Month 19.5 to 20.5 update (pic heavy!)

Hello all!

Life has been awesome here at Korea, because my skin has been awesome. There is a sulfur spring about an hour away that I try to go whenever I feel a flare starting. I’ve been about three since I got to Korea. I’m just coming off from a small flare, which I attribute to binge eating dairy and gluten. I’ve noticed when I come off from a flare I poo a lot better too than during. I believe Ryan of Australia said something similar. I’ve been doing moisturizer withdrawal until today -May 8th 2015. Since my face is producing oils and I’ve only been washing it with water, I’ve been getting acne on my forehead (which you will see). While acne is million times better than TSW, I decided I will wash my face with a gentle cleanser now and moisturize afterwards . I will keep you updated on how that goes!

Every time my husband and I meet my skin goes dramatically downhill. Since he is coming soon, I am keeping my fingers crossed! It looks good so far! :D

Pic taken right after sulfur hot spring, no moisturizer. Apr 4th 2015

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Sulfur hot spring changes my silver ring! My wedding band is used to gauge the concentration of sulfur haha
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Right after sulfur hot spring no moisturizer may 4th 2015. Face looks worse than this the front camera quality is just worse so it smoothes everything out.
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Taken today(may 8th 2015), right after washing my face and applying moisturizer. No moisturizer anywhere else. Face so far feels good! Flared spots are drying out and peeling off, and it’s very reminiscent of eczema I used to have.
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I’m not itchy at all unless I’m flaring and even then it was very minor. Skin is an after thought. I sleep well and haven’t suffered from TSW related symptoms in a long while.

I hope you are doing well. I’m always here if you ever want to talk, etc. Stay strong!

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17 month update: DIET MATTERS!

Hello everybody!

I am very well! Haven’t had a flare in a while. I just had a 28hr flight and while skin dried out a bit nothing happened that doesn’t happens to normal people. Considering I don’t even use moisturizers, my skin did fantastic.

That said, the past month or so I have been very bad about my diet. I am allergic to chocolate and shrimp. I also seem to be intolerant to gluten and lactose. Alcohol is just bad for everybody. I have been having all of the above and my skin is the worst it has been today than it has been for months! I broke out into hives that are mildly itchy. While annoying, I am not worried. I guess it’s annoying that I know my skin will continue to be sensitive, but I am also very relieved that I know what triggers my skin.

I have also been feeling sick and my period is about to start which negatively affects my skin as well. Honestly though, considering how I used to be, I’m not complaining! I am cautiously thinking what I have is no longer topical steroid withdrawal but just eczema. The hives are all located in the usual areas I had eczema as a child.

While for some diet does not affect their skin, it clearly affects mine. If you have been going through topical steroid withdrawal for a long time and still are struggling, I highly recommend you look at your diet.

1-26-15 (worst in months! No moisturizer used)

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1-23-15 (before departing for 28hr flight)

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1-20-15

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Almost finals week- feeling good!

I’ve been insanely busy but a quick update! I’ll do a thorough one soon!

I’m doing very well. Over thanksgiving break I went to a sulfur hot springs and it was amazing for me!! So if any of you feel you’re hitting a plateau in healing, try it out. Lmk if you are interested in which one I went to.

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Face today. Arms below from right after hot springs.

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It seems neck down is mostly healed – I soaked in hot springs for hours and my skin ate it up! Afterwards it’s been clear like it hasn’t been in a long time. Neck up was dry and irritated but few days ago something clicked and my face started to feel oily again. I am not using any moisturizers again- so that picture is all me! It’s amazing how far my body has come. Just keep trekking everybody!

Happy healing warriors!

Month 13 update

Silly me.

I decided ah wtf I’ve been bad with my diet and while my skin has been getting steadily worse, it didn’t completely freak out on me, let’s just enjoy this souvlaki with bread. The gluten full kind.

Oops.

