Rohan Singal was proud of his healthy lifestyle. But one fine day, he broke out into stubborn, persistent rashes on his knees and elbows. He was diagnosed with Urticaria (hives). The dermatologist advised him medicines, food restrictions and periodic medical tests. Rohan knew something was amiss; he wanted to know what had gone wrong. He wanted to know what he could do to prevent Urticaria from becoming a recurring problem. All his questions and much more, were answered when he met experts at The Health Awareness Centre, Mumbai (THAC). Rohan began looking at health & wellness from a new perspective. Ever since, he has no food restrictions and has a zero medicine bill. Here is his story.
48 years, Corporate trainer & life coach
In January 2015, at 45 years of age, I thought I was in the best of my health. I called myself a wellness aware person. Also, I felt I was sorted about health, what with help from various dieticians, gyming, and a Pilate’s regimen under my belt. I was doing everything that was right: no carbonated drinks, only green tea, lots of fibre in my diet, oat biscuits, and a calculated protein intake with eggs and whey with milk. In addition, I was having mini meals every two hours, and keeping myself hydrated with four litres of water daily. What’s more, I was at the gym four hours every week, and weighed under 70 kg, which was just right for my height.
Healthy but why the stubborn rash?
Thankfully, all the numbers and parameters looked sorted. Add to that a positive outlook to life, and I was proud of my zero medicine track record of 15 years. Suddenly, one day, lightning struck. On April, 2015, I found an allergy on my knees and elbows. I did not consult a doctor or take any medications, as I thought it would subside on its own. A week passed by. My tolerance and patience ended, and finally, I gave up my proud record and visited a renowned dermatologist in Mumbai. She made me undergo various allergy tests and diagnosed my condition as Urticaria, the medical term for hives. Acute Urticaria lasts for days or even months. Chronic Urticaria lasts for a prolonged period of time. These hives can return without warning, after subsiding. Severe Urticaria is a distressing and disabling condition.
My doctor informed me that I was allergic to Bengal gram, etc., and there would now be restrictions on my diet. I felt dejected. My footloose and fancy free life came to a halt. My first thought was: ‘I can’t eat my favourite hummus anymore.’ No more channa or items prepared with gram flour. What’s worse, I had to gobble up three steroids a day. I was worried that my condition would be chronic. That was certainly not how I wanted to live, with itchy hives breaking out periodically, and watching what I ate all the time. I took the medication for weeks, till the allergy subsided. The specialist refused to take me off the medication, informing me that she would taper it off slowly. Since I was on heavy steroids that can impact the kidney, so my doctor recommended that I undergo a kidney function test every month.
Something was amiss
The diagnosis worried me. Also, I felt sad at breaking my healthy record. I was such a health-conscious guy and had been applying to my daily life, all that was, in my understanding and knowledge, congenial to my optimum health. Where had I gone wrong? What could I do to prevent such breakouts in the future and ensure that the Urticaria did not blow up into a bigger problem? Moreover, I did not want to be saddled with a drug for life.
As luck would have it, a friend recommended that I consult Dr Vijaya Venkat of ‘The Health Awareness Centre, Mumbai (THAC)’. I sat before Dr Venkat with my reports. She told me that she did not need to see them. She asked me to fill out a form that had details of my lifestyle, food and symptoms. That was enough. I was astonished.
Later, when Dr Venkat declared, ‘This is excess toxicity that your body is throwing out using a shortcut, as it has insufficient energy to eliminate it through the normal route,’ I sat bolt upright. This was shocking. But, I was all ears. Here I was, thinking that I had been leading a healthy lifestyle, and my body was throwing out toxins! When had they crept in? I was going to find out. Dr Venkat advised me to stop all medication, and just eat fruits for a few days, spend time in water and rest. Within 24 hours of stopping the medicine, the rashes returned with a vengeance. Perturbed, I called up Dr Venkat. She was not at all surprised, and had expected this to happen. Also, she explained that the allergy was only suppressed under one layer of skin, and was never cured. So much for the steroids.
So, Dr Venkat advised me to continue with my fruit intake, go off salt, rest a lot, and spend time in water, insisting that I sleep for at least 56 hours a week, in darkness. To my amazement, in five days flat, the allergy disappeared.
Since this experience, I have been reading a lot about nutrition and its impact on wellness and health. I believed I was following very healthy lifestyle practices. What was my body pointing to via this skin allergy? I found some clues…
There was a growing toxicity in my system because:
- I was sleeping less than required
- I had excessive screen exposure (even though I don’t watch TV!!)
- Many processed food items (especially dairy & wheat based) that I considered healthy were adding to the acid and toxins in my system
Brain & liver are two critical organs in our body. Body can’t give both of them high energy at the same time. As long as lights are on brain is active, liver gets to work only when we sleep.
Liver’s job is to detoxify the blood running through 600,000 km of capillaries in the body every day. We need at least 8 hours of sleep (that too in darkness), for our liver to function at optimum.
I used to believe that my 6 hours of deep sleep is enough. Combined with average 11 hours/day of sitting in front of computer screen with 15 simultaneous hours of smart phone exposure overloaded my system.
I’ve realised that being fit externally need not mean internal health.
What has changed?
I have restored the normal rhythm of my body with more sleep, reduced screen time & lot of plant based food. I realised that I needed to focus on creating a balance between activity and rest.
It has been more than 3 years, and I am back to eating all the food items that my dermatologist had ticked off my food list. The allergy is gone. With the inclusion of fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet, my digestion has improved remarkably.
Also, Dr Venkat always reiterated that the body is boss. I began to pay more attention to its signals, and understood that I simply need to make available energy, time and space to it and it will handle issues with its central intelligence.
Moving ahead with freedom
As my awareness about the body was enhanced, I experienced that it had taken my life to a new level of freedom. Not only do I feel fully energised every day, because I pay attention to my body and nourish it well, but my experience has benefitted my family too. Our medicine bill is zero ever since. This, despite my mom’s depression and dad’s paralytic stroke. Ruchi, my wife, managed to cure some long-time persistent pain that compelled her to use in-soles even at home and avoid sitting, travelling, flying for more than a few hours. Today, I know that our body is an amazing gift and its intelligence is supreme. Just by being mindful of how we treat it, we can experience a new freedom of choice of lifestyle on the path to wellness.
(About Rohan Singhal: Rohan Singal holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from IIT (Delhi), and a PGDM from IIM (Calcutta). He is Co-founder at Rejoiss Learning LLP, a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, mentor and life coach. He loves singing, playing the bongo, reading motivational books, exploring the unknown, and meeting new people, while researching on how to improve the culture of working together in corporates)
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Hi Rohanji, I face the same problem along with autoimmune thyroiditis and nutrition deficiency so I couldn't sleep quality (I mean from 10pm to 6.30am intermittently) so how can I improve my sleep. So healing process improve.