LS Lichen Sclerosus and Borax – Update

2 years ago I wrote one of the hardest blogs I had ever written. Yes, much harder than telling you about my breast cancer!

It was about having Lichen Sclerosus – and finding something that actually helped – something that didn’t cure (it is incurable) – but did alleviate the very distressing symptoms.

If you have never heard about LS – then you are lucky! It isn’t something you tend to hear about until the doctor tells you that the excruciating pain from the thin broken skin, the swelling, the pain and the terrible itching, is due to LS … and all they can give you is a steroid cream – that thins the skin!

So, what is Lichen sclerosus / sclerosis? It is believed to be an auto-immune condition that affects mainly post-menopausal women and children, but also some men. As I am sure you know, an auto-immune condition is one in which your own body turns on itself, destroying cells, and in this case making the skin thinner, prone to tearing or splitting, blistering, swelling, soreness, irritation and chronic inflammation. It also makes white patches on the skin – hence the name – but that’s the least of your worries. However, it isn’t infectious at all.

Lichen sclerosus also has a favourite location for this disruption of the skin – and this is why I (and many other people) don’t generally like to talk about it. It affects the skin between the buttocks and reaching forward to include the delicate skin all around and of the vulva. In people who have had it for decades it can even result in atrophy of the flesh.

  • This blog post ‘Lichen Sclerosus and why Borax is my new best friend’ has been the most visited – the most commented on – and the one that I have received most direct email about since I began my blog nearly nine years ago! And WHY? Because there are SO MANY women – and some men – all over the world who suffer from this – and are desperately seeking some way to alleviate the pain. (I’ve since found that there are FB pages for LS suffers and it is full of thousands, some with horrific results of their affliction – see end for links)

Only last night I had another email – from a lady in the USA saying she’d found my blog – and was the borax therapy still working for me? and could I give her a link to the borax that would work in the USA? I will reply – as I have to the many, many others who have not wanted to use the open comments section, and who are just happy to find someone to talk to who understands.

So, today – almost 2 years from that first blog – I am doing an update.

The borax therapy is still working for me!

Last summer I sent out a little questionnaire to people who’d commented or contacted me about LS – hoping to create an overview of what people had found worked. How many had found the borax therapy worked for them – and how many hadn’t – what else they had tried – what had failed, what had worked. Unfortunately just a low percentage replied. It may be that the emails addresses they used were not valid any more, or temporary, or my email fell into a junk box – but the overview didn’t garner enough stats to be meaningful. However, generally, those who did reply said the borax therapy had helped – if not taking away the symptoms altogether – it had eased the problem. A few said it worked – then after some stressful time it stopped working. At least one of these I suggested starting the therapy again from the high-dose intake … and it started working for them again. A re-boot any time after 3 months from the original start is ok and seems to help when other factors have exacerbated the condition (and stress does seem to).

So I have to say that the Borax therapy doesn’t seem to work for everyone – our bodies are very complex organisms and no treatment works the same for everyone – but it does work for a good number of people.

What I can say from my own experience is that, if you have been diagnosed with LS, try the borax and bicarb bathing – combined with taking magnesium glycinate (or another bio-available form of magnesium) at half the daily recommended dose. This is very safe and easy to try – and if this works for you – eases your symptoms a little – then trying the full therapy may well work for you too… and clear-up and keep those very nasty symptoms at bay.

Having said that, and acknowledging that picking the ‘therapy’ out of the story of my LS in my earlier post isn’t clear or easy, I’m now setting the therapy out as I tried it in a step-by-step clearer manner here.
But please note: I am not a doctor – I speak only from my own experience – please do your own research too.

The Borax therapy

The Bath: TRY this first! In a normal sized bath, put 1 tablespoon of Borax (Sodium Tetraborate) and 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda, run hot water and stir to dissolve – cool to comfortable temperature and to make a bath of about 8 – 10 inches deep (20 – 25 cm) – to cover affected parts of your body. Soak about 10 mins or more. [A little borax will be absorbed transdermally too]

Every daytake a bio-available magnesium supplement (half the daily recommended dose – the rest you will get from your food)
I suggest magnesium glycinate as bio-available and without of the side effects of magnesium citrate. As the borax needs the magnesium to work effectively and it helps balance hormones.

