If you’ve had it, then you know. Eczema is a quietly discussed but frequently experienced (not to mention, self-conscious inducing) skin condition, especially by members of the Darling team. This time of year, as the weather turns colder and skin drier no matter what, we’ve found this article from Chalkboard Mag* a welcome treasure trove of advice.
OUR BODIES ARE amazing communicators. If something isn’t right on the inside, you can bet it will show up on the outside too. Eczema is uncomfortable and annoying to deal with, so most people only address it from the surface. That means the root cause remains – and that dry itchy peely party never really ends.
Functional medicine doc, Mark Hyman, is throwing inflammation under the spotlight and showing us how to eliminate eczema for good:
What is the cause of this painful and often embarrassing condition? Simply put, eczema is a sign that your body is inflamed. The solution is figuring out what’s going wrong inside your body and reducing that inflammation. Unfortunately, traditional medicine has us slathering potentially dangerous potions onto our skin to treat the symptom, without identifying the cause.
As I said, the root cause of eczema is a disturbance within your immune system. Your body is overreacting to something that is attacking you from the inside. Many people don’t make the connection between gut issues and immunity. But over two-thirds of your immune system resides inside your gut. Small changes in the intestinal tract from multiple insults (such as food sensitivities, too many antibiotics, acid-blocking drugs or infections; too much ibuprofen, stress, or even toxins) allow food particles to enter your bloodstream, which get exposed to your immune system and create systemic havoc.
What Causes Eczema?
There are plenty of culprits. For example, chemicals and other weird additives found in creams, lotions and detergents can certainly trigger eczema. But in my experience, I’ve found there’s a more adverse reaction to these topical substances when your body is out of balance.
So the questions really become: Why are you so reactive? Why is your immune system so out of whack? If I had to narrow down the two primary causes of eczema, I would say the following are the culprits:
Leaky Gut | Leaky gut is medically called “increased intestinal permeability.” This is a sign of a good gut gone bad. Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the gut thins and small food particles literally leak through the gut wall. Your immune system deems these food particles attackers because the food particles are supposed to stay within the gut. This creates low-grade inflammation and food sensitivities, especially to gluten and dairy, which are the biggest food causes of eczema. Leaky gut also triggers many other health problems including fatigue, brain fog, headaches, depression, allergies, sinus problems, irritable bowel, reflux, joint pain, acne, autoimmune diseases and more. Inflammation causes weight gain, which is triggered by insulin resistance, food sensitivities and food allergies. Learn all about it here.
Abnormal Gut Flora | The condition of abnormal gut flora is called dysbiosis, which occurs when the three pounds of bugs in your gut become overrun with bad bugs and yeast. Yeast overgrowth is a common cause of eczema. It can be caused by a processed food diet that is high in sugar and refined carbs and low in fiber. It also can be triggered by the use of antibiotics, steroids, hormones and even birth control pills. Getting rid of the overgrowth of bad bugs and yeast can make a huge difference in eliminating eczema.
7 Steps To Eliminate Eczema Naturally
Now that we’ve identified the main culprits, before you take another pill or apply another toxic lotion, try these seven strategies to help you eliminate eczema:
1. Try an Elimination Diet. The two most common and harmful food sensitivities are gluten and dairy. Try an elimination diet that will remove gluten, dairy and sugary, processed foods.
2. Incorporate Anti-Inflammatory Foods. Eat plenty of wild-caught fish and a colorful array of plant foods. Use spices, like turmeric, liberally. And incorporate fish oil and curcumin – two of my favorite anti-inflammatory supplements – into your daily routine.
3. Normalize Gut Flora. Restoring normal gut flora reduces overall immune activation and many inflammatory diseases including asthma, eczema, rhinitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes are among the things I use to normalize healthy gut flora. Please keep in mind it may be necessary to work with a functional medicine practitioner to address gut issues, but you can start immediately on your own by removing food sensitivities and incorporating gut-healing nutrients.
4. Use the Right Supplements. The protocol I use to reduce eczema includes fish oil, evening primrose oil and vitamins D and A.
5. Get Better Sleep. No surprise: Studies show sleep loss fuels the flames of inflammation and exacerbates eczema and other conditions. These are among the many reasons you want to aim for eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleepevery night.
6. Exercise Regularly. Studies show regular exercise reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, make it your own.
7. Control Stress Levels. Besides making you absolutely miserable, studies link chronic stress levels with inflammation. Whether you do meditation, deep breathing, yoga or another form of stress reduction, make it a priority and do it regularly.
*The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.
Images via Beth Cath