In the United States alone, over 31 million people have some degree of eczema, and of that 13% are children. Eczema with atopic dermatitis being the most common is affecting people at an alarming rate in our society. What is eczema? Eczema is a chronic inflammation of the skin causing a red, dry, itchy rash that flares up. When toxins in the body aren’t properly draining out through the lymphatic system the body will force those toxins out through the skin.
Causes of Eczema
You may wonder what causes it and if it is caused by environmental type factors like irritants or even dry skin. Yes, there can be and are external triggers, but these only perpetuate the existing imbalances within the body. Eczema is worsened by an overactive/reactive immune system that is inflamed because of an unhealthy gut. It boils down to the fact of how well your body detoxes, that the body is not detoxing properly and has lost the ability to detox. It is essentially a skin disorder caused by immune dysregulation (a deficiency), and an imbalance in gut health. What it boils down to is an immune system that is out of whack and the condition of the gut is what leads to inflammation in the skin for a person with eczema. It can and often is a vicious cycle.
You are more likely to get eczema if your family has a history of eczema as genetics do play a role in eczema and therefore it can be inherited. A gene mutation in the Filaggrin gene normally has two copies, but people with eczema have only one copy. Filaggrin deficiency occurs when the skin inherits a faulty copy of the gene for making Filaggrin. This gene is responsible for the repairs to the skin barrier and people with only one copy are more susceptible to developing eczema. Making it even more important to keep your gut health in tip-top shape, as it is in our gut that the triggering of various ailments occurs.
Eczema and your gut health have a significant connection. How does gut health impact someone with eczema? Research shows that people with eczema have different strains of bacteria in their gut microbiome compared to people without eczema. Not eating vegetables, and having an unhealthy diet will cause the gut bacteria/microbiome to starve or begin eating the mucous layer in the gut leaving it vulnerable. This then creates inflammation in the gut (leaky gut/gut permeability) and the skin. Eating healthy fiber gives good bugs what they need to prosper in the gut, producing short-chain fatty acids and thus nourishing our gut, keeping the gut lining healthy. Once you begin to regulate a dysregulated immune system you will see significant improvements and better quality of life. Ignoring eczema can lead to asthma later in life.
Myths About Eczema
Most people have heard of eczema or know someone who has it, but it is often a misunderstood condition as are treatments for it. Mainstream treatments are very common if you search for “eczema” versus natural treatments that are geared toward healing the whole body. Here are some common myths about eczema:
Myth #1: Eczema is an isolated skin disease.
Fact: Eczema is a sign that the body is toxic, the gut is imbalanced, and the immune system is overwhelmed so it reacts in various ways.
Myth #2: Eczema is purely an autoimmune response.
Fact: Although there is an autoimmune component to eczema, it is not purely one's immune system gone haywire. This inflammatory response is triggered by something.
As the gut heals, toxins are eliminated, and nutritional deficiencies are corrected, the immune system is strong again.
Myth #3: Eczema should be treated with immunosuppressant drugs, anti-inflammatories, and topical steroids.
Fact: External creams are not the answer, healing the gut through mainstream holistic methods is. Using creams may “work” temporarily, but return once you stop and/or symptoms come back with a vengeance. Addressing the underlying problem is key. Many people with eczema have recovered within months of detoxifying their bodies, correcting nutritional deficiencies, and healing unbalanced gut flora.
The pathophysiology that is taught in traditional natural medicine, concerning eczema, is that toxicity triggers this inflammatory response and that these toxins can be anything from heavy metals, environmental chemicals, or toxic waste discharged from parasites in the body (this clogs up the detoxification pathways in our body), bacterial and other microbial byproducts including candida. Once the skin has this inflammatory response fungus (such as candida) may grow on the skin.
Myth #4: Stress and emotional health do not affect eczema.
Fact: Your emotional and mental state impacts eczema and eczema flare-ups. Stress suppresses the immune system. When the immune system is tired, it doesn’t function properly. If you have had eczema or if you have the propensity to develop eczema, stress will set the stage for these responses to happen.
Stress causes a disruption in the gut and gut problems cause stress and emotional upset. Think about someone with a migraine, it causes nausea and vomiting. The connection is close and almost immediate. If you look at brain and gut cells under a microscope they are almost identical, that is why there is such a tight connection. The enteric nervous system is made up of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining the gut from the esophagus to the rectum. This system controls digestion, swallowing, the release of enzymes to break down food, and also helps with the absorption of nutrients. When there is irritation in this system it can trigger mood changes because of the gut-brain connection. Also, the gut becomes unbalanced as in the case of irritable bowel syndrome.
Treatments for Eczema
Now that we have explored eczema and myths about eczema we can go on to how to treat eczema. It can be beneficial to use multiple methods simultaneously when working on clearing up eczema long term.
Over the many years of clinical practice, thousands of people with eczema have been treated with great success with a treatment regimen of supplements, detoxing, change of diet, and encouraging patients to reduce stress. All these factors are equally important for recovering from eczema and more importantly healing the gut. Minimizing your stress will greatly help reduce flare-ups and taking a probiotic is crucial as probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties. Regular detoxing using my 2-Week Detox Program or 21-Day Detox Program, Inflammagone, Gut Health, and Ful-Biotic is key to healing the gut and eczema.
Reducing inflammation and improving gut health are the number one benefits of probiotics and they are crucial. Be sure you are feeding them with natural fibrous foods, such as avocados, broccoli, acorn squash, lentils, chia seeds, raspberries, almonds, split peas, quinoa, artichokes, and oatmeal.
Something to keep in mind; the longer that you have been dealing with eczema the longer it takes to correct the underlying cause. Diet changes are helpful, especially in avoiding foods that cause inflammation in the body. When people with eczema eat certain foods it can trigger the body to release immune system compounds that cause inflammation, which, in turn, contributes to an eczema flare-up. These foods typically can be citrus, dairy products, eggs, gluten/wheat, soy, tomatoes, and some types of nuts. Being mindful of eating the foods mentioned in the “eczema diet” will be beneficial.
Eczema Diet (similar to an anti-inflammatory diet)
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Wild-Caught Fish
- Organic Leafy greens
- Organic Beans and lentils
- Colorful fruits like pineapple, mango, apples, and cherries
- Vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach
- Turmeric and cinnamon
Another area to explore when healing from eczema is food sensitivities. If you are unsure if you have food sensitivities or if you think you may, you could benefit from doing this Elimination Diet to pinpoint the particular food causing the eczema flare-ups. Determining the foods to avoid and doing an elimination diet will help clear up eczema.
To get to the cause of eczema and heal, it is imperative to take a look into your gut health and inflammation. My motto is, “to heal the gut and you must treat ailments from the INSIDE out”. The root causes of eczema are hidden in the gut and because the two are connected you may find it quite helpful to learn more here in our article Leaky Gut Syndrome. Another helpful resource is our book Detox for life.
Natural topical remedies cannot cure eczema, but in extreme cases, they can help manage the symptoms and minimize flares. Natural and soothing remedies you can try include bathing (twice a week), apple cider vinegar (diluted) bath soak, colloidal oatmeal bath soak, coconut oil, aloe vera gel, honey, and tea tree oil (diluted). Also, avoid strong heat sources. Moisturizing is important too, especially after bathing. Dr. Nuzum likes to use almond oil, olive oil, or shea butter from a quality organic source. These remedies will help soothe your dry skin while you work on healing internal problems.
For help with Dr. Nuzum’s specific recommendations for eczema treatment, or if you have any other questions, or need more information about how to begin a detox, contact us and we will give you the important tools you need to succeed in restoring your optimal health naturally! We are here to support you.