The ‘cream’: This is something I made up myself – as the lack of ‘slip’ once I stopped using the steroid cream meant just the skin touching skin was painful when walking or sitting.
2 rounded tablespoons of coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) melted in a small lidded oven-proof glass bowl in the microwave, watching it carefully – it needs to get hot to dissolve the borax)
Mixed into it 1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 1 level teaspoon of Borax – stirring constantly as it cools.
Before it solidifies but after the oil has cooled a bit  Add 3 drops of lavender oil (essential oil) and pour into a container, with a lid, for keeping.
This then sets to a hard ‘cream’ (at UK temperatures) – so I scrape off a little and let it melt on my skin providing the lubrication on the sore skin with the soothing qualities of the other ingredients. You may find small bits of borax that do not dissolve fully, but as this melts, you can push these aside and remove.
OR use just a little coconut oil – or a moisturiser that is all organic and does not contain petrol-based ingredients.

If these help … carry on with these and try the following…

The Internal Borax therapy: This is not mine – I found it online and it is the regime I followed: and what made my symptoms go away!! (Read about my journey here and find a link to the original post that I followed)
Taking borax in solution every day for a fortnight (I did 16 days)
One eighth of a level teaspoon of borax to be taken everyday, dissolved in one litre of (warm) spring water – consumed over the day.
Measure one level teaspoon of borax – divide into quarters, then each again in half to give you eighths    Put each 1/8th in a twist of cling film or similar. Do this twice to give you 16 small packets.
Each day dissolve one small packet in a little warmed spring water, top up to 1 litre with cold and put in the fridge. Drink the whole amount over the day.
Do this everyday for at least 14 days (no more than 16)
Don’t forget the magnesium supplement!

LOW maintenance dose internal borax therapy.
When you have completed the full dose borax therapy, and it has helped the problem, then you need to follow it up by a life-time of a much lower dose of borax (maintenance dose) –  every day – forever – and the mandatory taking of a magnesium supplement always.

Maintenance Solution recipe:
1 rounded teaspoon of Borax dissolved in 1 litre of boiled water, kept in refrigerator.
1 – 2 teaspoons only of this maintenance solution taken everyday … forever. (I usually put it in another drink – eg, morning orange juice ) 

Vitamin D3:
I would really recommend taking Vitamin D3 – especially between October and May in the UK* – as that is the time the sun is too weak to make vit D via your skin. Why? Because Vitamin D3 is important to maintaining skin integrity – and if you are an LS sufferer you skin needs all the help it can get to repair and maintain itself.
*check the sun strength details for where-ever you live – I was surprised to see that even in California the sun wasn’t strong enough all year

LINKS to help you:
Borax: in the UK Under £6  a kilo – REIDS UK. They also do large quantities of Bicarbonate of soda.
In the USA & Canada – Buy 20 Mule Team Borax from your laundry aisle – make sure it doesn’t have perfume or any other additives.
Magnesium glycinate These are the best suppliers I’ve found in UK for magnesium glycinate (click here) Click into the bit marked ‘offers’ next to ‘description’ – you can often get 3 for price of 2 as well. (note Supermarkets usually sell magnesium oxide – this is NO good as is not really bio-available magnesium) 

The other big question I get asked is – Is it safe to take borax?
This because it is, in very large doses, a poison. But then – so is table salt! In fact the levels of table salt and the levels of borax needed to poison you are very similar. The doses in this therapy are very, very small as long as you follow the measurements and the quantities taken exactly. Do not think ‘double the dose will work twice as quickly’ – it won’t!
And, use common sense – if you experience odd symptoms – stop – or lower the dose for a while. Having said that – a couple of people have said the first week they had looser stools than usual – but that’s not too odd and it only lasted for the first week.
As with all chemicals – keep the borax safely, where children can’t get hold of it!

Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an natural mineral and an important boron compound.
If you have a scientific leaning and want to know more about the active ingredient of Borax do read this [Nothing Boring about Boron] it is a proper scientific paper – but, I think, accessible if you’re into science, and is Fascinating! Do read.

That’s about it …
I still put borax and bicarb in a bath – but in a full bath now, not just for treatment. I use Borax and Bicarb to wash my hair (See this blog-post) and I take the borax maintenance dose, the magnesium and the vitamin D3. I also try to eat a healthy omnivorous diet high in vegetables, fermented foods (like home-made yoghurt, kombucha, sauerkraut), nuts and omega3 oils, but low in carbs, (especially low in gluten-bearing carbs for reasons see this blog-post here) and try to exercise regularly.
I don’t think that the LS-affected skin will ever be as robust as it was pre-LS (due to the thinning caused by LS and the steroid cream), and I did suffer some fusing that won’t ever undo, because it went on so long before I tried the borax – but at least the skin is no longer so fragile that it splits, not swollen, not blistered, not unbearably itchy, not still fusing more and not sore all the time. This is a blessing.

