“How to heal eczema naturally?” asks Linda K. on today's #AskWardee. I'm sharing my thoughts below!
The Question: “How can we heal my grandson's terrible eczema?”
Linda K. writes:
I have a question for you which I hope you can answer. My grandson is 2-1/2 years old and covered from head to toe in eczema — terrible eczema that is open and bleeding. He recently was tested for allergies as I thought perhaps dairy and grains were causing much of his problem. It was a great surprise to us that … he has no allergies. None of the dairy or grain scratches reacted on him. Here in Canada, we cannot just make an appointment with any doctor we wish. We have a family doctor and that is who we go to. Could you make any recommendations that might help my grandson? FYI: my son had eczema from birth as well, so there is a family connection also.
I would appreciate any information you could give me so I can pass it on to my son and his wife. I keep my grandson 1 day a week and would be able to follow any information you provide.
My Answer: How To Heal Eczema Naturally
First of all, I am not a doctor or healthcare professional. What I'm sharing here is my own family's experience and things I have read or seen. I can't guarantee that eczema will be healed or that what worked for us will work for others.
Our son was born with terrible eczema. From head to toe. Doctors told us he had no allergies, food or otherwise, and that we just have to live with it and hope he would grow out of it.
He was so uncomfortable, all the time. Itchy, red, rashy skin.
Fast forward 2-1/2 years. We had cleaned up our external environment (which helped a little), but the eczema was still there. Our son showed no signs of outgrowing it.
In desperation, we decided to find out for ourselves whether or not he had food allergies. We thought, even if he hasn't tested positive for an allergy, maybe he is sensitive enough and the tests just don't pick it up.
(Later we learned the difference between food allergy and food intolerance. Both can cause eczema among other symptoms. The allergies show up on the usual tests, whereas less mainstream testing can reveal intolerances.)
Anyway, we cut out the major allergens of dairy and eggs first. Within 4 to 5 weeks, his eczema disappeared. Completely!
And this after being told he had no allergies. Finally, he had soft, baby skin! That was the most amazing thing for this Mama. I had nursed, cuddled, and loved this little boy for 2-1/2 years without actually feeling his true skin. I cried the first time I felt it smooth and clear, and I did for years afterward, too.
The battle wasn't over though…
We avoided the foods that triggered his eczema for a few years. Then we learned about traditional cooking and how the preparation of foods was important (like soaking, sprouting, fermenting to pre-digest grains so they are not as problematic). We did a test called Antibody Assessment Panel, which revealed the food intolerances we had found on our own.
We also learned about gut health. Proper gut balance is key to a body digesting and handling foods as nutrition instead of poisons. I'll tell you more about this in a bit.
For now, the end to our story is that through traditional cooking, with a focus on gut healing, our son's gut healed to the point where he could eat dairy and eggs without a recurrence of eczema. Praise the Lord!
That's why I've come to the conclusion that there are 2 steps to heal eczema naturally…
Step #1 — Find & Remove The Triggers
Even if your doctor's testing revealed no allergies, this does not necessarily mean that your grandson isn't sensitive to some foods. To find out if there are foods that cause eczema in your grandson, you have 2 choices:
1. Do an elimination diet that removes the most common allergens for 6 to 8 weeks — wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts, etc. If his skin clears up, you will reintroduce the potentially allergenic foods one at a time, spaced several days to weeks apart, so you can identify the culprits. You may find out it's more than 1 food.
2. Conduct a different allergy test called the IgG antibody test (you can do it at home or through a doctor). This test tells you how many antibodies are in your blood relative to the 96 foods commonly found in western diets.
No matter how you go about identifying the foods that cause the eczema, your grandson shouldn't eat them until his gut has healed.
Furthermore, look at his environment and see if any other things could be triggering the eczema, such as cleaners, perfumes, pesticides, etc.
By the way, this step also includes easing of symptoms with herbal salves and such. I made a homemade salve for our son with herbs, olive oil, and beeswax, and we rubbed it on him liberally. This really helped cut down on the burning and itching.
Step #2 — Heal The Gut
Avoidance of triggers will clear up the skin, but what if true healing is possible? It might be (but no guarantees).
We know that the body sees food allergens as foreign invaders and turns on the immune system to fight them. As a result, the body is overtaken by “battle” symptoms of all kinds — from digestive, to respiratory, to skin, to mental.
Why does this happen? Why does the body attack itself?
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the creator of the GAPS Diet and the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, gives the best answer I've ever heard. It all comes down to… the health of the gut!
Normal gut flora maintains gut wall integrity through protecting it, feeding it and insuring normal cell turnover. When the beneficial bacteria in the gut are greatly reduced, the gut wall degenerates. At the same time, various opportunists, when not controlled by damaged good bacteria, get access to the gut wall and damage its integrity, making it porous and “leaky”.
For example, microbiologists have observed how common opportunistic gut bacteria from families Spirochaetaceae and Spirillaceae, due to their spiral shape, have an ability to push apart intestinal cells, breaking down the integrity of the intestinal wall and allowing through substances which normally should not get through. Candida albicans has this ability as well. Its cells attach themselves to the gut lining, and literally “roots” through it making it “leaky”. Many worms and parasites have that ability as well.
Partially digested foods get through the damaged “leaky” gut wall into the blood stream, where the immune system recognises them as foreign and reacts to them.
This is how food allergies or intolerances develop. So, there is nothing wrong with the food. What is happening is that foods do not get a chance to be digested properly before they are absorbed through the damaged gut wall. So, in order to eliminate food allergies, it is not the foods we need to concentrate on, but the gut wall. In my clinical experience, when the gut wall is healed many food intolerances disappear. — Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, Food Allergy article
In other words, opportunistic organisms (bacteria, fungus, yeasts, and more), when not controlled by good gut flora, make actual holes in the gut wall. Undigested food escapes the gut through these holes into the blood stream. Consequently, this triggers an immune system response — as it should. They're not supposed to be there!
What should we learn from this?
First of all, it's very important for our immediate health to avoid the foods that are triggering these uncomfortable to severe reactions.
But second — and what is missing from most food allergy plans — we should place equal emphasis on healing the gut through nutritious and healing foods.
For More Information + Links Mentioned:
- IgG Antibody Test
- GAPS Diet Book
- Food Allergy article by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
- GAPS articles at TCS
- Gut-Healing GAPS Diet Made Simple
- Which Diet Is Right For You? Traditional Food or Gut Healing
- Free Traditional Cooking Video Series
- Free Recipe Guide: Homemade Dairy-Free Milks & Dairy Subs
- Traditional Cooking School's Allergy-Free eCourse
- Getting Started With Traditional Cooking
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Have you or a family member dealt with eczema? Do you know how to heal eczema naturally?
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