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The Greatest Love Story Is Your Own
What do IBS, eczema, allergies, and MRSA have in common? They are all the consequence of bacterial imbalances within the human body. Say Whaaat? Shann Nix Jones, author of The Good Skin Solution, tells us her incredible story of crossing oceans, finding love, raising goats and defeating death… Sound like a fairy tale? Well, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
In the quest to find a solution to her young son’s asthma, Shann discovered the age-old Welsh wisdom that told of the healing powers of raw goat’s milk. But overburdened with a supply of milk from their newly acquired goats, she needed other ways to use it… and discovered kefir. The rich, yoghurty probiotic drink from the Black Caucasus Mountains in Russia, quickly became a household staple.
Naturally Derived Miracles
When her husband’s operation turned into a fatal case of MRSA infection, (and the health professionals literally abandoned him on her couch) Shann took drastic action. With the help of essential oils, honey and kefir, she created a miracle that healed her husband completely and they now have a thriving business helping others to heal too.
No Time Like The Present
With autoimmune conditions proliferating, 40% more eczema in the last 4 years and a 200% rise in adult acne in just the last 2 years, we all need to be paying attention to our skin and our bodies. These are conditions the medical profession are struggling to help us with, but nature has answers. And Shann delivers them right to you!
Beauty Comes From Within
Shann offers wonderful insights in an easily-digestible format to help us understand why we need to bring our bodies back into balance, and how to do it simply, safely and sustainably. Literally! Kefir grains will keep growing and providing you with healing goodness for the rest of your life, and even beyond, if you care for them right. And did we mention amazing skin…? Now, who wants to get some goats!
– Welcome back to the Urban Monk, I’m here to talk about skin today and very specifically natural ways to deal with skin problems. With me today is Shann Nix Jones who has a very interesting story, she works with Welsh goats and we’re talking about kefir and the benefits of kefir and other forms of dairy, and say goat dairy to treat skin conditions. For me this is fascinating because anything that can move away from the chemicals is interesting to me. Welcome to the show.
– Yes, lovely to be here.
– Well so how did you get into hanging out with goats to realized that they had this effect on skin with their milk?
– It was a strange career path, I never expected to find myself here for sure. I started out in San Francisco, I was a journalist and a talk show host and then I came to Wales and when I was 41 years old, I met a goat farmer named Rich. And he was a little bit of a crocodile dundee story. You know, I was this city girl who couldn’t boil an egg. And he was this mad Welsh farmer, he’s can build a barn with his bare hands, he makes his own hay, he fixes his own tractors, made his own beer, made his bread, made his own cheese out here in the wilds of Wales, we fell in love, and he asked me to marry him and come to live on his farm, which is very beautiful farm, hills sloping down to the Irish sea. I brought my two kids and we moved in with his two kids and his 70 year old father and his daughter’s boyfriend and so all of a sudden I was the farmer’s wife in this sustainable Welsh farm and I was cooking dinner for 10 people and they would look at me and go what’s for food? And I was like, I don’t know, let’s go out to the restaurant. And they said, no there’s no restaurant, it’s an hour to get to the nearest restaurant. So I had to–
– Figure it out.
– Figure it out entirely.
– So that’s how I came to the farm. We got our first goat when my little boy Benji started having horrible bronchial infections. And if you’ve got kids, you know the story. Get a cold, settles on the chest, go to the doctor, get antibiotics, and then he gets sick again. And sick again, and sick again. I know the reason why that happens now. But I asked Rich what he thought we should do about it ’cause I thought Benji’s way too little to be having this many antibiotics. And Rich said let’s get a goat. I went okay, I just told you my son is sick and you said we need to get a goat. Turns out that inside the Welsh tradition which of course is ancient, it goes all the way back to Merlin, there is actually knowledge that says that goat’s milk is good for bronchial infections, good for asthma, and good for eczema. So I said fine, let’s get a goat, we got a goat, we started milking the goat, gave the goat’s milk to Benji and we put away his inhaler. The bronchial infection stopped. So that was how we got our first goat.
– Wow, wow, so what is it about goat’s milk, are we talking about the probiotics that are found specifically there versus cow’s and other animals, is there something else in goat’s milk, what do we got?
