Natural Treatment for Persistent Face Rash, Painful Sex, Burning Urination, and more +
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I have a theory. Well, a few theories actually. They are cobbled together from ideas I’ve come across over the years, and from personal experience. One is that foods that are literally difficult to eat are meant to be eaten in small quantities. Two is that genetically we are each adapted to certain foods, often those that our ancestors consumed for thousands of years; and that there are foods that one person’s particular physiology may not be suited to while another’s could be fine, or even thrive, on the same thing. The third has to do with the advance in technology and the modifying of foods to the point where they, or they way we eat them, barely resemble what is found in nature.
The first directly relates to the subject of this article: nuts and seeds. If you had to physically pick and shell walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds— or any of the myriad nuts and seeds that are nowadays available pre-shelled by the truckload— how many do you think you would eat at a time? I imagine a handful at most before you would become tired of the effort, or simply run out of time and move on to other more interesting or important tasks.
The second theory, related to genetic makeup, also relates to my consumption of nuts and seeds. With a bloodline that is primary Swedish, English and Welsh, I don’t think my ancestors ate a large amount of nuts and seeds, and if they did enjoy some, they surely would have been found only at special occasions, during certain seasons, and/or in small amounts. Of course, in modern times, we can get bulk quantities of any food anywhere in the world, so current national heritage is not the point. I'm referring here to physical adaptations that have taken place over hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
The third is that even if we are genetically adapted to a particular food, we might not be adapted to the modern day version of that food; whether we are talking about hormone-fed animals, pesticides or other treatments, or the creation of new foods that don’t exist in nature (GMOs, hydrolyzed protein, hydrogenated canola oil, vital wheat gluten- a ’super’ gluten designed to make breads soft and chewy). This also includes the development of plastic containers to store produce and products to keep bugs away or at bay, as well as international refrigerated transportation, which allow people to consume all foods year round, no longer limited to local seasonal cycles or to limited storage capabilities. (Bugs love nuts, and even stored in sealed plastic containers they can still end up infested.)
I spent a lot of time thinking about things like these during my ‘year of healing’. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, by May 2013 I found myself in the worst health of my life. Thirty seven years old, stressed out, unhappy, with progressively worsening health problems, including rashes and various cases of body irritation and inflammation. At the end of April 2013 I quit my job— which definitely was exacerbating my problems as I became more and more disillusioned with what I was doing— and by the end of May I was 100% committed to getting healthy again.
Here is a photo of my face rash, taken when it was approaching it’s worst. The photo makes it look better than it was. The rash consisted of tiny little pustules and bumps that would itch and then would dry out and look scaly. The rash had begun on my cheeks and around my nostrils, with a little on my forehead. Then it moved to focus more on my chin, it also changed sides of my chin, and at its worst I had some in my hairline just above my ears too. It was accompanied by itching, burning, and sometimes entire scalp and face flushes. (I wish I had more and better photos, but Begin Within wasn’t even a thought yet. This was taken just so I could try to see things more objectively.)
(I might add that the rash probably could have been much worse if I wasn't already quite healthy. I had been a gluten-free vegetarian for years, worked out regularly, took supplements and generally did everything 'healthy' people are supposed to do.)
The first entry in my food diary is May 29, 2013. I made notes every single day for over a year, and then continued with sporadic updates through 2015. I logged everything I ate, as well as all of the supplements and ‘natural health cures’ that I tried.
My food diary was entitled ‘Candida/Rosacea Diary’, which is what I was convinced was going on at the time.
The following is an example of an entry from early on. I was afraid to eat most things so I and didn’t eat much (although you might note that I still ate nuts a couple times that day). I lost a lot of weight, but was also too hungry and tired most of the time.
(It’s not important that you can understand my notes, I know what they mean. It’s just to give you an example if you decide to set out on your own path of self healing.)
a little flare in chin area, tired today, hungry & cranky, itchy crotch
10 drops H202 in water
1/2 tsp DE in water
Green & black chai tea with honey
Banana and almonds
Lunch- garden lettuces, borage, 2 fried eggs, lemon juice & salt
ACV in water, DE dust face
snack- popcorn with salt & oo
Chamomile tea with honey
10 drops H202 in water (20 total)
handful walnuts (really Hungry!)
Meatless Meatloaf & Cilantro Slaw
2 glasses red wine
I made a comprehensive list of what I perceived my symptoms to be, and then kept track of the various treatments I tried for each.
The following were my symptoms. The 'primary' category was the catalyst for me to begin the food diary and begin my search for solutions. Keep in mind that I was (and still am) in Argentina, and I was not interested in looking for drugs or traditional medical solutions, except as a last resort. I knew there had to be a root cause and I was determined to figure out what it was.
Rash on face (cheeks- especially the right one, around nose, later on chin too, also a little in my hairline above the ears)- Rosacea?
