to the Root of Eczema
Dr. Ben Kim
recently had a guest visit our clinic with chronic eczema. Eczema, also known
as dermatitis, is a condition of itchy and dry skin that can progress to a rash,
sometimes cracking and bleeding. This particular guest had a severe rash with
painful cracks on the palms of her hand, as well as on the soft, inside part of
had tried various hydrocortisone creams, cooling gels, and minimizing exposure
to soap and water, all with limited success. Whenever her rash seemed to improve,
she would suffer through another bout of itchiness that precipitated another rash.
As with most sufferers of eczema, the painful cracks and weeping of
the rash was caused by her scratching away at her skin because of unbearable itchiness.
Even knowing that scratching to soothe the itchiness would result in a painful
rash was not enough to keep her from scratching - the itchiness was that unbearable.
She reported that sometimes, her husband would wake her up because she was scratching
away in her sleep.
there are many varieties of eczema, they can all be boiled down to two types:
the first type is caused by contact with an irritating substance like perfume,
detergent, or rubber. The second type is caused mainly by an allergic reaction
that occurs inside of the body in response to a food or substance entering the
blood. For various reasons, people can develop intolerances to certain foods and
substances over time, leading to an allergic reaction in the blood, which in turn
causes inflammation and itching in the skin.
that is brought on by external contact with an irritating substance is fairly
easy to recover from. Avoiding contact with the offending substance(s) leads to
predictable healing over time. Sometimes, excessive washing with soap and water
can lead to dryness, which can contribute to this type of eczema. I have worked
with a few parents whose children have recovered from eczema by avoiding long
baths, as excessive exposure to warm water was causing the skin to dry out.
recent guest suffered from eczema that was due to an allergic reaction in her
blood in response to certain foods. I guided her through a four-day water fast,
during which time she happily reported feeling no itchiness. This was expected
with a water-only fast, as there were no potential food allergens entering her
body. She was somewhat discouraged that despite the disappearance of itchiness,
some scales and rash remained on her hands during her fast. This was a good opportunity
to explain to her that the layers that make up skin regenerate from the inside
out. It would take time for the healing deeper layers to come to the surface for
her to see.
her water fast, we tested a variety of different foods, watching for itchiness
for up to 12-24 hours after each food. Over a period of one month, we found that
the two main foods that triggered her eczema were pasteurized dairy and soy. It
was interesting to find that fermented soy in the form of miso soup was an exception.
Soy milk, tofu, soy sauce, and vegetarian substitutes that contain soy protein
aggravated her eczema. Since completing her fast and avoiding pasteurized dairy
and most forms of soy protein, her hands have returned to being healthy and soft.
She isnt happy about not eating the occasional bowel of ice cream, but shes
very happy to be free of eczema.
people who suffer with food allergy-related eczema can heal themselves by identifying
and avoiding their food allergies. In some cases, I recommend the use of a high
quality probiotic a supplement that contains beneficial organisms
to improve intestinal health, which can lead to substantial protection against
food allergies. My experience has been that not all probiotic supplements are
created with exceptional standards, so please do your research before pursuing
this option. Undergoing a short water fast can be extremely helpful in strengthening
the intestinal lining and decreasing nervous system hypersensitivity, which can
also lead to more protection against food allergies.
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