– Goat’s milk is superior to cow’s milk in almost every way. It is considered by scientists to be a functional food because of all of the bioavailable minerals, the vitamins, et cetera. What goat’s milk doesn’t have, the cow’s milk does have is something called Alpha One Casein and that’s the protein that is so very allergenic for human beings. So they reckon now that about 60 percent of adults actually have a cow’s milk allergy that they don’t realize and the number one symptom is eczema, people have no idea, they’re walking around having cow’s milk in everything, and they could be allergic to it all the while.
– Yeah, I mean personally I ended up shifting to goat’s milk years back and it’s just made a world of difference, I didn’t realize I had a dairy issue until I stopped taking cow dairy and then you know it was just a night and day difference for me and hundreds of my patients.
– Good for you. So yeah anybody who has rhinitis, allergies, IBS, any kind of skin condition, the first thing they need to do is get rid of all the cow dairy in their diet and as I’m sure you found out, goat dairy is lovely, you can have goat butter, you can have goat cheese, goat’s milk is fantastic, so there are a lot of options out there.
– You know, some of the problems I’ve had with some of the goat’s cheeses out here in the states at least, you’ll try to go and get goat’s cheese or sheep’s cheese, and I’ll ask you what your opinion of sheep milk and sheep cheese is, but then they’ll always start it with some sort of cow dairy starter or they’ll be some sort of trace element of cow milk in there, and you’re like, why the hell you do this for, I came here for goat cheese.
– Right I think people just mix cow dairy into everything, I think it’s a problem, because obviously if you’re allergic to it, you don’t want any traces of it. Interesting about the cheese question, what happen to us is that we had so much goat’s milk suddenly, I didn’t know what to do with it. And it was going off in my fridge and so I thought, what should I do, should I make cheese? And I didn’t really want to make cheese because there’s so much beautiful goat cheese out there, the French have it nailed, people make great goat cheese. So I thought that was a little boring so I heard on the radio this Russian doctor talking about something called kefir. Now I had heard of kefir in California of course, where you have a lot of kefir but it wasn’t big in the UK and this particular doctor, her name is Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, very brilliant Russian doctor, she was using this kefir to treat patients with autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, and dispraxia, and it was working so I thought alright, this sounds interesting. We could make kefir with our leftover goat’s milk and I got in touch with Dr. McBride, asked her how to make the real stuff, you know the serious stuff that she was giving to her patients. And turns out, you make kefir if you’re serious about it it’s not flavored and it doesn’t taste particularly great, you don’t put any sugar in it because that kills the probiotics, you use real kefir grains so I don’t know how familiar you are with kefir and kefir grains but kefir grains are this funny looking little squishy constellation of bacteria and yeast. Almost looks like a little cauliflower. And these kefir grains are living organisms, it’s really strange, if you’ve made kombucha, it’s a little bit like a scoby, so they live and they divide and they multiple and they’ll keep living as long as you do if you treat them right. Kefir comes out of the Black Caucasus mountains in Russia. And way back when, the Russian government figured out that all these Bulgarian peasants were really really old because they were drinking this fermented milk drink and so the Russian government went in and seized some of the grains and brought them out under armed guard and that’s where the kefir grains came from. Ultimately it’s a mystery where the first kefir grain came from because you can’t manufacture it, nobody knows, it’s just one of those amazing things. But you put these little squishy things in milk, preferably goat’s milk, ferment it, and it turns into this incredibly powerful probiotic. So we started making this probiotic and we started selling it and we developed a little farmyard business right there in our kitchen.
– Good for you. So Natasha McBride, big fan of her work, Gut and psychology syndrome, she’s actually been very instrumental in that space. She’s in the UK right, she’s Russian but last I checked she was in the UK, has she gone back and forth?
– No, she’s in the UK, yeah, and we’re in constant communication with her and she now, I’m proud to say, has her own goats.
– We had big conversations about it, she said, oooh, should I get my own goats, and I said yes, you’ll never go back, they’re wonderful animals. So yeah she has her own goats now.