Itchy crotch and burning with urination- sometimes intensely, off & on for years
Painful sex*- gradually worsening since March 2011
Burning sensation inside my ears, discomfort like clogged or pressure- recent (last 3-6 months)
Sore scalp, sensitive top of head, burning and flushing of face and scalp, itchy face
Small cysts/boils, painful and hard to pop- especially in the armpits and bikini line
Joint pain- especially shoulders, right hip, and left big toe/forefoot
Calf cramps- at times so strong they would wake me up in the night when they seized up
Yellowing eye whites, very bloodshot eyes sometimes
Brittle and thinning hair- so bad (for me) that I finally just cut it off to a very short bob
Small bumps all over the backs of my upper arms- not dry enough to be eczema
Receding, sensitive gums
Brittle nails, wavy and ridged nails (they had always been very thick and strong)
Irritable, tired, workouts take the energy out of me
Preexisting (since before the onset of the primary symptoms):
Excessive sweating- Hyperhidrosis- since teenager
Fibrocystic breasts- since teenager
Plantar wart on right heel- grown much larger over the years, dry ice freezing didn't get rid of it
Terrible PMS and long, heavy periods (emotional and physical)
Persistently cold hands & feet
Ganglion cyst in my right wrist- for many years
I also kept a comprehensive list of everything I tried to cure myself. The list below includes everything that I used for at least a week continuously, though some things I used for up to a year, or continue to this day. By keeping notes I was able to see much more objectively whether something I was doing actually was helping, based on my symptom notes. If I had been washing with apple cider vinegar for two weeks (for example), and my notes still mentioned burning, itching and rash flareups, then that probably wasn’t helping, at least not to treat my primary symptoms.
Dietary Modifications, Natural Health Cures, and Supplements:
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian diet since 1995
Gluten-free diet since March 2011
No coffee since the end of May 2013 (initially I switched to green tea with nut milk)
No milk & very limited dairy since the end of May 2013
No wine or alcohol for month-long periods
35% food grade Hydrogen Peroxide (H202)- internally, up to 30 drops per day in water, taken in 2-3 doses without food, for two six week periods
H202- topically applied to rash areas
Whole garlic cloves with fresh lemon juice (discontinued because I smelled like garlic all the time!)
Fresh ginger tea daily
Oregano Oil- drops in water
Iodoral- iodine/potassium supplement
Borage- fresh whole leaves and flowers eaten from our garden
Apple cider vinegar- internally and externally
Diatomaceous Earth- drank some every morning for weeks, also dusted my body with it for weeks
Vitamin C & Zinc supplements
Vitamin D and K
L-Lysine Supplements (also ate extra lentils, amaranth, and quinoa for lysine benefits)
Colloidal Silver- internally and externally
Colloidal Gold- internally
Colloidal Copper- externally
Fermented foods and ‘prebiotics’ such as Nori and Flax seeds
Borax/Boric Acid- small amounts taken daily for about a year
Baking Soda and/or Borax- as external skin wash
Lemon juice- externally and internally
Drank at least 3 liters (12 cups) of purified water daily for a year
Quit using shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and all body products for extended periods of time- LINKS
Changed laundry soaps multiple times
Used pads instead of tampons for two months (yuck!)
Now, that’s a lot of things to try, though most were not at the same time. If you do everything at once, you won’t know what works. I had already been on a vegetarian and gluten-free diet for many years. The next thing I did was quit coffee. (That didn’t cure my rashes and problems, but I did realize how irritable it made me. Later, when I quit eating dairy products, I realized I really only wanted coffee with loads of milk and honey, so I never went back to it.) After quitting coffee and trying other possible solutions, such as hydrogen peroxide therapy, I then quit red wine and alcohol for a month. And I continued testing from there.
I would try one change or new addition for a week or two and look for improvements. Many things seemed to help at the time, but then inexplicably my face rash would flare up again, my scalp would flush and itch, or my crotch would burn unbearably. And painful sex continued to be a problem.
In October it finally dawned on me to quit eating nuts for a while. It took about five months from when I began my ‘Do It Yourself Doctor’ program to even think of quitting nuts. And I had been eating a LOT of nuts. When I quit eating wheat in 2011 I went pretty nut-crazy. Looking back, the onset of my primary symptoms coincides directly with the time period when I began making baked goods with nut flours. In addition to homemade gluten-free breads (usually with almond flour), I also consumed homemade walnut and almond milk. I ate handfuls of cashews and brazil nuts and a variety of of other nuts and seeds as snacks, and as garnish on salads and other dishes. I put nuts and seeds in my oatmeal, or what later became a soaked chia ‘seedmeal’ that I had most mornings. And I spread peanut butter or tahini on gluten-free (nut-based) breads.
Within six weeks of my decision to quit eating nuts I showed large improvements in all areas. Interestingly, my symptoms seemed to improve in the same order in which they had gradually come on (groin first, to face and head last). First the itchy crotch subsided, there was no more burning with peeing, and sex became less painful. (That was a huge relief to me and my husband.) Also, one of the things I noticed as the burning and itching subsided was that my labia reduced in size by about HALF and were no longer a deep ‘mad’ red color. (They had been that way so long I didn’t even know it was abnormal.) They continued to reduce in size and redness for at least two years, and now are about a quarter the size they were at the worst, and are a normal healthy skin color.