I had deep itch return all over my body. Nothing as bad as beginning and nothing strong Tulsi tea didn’t get rid of. Then I woke up and my face and neck was super dry and flaky. Worst I’ve seen in months! Then being the stupid girl I am I did it again that night, complete w msg and high sodium. It was very delicious, but the next morning I suffered the same results. I stopped for a day and I’m better! Coincidence? I think not, especially because I had night shades and dairy yesterday. I think dairy with nightshades gives me acid reflux and nausea but that’s whole another thing.

I’m back in LA now, and off gluten for few days and my skin return back to normal. It seems as long as I’m off gluten strictly, and very minimal nightshades and dairy, I’m good to go skin wise. It doesn’t look 100% normal, but I’m sure moisturizing will help with the appearance. Three months ago, I went on the plane to Melbourne semi-terrified for my skin. Now, I went on the plane ride without any worry! Success! While the trip did dry me out and I flaked it off the following day, I feel great! Skin is a non issue for me (living wise) and I’m excited to start my life again. While I look forward to the day the skin will look completely normal, for now I am so grateful I’ve healed enough to go back to normal life.

I’ve become a big believer in power of food. It can destroy, but it also can build you up and breath new life into seemingly hopeless situation. This journey have taught me so much about myself and who I would like to become. More specifically, I realized what kind of doctors are sorely needed in this world, and I’d ultimately like to fulfill that gap.

If you are only just starting topical steroid withdrawal, welcome to the community, and best of luck to you. While some heal without any dietary changes, I believe for others it is crucial for their recovery. Consume highly nutritious foods, and they will help you. While flares are inevitable, I believe diet changes can help avoid the flares caused by irritating food. As everyone is built differently, I do not want to make a blanket statement, but I’m sure we can all agree cutting it processed food can only do you good. It’s up to you to figure out how intense you want to be with your diet – I definitely understand how emotionally healing a slice of pizza or cone of ice cream can be. Hell, when I first started my autoimmune paleo protocol, I uttered word for word, “but food is my only source of happiness!” However, once I was two weeks into it, I realized not only have I found other sources of happiness, I was able to find happiness from these healing, delicious food as well. It takes more creativity, but once you’re into it, is really not that bad. The greatest reward for me is seeing myself heal and realizing I am unlocking the key to my optimal health.

Pictures will surely follow, my phone is dead and so is my cord. As I start school again, I’ll become pretty busy, but I’ll try to update every month! Have hope and I wish you strength TSW warriors.

HAPPY ONE YEAR TO ME!

Holy crap! It’s been a whole year already! I must say, time went by much faster than I expected. But then again, that’s just looking back. In the midst of the pain, it was as if time had stopped still.

Unfortunately, I am still not healed. However, I am doing much much much better! Upon scrolling through my blog, I can’t believe how far I have come the past year. It has been a hell of a ride, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I guess I can’t complain too much, as I have had a better withdrawal than some I’ve seen. I didn’t suffer too much from swelling of the body (just my face), my hands and feet stayed clear the whole time, and I slept relatively well throughout it all. Considering my cumulative usage is ~20yrs (although I only really used it for about 10 yrs, and except for last 2-3yrs it was very sporadic), I am doing much better than expected. I attribute the following for my better-than-expected-withdrawal:

1. Stress free recovery.
I was hugely blessed to be able to just focus on getting better for a year. I feel so lucky I was able to do that. I was able to sleep whenever and however long I can/wanted, which I believe helped immensely. There were no external stress, which I know helped as stress definitely worsens things for me.

2. Korean Traditional Medicine
About two months in I took Traditional herbal medicine for few months. It was supposed to aid in overall wellness, with focus on drawing out the heat and support my liver function. When I seemingly didn’t improve after the first round, he took out all the “tasty” thing that may be more pro-inflammatory and made it more hardcore and really nasty. While my skin didn’t improve by leaps and bounds, I think it helped me function as a whole. I didn’t suffer too much from insomnia and the nerve pain went away relatively quick.

3. Moisturiser withdrawal
I stopped using all forms of moisturizer about a month or two into it. I started before there were all the controversies on Itsan about it, mainly due to laziness. I hated water and if I moisturized, I’d have to shower or bath longer to wash off the old goop. So I stopped. When I did, I stopped getting blister clusters and the itch was reduced. My oils started to come back and my skin felt less uncomfortable. I’m still not using any moisturizers and I would say my skin is now more naturally moisturized than pre-TSW when I still had “normal” skin.

