up with the supplements I introduced. And got worse with C60. 100ml bottle costs R695 and will last you 9 days at 80 drops per day. So I decided to use C60 only.
Am I playing with my life by taking these radical remedies? Besides 2 headaches that I had in the first 6 weeks since taking C60, and a lowering of my blood pressure on two occassions, I have had no other side effects.
When I took Methotrexate once, I felt terrible, my digestive system went out of kilter, my hair (the little I have left) started to fall out – I would call this radical medication.
I have chronic arthritis that called for radical remedies; I started with Methotrexate and ended up with natural remedies that are equal to or better than the medical ones, and WITHOUT the side effects.
I saw my rheumatologist in October 2020 and had the usual blood tests.
ESR : 6 !!!!!!
I no longer have to “test” a physical action before I do it, which is what I used to do as my arthritis severely cramped my movements. For example, moving the gear lever of my car into 1st gear. I would first have to gently push to see if a bone would click in my wrist with pain, as would normally happen. For the past number of months, I have done like any other person - moved the gear lever into 1st gear with no hesitancy, no bone clicking, no pain.
When I started bathing in PlasmaTech Body Soak in May 2018, it took 29 and a half minutes - soaking for 15 minutes, washing myself, drying and washing my face. It now takes me 21 minutes 30 seconds. That’s how my freedom of movement has improved.
The simple act of pressing gently down on the air freshener button with one hand was not possible before; most times I can now do as anyone else would – hold the can in your hand with your index finger on the button and gently squeeze in one quick fluid motion; it is times like this that give me such hope that I’m succeeding.
My current line up is Omega 3, Sunskin Collagen Gold, My Abby Body Oil, Plasmatech Foot and Body Soak, PlasmaTech Shampoo and Body Wash, and C60. And my foot massage spa.
As the PlasmaTech products helped my pain and inflammation levels and gave me better general mobility, C60 has further reduced my inflammation levels. Instead of better general mobility I have greater general mobility. Where my knuckles and fingers were fused into one big swollen mess, I can now see my knuckles and fingers! This after a month! I was speaking to a friend of mine in America one evening when he asked me what I was going to do for the rest of the evening. I told him I was going to look at my knuckles that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years! Not that my knuckles or fingers would win any beauty contest….
So am I pain free? Absolutely no. But, my very bad days are now just bad days, and I have some really good days where the pain levels are mild.
In fact, I haven’t taken an anti inflammatory since May 15th 2020, and it’s now the 16th February 2021.
So my journey which started off as a theory to treat my skin to manage my psoriatic arthritis is probably my single biggest achievement. Having arthritis in every joint is debilitating, as you can see – and feel – how it invades your joints and turns you into a pain ridden, inflamed person.
I made mistakes along the way. 2 key ones:
I should have seen my rheumatologist in 2019 and not 2020; it would definitely have saved my fingers any disfigurement. Which leads to the fact that
I should have taken C60 sooner at the same time as the PlasmaTech products; it would definitely have saved my fingers any disfigurement and I would have had less pain and inflammation.
What did I do right?
I used a Cortisone injection in January 2019 and anti inflammatories to give me a few months of less pain, whilst I got started on my natural journey.
I listened to my body;
I used those products that I was drawn to;
I wasn’t afraid to tell people with knowledge about my arthritis to draw on their knowledge and experience.
The Plasmatech range of products, C60 and My Abby Oils are all available from Equilibrium Foods – www.equifoods.co.za
One last thing. Diet is important. Avoid acidic foods wherever possible. Eat healthy foods.
*Blood tests run by Lancet Laboratories
Written by: Dennis Feldman