So – there’s my update.
Did I miss anything out that you want to know?
Do ask in the comments or by email (see below)
Is there anything you’d like to share?
Thank you – as ever – for reading
– best Ann

Here are two facebook support groups that have reached out to me since this blog-post – both have members from all over and both provide great support – but the UK one probably helps more those in the UK and EU with questions about Borax and where to get it … and the US one probably has more members maybe more experience and support . I’ve now joined both.

US LS facebook group – covers the world…
UK LS facebook group

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write,
  Thank You

If you wish to keep it private – about LS and just contact me then just reply to the email this arrived on (or if you have found this on the internet then email ann@ annfoweraker .com (closing-up the gaps) – otherwise go to the actual page and click comments to add you. 
NOTE: I am not a doctor – I speak only from my own experience – please do your own research too 🙂

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Lichen sclerosus and Why Borax is my new best friend

It’s difficult to talk about this – and this is why it has taken me two weeks to write one blog! After just telling my husband the diagnosis, lichen sclerosus, and that I had been prescribed ‘a cream’ for it I hadn’t mentioned it again even to him – and even though, over the course of four or five years, the symptoms got worse and worse.

Back at the end of October, the symptoms had become excruciating – and the ‘cream’ useless. I had been told that as an auto-immune condition there was nothing else medicine could offer apart from suppression of the symptoms by the ‘cream’ – a corticosteroid – classified as a ‘potent steroid’.

So, what is Lichen sclerosus? It is an auto-immune condition that affects mainly children and post-menopausal women. (Yep, tick that last box)  As I am sure you know, and auto-immune condition is one in which your own body turns on itself, destroying cells, and in this case making the skin thinner, prone to blistering, swelling, soreness, irritation and inflammation. Though, thank goodness, it isn’t infectious at all.

Lichen sclerosus also has a favourite location for this disruption of the skin – and this is why I (and many other people) don’t generally like to talk about it. It affects the skin between the buttocks and reaching forward to include the skin around the vulva. In people who have had it for decades it can even result in atrophy of the flesh.

By the end of October I was in pain all the time, especially when sitting, and every time I needed to use the toilet I faced the agony of cleaning and drying myself, and the area affected seemed to be extending. Now Corticosteroid must be used sparingly – frequent reapplication is not acceptable – not desirable – as Corticosteroid also THINS the skin!

I positioned a mirror to look – the skin was red, shiny, swollen, cracked and blistered – no wonder it stung to blazes!

This is where I am surprised at, and ashamed of, myself. I have been looking into natural ways of supporting the body and brain by supporting the health of your whole system – but I hadn’t looked for a natural way of dealing with Lichen sclerosus. I had been ambushed by the fact that it was considered an Auto-immune condition  – and, therefore, I knew that meant it wasn’t curable.

…  or did I?

 After all, hadn’t I been reading about other auto-immune conditions that had been helped by natural means – by a rebalancing of the gut-bacteria, specifically. However, I have already gone down this route for the sake of my brain, and I hope my gut-bacteria are now in a good balance and are being ‘fed’ the food-stuffs to keep them happy. I would say that in other ways my body was feeling better tuned and functioning well.

So it was, that feeling desperate, I began to research whether there was a natural way to help the condition . . .  and there was!

I read so many pages, so many personal responses. I read of people with this condition who were in a much worse state than I was – whose body had suffered permanent changes that were life-affecting. I also read of those who had found the answer – or an answer. And it involved my new friend Borax – also known as Sodium Tetraborate. I read around the subject – finding out lots more about Borax (especially about uses – click here) and it’s uses, trawling sites for negatives as well as positives – until, convinced it was worth a try, I sent off for some, it was only £5.95  a kilo – link here.

First it said, once you have obtained your borax have a bath – with one tablespoon of borax and one of bicarbonate of soda – just for relief. OH MY! That was SO GOOD, just in itself! That alone was enough to convince me to take the course.