4. Autoimmune protocol / autoimmune paleo
I only started this diet about two months ago. You can read more about my experience here, but basically it’s a pretty restrictive diet that’s meant to heal your gut and help relieve any issues that stemmed from it. For me, the difference before and after starting the diet was huge. Once I started to haphazardly reintroduce food, my skin got worse. I went back on it, it got better. Not to mention, my bowel movement improved a lot.

Edit: I have been bad about diet because I’ve been meeting up w people and eating out. I definitely see difference in skin- drier and itchier. I stopped eating chocolate everyday and it’s on the mend again.

5. Supplements & Tea
I drank rooibos tea like water for the first half of TSW. It’s anti inflammatory and I think it helped. I recently started to take Tulsi tea which has helped a lot as well. I highly recommend the two tea. I’ve been bad about supplements. I’m a bad patient. But I’ve taken fridge- probiotics regularly and I think it’s been helping me. I also take fish oil on and off because I have my doubts whether it helps or makes me itchier. Asians are supposed to be better at using vitamin D so maybe I don’t have a vitamin D insufficiency after all.

I hope these can help you in your Topical Steroid Withdrawal. I’ve been doing so well now that skin is steadily becoming an afterthought. I dress however I want (it helps it’s winter!) and go out with friends till late at night without worries. My energy is almost all back which has been amazing.

Now come the pictures (which is what you wanted to see aha)

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Autoimmune protocol and detox juice – week 4

July 21- day 22
Slept so well! I’ve been getting such nice sleep :D love it!

TMI warning- I talk about my bowl movement:

I’ve noticed that pooping is different. Before most time I had to poo it was a emergency. And the poo was usually runny/diarrhea like. Since starting and getting settled in my diet- so about week two onwards- the signal is almost too minute. I think I had emergency runny poo once or twice, maximum. I should’ve written down what I had. Darn. I go at least once every two days, usually once a day. If I skip a day, there is a lot more the next day so it all balances out. And I poo well – if you look at poop hardness chart, I’m on the optimal hardness. I feel relieved and free.

All that aside, I am really satisfied with this diet. Now that I have settled in, I don’t really have any cravings, although I do get munchies. At night, I just want to eat and eat then eat some more. It’s weird. I feel like I am eating so damn much but I’m not gaining any weight. Well I’m complaining haha. Minimal itch, woke up a bit dry on face, but by night it looks moisturised.

July 22- day 23
The past week or so I’ve been having a dramatic increase in energy. I sleep very well and a lot- usually 8-9 hrs a day- and when I wake up, I am energised, ready to take on the day.

I made AIP friendly beef schnitzel for dinner and it was delicious! As for skin, there is minute improvement. Very mild itching if any, face and scalp dry upon waking up but settles down eventually. And I’m not even complaining about dry skin as it’s not tight or anything. Haven’t had painful burning skin in a long time. If I do scratch, wounds heal right away.

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The rest of the week (sorry I got busy and lazy :p)
My skin continues to do very well. Sorry for lack of pictures- my phone is bad so I have to use my husbands and it’s annoying. This from wed onward though, my digestive system waged a war on me. I was diarrhea all over the place. On Friday, I decided maybe I’ll try an aioli to start introducing egg yolk. Big mistake. I pooped everything that is within me and felt nauseous few hours later. That night, I definitely didn’t sleep as well as I had been.

Then Saturday I didn’t eat much to give my system a rest then had an egg omelette around 5pm. I was careful to chew really well and drink water. My stomach was fine but again, that night, I didn’t sleep as well as I had been. I was up here and there scratching. I think maybe I’ll give eggs a break and move on to mustard for now. What a shame! I love eggs :( That said, my skin still looks pretty good!

Sunday- Stomach finally settled down for good, I think. Still had extra itchier at night time, I’m assuming carryover from eggs. I held back today and only ate “safe” food.

