ECZEMA (ATOPIC DERMATITIS)

Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH

Eczema is a common autoimmune condition in which the skin develops red, itchy patches. Autoimmune diseases cause immense suffering and pain. In people who suffer from various autoimmune conditions, the immune system strangely produces antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues. Read more about AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES >

SYMPTOMS

– Itchy, dry, sore, cracked, and red skin.

– Periods of symptomatic improvement, followed by periods of flare-ups which may occur as often as two or three times a month.

– Eczema can involve entire body, but it is most common on the face, hands (especially fingers), the insides of the elbows or backs of the knees, etc.

POSSIBLE CAUSES

Eczema is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system changes its nature and instead of protecting the skin sends anybodies against it. The exact cause of this phenomenon and why human immune system behaves in such a strange way and lead to eczema or other numerous autoimmune conditions is still unclear, but there are reasons to believe autoimmune diseases are caused by a combination of many factors including unhealthy lifestyle, bad diet, lack of exercise, vitamin D deficiency (insufficient exposure to the sun), stress, depression, anxiety, frequent use of stimulants (smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine, etc.), and diet high in animal products, refined and processed foods, bad fats, toxins, and genetic factors. Also certain medications, such as beta blockers, lithium, anti-malarial drugs can contribute to eczema.

– It is believed that autoimmune diseases usually start from the lack of probiotic bacteria in the gut due to bad refined diet, use of antibiotics, consumption of meat and dairy products (as they are usually contaminated with antibiotics), sugar, stimulants, overgrowth of harmful bacteria and candida (yeasts), toxins, stress, lack of dietary fibre, etc. All those factors contribute to the lack of good probiotic bacteria and overgrowth of bad bacteria and harmful yeasts that produce toxins and cause inflammation leading to the damage of the intestinal walls  and  increased intestinal permeability – a condition called Leaky gut syndrome. As a result toxins instead of being removed from the colon are reabsorbed back into the blood through damaged walls contributing to autoimmune diseases including eczema.

Vitamin D3 deficiency. There is a growing amount of research which suggests that a lack of vitamin D could be an important factor in causing autoimmune diseases such as eczema. Almost every person in England is deficient in vitamin D which is very important also for human nervous and immune system. Deficiency of vitamin D may contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases as it is not only the most important immune system booster but also regulator which means it helps to prevent immune system from attacking own body. In his bestselling book “China Study” Prof Colin Campbell wrote that, “Autoimmune diseases in general become more common the greater the distance from the equator.  This phenomenon has been known since 1922.” This statement leads us to a simple conclusion that eczema and about 160 other autoimmune conditions may have a lot to do with the vitamin D (“sun vitamin”) deficiency as well as the modern unhealthy lifestyle of developed countries of North America or Europe. Read more about vitamin D >

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Iodine deficiency (due to soil depletion there is not enough iodine in food). The thyroid gland requires iodine to produce its hormones. In fact, it is believed that iodine’s only role in the body is to make thyroid hormones. However, it is important to know that not only too little of iodine can cause impaired thyroid function, but also too much can interfere with the gland’s ability to produce its hormones. Unfortunately there is disagreement with regards to sufficient iodine daily requirements. Some maintain that the dosage range for iodine supplementation should be 300-400 mcg daily but others suggest that it is way too low.

Magnesium, Zinc, and Selenium deficiency.

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– Toxins: Mercury (from dental fillings, tap water, fish, flu shots, etc.) lead, fluoride, and other toxins.

Food intolerances: Gluten and A1 Casein Allergy.

– Hormonal Imbalances: Too much Cortisol (from stress).

Stress, anxiety and depression. A number of published papers have shown that stress and negative emotions contribute to all autoimmune diseases.

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– Consumption of trans fats, margarine and bad oils (high in pro-inflammatory omega 6) and deficiency of omega 3 healthy fats high in foods such as Flax seed, Chia seed, etc..

Bad lifestyle, unhealthy diet high in sugar, processed refined foods, nutritional deficiencies, artificial sweeteners, lack of exercise, stimulants, drugs, medication, and in particular excessive stress, depression and pessimism may lead to the oversensitivity of the immune system which changes its nature and starts attacking own body.