Then there was the taking of borax in solution every day for a fortnight. This was in a specific high dose: One eighth of a level teaspoon of borax to be taken everyday, dissolved in one litre of (warm) spring water – consumed over the day.  Followed by a life-time of a much lower dose of borax –  every day – forever. AND the mandatory taking of a magnesium supplement always – as the borax needs that to work effectively. Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed but can also act as a laxative so I researched and decided on magnesium glycinate (click here) – which is also easily absorbed but does not have that side effect. (magnesium oxide – often sold in supermarkets – is very poorly absorbed)

(NB. This site I looked at also advised (click here) adding one eighth of a teaspoon of ground Himalayan Pink Salt to the Borax – so I did this too … to begin with, until I had the odd reaction of tingling in my face – that seemed to be caused by an overdose of sodium – so I dropped the pink salt and continued with the borax – the odd reaction faded away.
Himalayan pink salt is often recommended by natural health bloggers for ailments – and I wonder if someone was trying a belt and braces solution that worked for them – but overloaded my system with sodium? My verdict – I believe this works just as well with Borax only)

ANYWAY…. On day 5 – when I was drying myself I thought ‘Oh! What? My skin has gone numb in one small place.’ So I checked with the mirror to see where this numb area was. It turned out it wasn’t numb at all – just healed-up and looking normally pink, surrounded by skin that was still screaming at me – it only seemed numb in comparison.

Over the remaining time of the fortnight this small normal area grew – until all the skin looked pink and healthy and did not hurt any more. The swelling had gone down too – and it was only then I realised how bad that aspect had actually been.

One other thing I used over that fortnight was a simple ‘cream’ I made-up myself. Without the corticosteroid cream there was no slippery barrier to each inner cheek rubbing against the other and causing pain. So I used two rounded tablespoons of coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) melted it (in a small lidded pyrex bowl in the microwave, watching it carefully) and mixed into it one level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, one level teaspoon of Borax and 3 drops of lavender oil (essential oil) The dry ingredients are dissolved into the warmed oil and constantly stirred – even as it begins to solidify. The essential oil added before it solidifies but after the oil has cooled a bit.  This then sets to a hard ‘cream’ – so I would scrape off a little and it would melt on my skin providing the lubrication on the sore skin with the soothing qualities of the other ingredients.

Three months down the line and there has been no more pain, I still take the 3mg dose of borax each day [1 tsp of borax dissolved in 1 litre of water – kept in fridge and only 1 – 2 teaspoons of this solution taken each day in water] and use a little of my own ‘cream’ especially after showers or baths.

This *borax treatment is such a blessing that, despite the embarrassment, I have to share it – even if only one other person with Lichen sclerosus gets some relief from the symptoms – then it would be worth it.

UPDATE >>> I have written an update TWO years on … Click Here to find it!

A good LS support group on FB based in USA, started by Allicia who found and followed this blog post, it has over 3,000 members from all around the world – you see – we are not alone in this.

Comments welcome as always – but …

If you wish to keep it private and just contact me then just reply to the email this arrived on (or if you have found this on the internet then email ann@ annfoweraker .com (closing-up the gaps) – otherwise go to the actual page and click comments to add yours

Best – Ann

*borax etc –  as with any chemical – do keep these safely away from children 🙂

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

ppps  still happy with the new borax and bicarb hair treatment – and my hairdresser said that my hair felt thicker, and yes – this came out of the LS treatment too! See this blog post for info – click here

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Cold Turkey Shampoo

No, Not a new ‘flavour’ of shampoo, but the first new attempt to use fewer nasty chemicals on my body.

Let’s face it – our skin is our largest organ AND it absorbs anything we put on it. Despite the long-held belief – which I occasionally still hear someone spout that ‘our skin is waterproof, sealing our flesh in and protecting it from everything’ – IT ISN’T.

Just think ‘nicotine patches’ – if our skin were truly impermeable these wouldn’t work – would they? They don’t contain a magic key to open the skin door.

I was reading around this when I read “shampoo and conditioners are applied to the whole body if used in either the shower or the bath” Oh! Come to think about it – so they are – and especially if you have washed your body while waiting for the shampoo or the conditioner to work and therefore rinsing those off is the the last bit you do – leaving them clinging to your skin.

So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you like the idea of parabens and petrochemicals left on your skin.

Parabens are there more for the producer than for you – they are a type of preservative. They also happen to be a exonoestrogen and as such are able to mimic oestrogen in the body, and it is this factor that has shown a link to breast cancer.

Petrochemicals –  well, I don’t know about you, but I just really don’t like the idea of putting a petrochemical derivative all over my body (not now I think about it) This may not be rational – there are some studies out there that say the 1.4 dioxine is cancer linked – and others that say the exposure is minimal – you get more driving your car. What sort of concerns me is that if all these minimals in our lives are put together they they turn out to be maximal – to have those undesired effects within our body.