Monday – whole month down! I would say the experiment was a success! Even with mild flare from the eggs, I look and feel much better! I think the diet definitely helped- I don’t know how I went without all the nutrition I get nowadays. Excited to reintroduce food, but honestly, after a month, diet really isn’t that hard anymore. You get creative and I still get to eat delicious food!

Beginning:

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7/21 (I had fries and ice cream yesterday but doesn’t seem to affect my skin too much)

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Autoimmune protocol & detox juice – week 3

July 14- day fifteen
I slept really well. I’ve been sleeping pretty well recently. I had a bit of itchy face in the morning, which subsided in an hour or so. The itch isn’t intense – but since I don’t really get itchy during the day, any itch I have is really noticeable. For dinner I’ve had sesame seeds accidentally. After dinner I was ok – great mood actually because I went clothes shopping w my husband. We shall see how I do in the morning.

July 15- day 16
Slept really well! I have been extra tired though recently – I sleep well but my body just wants more sleep (1-2hrs more). I have been more active lately so maybe my body just needs to recover. Unfortunately I woke up and in an hour or so I was a bit itchy again. I really hope sesame seeds aren’t the culprit because I love them! Fortunately in an hour it subsided. Yesterday I was surrounded by cakes and I had an urge to introduce almonds faster just so I can eat some pastry type deals, but it seems that I really should be following the course. Full 30 day here I go!

July 17- day 18
I had the most delicious dinner – apple, onion and fennel smothered porkchop. But! I was extra itchy this night. The dinner was high in sugar – the chicken broth was reduced to thick and sticky syrup. Maybe that is why? Or I may just be flaring. But I ended up sleeping really well.

I took a shower and it wasn’t painful! Woot. But I was fairly dry and tight afterwards which was new. I know I’m flaky but I never feel tight lately. It too couple hours to recover then I felt better.

July 18- day 19
Had a minor flare – I was extra itchy before I went to sleep. I ate clean today so I’m wondering if it’s the celery. Apparently celery has large amount of sodium nitride. I ate lots of celery in my chicken soup. Or I may just be flaring.

July 19 – day 20
I had a really full day! Was out walking and exploring basically all day long. Even though I was dressed up and was wearing tights, I didn’t really have any trouble with itching. Woo!

For dinner, we went to a pub and had the most amazing roasted pork belly and kangaroo steak. It came with salads and the dressing I’m not entirely sure if it was 100% AIP complaint. Oops. It was SO GOOD THOUGH. I’ve been really lucky to find so many restaurant that is AIP (almost) compliant. Before sleeping I was flaring a bit but I fell asleep quickly enough and overall slept really well. I did wake up once and was itchy, but I woke up from needing to pee then the itch. I’m not oozy though so yay!

July 20- day 21
Three weeks hurray! I woke up kind of itchy but it subsided in time. Since I’m more itchy recently than I have been in the past I consider myself to be in a mini flare. Apparently my body was heating up last night but I didn’t feel like it was. My back was itchy which hasn’t happened since pretty much the beginning. It’s really mild though, thank goodness. As always in the morning my face was dry but it got better throughout the day. No oozing – skin on skin contact is comfortable.

The day was more relaxing. We did housework and went out for dinner and movie. I ate so much carbs today- baked/fried sweet potato starch and one and half of banana with about teaspoon or two of honey. Haha I guess it’s not that much to most people but considering my diet recently, it’s verging on gorging haha. Thankfully it’s almost ten pm right now and I’m feeling good! The cold air always seem to help.

Autoimmune protocol & detox juice – week 2

July 7: day 8
I was worried about my period cramps since I can’t take ibuprofen during this diet. Thankfully my cramps were very very mild! This was a surprise as I haven’t had a cramp free period in a long time – so long I can’t remember the last time. I wonder if this is related to the diet.

Slept perfectly last night and as usual, the day went by without itching. It is eleven pm right now and I am a bit itchy. Not much. More feeling allergy- itchy throat and nose- than itchy really. My elbow flexure is looking better and better.

July 8- day 9
I slept perfectly last night again! Woke up feeling refreshed and not that dry!