– Consumption of meat and dairy (especially heated) products can sometimes trigger autoimmune response and causes hormonal imbalance.

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– Gluten and heated animal protein (found especially in dairy) may also stimulate human immune system to turn against own body and trigger an autoimmune reaction.

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– Thimerosal containing vaccines may cause atopy in children. >

TREATMENT

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– The most important aspect of successful treatment is lifestyle and diet according to the recommendations listed in the HEALTH RECOVERY PLAN > Please study it carefully and do your best to use the remedies and implement all the principles. If you manage to do it you will recover from this problem.

 HERBAL REMEDIES & SUPPLEMENTS

– Some eczema sufferers maintain MSM (organic sulphur) helped them to cure eczema: “I had severe pompholyx eczema for 3 years, went to the dermatologist many times ,was given steroids, it came back every time after a couple of weeks with a vengeance. I was miserable. I began trying every thing that the health food stores had, every herb, vitamin and mineral, tee tree oil , you name it. Then I came across MSM or also known as organic sulphur. I began taking one 1000 ml powered capsule twice a day, I noticed an improvement within 4 days, then I started upping the dose every three days until I was taking 7 capsules a day. By the end of the month I was completely healed! It has been almost 2yrs and not one blister! Please take warning, though…. do not try and start out with a real high dose, because MSM makes your cells more permeable and releases toxins from the cells, so if you try to start out with a high dose your body will not be able to rid it’s self fast enough of the toxins and you may get headaches and dizziness, also drink lots of water to flush toxins from your body. some may even need to start out at two doses of 500 ml a day, then work yourself up to higher doses. you can also buy creams and lotions with MSM in them, but there may be irritants in them as well…” (source >)

Pau d’Arco – Nashville Zephania wrote: “Take 6 heaped teaspoon of Pau d’Arco, boil it in 5 glasses of water to make 3 glasses. Take every six hours one glass three times a day. It takes time but you will be cured. Pau d’Arco cures my eczema.”

Evening primrose oil or Star flower oil (a least 1000 mg a day). Both are best sources of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) – a fatty acid which promotes healthy nervous system, immune system, skin, hair and nails. It can be used also externally on the effected skin.

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) may have therapeutic value in atopic eczema. >

Evening primrose has therapeutic effects in atopic dermatitis. >

– Take good quality omega 3 fish oil supplements (HealthAid makes excellent omega 3 fish oil as it is molecularly distilled and therefore perfectly free from mercury and other contaminants >): 750 mg 2 times a day with meals. I recommand this brand also because it is high in both EPA and DHA (DHA omega 3 is more important for the brain and nervous system while EPA in coping with inflammation).

In one study people taking fish oil high in EPA (one of the omega3 fatty acids found in fish oil) experienced significant reduction in symptoms of eczema after 12 weeks. >

If you don’t want to use a molecularly distilled omega 3 fish oil (such as the mentioned above one by HealthAid) it’s much better to use high in DHA omega 3 oil from algae (expensive) and not from fish as unlike fish oils, the algae-derived omega 3, is free from toxins that may be present in some low quality fish oils. In case you prefer to avoid swallowing gelatine capsule pierce or cut the omega 3 capsule and squeeze it into a meal or liquid.

Zinc (helps produce thyroid hormone) – 30  to 50mg a day after breakfast. Zinc deficiency can cause gastrointestinal system to malfunction (for example, without zinc proteins can’t be properly digested), so foods aren’t completely digested. These food particles can then be absorbed into bloodstream where immune system misidentifies them as antigens (enemy) and then produces antibodies against them. Also gluten can lead to a similar problem.

The following email received by HealthAid from one of the customers using their zinc supplement may demonstrate how important role this mineral may play in dealing with eczema or psoriasis: “Good morning. My name is Terri D. On the 20th January 2016 I was in a fire and burnt both my hands. Zinc was intrinsic to my health care plan. I am sending you a before and today photo of my burns (see pictures below) and just saying thank  you. Kind regards, Terri.”

– Take good quality probiotic formulas as autoimmune diseases are linked with the deficiency of the probiotic bacteria in the gut.

