Eczema: My Holistic Take
ECZEMA. A HOLISTIC MUM'S EXPLANATION.
My child has eczema. Now what? Yep I know that question well, and it was in that search for answers for my baby daughter that led by trusting my intuition and research which leads me to do the work I do now, in sharing that with families all across the world. If you haven't read our story yet - you can find it here.
Eczema is incredibly common these days so it would be easy to call it normal and dismiss it as just something some people get like it's just a bit of bad luck, but I see it as an amazing journey into discovering how our bodies seem to work. Mostly, I see it as the body trying to talk to us and so I guess it's up to us if we want to listen.
Something I've notice in reading many questions and comments about eczema in The Healing Tribe, is a thought that eczema is merely a skin based reaction to an allergen or sensitivity of some kind, and that if we treat what we observe, then we're on the right track. This is an easy assumption to make and I know some people have found relief from just whacking some cream on it, but the more I've come to understand eczema, the more I've seen so much confusion, so I wanted to help demystify eczema a little, and let families know there is so much that can be done to kick it out the door - for good.
Like all topics health related, there are many different theories out there - this is just mine, not only as a mother who quickly and naturally resolved her daughter's eczema with this philosophy, but with all the families I've worked with since in my 1:1 health coaching sessions.
CAUSE OR TRIGGER?
Food allergens are a major trigger of eczema alongside environmental irritants, lifestyle factors, toxins, stress, hormones etc - but they are not the actual cause of eczema like we are led to think. This isn't just about semantics, it's important to begin looking at eczema for what it is - a symptom or a clue given our skin does a great job inexternally reflecting any internal imbalances.
Eczema itself is a general term for any superficial inflammatory process involving the skin and is marked by redness, itching, bumps, weeping, scaling, oozing and/or crusting. So where does this response tend to start from? Bad luck or bad genetics is one explanation but it's not mine.
I first ask us to investigate our gut health. Our digestive systems are a key factor of our immune system health which is what science is beginning to understand in more depth, and those of us who have done gut healing work have usually been able to observe.
Leaky gut syndrome theorises that partially undigested food, toxins, viruses, yeast and bacteria are able to pass through compromised intestinal walls (something immature guts in infants are thought to have, but also many adults develop) and into the bloodstream, meaning our immune systems go into attack mode to defend itself from what it sees as foreign invaders. This is what they're designed to do after all, however not really in response to food which is where the allergy sensitisation process begins. A true allergy is one where the body creates IgE antibodies in response to an external antigen - this is a highly inflammatory process involving mast cells and the release of histamine. An intolerance often looks similar other than it does involve a potential anaphylactic response nor are IgE antibodies created. This is why I often ask my eczema clients to first start with testing for triggers including the RAST test to see what foods may be creating antibody production in the body.
However our digestive system doesn't work in isolation to influence our immunity. We also should consider our organs. When our diets are optimal and we have adequate nutrition without a huge amount of inflammation, our liver and kidneys work efficiently to process a normal load of toxins out of our bodies... but when the immune system is on hyper alert and there is significant inflammation, symptoms of congestion and overload appear in our organs and thus allergic responses can manifest differently. We see respiratory issues in lungs, foul smelling stools or distress in our digestive system, migraines in our heads etc. And what is our largest detoxification organ? That's right. Our skin. Hence why we often see what we label as eczema. The way I see it, is that eczema is a congested and inflamed body looking to push the toxins out through this particular 'exit point'. It is not just food allergens that contribute but rather anything that adds to the load our bodies are exposed to, which is why I advocate for a holistic approach - and while avoiding triggers is key, I like to support families to go even further and support the body to help it get out of this hyper alert state and into balance. I often described eczema simply as THE EXTERNAL MANIFESTATION OF INTERNAL INFLAMMATION, which is why I don't focus on creams. Yes keeping the skin supple is important during the healing process and I advocate a mix of both natural remedies and internal support, but the reason I don't recommend steroid creams unless absolutely necessary is that it also seems that the response may drive the inflammation further into the body. Nor do I recommend most pharmaceutical skin creams because they either contain alcohols which can have a drying effect but because the ingredients often compound the toxin load the liver has to process.
SO WHAT I DO?
For some, eczema resolution is as simple as removing key dietary triggers, but for others it's far more complex and even involves looking at some less tangible factors such as emotional triggers.
Of course I'm going to throw out there that investing into working with me 1:1 to help you navigate through this process is a great way of fast tracking results especially for those who have been dealing with eczema for a while and feel like they've tried everything and seen everyone - it's a reality I'm often the last person they see and they can't believe that nobody explained this to them before finally getting results.
I've helped thousands of families already, however I'm just one person so I will soon be releasing a book that outlines my holistic roadmap to beautiful skin and balanced immunity .
The general idea is to reduce the inflammation focusing on both the gut and liver, providing high quality nutrition that is easy to digest, adequate hydration, mineral balancing, emotional release and supporting the body to find balance. Sometimes during the healing process it can unclear whether it is a detox reaction or a reaction full stop, so understanding the bigger picture is key but so is learning to listen to our bodies. We are all different and so our path to clear skin is individual too.
Eczema must be addressed at the root cause to find long term relief. Avoiding triggers may help to reduce the appearance of external symptoms, but holistic healing is really about addressing the underlying dysfunctions so that inflammation cannot take hold.
If you'd like to get in touch to see if I may be a good fit in working with you, please don't hesitate.