A chef from Harrogate is pain-free and has lost six stones after taking a blackcurrant supplement. Catherine Scott reports.
Nick Chappelow, 42, was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis when he was aged just 15.
The condition is a chronic form of arthritis in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed – and affects just seven in every 100,000 people in the UK.
He survived on a cocktail of painkillers and medications, with the never-ending discomfort making him feel like a ‘wounded animal’.
But Nick is now taking a blackcurrant supplement called ‘CurraNZ’ – which is also being used by Tottenham Hotspur footballers to boost their recovery.
Nick says the effects were almost immediate – something he describes as ‘like witchcraft’. Because the pain reduced he could start going to the gym, and he’s since lost six stones.
Father-of-two Nick, from Harrogate, says he hasn’t taken ibuprofen, codeine or paracetamol for more than a year.
“The pain I used to suffer was horrible,” explains Nick.
“When it’s bad, you’re like a wounded animal. You’re snappy. And you have to try and keep it under control.
“I didn’t want to go out because everything was difficult.
“But I now feel better than I’ve ever felt before. The blackcurrant supplement has worked magic – it feels like witchcraft to my doctor and I.
“It feels like I’m finally in control of my illness and it’s giving me the chance to be healthy and happy again.”
Nick, who is married and a father to daughters Chloe, 20 and Harriet, 12, says his mentality through life had always been to grin and bear it.
But the stress of working in a big kitchen, catering for television and film productions, wasn’t easy.
“I’ve always been the sort to just get on with it. It wasn’t easy some days, but it’s something that has to be done. I’ve got a family to support and bills to pay, so I just had to push it as much as I could.”
Nick says he was always sceptical about so-called ‘herbal cures’.
But two years ago he read about CurraNZ, a supplement approved by the Informed-Sport testing programme.
The product itself contains extract of blackcurrants grown in New Zealand and is thought to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Within weeks the pain had subsided to a level where he was able to join a gym.
“When I started working out, it was just the bike and the cross trainer for the first three months.
“But the weight just started falling off and I lost four or five pounds a week, easily.
“I was a 42-inch waist and I’m now a 34/36. It’s insane.”
Nick also shrunk down from 19 to 13 stone and says he feels so much better as a result.
“People take losing weight for granted, but when you’re a bit impaired in your ability to exercise it’s harder to do.
“Doctors say to go swimming, but I found it so hard to do stuff and if it got cold my joints used to really stiffen up.
“If I went swimming and stepped out of the pool I would get cold instantly and be achey for the next couple of days, so it puts you off doing anything. It was a vicious circle.”
Crucially, Nick is able to enjoy getting out and about with his daughters, too.
“It’s been life-changing for us as a family.
“The other day my daughter was showing me her push-ups, so I was doing them and pushing off the floor and clapping.
“She was laughing at me – but the things I can do now that I couldn’t do before are amazing.
“We’ve been clambering over big boulders at a place local to me, called Brimham Rocks, and we’ve also been getting out on the mountain bikes when the weather permits.
“My youngest daughter does tell me off for doing jumps and stunts – but it’s a world away from where I was a few years ago.”
Most surprised of all is Nick’s doctor.
“My doctor is over the moon with the way that I’ve improved. But I get the impression he’s still perplexed by it all,” says Nick.
The key ingredients in the New Zealand blackcurrant extract Nick takes are ‘anthocyanins’.
These are pigments in the fruit’s skin responsible for their dark purple colouring, which belong to a group of flavonoids called ‘polyphenols’ and possess high levels of antioxidants.