For INFANT ECZEMA use INFANTPROBIO (HealthAid) >

– You must take Vitamin D3 because almost all patients suffering from autoimmune diseases patients are deficient in Vitamin D! While using vitamin D3 supplements always remember to take also well absorbed magnesium (such as citrate) as vitamin D supplements lead to magnesium deficiency over time. If you can’t afford higher doses take at least 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day with meal. But since deficiency of this vitamin is so widespread (especially in the UK) it would be better to take 10,000 to 30,000 IU a day with meals with appropriate doses of magnesium. Another requirement for proper absorption of vitamin D is 200 mcg of Vitamin K2 MK-7 (Derived from Natural Natto) a day. Read more about vitamin D >

Vitamin E and D supplementation improves symptoms of atopic dermatitis (study results). >

Magnesium citrate or another well absorbed magnesium: 2 times a day 200-400 mg between meals. The more vitamin D3 is used the more magnesium must be taken as D3 leads to magnesium deficiency which might be very dangerous!

Vitamin B12: 1,000 to 2,000 mcg a day under the tongue (must be sublingual Methylcobalamin!). Many people with autoimmune diseases have low levels of this most important vitamin. Read a fascinating article on B12 >

Boost Glutathione levels which is a most powerful of all antioxidants and strengthens the immune system and is one of the most effective remedies against autoimmune diseases . It boosts body’s ability to modulate and regulate the immune system. It is also important to provide body with ingredients that increase glutathione production in the liver by taking turmeric, milk thistle, L-cysteine or NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), Alpha Lipoic Acid, bilberry, vitamin C, asparagus, broccoli, peaches, avocado, spinach, garlic, squash, grapefruit.

– Taking selenium supplements and increasing consumption of foods high in selenium (Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, garlic, onions, etc.).

– Good quality Multivitamin-mineral formula or Vitamin B-complex: 1 tablet after breakfast. Please do not buy cheap formulas as their potency is very low and they contain only short list of inorganic ingredients. It must be a good quality formula such as Healthy Mega (HealthAid), VM75 (Solgar) or Special Two (NOW Foods) which are an excellent multi-vitamin and mineral formulas fortified with alfalfa powder, rutin, citrus bioflavonoids, bromelain, herbs, digestive enzymes and many other super nutrients. If your diet is very healthy and you stay away from refined foods, sugar and stimulants then take only 1/2 tablet after breakfast.

– Since Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Folate) play very important role in dealing with autoimmune diseases I recommand getting B complex with a good quality multivitamin-mineral formula which is high in B vitamins. One of my favourite ones is Healthy Mega (HealthAid) as it is not only high in B vitamins and at the same time it contains zinc, selenium, herbs, digestive enzymes, micronutrients, and few super grasses. Compared with other popular formulas Healthy Mega may contain even up to 60 times more vitamins per tablet (see the picture below)!

Adults may take 1 tablet of Healthy Mega after breakfast, children 1/2 tablet (or less) crushed and mixed with juice after breakfast.

– Beneficial herbs: Tulsi (Holy basil), Rhodiola, Lemon balm (Melissa), Turmeric, Hops.

PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) tablets (present in Healthy Mega): Fatigue, irritability, depression, weeping eczema (moist eczema), scleroderma (premature hardening of skin), patchy pigment loss in skin (vitiligo), premature grey hair.

– Everyday take Chlorella tablets (Pukka), or excellent Clean greens powder (Pukka), or other super foods such as barley grass, alfalfa, maca, ground hemp seed, wheat grass, etc.

Chlorella vulgaris extract may have potential as a nutraceutical ingredient for the prevention of atopic dermatitis. >

Boswellia (Viridian): According to one study 80% of patients on Boswellia experienced remission from some autoimmune diseases!

EXTERNAL REMEDIES

– Use only soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, deodorant or detergents with harmless natural ingredients. Google “tea tree oil soap”, “natural charcoal soap” or “clay soap”, etc. and you will find some good options.

How I Treated Eczema With Tea Tree & Lavender Essential Oils >

– A gentlemen with eczema once told me he was told to take Chamomile flower baths (which he bought in the health shop I used to worked for) and he claimed it was the key cause the symptoms of his eczema disappeared. He used about 2 tablespoons of loose flowers per bath.