– Great great. So this ancient lineage of this kefir, are we reasonably sure that what we’re having today because the cultures have survived and lived haven’t really adapted, so this is an ancient strain that has basically been preserved by the Russian government from the Caucasus mountains and it really hasn’t changed or adapted over all this time?
– That’s a great question and I had the same question. So we started working with the university close to us. There’s a very brilliant scientist here, Jamie Newbold, who’s been doing work on the gut before the gut was cool, for 20 years he’s been at the forefront of this research. So we hooked up with him, gave him some of our kefir and said, hey test this, pull it apart, see what you can find out. The greatest gift in the world, he genetic strained our kefir, it’s hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of research. We didn’t have any money, we could never have afforded that. We’re not deep pockets at all but he did that work for us. So we know exactly what’s in our kefir. The real powerful thing in there is lactobacillus, so lactobacillus is the good bacteria, there’s a lot of bacteria in there, there’s lots of different strains of yeast and bacteria. Kefir has two different strains of lactobacillus and that’s the real powerhouse of the probiotic that you want.
– So you’re taking this starter right, this lactobacillus slash other bacteria cocktail starter, taking your goat’s milk and then creating a kefir, which is kind of like a yogurt-like drink and then–
– [Shann] Right.
– Taking it orally or is there some sort of topical application for skin as well?
– There’s the question. So back to my story, we were on the farm, we were making this kefir, selling a little bit of it, it doesn’t taste very good, people didn’t know what it was so it was a bit of a hard sell. We were having a good time on the farm. Then suddenly my husband was stricken down with colitis. Now he had colitis before, he had it for a long time. But he suddenly went into a bad flare up, he went into the hospital while he was in the hospital, they removed his large intestine. His entire large intestine. He came out of the hospital without his intestine but with a MRSA superbug infection.
– [Dr. Pedram] Ooof.
– So yep, MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. And that’s the stuff that eats your flesh. So what that means is he had a 10 inch incision down his midline and when they pulled the bandages back every day, there were holes in that incision and they were getting deeper by the day. So instead of the incision healing and closing these little angry red mouths were appearing in the wound and they were getting deeper. So the nurse was measuring these things with a probe and she put them against the ruler. She called in the doctor, the doctor came because in this country they actually come to your house, which is great, he came and he had a look and he said, I haven’t had any experience with and all the blood drained out of his face. And he packed his bag and he left. He ran out of my living room got in his car and drove away.
– Thanks dude.
– [Dr. Pedram] I thought, okay, right. And the nurse packed up and left and we were alone. Now in this country, I don’t know how it is there, excuse me, if you have MRSA, they will not let you into the hospital. Because it spreads. So I thought I can’t go back into the hospital and that’s where he caught it in the first place. The doctor can’t help us, the nurse can’t help us, so what happens, does he die on my sofa? Like where is he going to go, where am I going to take him? And more importantly where am I going to get help, if there are no antibiotics that work against this super bug.
– And the doctor and the nurse fled the scene. That’s unbelievable.
– They left, they left, unbelievable, I was just stunned so I thought right, the day, I don’t know a lot but I know the day that infection hits his vital organ we’re done here. So I thought, you know what, I have not come this far and worked this hard and found this lovely man at the age of 41, I was 41 when we met, I did not come this far to have it end like this, this is not how my happy ending ends and I am not going to let this happen, not on my watch. So I started doing some research. I’m not a doctor and I’m not a scientist but I am a girl who can research. So I started researching. And you know the thing that I noticed about all of the literature that I was reading, the language was so aggressive. It was all about fighting the bacteria, killing the germ, and battling the bacteria, it was all warfare language, all of it. And I thought, you know what, if I’m not liking the answer that I’m getting to the question and if the question is how can I kill the infection and the answer is I can’t, he will die, and I wasn’t happy with that, so I thought, you know what I need to do, I need to ask a different question.
– Good for you.
– I need to ask a better question. So what’s a better question? And I thought you know what a better question is, it’s how can I resolve the MRSA, how can I bring the MRSA into harmony, not how can I kill it. But how can I bring it into harmony. MRSA is on your skin right now, it’s on my skin, it’s on everyone’s skin, it’s on our skin all the time. The problem is when it gets out of balance. That’s when you have a problem. It’s a little bit like, you know Yellowstone right? Yellowstone National Park.