Now, I figure, if I can cut down on those that I CAN avoid – the ones I can’t may just remain at minimal levels.

There are also lots of other nasties in shampoo and conditioner – some to make the foam, some to coat the hair after the foaming chemicals have raised all the scales and made it tangly.

And apparently we do not need either of them – our hair and scalp was made to be self-cleaning … only it takes a while – anything from four weeks to 3 months to achieve its new equilibrium.

However, this doesn’t mean you do not clean your hair – you can go completely cold-turkey on any cleaning product and just wash with warm water – this may take the longest to transition, depending on hair type, or you can go the simple solution way – using Bicarbonate of soda and / or borax then vinegar (apple-cider) or citric acid as the neutraliser/conditioner.

I looked to my friend Krissi – a long-time advocate of No Shampoo – for advice and she favoured the bicarb solution and just rinse. However this can lighten hair and as my hair is darker [and the grey coloured with a temporary colour two shades lighter than my hair – so the coloured grey looks like highlights 😉 ] I didn’t want to just do that. (If I had blonde/ going white hair I’d definitely do that!) [Incidentally, Krissi used to make all organic, no nasties cosmetics – and this part of her life I borrowed for the character Marian Wood in A Respectable Life – with her knowledge 🙂 ]

hair
Ready for fourth wash today

Now, my new friend, Borax [sodium tetraborate – a naturally occurring mineral] link here (more about this when I get the courage up to tell you*) in a combination with Bicarb is also recommended by various No Shampoo (also called, unpleasantly, No Poo) websites, and as I am very happy to rinse my body in borax* (you will understand when I do get to tell you, honest) I went for this. *OK up-date – deep-breath! I’ve told all about my Lichen sclerosus now – find it HERE 

Having made up the mixture of 1 dessert-spoon of borax link here and 1 dessert-spoon of Bicarb [sodium bicarbonate] link here, in a litre of water I doused all my hair in it. Massaged it in*, then rinsed it under the shower, then made up another litre of warm water  with 1 teaspoon of citric acid, link here, in (you can use apple-cider vinegar instead if you prefer) . Again I massaged it in a bit then thoroughly rinsed it out. Lastly, another litre of water with a couple of spritz of almond oil, or a pin-head drop of all-organic moisturiser dissolved in a litre of water (my favoured solution), and poured over,  then rinsed out. It sounds long-winded – but really it isn’t – as you don’t have to work up a lather, and you are not coating your hair in a thick slime (conditioner) the rinsing takes barely any time at each stage. You only need a large plastic jug to make the mixture up in, and a dessert spoon and a teaspoon, to measure out the ingredients.

My hair is very fine, and there is not as much of it as I would like! Usually, for the first day after I wash it it is all fly-away and won’t stay up in a clip, but irritates and tickles my face if down … but by day three it gets greasy and hangs limply and separates into ‘strands’! I also have to give it a good condition too, other wise I can’t get a comb through it for the tangles. Generally I was only happy with my hair on day two.

What happened with the borax bicarb solution?

The first time I left the borax and bicarb on MUCH too long* (five or six minutes) as I was concerned that my hair wouldn’t get clean! And my hair came out like straw! Not the desired effect. However, it didn’t take long for it to ‘calm down’.

NOW I know it is almost a case of pour it on, give the hair a good squeeze, maybe massage the scalp a little and you’re ready to rinse, less than a minute!

The second time, five days later, my hair was much better as I’d reduced the time the borax/bicarb was on my hair to about 1 min – and though my hair started out feeling heavier (less fly-away) than it would after a shampoo wash, it did not change and get any greasier for days. And, I realised it wasn’t tangly after washing – which, if I ever used just a shampoo – without a conditioner, my hair definitely would be!

hair-2crop
After washing this morning 🙂 And it doesn’t tickle!

The third time (six days along) my hair was even more manageable again and I’d left it a whole week before I felt like it needed washing. Today I’m going to wash it again … and though it has not quite been three weeks I think it is beginning to find its equilibrium.

I’ll continue to fill you in on this experiment as it goes along …

Anyone already transitioned to No Shampoo?

Any good advice / thoughts about ditching the commercial products?

You know I love to hear from you, do share 🙂 – Ann


** March – Hair update – Why didn’t I know about this before – It is the best my hair has ever been!!**

*** ONE YEAR LATER – I WILL NEVER USE ANYTHING ELSE FOR HAIR-WASHING – IT IS THE BEST! ***

 Any links are to help readers only – I receive nothing for posting links 

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write,
  Thank You

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