Through out the day I’ve had more energy than I’ve had in a while. I had a big mango smoothie and bacon. I’ll see how it will affect me. After dinner scratch is pretty mild even though I’m sitting in front of hot heater.

Silly me, bacon again made me really cranky and sad. And the mango smoothie (which is probably as concentrated of sugar intake I can get while on this diet) gave me a mild cramp. So I’ve learned sugar gives me horrible period cramps. Lesson learnt!

July 9- day 10
I didn’t sleep perfectly :( almost though. I only woke up once and scratch wasn’t that bad at all. I am shedding however currently. I mostly recovered from the big day I had yesterday. I was super productive – cooking cleaning hanging out etc.

After dinner scratch was mild!

July 10- day 11
I slept perfectly last night! I woke up, and was a bit itchy mainly in the face. But nowadays all the itchiness is surface level- once some of the shedding skin is off, I feel much better.

I went on a adventure walking down Melbourne’s famous Brunswick Street. Every restaurant I encountered, I read their menu in hopes I can find something I can eat, but alas, none for me. I did find great grocery places though.

For dinner I had noodles! It was 100% sweet potato starch so I figured it was ok. I used fish sauce to flavour it, which had some sugar in it. After dinner scratch was none existent and before I slept I had some itches, more than yesterday but nothing like the time I had Korean jellies. Yesterday and today I think I was technically in a flare – my elbow flexure and neck, mainly. It was redder and the skin felt fragile- like ooze was just a layer under. Thankfully I didn’t do too much damage.

July 11- day 12
Woke up feeling pretty good. My left side of face is shedding more

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July 12- day 13
I updated a huge draft and it went all away!! Argh! Long story short, I had one of best skin days, in both looks and feel. It looked mildly moisturised by the night. I was a bit worried because we went to a Vietnamese place for lunch, and while we tried to stick to the diet, you never quite really know what’s in the sauces. We walked afterwards for almost two hours- in total we were out and about from 12- 5. It was a good day! I was also worried because I found dates and had most amount of unrefined sugar since I started this diet but thankfully I slept perfectly well!

July 13- day 14
I woke up feeling pretty good. Upon washing my face w water and rubbing a bit, it got a bit dry. I think I should only do this every other day or so.

Autoimmune Protocol & Detox juice – week 1

7/1: day two
Last night was rough. I eventually fell back asleep around seven and slept till noon. I woke up no longer itchy. I am rather flaky though.

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So far, the diet isn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be! Yes, many things are restricted but many delicious things aren’t! I’m sure it helps I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I really enjoy garlic and vegetables. I am amazed at the amount of flavour mere garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil can bring out. For dinner, we had fish, cauliflower rice, garlic stir fried broccolini and mushroom – it was delicious! My husband read up on AIP and bought lots of fish, chicken liver and hearts of chicken and beef. Blerghs. Liver I’ll just be grinding into the no-mato chili I’ll be making… But Idk how he is going to make the heart be yummy.
All that to say I am very grateful to have a supportive partner who is an adventurous eater. He is the best!

7/2: day three
It is almost 6am. I actually slept pretty well last night. I was mildly itchy around 7/8pm. It wasn’t an itchy fit or anything. However, I woke up about twenty min from now because of an itch fit. It was less intense than yesterday. It’s mainly around my ears, front and side of neck, small spot in arm pits (about dime sized area on the apex of arm connection), elbow flexure and a bit of upper inner arm. I’ve noticed I get itchier when I try to hold my pee in- case in point, I just went to the bathroom and the itch subsided a lot.

On a positive note, my forearm and face looks better and better.

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7/3: day four
Itch after dinner time was much less than the day before. Itch during sleep was less. It wasn’t a big difference, but there certainly is some.

I’ve noticed that even when I feel like I’m scratching fairly hard, to the point of having raw patches of skin, I am left with much smaller and less scary wounds.

I don’t feel very dry but I look rather dry on my face, scalp, and neck. I am also shedding and flaking all over the place.

