Carolee Bateson-Koch, DC, ND
I will never forget the day many years ago when I walked into my treatment room and saw a mother sitting with her 18-month-old child in her lap.
I will never forget the day many years ago when I walked into my treatment room and saw a mother sitting with her 18-month-old child in her lap. The child was covered from head to toe with an ugly, scaly, eczematous rash with many cracks in the skin and raw areas that had been bleeding. I could not find even one patch of healthy skin anywhere on this child’s body.
After I did a careful case history and thorough examination, the desperate mother agreed to a program I proposed consisting mostly of dietary changes and several food supplements. I scheduled the next appointment in two weeks, handed the mother my card and told her to phone me if she encountered any problems.
Upon entering the treatment room two weeks later, I was greeted by a smiling woman and a healthy-looking child I did not recognize. It was only when I glanced at the chart in my hand that I realized this was the same child I had seen two weeks ago. I did a surprised double-take!
The mother, bursting with excitement, told me how she had carefully followed the program I had suggested. She recounted how, on the fifth day, the rash had seemed to worsen for about three days, and she was about to phone me when suddenly, the child’s skin miraculously started to clear.
She pulled off the child’s shirt to show me a torso of healthy-looking, pink skin. Only traces of the rash were left: little round patches on the inside of each elbow and behind each knee. The mother was determined to follow the program until that also was gone. Two weeks later, there were only a couple of tiny red spots left on the elbows. While these spots persisted, no more rashes appeared in the three years that I followed the case.
The Causes Of Eczema
Although eczema is an individualized condition, over the years I have noticed underlying similarities present in almost all cases. When treatment is directed at these underlying patterns, better results are achieved.
Eczema has more than one cause. Because of this, it is necessary to do more than one thing to reverse it. While all the causes of eczema may not be known, natural healing offers a more solid solution by working with the underlying conditions that are known.
Allergic eczema is the most common form of eczema and many things may "trigger" an outbreak. Sometimes these are considered "causes," but they are really only factors which, when avoided, help to decrease flare-ups. Some of these traditional triggers include excessive scratching of the skin; moisture, such as sweat; overheating; house dust and house mites; wool or scratchy fabric; dog or cat dander; cigarette smoke; detergent residue in clothes; or soap.
While all of the above can exacerbate eczema, they do not cause it. Often when the skin erupts in sores, the body is trying to rid itself of internal toxins and metabolic byproducts. These toxins are generated by the following list of conditions which, when combined, have the potential to create eczema: systemic candidiasis, food allergies and sensitivities, maldigestion, imbalanced colon microflora, poor food choices or nutrient deficiencies.
Clinical experience has demonstrated that the above six conditions are nearly always present in children who have eczema. They are all related, with one thing creating the next, resulting in a pattern of problems.
Candidiasis is a yeast/fungal condition either present from birth or acquired through antibiotic use that partially destroys the protective colon flora. Candida albicans damages the lining of the intestines, allowing toxins and undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream and create either allergic reactions throughout the body. Read The Yeast Connection by William Crook, MD or my book, Allergies Disease in Disguise, published by alive books, for a more detailed description on how this mechanism works in the body.
Food allergies and sensitivities often trigger episodes of eczema or keep it erupting all the time when the sensitive food is eaten daily. Poor food choices and maldigestion from an overstressed digestive tract help create nutrient deficiencies which further weaken an overworked immune system.
Eczema Protection Program
Eliminate the most common foods associated with eczema. These include cow’s milk and all dairy products, sugar, yeast, wheat, eggs, peanuts and pork. Also eliminate any other food suspected of precipitating a breakout of eczema.
Culture the colon with lactobaccilus acidophilis and bifidobacteria in a good quality powder obtained from your health food store. It should contain 10 billion organisms per gram. With most products, sufficient doses would be one quarter of a teaspoon two times per day for infants to age two, and one half teaspoon two times daily for children age two or older. Probiotic products generally have a pleasant flavor and may be mixed with pure water, a bit of juice or pur? fruit.
Take plant enzymes which contain at least these four enzymes: protease, amylase, lipase and cellulase. Enzymes break down food particles and help to halt adverse food reactions. For children under age two, look for a children’s enzyme formula. Capsules may be opened and mixed with the first bite of food. Enzymes should be taken with each meal and all snacks.
Include grapefruit seed extract in your program for its antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. (Do not confuse this with grapeseed extract, a potent antioxidant). Grapefruit seed extract comes in liquid form or capsules. As it has a very sour and bitter taste, it should be mixed into a favorite food or with a bit of maple or natural fruit syrup.
Grapefruit seed extract is strong and only a few drops are necessary. Consult the directions on the bottle as dose goes by body weight. Capsules are easier to administer as soon as a child is old enough to swallow them. This product, however, may not be necessary for children under age one.
Supplement with an oil blend that contains a balanced mixture of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Udo Erasmus, author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, recommends that the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio be between 5:1 to 2:1 for long-term use. Individuals with eczema are usually deficient in these nutrients.
Flax seed oil and evening primrose oil have anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing effects. Studies have shown that over two-thirds of eczema sufferers improve dramatically with supplementation and topical application of evening primrose oil alone. For best effect, however, an oil blend is recommended. Children require only one or two teaspoons per day. Eliminate antagonistic oils, which include supermarket processed oils and oils found in margarine, shortenings, salad dressings and packaged foods.
Vitamin A and zinc supplementation has also been shown to be very beneficial. Apply a calendula cream or gel that contains tea tree oil to the eczematous lesions up to several times a day. Flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil can be also added to the calendula cream which helps to speed up healing.
The above steps are the core program to healing eczema and should be started together and followed for four to five weeks. If further help is required, consult your health care professional or refer to The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by alive books for additional ideas.