– And you look that back in 1872, when they opened the park they killed off all the wolves. Because wolves are predators and they didn’t want them there. And by 1926, every single wolf was dead, no more wolves. The problem with that was once the wolves were gone, the elk population went berserk and starting grazing down all the willow trees. And once the willow trees were gone, there was nothing for the beaver to use to build their dams. So the beaver died out and once the beaver died out, there were no nice still pools for the fish, the fish died and the birds that ate the fish died, and the plants that grew from the seeds that were spread from the birds died and Yellowstone began to turn into a desert.
– Oops, didn’t think this through. So they tried to cull, the human beings tried to cull the elk but it didn’t work. And then in 1995 and you may know this story, they brought the wolves back into Yellowstone. And it was very controversial but the wolves started culling the elk and the elk stopped overgrazing the willow and the willow came back and the beaver came back and the fish came back and the birds came back and the seeds and the plants came back and Yellowstone rebloomed. So that is the metaphor of what actually happens when you start wiping things out with powerful antibiotics like the ones you find in the hospital and that’s where MRSA comes from. MRSA is like the elk, they’re not bad, elk aren’t bad. But when they get out of control, then they’re all over your body. Then they were all over Rich’s body, they had replaced all the normal skin cells. They were under his fingernails, they were in his eyebrows behind his ear, not just in the wound, they were everywhere. So I thought, how can I bring this back into balance? And the only thing I knew that could do that was the kefir. The kefir that we were making, I knew that it worked by putting the good bacteria back in the system, like putting the wolf back into Yellowstone, to bring it back into balance and I thought, wow, I wonder if it might work the same way on the skin. And so I tried it, I didn’t have anything to lose, Rich was starting to fade in and out of consciousness, he was very very ill and I came up with a combination of essential oils that I thought might knock the pathogen level back a little bit and then I put the kefir on his skin. Now I was not brave enough to put it directly on his wound because I thought if that goes wrong, that’s going to be my fault and that’s–
– [Dr. Pedram] It’ll be bad.
– I can’t, that’s going to be bad.
– [Dr. Pedram] Yeah.
– So I wasn’t that brave but I put medical honey on his wound and then I put the kefir everywhere else all over his body, washed him down with the essential oil and then put the kefir on his skin. I did that three times a day, for three days, and he got sicker and sicker, and the holes got deeper and then on the fourth day, he’s looking at me by the way, when he’s conscious going, what are you doing, I said don’t worry sweetheart, I’ve got it all under control.
– [Dr. Pedram] I’ve got this.
– Totally did, I got this. Yeah, totally did, no idea what I was doing. The fourth day the nurse came in, pulled back the bandage and those holes looked a little less deep and I looked at her and she looked at me and was like, we didn’t say anything. Next day, definitely definitely not as deep. She measured, yep okay, so after that the holes started to dry up and disappear like puddles in the sun and within two weeks, she swabbed him and he was completely clear of MRSA.
– [Dr. Pedram] Wow.
– His wound healed up and he got back on his tractor. And he’s been healthy to this day.
– Wow. So you applied it all around his body from head to toe on the skin to restore the colonies on the skin level of the good guys, the wolves if you will, and then eventually what we’re assuming is then it started to cross batch over and come over into the wound area.
– Right. And because it was so crazy when the dust settled and we were sure that he was okay, I sent everything off to the lab to have it tested. I sent out all the essential oils to have it tested and sure enough they’re effective against MRSA so that’s one powerful thing we’ve got going for us. And I sent off the kefir, again to have it looked at, so how does this work, and we found it does work on skin, you can powder it, you can freeze it, you can dry it in the oven and it still works. Because the bacteria, it’s not only the living bacteria, but they also produce metabolites and so it’s what the bacteria are producing is also effective. But what I learned, the most important thing for me, besides having my husband still alive, was you can use kefir on the skin. The skin biome is just as active as the gut biome. We’re a constellation of bacteria. You have as many bacteria inside your gut as there are stars in the observable universe. So really, you are like Yellowstone. You are an area of outstanding natural beauty and you are a delicate and fragile ecosystem that needs to be kept in balance and the things that destroy that ecosystem, sugar, antibiotics, stress, and environmental toxins.