For dinner I had chicken, bacon, spinach and olives. There wasn’t a perfectly clean bacon so I bought the least bad and I think my body didn’t like that. I was pretty immediately very sleepy and when I was woken up by my husband I was still very tired and cranky. I was also more itchy after dinner than yesterday, but slept really well. I only woke up once and was itchy for few seconds then went back to sleep. I think the ~50min walk in the cold did me good.

7/4: day five
Face, neck, and scalp are still dry, and flaky. However there were much less flakes on the bed since I slept really well. I was too tired to prep lat night so I’m going to have the detox juice later.

Upon researching, some people were complaining of lower stomach bloating and constipation. That’s me! :( They said it subsided about a week into it so I am hopeful. We shall see.

I washed my face with water and gently exfoliates dead skin. It stung a bit but afterwards it looked much better. But of course it didn’t last that long aha.

Today was one of the best days I’ve had since I started this diet! I was on the road for most of the day and there were multiple delays (train breaking down, standing in the cold for about 40min wout explanation, then train breaking again) which could have messed w my skin but nope! I am happy to report my after dinner itch was none existent. Now if only I can poo…. :(

7/5: day six
Success! I feel much less bloated now. Peppermint tea must be the way to go. Getting to sleep last night was a bit rough. I’m at my MIL’s house and the blankets were bothering me a bit. However, once I fell asleep, I slept great!

I visited my husband’s family today and I have fallen off the wagon. I’ve had some sugar and glutinous rice in forms of organic Korean chestnut jelly snacks. I’ll also later have a small bit of butter in cauliflower soup.

The whole day I was doing good actually. As usual, I wasn’t itch at all throughout the day. After dinner itch wasn’t bad either, though I seemed yo be especially flaky. I even managed to fall asleep fine. But! Here I am awake at 2:30am from intense itch fit. My neck, jawline and cheeks are inflamed.

Though unfortunate, this may be the kick I need to stay the course. I am also pmsing, which doesn’t help at all w my skin

7/6: day seven!
I eventually slept pretty well. I woke up feeling and looking better than expected. I scratched to feeling distressed so I was expecting oozes and lots of cuts, scabs etc.

For dinner I accidentally ate some lentil and tomato in a veggie soup. When I realised my mistake, I switched over to some bass, broccolini and green beans. For dessert I had blueberry and coconut flakes. After dinner itch wasn’t there but around 11-12 my face was more itchy. I slept perfectly though woot!

After a week of this diet I’m convinced it is helping it. It doesn’t necessarily ease up on itching, although I think it will, but my skin heals so much better on the diet. I’m hoping I’ll be seeing more improvements in the upcoming week.

This is how I woke next morning (7/7)

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Starting Autoimmune Protocol Diet & Detox “juice”

I was initially going to start this diet on July 1st, but the husband thought we may as start at June 30th, seeing as: 1. It’s the start of the week; 2. We’ve eaten enough (very delicious) crap to last us a while.

I woke up feeling a tad bit dry (what else is new), but overall ok. My skin was a fairly normal shade, as usual. Lately I can clearly discern when I’m flaring as I turn red in flaring spots.

Yesterday we attempted to go shopping for all the things we’d need this week, but it was clear from today that we need more veggies. Today’s meal consisted mainly of the huge chicken and veggie roast we made last night. It was so good even though all the seasoning we used was salt and pepper.

I made some bone broth which will hopefully last us the week. If my mom can see all the food I’m making, she’d be so proud and amazed. :D

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I’ve also started to drink Detox “juice”. It’s been famous in Korea for some time now. You first boil broccoli, tomato, carrots and lettuce. Then you take the water of these boiled substances, and the veggies, and blend it with an apple and banana. To my surprise, it tastes pretty good! Since nightshades are not allowed on the AIP, I didn’t use any tomato.

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The doctor who advocates this drink warns that we may get worse before we get better as body starts to detox. Well, I certainly got worse. Starting from about 6/7pm I started to get very itchy. I was flaring in various spots and now at 3am I’m oozing a little on my neck, jawline, left armpit and right elbow flexure.

I shall keep you updated on how I do. This should be an interesting month.