*post update – kefir has definitely helped my eczema symptoms, so I started making my own. Find out how here*
After hearing Shann Jones of the Chuckling Goat, a farm in Wales offering goat products that claim to help with eczema and allergies (read all about it here), on the radio talking persuasively about the benefits of kefir (a probiotic drink made from raw goat’s milk) I decided to take the plunge and order their 21-day course.
In a nutshell here is the theory behind kefir for eczema. If you suffer from eczema – a condition that has recently been added to the list of autoimmune diseases – it’s likely that your gut needs replenishing with some good bacteria which, according to Chuckling Goat, can help prevent your immune system from turning on itself and attacking healthy tissue – think Raquel Welch in the Fantastic Voyage. Read more here.
There is currently a 4 week-long waiting list for their course of Kefir following all the media interest, but I must have got in there just before the rush as my box of bottles arrived last week, beautifully packaged and insulated with a cold pack so they were perfectly chilled during an unseasonable period of very hot weather. I transferred them straight to the fridge and got quite excited about unleashing all these little bacteria warriors into my gut.
Chuckling Goat recommend that you keep a diary as you work through the course of probiotics to gain an understanding of how it’s all working, and I’m told if your gut’s in pretty bad shape you can expect a tough first few days – so here goes:
Woke up very excited to get started. As instructed, I poured myself out one third of a pint into a glass, looked at it, had a sniff and suddenly didn’t feel so excited any longer. The words Shann used to describe the kefir on the radio echoed around my head, “it tastes NASTY, I’ve got to tell you, it’s horrible stuff.” So, I held my nose and went for it – and, in fact, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. It tastes like slightly sour, fizzy, natural yoghurt but obviously thinner and drinkable.
Chuckling Goat also recommend using their moisturising cream alongside the 21-day course of kefir, but sadly it contains hazelnut oil which I’m allergic to, so that was out for me. I have read in other studies that applying the probiotic directly to the skin can have benefits – so this might sound completely disgusting but I just poured the remaining drops out of the glass and slapped them onto my face. Later on that day I did feel a little bit queasy (and possibly so did everyone else with me wandering around smelling nicely cheesy!) but that was about it for day one.
My husband woke me up on day two and day three by bringing me a freshly brewed coffee in bed – ah, bliss – but, just before I took my first sip I remembered I had to go downstairs and drink a third of a pint of fizzy yoghurt. So off I trundled and again, it really wasn’t that bad. In fact I think I’m starting to like this little fizzy and sour wake-up call.
As for the state of my health, things were starting to take a turn for the worse. I was starting to feel slightly headachey and the skin on my face was feeling puffy and very itchy, the first signs of an eczema flare-up. Although this is not uncommon – I often have these reactions on my face – I have been having a really good run lately, my skin has been behaving itself and has been clear for a couple of weeks now. But I could tell that something was irritating me.
Today was a bad day. I felt completely exhausted and in a very low mood. I had a crushing headache. The skin on my face was horrible and the allergic reaction was getting worse, I had hives on my eyelids and my skin was sore and incredibly itchy. I felt like I just wanted to sleep all the time.
Hoping for a better day tomorrow.
Feeling a little brighter today. The headache has gone and I’m feeling more positive with a bit more energy. The skin on my face is calming down a little, but is still sore and itchy. Still feeling tired but hoping for a good night’s sleep.
With any luck, that’s the beginning of the end of a tough battle inside my gut and I can start reaping the benefits of furnishing my insides with these good bacteria.
Watch this space for the next five days.