– Amazing healing properties of Clay have been known for centuries in many cultures around the world. Cleopatra used Dead Sea clay twice a week in order to maintain her skin smooth and unblemished. Back in Poland I used and recommended this wonderful remedy externally and internally for many different conditions often with great success. There are different types of clay such as Kaolin Clay (White), Green Clay, Bentonite (Grey/Cream colour), or Rhassoul Clay (Moroccan Red Clay). All of them can be effectively used to detoxify, regenerate and nourish the skin, to eliminate inflammation, or brighten dark areas.  Clay mask is also one of the most effective ways to get rid of dark spots and to effectively treat almost any skin problems.

In order to make a face mask mix two tablespoons of any type of clay with two 2 tablespoons of hot water (distilled would be the best), or rose water, or the same amount (2 tablespoons) of strong Calendula tea (or Comfrey tea), and 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly, wash your face with distilled water or clean with aloe vera juice and apply the mask on the skin. Let it dry for about 30 minutes and rinse.

Note: Do not use any metal tool to mix clay with other ingredients. Use a wooden or glass instrument to keep clay potent and effective.

To get much better results the mask needs to be left on the skin much longer or even overnight (only if you are able to sleep with it). You should also enrich the above ingredients with 1 teaspoon of cold pressed Olive oil, Evening primrose oil or Castor oil. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly, wash your face with distilled water or clean with aloe vera juice and apply the mask on the skin. This time you also need to cover the mask with a clingfilm to prevent it from drying.

Some ladies who left a Green Clay mask on face overnight told me it worked like a magic. In case of a dry skin try to use a raw organic coconut oil or vitamin E oil after removing the mask.

Clay baths should be much more effective than chamomile flowers or anything else. Adding green clay to your baths is one of the most effective methods to reduce itching. Clay is so amazing because apart from having anti-inflammatory properties it is able to absorb all the substances which cause itching. In addition it also provides a soothing effect and can even nourish and regenerate damaged skin. You do not need too much clay in the bath. About 1/2 cup of a green or bentonite clay in a warm bath should be enough.

Externally try to use raw organic coconut oil, castor oil  and vitamin E oil. Avoid cosmetics with harmful chcemicals. About external use of coconut oil someone wrote: “Coconut oil has worked wonders for me after I clubbed it with proper diet free from refined flour, fried items, alcohol, citrus fruits. Earlier I have used 777 oil (extract of the herb wrighitia tinctoria mixed with 50% coconut oil). Then it had no effect. With diet control, avoiding above items, there is total healing with only some scars on the legs. Otherwise it was like battlefield all over the body. It is now nearly three months and I am totally free, but I still continue to apply the same with higher coconut oil content so that the skin is smooth”.

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Stephen: “I decided to try Coconut Oil to see if it would help me lose some weight. It didn’t, but it has almost completely healed up my severe case of eczema. I started off with two tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil, one in morning one late afternoon. After the short break that proved it was the coconut oil having an effect on my skin, I started using coconut oil capsules 1000mg twice a day, but had to up the dose to 2000mg twice a day. I have not experienced any flare ups yet and it has been more than a few months almost completely clear now.”

“A doctor on another told us to eat coconut oil several times a day by the spoonful and take it with OJ and to use it with pure lavender oil for a lotion and that the P would go away”.

Christine, from Vernon B C, Canada: “I take extra virgin coconut oil every day, internally and topically, I swear by it, my eczema has all but cleared up, and my skin has improved, I just feel better when I take it.”

Evening primrose oil or Star flower oil can be helpful not only used internally but also externally.

– In order to speed up the recovery implement principles included in HEALTH RECOVERY PLAN >

NUTRITIONAL AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS

Autoimmune diseases can be reversed by practicing the following guidelines:

– Go on an anti-inflammatory diet: Get plenty of fresh raw vegetable juices and raw vegetables (especially those rich in carotenoids such as carrots, as well as green leafy vegetables) and fresh fruits.

– If possible avoid all animal foods including cheese, meat products, all dairy, stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.).

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– Try to go on vegan unrefined diet for at least 6 months as it gives best results. Eat especially with lots of raw vegetables salads and raw vegetable juices.

