Heal eczema inside and out

IF YOU THINK ECZEMA IS BEYOND YOUR CONTROL, THINK AGAIN. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO CALM THIS PERSISTENT SKIN PROBLEM NATURALLY

YOU Spend a lifetime living in it, and a little time each day pampering it. It feels delicate, yet it's the barricade between you and the hostile world. Your skin is a critical organ you can't go a day without. Still, things can go wrong. Take eczema, which strikes about 10-20 percent of infants and 3 percent of adults and children in the United States.

Eczema refers to an assortment of inflammatory skin disorders. It involves skin inflammation, with blisters when acute, as well as redness, oozing, crusting, scaling and itching. The root cause of this persistent problem can be internal (e.g., a genetic predisposition toward allergic conditions) or external (e.g., caused by outside sources).

Looking for a natural approach to treating eczema? Try these steps.

Fix Your Foods
The most common foods that increase eczema symptoms include eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, wheat and fish. However, some people may also find that chocolate, coffee, alcohol, tomatoes and sugar aggravate eczema. Avoid a high-protein diet that is high in saturated or hydrogenated fats (such as red meat), as well as processed and fried foods.

Green vegetables have a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the skin — include as many as you can in your diet. You can also boost your intake with green-based vegetable juices. Alternatively, try powdered, green "vegetable-drink" mixes (found in the supplement section of health food stores).

If fish doesn't aggravate your symptoms, try to eat three servings of coldwater fish weekly for the omega-3s. And speaking of essential fatty acids (EFAs): The body cannot make them on its own, so you must get EFAs, such as omega-3s and omega-6s, from your diet or through supplements. The key EFAs for treating eczema include EPA from fish oil and GLA (an omega-6 fat) from borage and evening primrose oils. In general, people with eczema benefit from 1.5-2g per day of EPA or GLA to control eczema and up to 3g per day during a flare-up.

Grow Healthier Skin
Known for centuries in Asia for its treatment of skin disease, the herb gotu kola helps, among other things, stimulate the growth of hair and nails and increase protein in the skin.

Herbalists rely on gotu kola for its ability to help heal and possibly even regrow new skin. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the herb helps repair longstanding, painful lesions in dramatically scarred skin. For acute eczema, use 1-2 oz. of dry herb as a tea. To keep skin healthy, drink daily.

Many other herbs have been traditionally used for clearing certain waste from the body and thereby improving eczema symptoms. Some examples include dandelion root, red clover, yellow dock and burdock. To make a tea, combine these herbs, in equal parts, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drink 1-3 cups of this tea daily.

Soothe and Nourish
A recent study found that calendula ointment was beneficial for radiation-induced dermatitis, a side effect of cancer treatment. In a randomized, clinical trial, 254 women used either topical calendula ointment or trolamine, a topical dermatitis drug, for eight months. Inflammation symptoms were experienced in 41 percent of the women in the calendula treatment group compared with 63 percent of women in the drug group. Participants using calendula also reported less pain and less serious skin damage.

Products that Care for the Skin You're in
From left: CALENDULA OINTVENT by Boiron and ECZEMA RESCUE by Peaceful Mountain. For gotu kola tea, look for the loose herb (sold in bulk bins).

Legend for Chart:
A - remedies
B - forms
C - doses
D - comments
A
B
C
D
Green vegetable juices
Liquid (or in powdered mixes)
At least one glass daily
Skin may benefit from anti-inflammatory effects
Gotu kola
Tea, capsules or liquid extract
1-2 oz. of tea daily
Follow label directions for capsules and liquid extracts
Calendula
Ointment, cream, gel, and homeopathic pellets
Rub onto affected areas one to two times daily
Also try on superficial cuts and scrapes

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By Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, DN-C, RH

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