After the initial six weeks without nuts, I also quit eating seeds (sesame seeds and tahini paste, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia, etc) which I had continued to consume thinking they were a different category than nuts. Within a couple of months of no longer eating any seeds or nuts ALL of my primary symptoms went away completely and have stayed that way.
The face rash, which was the most annoying— because it was on my face, and also become it seemed to inexplicably get better and worse— finally really went away. For about 5 months, from first quitting nuts, I still got the occasional tiny red bump flareups in the same areas, but now I no longer have any recurring rashes. During this time the inner ear problems disappeared, as did the scalp itching and flushing. I stopped getting any of the sore cysts in my bikini line and armpits (they were really difficult to pop and hurt like hell), my eyes cleared up, my hair got much healthier, and my nagging joint pains went away.
The secondary symptoms have also cleared up, though I don’t know if I can attribute those to not eating nuts. Some of the other things I have done to clean up my diet, lifestyle, and exercise habits have also helped to boost my immune system and increase my overall well being and energy levels.
The onset of my primary systems took about two years— from the first inklings I can recall to a full blown, impossible-to-ignore problem. Thinking back, I can also remember a time years before, when we lived in Hawaii and I was eating granola every morning and macadamia nuts for snacks. I developed an intense burning while peeing, and sometimes my labia would get so irritated and sore that I would sit on ice packs to try to alleviate it. I remember mentioning this when I went for an OB/GYN exam and the doctor said they couldn’t see anything wrong. Shortly after that we moved back to Colorado (and I quit eating the mac nuts and the granola). The symptoms went away, and I didn’t think about it again until after I had connected nuts to my face rash and other symptoms.
The buildup of symptoms was cumulative, which made it harder to figure out the cure. Had I quit eating all nuts and seeds at once, I think it would have taken about two months to completely stabilize, though, as I mentioned, I saw continued improvements in some areas for years.
Interestingly, quitting nuts was about the LAST thing I thought of trying, and it turned out to be the most important change I made. It was as if there was a blinder that didn’t even let me consider it. Which is strange when one considers the known allergenic properties of nuts. It was a big lesson for me, that even when we think we are being extremely scientific and objective, we very well might be missing a key. Even if nuts are not causing your particular issues, don’t give up. It might be something else that is staring right in your face. (I also have a theory that if there’s something you think you absolutely can’t live without, that you think you must have or do, then you REALLY should take a break from it and see if it could be a cause.)
These days I will eat the occasional seeds, but generally only sprinkled on a dish as garnish. I can eat a nut here or there, since I know the problem is cumulative and not a one-time reaction. But I do avoid them and my health is better than ever.
Even after I quit eating nuts, I continued to make nutmilk (usually walnut or almond) for my husband and to use the nut pulp from that in homemade granola for him. A few months ago he mentioned that he had been experiencing a burning sensation when he urinated. I suggested he quit the nuts for a bit. Within a week the symptoms were gone and haven’t come back. (He switched to soy milk, and I make the granola without nuts now.)
Lastly, it has occurred to me the cause of my problems could be something inherent in the nuts and seeds, but it could also be something that is sprayed on them. I have read that a common product used to fumigate storehouses of dried foods, such as nuts, is basically a pesticide version of fluoride and is extremely toxic.
Before closing, I'll add that during ‘my year of healing’ I also solved most of my list of preexisting symptoms. I stopped sweating too much, cured my lumpy fibrocystic breasts, got rid of the huge plantar wart on my heel, and I no longer get any PMS symptoms, aside from some light warning cramps, and my periods have become the easiest of my life. (I still tend to have cold feet and hands, and I have still have a small ganglion cyst on my right wrist, but it isn’t painful or limiting.) I also continue to use alternatives to traditional deodorant, daily shampoo, and toothpaste. I'll have other pieces to share on more natural self-cures in the future.
Of course, you may be one of the people who can eat nuts without any problems. But if you have any of the symptoms above, it wouldn’t hurt to quit nuts entirely for at least a month to see if it helps. Or if you don't eat nuts at all, then you might want to try your own food diary and figure out what the cause for you is. Remember, it took me almost half a year to figure out what might be causing my problems, and another nearly six months to clear it out of my system enough to feel totally normal.
If you have experiences to share, please use the comments below. If you have questions about specific symptoms, I’d be happy to expand on my description. For the sake of the length of the article I tried to keep it in check. I would love to hear from you, and I’m sure other readers would too.
*What does it mean when I say painful sex? It felt raw, no matter how aroused I was, and after ejaculation it would burn. This made enjoying sex and reaching orgasm very hard. (Using tampons was also brutal.) I also felt desensitized in general. I tried not to show the discomfort, but sometimes it was impossible… It was also hard to explain to my husband, without him thinking it must be something off with ‘us’. This was very stressful on our relationship. At one point it got so painful I thought I going to have to quit having sex at all.