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– Eliminate all junk food, processed food, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and anything with bad preservatives and chemical.

– Eating whole, unprocessed foods, and choosing as many organics as possible.

– Getting adequate sun exposure if possible (20 minutes a day during summer time between 10 am and 2 pm) to maintain vitamin D levels.

Avoid gluten (wheat products, etc.). The molecular structure of different parts of human body is often almost identical to that of gluten and therefore the immune system may start sending antibodies not only against gluten proteins but against proteins found in different organs causing autoimmune diseases. In this way gluten can increase the autoimmune reaction. Many people with autoimmune diseases have an autoimmune reaction to gluten, and it usually goes unrecognised. Gluten (and also zinc deficiency) can cause gastrointestinal system to malfunction, so foods aren’t completely digested. These food particles can then be absorbed into bloodstream where body misidentifies them as antigens and then produces antibodies against them.

Avoid all dairy products as heated or pasteurised dairy protein (especially A1 casein) often irritates the immune system stimulating it to produce antibodies against different internal organs. The most common allergies and food intolerances today are from wheat and dairy products because of the hybridized proteins of gluten and a1 casein. These proteins can also cause Leaky Gut Syndrome which leads to inflammation.

– Avoid water, drinks and foods in plastic containers and cans. Use glass bottles as Bisphenol A (BPA) which is found in plastic bottles and cans (lined up with plastic) disrupt endocrine system. Read more >

– Avoiding chlorine (tap water, swimming pools), fluoride (toothpastes with fluoride, etc.), and bromine as they also contribute to autoimmune diseases.

– Avoid hydrogenated fats and trans fats (margarines, doughnuts, cakes, etc.) and pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids (most of the commercial oils, soy oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, etc.). Ray Peat Ph.D., a physiologist who has worked with progesterone and related hormones since 1968, says that the sudden surge of polyunsaturated oils into the food chain post World War II has caused many changes in hormones. He writes: “The best understood effect of the polyunsaturated oils is their interference with the function of the thyroid gland. Unsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its movement in the circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone. When the thyroid hormone is deficient, the body is generally exposed to increased levels of estrogen. The thyroid hormone is essential for making the ‘protective hormones’ progesterone and pregnenolone, so these hormones are lowered when anything interferes with the function of the thyroid. The thyroid hormone is required for using and eliminating cholesterol, so cholesterol is likely to be raised by anything that blocks the thyroid function.”

– Increase consumption of omega 3 fatty acids in the form of ground flax seeds, chia seeds. Omega 3s are the building blocks for hormones that control immune function and cell growth.

– Detoxifying body from heavy metals by using combination of: Chlorella, Milk Thistle, Turmeric, Cilantro.

– Remove any dental fillings containing mercury. Read more >

– Increasing intake of healthy fats such as raw coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, chia seeds (soaked for at least 30 minutes or overnight), ground flaxseed, and hemp seeds as they will balance hormones. Coconut oil is a saturated fat comprising medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss. Coconut oil is very stable (shelf life of three to five years at room temperature), so body is much less burdened with oxidative stress than it is from many other vegetable oils.

– Increase consumption of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene found in carrots, apricots, green leafy vegetables, etc.

Eliminate stimulants (anything with caffeine or other similar harmful alkaloids: coffee, tea, green tea, mate, yerba mate, cola, chocolate, etc.).

Exercise at least 30–60 minutes per day.

– Get enough sleep.

– Practice deep breathing.

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– Address adrenal fatigue. A prolonged stress response can lead to adrenal exhaustion (also known as adrenal fatigue). Find out more about ADRENAL FATIGUE >

Treat unresolved emotional issues. Autoimmune diseases reflect emotions and mental attitude. When people with autoimmune diseases make progress in treating unresolved emotional issues, their symptoms subside. Stress, anxiety, hatred, unforgivingness, or depression are often key culprits. It is important to identify the stressors and learn use ways such as prayer that can help to control stress and all negative emotions. Read about the DEADLY CONSEQUENCES OF UNFORGIVENESS > and find out how to recover from DEPRESSION & ANXIETY >

– Drink and try use for cooking only distilled or at least filtered water. Not all water filters remove fluoride, so make sure the one you have does or use only distilled water (buy a water distiller). > Also taking chlorella and turmeric help to get rid of fluoride and heavy metals such as mercury.