– [Dr. Pedram] Yep.
– And those are the things that are absolutely wiping out our internal microbiomes and that is mapping onto our skin.
– [Dr. Pedram] Yep.
– So we’ve got an epidemic of eczema, I think in the past four years, there’s been like 40 percent increase, an epidemic of adult acne, 200 percent increase over the last couple years, psoriasis, rosacea, and the doctors don’t have anything for these, they give you antibiotics, they give you steroid creams, those things do not work. And the reason for that is, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne are not skin conditions, they are gut disorders.
– They are evidence of damage to your microbiome and if you want to heal the skin, you gotta heal the guy. And so what we started doing was giving people kefir to drink and then I learned to put the kefir into lotions which is a little easier and smelled better than what I was putting straight onto Rich’s skin. And you put it on the skin, so the combination of drinking it and applying it to the skin at the same time, works amazing results on eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne.
– You know what’s funny is you got me thinking when I grew up, there was this thing my parents would have and my mom, there would be this lava rock, that they would use, so I’m Persian right? So they’d have this lava rock where they would use to kind of exfoliate the skin and then there was this other clumpy rock that was just this dried yogurt that then after exfoliating rub all over their skin. And I just remember growing up going, that’s weird, why don’t you just use soap, what the hell’s wrong with you people, right? And now you look back at like, the Bulgarian wisdom that came down from the Caucasus mountains and that’s kind of where I’m from and it’s just like, holy crap, that was the elixir of life and it just got lost in the shopping cart of triclosan here in the modern world. So quick question before I drop this one, what combo of essential oils were you using ’cause that’s also very interesting.
– I can’t tell you the recipe because it’s a trade secret.
– Aha, so that’s something, it’s commercially available though?
– It is, yes.
– Great, okay.
– We sell it on the site.
– Cool, fair enough, fair enough. So you sell that, so you’re in the UK, can I get some yogurt, kefir, skin care stuff here in the states, do you have products here?
– We do ship our skin care to the US. We don’t ship the liquid kefir.
– But you’ve got good sources of kefir near you as long as it’s goat kefir made with real grains and unflavored, you should be good. So we do have a lot of customers. We’ve actually got 30,000 customers now in 28 countries and we have a lot of people in the states and they order our skin care, ’cause I’m as far as I know, the only person I know making kefir lotions and kefir cleansers. You can drink kefir that you source locally and get your skin care from us if you like.
– Yeah, cool, great, great, I mean to me, I had multiple medical clinics, I’ve had dermatologists working for me, I’ve been in that, in that arena, and I couldn’t really stomach it because it was all about do what you want and I’ll laser it off, do what you want and I’ll nip tuck and all this kind of crap and it was, it just got to the point where I wasn’t able to digest what was happening there because it was all kind of bandaid medicine. And so I walked away from a lot of a lot. So this to me is a much more holistic view of all it. I’m sure there’s skin conditions that are still not responsive but for the majority of Americans and Westerners who have destroyed or decimated their gut microbiota seems like an obvious first place to start.
– Doesn’t it? Once you get the concept, it makes so much sense. And when I tell people that and the people who come here, when they come to the goat farm, let me tell you, they have been everywhere else first, right? They’ve been to every doctor, every consultant, they’ve used all the steroid creams, they’ve taken the antibiotics, which of course just make things worse, and now we understand why, they knock on my door when they’re desperate. And the results that we’re getting are pretty astonishing because those conditions are auto-immune conditions. They just are and we, January 2015, the science came out to show that eczema is an auto immune condition. And as you know, auto immune sits in the guy. You know your gut and your skin are linked. Because your gut and your skin are both barrier sites of your immune system. So your body’s really smart and logically enough it sites the immune system at the areas where the outside meets the inside. And that’s your skin, that’s the first point of the immune system, your lungs, your sinuses, and your gut. So as I researched into it, I realized quite often, people who have eczema will also have IBS, hay fever, food intolerances, and all of these things seem to go together, we call that the allergic march. And it tends to progress, so you have eczema as a child, and then it goes away. People go, oh yeah, I used to have eczema but now I’m better but then the allergic march progresses onto hay fever and food allergies and IBS and in your 40’s, it turns into asthma. So the good news is, you can arrest the allergic march at any point and you can do it with kefir.
