Making the decision to start the process of withdrawing from the topical steroids is of course the first most important step to healing, but I had to think about what caused the eczema (that I then used creams on to “treat it”) in the first place? I had to get to the root cause of my eczema. For me I believe that not being able to get the vital immune boosting nutrients in my mother’s milk could’ve caused me to be susceptible to diseases. I developed eczema very early on as an infant, and this is why I think that could be the culprit. Once I was diagnosed with the eczema (at 10 months) then the constant application of the steroids began, and didn’t end until I did some research and made the decision to quit cold turkey at 26 years old. I’ve learned that in my case a continual build up of toxins (turning my eczema into “steroid induced eczema”) also a terrible diet (that had my gut in disarray) just made my body worse off. I honestly believe that if steroids were never introduced as an infant and if my eczema was just treated holistically (with nutrient dense food, probiotics, digestive enzymes and healing my gut & immune system) then the eczema would’ve never progressed (and I would’ve most likely not developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer). I feel that deep in my heart a baby diagnosed with eczema could be healed very quickly with small life changes.
Everyone’s body is different, but if there’s anything that I’ve learned it is that if there is external turmoil then there is internal turmoil resulting in inflammation. Our skin is our indicator of what is going on internally, whether it be good or bad.
It’s like you have to do some self-diagnosing to find out what could be the cause of your eczema. For me linking the overuse of the toxic steroids matched up because what was once “eczema” many years ago as a baby turned into steroid induced eczema because that is all my body has ever known. My body hasn’t really ever functioned without the application of steroids. When I learned about having the misfortune of not getting breast milk as a child (due to my mothers breasts being infected for months after giving birth) I did more research and found out that children are more likely to develop diseases, such as eczema without the milk. I also looked into my diet and thought back to how my skin would react to certain foods. I always remember having a weird instant sinus blockage, and itchy throat when consuming cow’s milk, but foolishly never really omitted it from my diet. I thought back to how my digestion was never really in the best of shape, sometimes eliminating waste every other day (or even less) when I should’ve been eliminating multiple times a day. Since I have started withdrawing from topical steroids, stopped taking any kind of medication or antibiotics (to not create more toxins within), omitted dairy, alcohol, meat, and wheat (only seldom eat sprouted wheat), added probiotics, whole food supplements and digestive enzymes, my body has felt so much better! My digestion system is top notch and my skin is clearing up nicely!
Causes of Eczema
Children born with eczema…
Why are children born with eczema? Is it genetic since I had eczema when I was a child and now my newly born baby has eczema!?!
Your child is born with what is called a genetic susceptibility to a degenerative condition. Because you had eczema, you passed on to her the tendencies towards the same condition. In medical terms this is something called a genetic potential towards a degenerative condition. If the parents are vital and strong they pass on a large enzyme bank (gene pool) to their children and no matter how bad the children’s food is or other stresses around in their lives, they can continue to draw from their large enzyme bank and live a long and a healthy life. But if the parents are weak and suffered from degenerative conditions, they will pass on a small enzyme bank to their children and as a result this could mean an early development of degenerative conditions among their children. Degenerative conditions are not inherited; rather the tendency or potential of a degenerative condition is passed on from parents to children. (Genetic Nutritioneering, Dr. Jeffory Bland).
Can you change the course if a child is born with genetic weaknesses (mental, skin, heart, liver….etc.)? The answer is a definite “yes”. A genetic weakness does not have to manifest as a disease unless the laws of nature are violated. Only then will the weakness manifest. For example, if the child had a dad or a mom with eczema. They may pass on to their child a genetically weak detoxification system (digestive tract, liver and kidneys) leading to the body using the skin as the major elimination organ. This does not necessarily mean that the child will be born with eczema. Nor does it mean that the child ever has to have eczema. However, should internal and external stresses continue to negatively impact the child (not being breast fed, high acidic foods, processed foods, antibiotics…etc.), then these violations will take their toll in the weakest organs and tissue(s) of the body-in this case the detoxification system leading to skin problems.
The solution is a healthy diet and food based supplements to keep children’s detoxification systems working well so any genetic tendencies towards a degenerative condition will never manifest as a disease.
Exposure to toxins…
These days we are exposed to many harmful substances, and these potential toxins can sensitize us and lead to a diseased state such as eczema.
Exposure to toxins can overload the kidney and liver and when that happens, they become congested. When these detoxification systems are too congested, the burden of daily detoxification can fall on the skin since it is the biggest elimination organ, leading to skin problems such as eczema. That’s why it is important to have the kidney and liver always functioning at the highest possible level, to eliminate any harmful toxins that may come into our bodies. There are so many nutrient dense foods that can help with cleaning the body and helping out the detoxification systems so that the elimination won’t have to fall on the skin.
The three primary ways that toxins enter the blood stream and thus the body are:
- Through the digestive system (eaten)
- Through the respiratory system (breathed in)
- Through the skin (absorbed)
*Airborne toxins are something that are hard to avoid, but we can be mindful of what we put in our bodies and what we put on our skin. I know in my case my skin absorbed all of the harmful, toxic chemicals that was in the steroidal creams and injections that I had used for years. These medications go deep into the tissues and enter the bloodstream, making our bodies overtaxed and diseased. I also think back to how the food was treated that I would consume. There are so many foods out there that are full of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones that we ingest and take on their harmful chemicals. I am very mindful of everything I put in my body these days, making sure that it is of the highest quality, mainly raw (to keep the vital enzymes intact), organically grown and as minimally processed as possible.
