Causes of Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) & Beneficial Nutritional Supplements
SYMPTOMS OF ECZEMA
Typical symptoms of eczema include especially itchy, dry, sore, cracked and red skin. Eczema can involve entire body, but it is most common on hands (especially fingers), face, elbows or backs of the knees. People suffering from eczema experience periods of symptomatic improvements, followed by stages of flare-ups.
Eczema is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system changes its nature and instead of protecting the skin sends antibodies against it leading to chronic inflammation and damage. The exact cause why human immune system behaves in such an abnormal way and lead to eczema or other autoimmune conditions is still unclear, but there are reasons to believe autoimmune diseases are triggered by a combination of many following factors:
Nutritional deficiencies (especially deficiency of vitamin D, selenium, zinc, magnesium and vitamin B12), lack of probiotic bacteria and poor gut health (leaky gut), genetic predispositions, high levels of toxins, food intolerances (especially gluten sensitivity), unhealthy lifestyle, bad diet, lack of exercise and sleep, chronic stress (high levels of stress hormones), depression, anxiety, frequent use of stimulants (smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine, etc.), and diet high in heated animal protein, sugar, refined and processed foods, 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 flaxseed or chia seed.
BENEFICIAL NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
– It is believed that autoimmune diseases usually start from the lack of probiotic bacteria in the gut and overgrowth of harmful bacteria and yeasts that produce toxins and cause inflammation leading to the damage of the intestinal walls and increased intestinal permeability (a condition known as leaky gut). As a result toxins instead of being removed from the colon are reabsorbed back into the blood through damaged walls contributing to various autoimmune conditions including eczema. Every day take a good quality probiotic formula such as UltraProbio, DailyProbio, ImmuProbio or ColiProbio.
– Deficiency of vitamin D contributes to the development of autoimmune diseases as it is the most important immune system regulator. It means that 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 deficiency. You must take Vitamin D3 because almost all individuals suffering from autoimmune diseases are deficient in it. Take at least 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day with breakfast. While using vitamin D3 supplements always remember to take also well-absorbed magnesium (such as citrate powder - 200mg twice daily) as in human body vitamin D uses magnesium for its own conversion into active vitamin D4 form slowly leading to magnesium deficiency. Another requirement for proper absorption of vitamin D is 200 mcg a day of Vitamin K2 MK-7 (Derived from Natural Natto).
– Thyroid dysfunction (caused often by iodine deficiency) may contribute to the development of various skin conditions including eczema. The thyroid gland requires iodine to produce its hormones. Iodine deficiency in the UK is a very common problem due to the low levels of iodine in the soil. There is disagreement with regards to sufficient iodine daily requirements. Some sources maintain that the dosage range for iodine supplementation should be 300-400 mcg daily but others suggest that it is way too low especially when we take into consideration that average daily intake of iodine by much healthier Japanese people is about 14,000 mcg! The best by far source of natural iodine are kelp tablets.
– Zinc deficiency has been known to contribute to autoimmune conditions, including eczema, as zinc (like vitamin D and selenium) is absolutely crucial for the normal function of the immune system and for preventing immune system from attacking own body, including skin. In addition, without sufficient levels of zinc, proteins can’t be properly digested. As a result these only partially digested large protein particles are absorbed into bloodstream through the leaky gut where immune system misidentifies them as antigens (enemy) and then produces antibodies against them triggering autoimmune responses. Also gluten can lead to a similar problem. Zinc is also important for maintaining healthy skin and nervous system, and together with selenium and iodine helps produce the thyroid hormone.
– Many eczema sufferers praise the benefits of MSM (organic sulphur). If you decide to try MSM, start from smaller daily doses and increase them gradually to make sure MSM will not remove cellular toxins too quickly into the blood, giving sufficient time for the liver and kidneys to expel these toxins from the body.
– Boswellia: According to one study many patients on Boswellia experienced remission from certain autoimmune diseases.
– Sarsaparilla: For centuries, people around the world have used Sarsaparilla to deal with arthritis and skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
– Pau d’Arco extract reduced symptoms of eczema in mice and protected their skin without any toxic effects. It reduced substances involved in inflammation and allergies >.
– Evening primrose oil or Star flower oil (a least 1000 mg a day) 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 (such as Omegazon): 750 mg 2 times a day with meals. In one study people taking fish oil high in EPA (one of the omega–3 fatty acids found in fish oil) experienced significant reduction in symptoms of eczema after 12 weeks. >
– 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 extremely important vitamin.
– Boost Glutathione levels which is a most powerful of all antioxidants and protects the immune system and is believed to be one of the most effective aids for coping with autoimmune diseases. It improves body’s ability to modulate and regulate the immune system. You can provide body with ingredients that increase glutathione production in the liver by taking the following: Alpha Lipoic Acid (most important), turmeric, L-cysteine or NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), vitamin C, garlic, etc.
– Taking selenium supplements helps people with autoimmune conditions (such as eczema) because selenium (like vitamin D and zinc) plays important role in preventing immune cells from attacking own body (including skin).
– One of the best ways to cope with eczema is helping body to eliminate toxins by taking Super Greens (HealthAid) which includes chlorella, spirulina, barley grass, alfalfa, maca, wheat grass, beet root and other freeze-dried powders famous for their excellent detox and energy boosting effects. Chlorella vulgaris extract may have potential as a nutraceutical ingredient for the prevention of atopic dermatitis. >
– Since Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Folate) play very important role in dealing with autoimmune diseases I recommend getting B complex with a good quality multivitamin-mineral formula which is high in B vitamins. One of my favourite ones is Healthy Mega 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 B vitamins per tablet! Adults may take 1 tablet of Healthy Mega after breakfast, children 1/2 tablet (or less) crushed and mixed with juice after breakfast.
– 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.
– Externally try to use raw organic coconut oil, castor oil and vitamin E oil. Avoid cosmetics with harmful chemicals.
– Adding medicinal clay and chamomile tea to baths is regarded as 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 toxins and substances which contribute itching. In addition it also provides a soothing effect and can even help nourish and regenerate damaged skin. About 1/2 cup of a green or bentonite clay in a warm bath should be enough.
– Evening primrose oil or Star flower oil can be helpful not only used internally but also externally.
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.
– Avoid gluten (especially wheat products). 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.
– If possible avoid, or at least significantly reduce, refined sugar, high fructose syrup, refined oils and margarines, white flour products, white rice, artificial sweeteners, spirit vinegar, all animal foods including cheese, meat products, all dairy, stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.).
– Try to go on unrefined plant-based diet for at least 3 months as it gives excellent results. Eat especially lots of raw vegetables salads and raw vegetable juices.
– Eliminate all junk food, processed food, and anything with bad preservatives and chemical.
– 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.
– Exercise at least 30–60 minutes per day with sweating.
– Get enough sleep.
– Practice deep breathing.
– Treat unresolved emotional issues. Autoimmune diseases reflect emotions and mental attitude.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.