Eczema Treatment: Natural medicine
Eczema – A Scratchy Subject
Stand outside any school and look at the faces coming and going and ask yourself why are so many of our young people suffering with serious skin conditions. What would your answer be…hormones? Junk food? Stress? And it’s not confined to the young; a high proportion of adults too have less than perfect skin. The association between food and skin conditions such as eczema, has been hotly debated, contested and even turned medical professionals into testy in-fighters defending their own corner. Many stand firm that there is no evidence that certain foods contribute to the severity of eczema. Others would lay down their medical careers to their observations’ that food is a major player in eczema control.
Eczema comes from the Greek to “boil over”. It is seen in many dermatitic forms such as atopic, seborrhoeic, contact and irritant and so on. But they all have one thing is common: they itch! From mildly irritating, they intensify to an all consuming misery. Usually red, the eczematous skin is dry and accompanied by scaling. Scratching only makes matters worse. If you scratch, the skin becomes inflamed, so you rub and scratch, damaging the skin further, risking infection.
According to leading dermatologist Thomas Habif, atopic dermatitis – which has a genetic connection with hay fever, asthma and eczema, has almost tripled in the past 30 years. Found less in rural areas than urban, with approximately 15- 30% of children and 2-10% of adults affected. Luckily for 70% of the child suffers, they have a remission before their late teens. Further alarming statistics, are that in Britain, there was a 42% increase between 2001 and 2005 and the prescription rate increased by a staggering 57% over the five year period. This huge escalation resulted in over 13.7million GP prescriptions.
What’s becoming evident however, is the number of medical practitioners, not only in Ireland, but around the world, that are singing from the same hymn sheet: that what we eat or more precisely, what we absorb, has a significant influence on our skin.
The majority of skin conditions are an indication of an internal problem; implicating the gut and the immune system. Just bear in mind that 70% of the immune system sits in the gut and is fundamental to the well being of the skin and indeed the whole body.
During my college days, I remember being taught the doctrines of the leaky gut by senior medical herbalists. How the wall of the large intestine becomes weakened, thus allowing microscopic particles of unwanted matter to pass into the blood stream; relying on the immune system to pick up the pieces – quite literally. Today, that belief is now part of a famous television advert selling probiotics. So we know the integrity of the entire gut wall is paramount in our health and well being, but the inquiring mind would have to ask the question – what weakens the wall of the gut in the first place? Is it genetics? Is it that limited? Dr Susan Brown, nutritionist and author of The Acid- alkaline Food Guide, has studied for the past twenty years the correlation between acidosis- excess acid at cellular level, and our failing health. “Acidosis creates a fertile ground for inflammation in many ways – If inflammation persists it can eventually lead to a variety of disease conditions including arthritis, bronchitis, colitis, skin problems including eczema” she writes. “…when tissues and organs are chronically exposed to excess acids, they begin to harden and/or develop lesions in order to protect themselves”.
Our modern diet of sugar, sugar and even more sugar, washed down with fizzy drinks, strong coffee and high protein meals, is simply, hyper-acidity on a plate. The more we offend, the more the body struggles to keep the pH ( the acid/alkaline balance) at correct levels. Even to the extent of robbing alkaline minerals, such as calcium from teeth and bones, in order to preserve the precious equilibrium. If the habit of eating inappropriate acidic food goes uncorrected, further demineralization can lead to serious health issues. There’s more. The environment in which acidosis creates within the body, invariably is host to unwanted guests. Candida albicans and yeast strains squat uninvited, contributing to skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and granuloma annulare.
Like all symptoms and medical conditions of the body, there is no one simple answer. The manifestation of eczema originates from the inside – this we know. However, our appreciation of how acidic foods can have a profound effect on our skin, is yet to be realized.
External toxins found in some non organic skincare products can irritate and inflame an already sensitive system. But we shouldn’t assume that they’re the cause of the inflamed eczematous skin; they’re purely a contributory factor. As for stress, it is quite sensational in its action on the body. It can suppress the immune system, stimulate the adrenal glands and cause excess insulin production, affect the thyroid….. need I go on? Stress is no longer a buzz word – just a ticket for ill health.
A new awareness needs to be adopted of how our body processes the food we eat, coupled with the life-style we choose to lead. Inner health is reflected in outer radiance. The skin signals to us just how well we’re doing. What we eat is without question a major player in condition such as eczema. Inflammatory foods – stimulate inflammatory processes.
If you are one of the many people who suffer from eczema, know the foods that work with your body, not against it. It usually only involves small changes and a little support.