– [Dr. Pedram] Wonderful.
– If you start to with kefir and put the good bugs back into your skin, you can actually halt that progress and it’s really important, especially if your child has eczema, that you get on top of it and stop it because it does not go away. Just because the eczema flares and then disappears doesn’t mean that you’re done here because you will just trundle down that allergic march and end up with asthma which is where we don’t want to end up.
– Yeah there’s a lot of places we don’t want to end up and asthma’s definitely on that list. There’s, for children, do you have a recommendation for kids who would maybe not find the kefir as palatable and it seems so obvious to get them on it.
– Yes, kefir is safe from birth. And you can give it straight away but as you point out quite rightly the challenge is how you get it down their neck. So I’ve got a ten year old son and I’ve got a skeptical husband, he’s still skeptical, can you believe that?
– That blows my mind by the way, don’t mind the fact that this saved my life, I’m still skeptical. Boys will be boys, dudes will be dudes. I just you know, it’s always that way, I’ve had that problem in my health care career all along, every guy that comes in says my wife made me come here, I’m fine.
– Yep. And quite right too. That’s how we keep them alive right. I know he hates all this, all my hippy stuff, as he calls it right. So yeah, I have skeptical people at home so here’s what I do, the only that’s really safe to mix with kefir to make it taste better is Stevia. Are you on to Stevia?
– [Dr.Pedram] Yeah, sure.
– Okay, great, it’s probably very common in California, it’s been a long time since I’ve been back there now. It’s very new here in the UK. People ask me about other kinds of sweeteners. Do not mix your kefir with honey. Honey is a natural antibiotic and will kill off the probiotics, don’t use maple syrup, don’t use agave, please don’t use agave. Those things are so high in GI, that’s it’s going to wreck your microbiome just as badly as sugar. I use honey and I use it for colds only. Medical purposes, I don’t use it every day as a sweetener. So you can blend it up with fruit, whole fruit, not fruit juice, so again if you’re going to try and nurture your microbiome, you want to stay really low GI, which means no juicing, don’t juice anything, you can blitz it, you can blend it so that you have the pulp and the idea that there is, if you think about your body as a fireplace and you’re going to make a fire, if you just burn newspaper, it’s going flare really hot and burn really fast and then it’s all going to die out. So that’s what it’s like when you’re eating processed foods and things that are high GI, bread, rice, pasta, white potatoes, sugar, things like that.
– [Dr. Pedram] Yep.
– Now what you want to not disrupt your microbiome is you want to burn wood in the fireplace not newspaper so you want food that’s going to trickle sugar into your system over time. And that’s things like oatmeal, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, amaranth, millet, again you guys have a lot more of this going in the states than we’ve got in the UK.
– [Dr. Pedram] Oh yeah.
– People go quinoa what’s that?
– Yeah, yeah, we’re about 10 years ahead of most of America and somewhere around ahead of some parts of Europe and so, especially in California forget about it, it’s everywhere. Hey we’re running out of time and I want to make sure people can find you, the book is called The Good Skin Solution and so where can people get this? I invite my audience to actually get the skin care and start using it, if you have eczema I want to hear back from you and let me know, I’m going to get this stuff, and I’m going to apply, I’m going to get my kids on it for sure, but I don’t have any skin conditions, so I really want to see how this works. What’s a website that we can share with my audience?
– It’s chucklinggoat.co.uk.
– Okay, I’ll post it, I’ll post it in there. Man this, I love these kinds of stories, this return to Eden type of story with this strain of kefir that’s ancient that’s now healing us in all these modern conditions and you know, it’s just really great, so Shann thank you, thanks for finding this, thanks for being persistent, and saving your husband’s life and it looks like you’ve found some really juicy stuff that came out of that experience and thank God he’s alright.
– I found nature has the answers. The answers were there all the time. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
– Amen, thank you. Let me know what you think, try the skin care, let me know how it works for you, I’m going to do an experiment myself and let’s compare, I’ll see you in the next show.