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MOTIVATION AND EMPOWERMENT

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Please read this extremely important part (LINK) very carefully as it reveals the secret of finding true source of strength necessary to overcome bad habits and will help you to gain a powerful motivation to not only practice but also enjoy the new and very healthy way of life.

READ ALSO: AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES >

RECOVERY STORIES

– Autoimmune Disease Success Stories >

– Hallelujah diet leads to recovery from eczema! Read more >

20 YEAR CASE OF ECZEMA CURED WITH ST. JOHN’S WORT

“I have already posted on my success story in other discussions, however, I think my case should be discussed over here, for the benefit of all those who suffer from this supposedly incurable condition and believe in exploring alternative routes. I suffered from a severe case of Lichen Simplex Chronicus (aka Neurodermatitis) for about 20 years. Prescribed creams, suntanning, sea water baths, and various natural therapies may have provided some relief on occasion, however, the disease progressed overall, and I had just about given up until something extraordinary happened a year and a half ago, when I decided to try St John’s Wort to deal with a temporary and unrelated anxiety condition. I started taking 300mg a day, which worked very well for my anxiety, as the quality of my sleep improved quickly. What I was not expecting, was the disappearance of all the red plaques, flaky skin, itching symptoms and oozing on my lesions after only 6 weeks! I then increased the dose to 600mg a day, and after about 5-6 months, all the scarring left behind from 20 years of combat with the disease was gone. I now have fresh new skin everywhere the lesions used to be, and signs of the disease have not returned for about a year. Puzzled about this unexpected miracle as it was unfolding, research on the Web led me to a few explanations, one of which was the presence of a bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus in the lesions of 90% of patients suffering from atopic dermatitis. Further reading lead me to a potent molecule in St John’s Wort called Hyperforin. The molecule had been studied extensively to treat depression, but one of its less-documented properties was its high anti-microbial potency against Staphylococcus Aureus. Additional reading about St John’s Wort lead me to its documented use since antiquity in helping repair small cuts, bruises and burns, attributed to a second molecule called Hypericin. I therefore have excellent reasons to believe that St. John’s Wort extract helped in repairing my damaged skin and getting rid of a tough-to-beat bacterial infection, to which most conventional antibiotics are known to resist. Maybe most varieties of Atopic Dermatis are nothing more than a form of damage to the protective layers of the skin that eventually become colonized by Staph bacteria… We could speculate for hours, despite all the scientific theories about this disease being stress and immune-related. Nevertheless, I am cured and hope this information may help others in achieving comparable success.”

ANOTHER RECOVERY STORY

Wendy had read on various ‘official’ eczema websites that diet had nothing to do with eczema, but completely disillusioned with the conventional medical approach, she decided to give Pagano’s programme a go.

“My diet wasn’t too bad to begin with,” said Wendy, “and I didn’t smoke, so I focused on avoiding alcohol, red meat and nightshades like tomatoes and white potatoes.”

Alcohol was the hardest thing to give up, Wendy found. “I wasn’t a big drinker, but at weddings and birthdays, it was hard work trying to explain why I wasn’t drinking.”

On one occasion, Wendy had to refuse a glass of champagne to toast her friend’s 60th birthday. “The book says it’s all about priorities,” said Wendy. “And my top priority was getting better.”

Not long after starting Pagano’s programme, Wendy began to notice a difference. But it wasn’t a good one. “My eczema was worse than ever. I had it in places I’d never had it before, like around my eyes and in my belly button. There was orange pus coming out of my skin in places.”

Still, Wendy persisted with the plan, as the book explained that this was all part of the process. “It’s the body clearing the toxins,” said Wendy. “Things have to get worse before they can get better.”

Fortunately, the old adage held true in Wendy’s case. After about three months of following the programme, her skin started to improve and, by the six-month mark, it was completely clear. “I almost didn’t notice it,” said Wendy. “It was such a gradual improvement.”

People in her village certainly noticed, though. “My local butcher, the health shop owner, the girls in the clothes store—they all said how amazing the change in me was.”