Pretty interesting youtube video of Dr. Pompa explaining the “overflowing toxic bucket theory”:
Something is wrong with the digestion…
80% of the immune system is located in the gut, and when the gut is not healthy, neither is the rest of the body including the skin. The gut is the point of fuel and nutrient entry that runs the body. When the digestive system is in disarray, like in leaky gut syndrome, it can cause a whole host of problems for the body, and eczema is one of them.
Leaky gut syndrome is a serious problem that is caused by inflammation that causes damage to the gastrointestinal tract. This inflammation can be caused by abnormal flora (bacteria, protozoa, yeasts like Candida, parasites), items that irritate the gut (dairy, foods high in sugar, alcohol, food additives, caffeine etc.), food allergens, toxins, drugs like prednisone and other steroids, medications called “non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” or NSAIDs, and genetic enzyme deficiencies (like lactase deficiency and celiac disease). For example when we take antibiotics we are at risk of developing an overgrowth of antibiotic resistant yeasts or fungi, like Candida.
Leaky gut syndrome represents a hyper-permeable intestinal lining where large spaces develop between the cells of the gut wall and bacteria, toxins and food leak in. The spaces open up and allow large food antigens to be absorbed into the body, when normally the body only sees and allows tiny food antigens to be absorbed. These new large food antigens are foreign to the body’s defense system, so the attack results in the production of antibodies against once harmless foods and you also become vulnerable for developing mineral and vitamin deficiencies. When the intestinal lining is inflamed, bacteria and yeast (of which there are hundreds of species in the intestine) are able to translocate. In other words, they are able to pass from the gut lumen or cavity, into the bloodstream and set up infection anywhere else in the body.
Food allergies can precipitate symptoms in literally any organ at any time, once the gut develops these large, leaky spaces. If that were not enough, these large spaces allow the absorption of toxins that normally would not penetrate the protective barrier of the gut. These toxins then overload the liver so that chemicals cannot be detoxified, resulting in food and chemical sensitivities.
You can heal the gut by correcting nutrient deficiencies, eliminating offending foods, ceasing the harmful medications, consistently consuming probiotics and digestive enzymes, eating a diet rich in healthy nutrient dense whole foods and also healthy fermented foods (naturally fermented veggies, saurkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh).
James Barker, N.D., in his article, “Skin Health, Eczema, and Preventative Strategies”, summarized one of the causes of eczema by stressing the importance of protecting the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract: “If the eyes and the skin are the portals through which we may observe the body’s internal health, the gut then is the door through which a majority of disease initiates its entrance into the body… It goes without saying that…the first area of treatment then for the patient displaying eczema should be the gastrointestinal lining, without a doubt” (p. 58).
*When I began eliminating offending foods from my diet and adding more nutrient dense foods, fermented foods, digestive enzymes and probiotics I saw a dramatic change in my gut health. My elimination was so much better, I didn’t feel bloated and uncomfortable all the time, and I’m finding that foods that I was once allergic to I can consume again!
Here’s a great youtube video breaking down Leaky Gut Syndrome:
Something is out of balance…
Hypothyroidism (the thyroid is producing too few hormones) can be a major cause of eczema. The thyroid controls two hormones (triiodothyronine and thyroxine) in the body that can effect the functioning of the skin. When the thyroid is low it can affect the amount of moisture in the skin and can reduce the amount of blood circulation in the body. The skin may receive as little as one-fourth to one-fifth the normal blood supply.
Since the circulation is reduced, the nourishment that would be supplied by the blood is also reduced. The blood is also the primary remover of waste products in the body and with this reduction the blood can’t promptly and completely remove the waste. This results in skin that is not normally healthy, and the development of dryness, scaling, itching, blistering and oozing occurs.
If the immune system has to get up every day and fight germs (harmful bacteria, yeast, parasites… etc.) it is not surprising that it may become irritated and overly reactive to environmental stimuli. A cause of eczema is that the immune system becomes over reactive and hyper responsive to normal stimuli. In Chinese medicine they describe this condition by saying that a person has too much “heat”. Infections from the growth of Candida albicans is common among eczema patients. Candida albicans is a type of yeast-like fungus that can cause weakening of the immune system and infection known as candidiasis. Candidiasis is the result of eating processed foods (white sugar, white flour, white rice… etc.), using antibiotics and different medical drugs.
Invasive life events…
A stressful lifestyle can affect the intestine greatly. When one is faced with emotional or psychological stress on a daily basis, the body produces a hormone called cortisol which affects the intestinal tract by destroying friendly bacteria and impairing the digestive system. Most people under stress will say that they feel pain in their stomach. Long term stress can cause ulcers as the body continues to secret cortisol. Stress can also stimulate the adrenal glands and exhaust them (Adrenal Burnout), causing them to malfunction. A chain reaction can lead to a whole host of diseases including that of eczema.
**info cred goes to:
Barker, Jason, N.D. (May 2003). “Skin Health, Eczema, and preventative Strategies.” Townsend Letter for Doctors and patients . pp. 56-58.