David Pardue's next step for his psoriasis was going to be chemotherapy, which a doctor had recommended because the treatment has been known to clear up the skin of cancer patients.
"I'd be scratching to the point of bleeding," said Pardue, pastor of Christian Church in the Wildwood, north of Weeki Wachee.
Pardue had already tried ointments, UV radiation treatments and other "weird chemicals." Then a friend recommended Trish Springstead's products and treatment - a three-step process that includes a lotion bar, a cream and shampoo.
"I reluctantly tried it," said Pardue, 55. "She immediately doused me with everything."
Within 48 hours, the itching and scaling were gone, Pardue said.
"It's the only thing that has ever lasted with me," he said.
After several years of testing and development, Springstead received a patent on her lotion bar in January.
She is quick to point out that her ingredients are all natural, and that most other lotion and shampoo makers put harmful chemicals in their products.
A registered nurse, Springstead owns Springstead Arts & Gifts in Brooksville. She makes her MD Crafters & Cosmeceuticals products by hand, using ingredients from places like India and Africa. She said the name of her products soon will change to ESP Botaniceuticals. ESP stands for Essential Skin Products.
"We're reaching a higher plane in skin care," she said.
Springstead is passionate about her products and their ability to help people.
"It's all divine providence," said Springstead, 50, whose husband, Richard, is a local orthopedic surgeon. "The lotion bar right now is where I gotta strike."
Her ingredients include raw shea butter from Africa, mango butter, raw illepe butter, German green chamomile and raw beeswax.
Many other products sold in stores have preservatives in them, she said. Even organic products aren't always what they seem, she added, because they only have to have one organic component to be labeled "organic."
"It was sickening," she said of the research she has done on other products.
Cathy Harding is a nurse practitioner studying for her doctorate in nursing practice at the University of South Florida. She is a student and a staff member in the university's College of Medicine. Part of her research proposal looks at Springstead's skin-care products.
"A lot of the therapies we use with psoriasis can be toxic," Harding said.
She said that "it's like a thousand-mile journey" getting the medical community and the public to recognize the harmful ingredients in many products. Springstead's patent helps.
"It'll legitimize her product," Harding said, not just in complementary medicine, but also mainstream.
Springstead and Pardue said local doctors now prescribe the products to their patients.
While Springstead's three-step process costs about $140 for a three-month treatment, Pardue gets it for free because he was part of her experiment when she was first starting out.
"She's very gracious for us," said Pardue, adding that his wife bakes her cookies.
There are five people who were part of Springstead's 2003 experiment, and they all receive the products for free.
"I just don't understand why the dermatologists around here don't get her products and use it," Pardue said. "It's just amazing what it does."
If you go
Springstead Arts & Gifts is at 406 E Liberty St., near downtown Brooksville. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 797-0510 or go the Web site www.mdcrafters.com.