Today, nearly two years after starting Pagano’s alternative approach, Wendy is still free of the painful, scaly lesions that plagued her for more than a decade. She does have a small patch of dry skin on her face, but it’s so tiny it doesn’t concern her. “I don’t like to say I’m cured,” says Wendy. “It could come back at any point. But I feel this is something that works for me.”

Wendy still follows Pagano’s principles, but has gradually introduced small quantities of certain foods back into her diet, like white potatoes and red meat, with no detrimental effects. It’s fine to try so long as your skin has completely cleared, Pagano says, but if a reaction occurs, he recommends reverting back to the original diet immediately.

Wendy is still sticking to the no-alcohol rule, although with her 30th wedding anniversary coming up, she’s tempted to have a drink to celebrate. “It would be nice . . . but I’ve more or less decided it’s not worth the risk. I’d rather enjoy some non-alcoholic wine and be eczema-free.”

Wendy Hope’s anti-eczema action plan

– Dr Pagano’s elimination diet (no red or processed meat; sugary, fried or junk food; nightshades; or alcohol)

– Plenty of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit and filtered water

– A natural, aloe-vera-based face and body moisturiser, used twice a day

– Omega-3 fish oils every day

– Flaxseed oil daily

– Slippery elm bark powder (taken as a tea or tincture, or as capsules or lozenges)

Conventional vs alternative

Exactly what causes eczema or psoriasis remains a mystery, but the conventional view is that it’s an immune-system malfunction as a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Treatments focus on managing symptoms, but many of them actually make things worse. Topical steroids, for example, can cause wrinkling and thinning of the skin, delayed wound-healing, stretch marks, acne, spider veins and ulcerations.

PUVA therapy (a combination of UVA light and the chemical psoralen) comes with an increased risk of skin cancer, while the systemic drug methotrexate can damage the liver, lungs and bone marrow.

Although the mainstream view is that diet has little impact on eczema, promising evidence suggests the opposite. Low-calorie diets, vegetarian diets and diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as in flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts) can significantly improve eczema symptoms, as can a gluten-free diet and regular fasting.

In a study of five eczema sufferers following a diet in line with the one that Wendy used (outlined in Dr John Pagano’s book), all showed improvement after six months.

Nutritional supplements, especially vitamins B6, B12 and D, and fish oils, can also help. eczema patients taking high doses of fish oil (10 g/day) for two months saw significant improvements in symptoms and in the amount of skin surface affected, while another study found that 3.6 g/day of purified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; found in fish oil) reduced the severity of eczema after just two to three months.

“COCONUT OIL has worked wonders for me after I clubbed it with proper diet free from refined flour, fried items, alcohol, citrus fruits. Earlier I have used 777 oil (extract of the herb wrighitia tinctoria mixed with 50% coconut oil). Then it had no effect. With diet control, avoiding above items, there is total healing with only some scars on the legs. Otherwise it was like  abattle field all over the body. It is now nearly three months and I am totally free, but I still continue to apply the same with higher coconut oil content so that the skin is smooth”.

Amber M. Raudabaugh: “I have found using Lever 200 soap on a daily basis is great…. I use a dandruff shampoo I use equal part of 2 kinds…. one containing zinc and one with the acid… it can be add to your soapy Lever 200 wash rag or just shampoo with it… depending on where your eczema is located.. mine is from the waste down…. so 2 to 3 times a week for about a 1/2 hour I will soak in a tub of the following…. 1-2 cups Epsom salt, handful of backing soap, handful of sea salt… It works…. then you wash as normal with the lever and or dandruff shampoo… Very few flare up since I have been doing this.”

SOURCES

Clin Rev Allergy Immunol, 2016; Epub ahead of print

Indian J Dermatol, 2014; 59: 456–9

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol, 2012; 26 Suppl 3: 22–31

Source: JAMA Psychiatry, 2015; doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.2235

BMJ, 2015; 350: h1269; Altern Med Rev, 2007; 12: 319–30

Br J Dermatol, 2005; 153: 706–14

Altern Med Rev, 2004; 9: 297–307

Altern Med Rev, 2007; 12: 319–30

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