Naturopathic Approach to Healing Eczcema

lucaxx-freire-451469-unsplash.jpg

If you suffer from eczema you know that the itching, redness, peeling, cracking and even blistering can range from annoying to debilitating. It can be very hard to pinpoint what the trigger is especially as the severity and location of the rash can change quickly. 

What is most frequently prescribed for eczema, or most rashes for that matter, is topical cortisone cream. While this can be very helpful in the short term to decrease severity of symptoms and therefore sometimes your sanity (trust me I’ve been there!), longterm use of cortisone cream can thin your skin and simply suppresses the rash instead of targeting the cause. For those with eczema on their face, cortisone cream is still prescribed, although with a disclaimer to not use too much or longterm. However, what else are you supposed to use if the rash does not go away? 

This is where Naturopathic Medicine can step in. By treating the root cause of eczema, the use of cortisone cream becomes minimal or not even necessary and your skin can look and feel as good as new! The root is typically due to poor gut health and immune function so that is what I target first for my patients. 

6 Steps to Healing Eczema

1. Determine any pattern:

Patterns are helpful to determine to better identify the cause. Take note if your skin is worse in the heat or cold. Do you notice a correlation between your hormones and skin, eg. does it flare just before your period or improve during pregnancy? 

2. Look at your diet:

The most common cause of eczema I see in my practice is due to a food sensitivity damaging the gut. Food sensitivities can be determined through an elimination diet or a simple blood prick test. The most common food trigger I see related to skin issues is dairy. You may not need to eliminate all dairy longterm, however I suggest avoiding all in your diet for 4 weeks and take not of any skin improvements. Other common food triggers are wheat, eggs, soy and corn. 

3. Heal the gut:

From experience, simply eliminating a food may not do the trick completely, especially if too much damage has been done to the gut. That is why I always pair an elimination diet with gut healing support. With continued stressors, a molecule called zonulin is released which weakens the tight junctions holding the intestinal cells together, allowing more permeability. It is therefore important to knit those cells back together with amino acids found in collagen or from glutamine. Some of the most effective gut healing supplements are probiotics, glutamine or collagen powder and omega 3 oil. Dosing depends on severity of the symptoms.

4. Control the immune function:

When the gut is more permeable, the immune system then reacts to foreign substances to leak through into the blood stream. It is therefore important to support and control the immune system to decrease inflammation. Probiotics, omega 3 fish oil and D3 are all helpful nutrients for this purpose. 

5. Heal the skin:

As we work on healing the gut, it is helpful to calm down the inflammation on the skin directly, depending on the severity of the symptoms. My go-to cream for this purpose contains a variety of soothing and healing herbs and nutrients including calendula, aloe vera and vitamin E.

6 . Address stress: 

Last but not least, address your stress levels! High cortisol exacerbates inflammation both in the digestive tract and throughout the body. Consider adrenal or stress support supplements, create a mindfulness practice for yourself and get some sleep, eight hours every night!

If you struggle with eczema try out these tips or don't hesitate to reach out to discuss proper diet changes, supplements and dosing for you. 

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

Food Friday: Overnight Oats

 Tastes better than it looks once its all mixed together :)

Tastes better than it looks once its all mixed together :)

I never seem to have the time or the craving for hot porridge in the summer. Enter…overnight oats. This is a great option for those days you are on the go quickly in the morning but still want to make sure you get a nutritious breaky to start your day. The great thing about overnight oats is that you can mix it up to your liking, adding any summer berries, nuts, seeds and other flavours you like. Like my oatmeal I always make sure to add some sort of protein and fat to ensure my blood sugar is balanced and it keeps me full for a few hours. We want to avoid sugary cereals with milk for that purpose. There are many recipes for overnight oats on the web, this is just how I like to do it :) 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup almond milk, other other nut milk
  • 1/4 cup regular rolled oats (not steel cut or quick oats)
  • 1-2 tbsp buckwheat groats (optional - I find mine at Bulk barn)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds 
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or sprinkle to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2-1 scoop Sproos Collagen powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts (or other nuts or seeds you prefer)

Optional toppings - blueberries, strawberries, shredded apple, apricots, shredded coconut, cardamom, hemp hearts, ground flax seed, goji berries - you name it! 

Directions:

  1. Add almond milk, oats, buckwheat groats, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon in a jar. Close the lid and shake, shake, shake. Place jar in the fridge overnight. 
  2. In the morning grab your jar and add any toppings you wish. I make sure to mix in collagen powder and lately I have been adding walnuts, hemp hearts and any berries or fruit I have.

That's it. Easy as 1, 2...nope that's really it. :)

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

Β 

Food Friday: Curried Chicken Wraps *Cleanse Sneak Peak*

I like simple yet delicious meals and this one is a go-to for me. You can make it grain-free/low carb by simply throwing the flavourful chicken in lettuce wraps. Although I love the look and taste of Boston lettuce, the leaves are NEVER big enough and everything ends up falling out. My go to therefore are romaine lettuce leaves. Not as exciting but much more effective and more useful for other meals - i.e. vegan kale caesar salad, green smoothies. This is an anything goes type of dish so feel free to throw in any veggies that draw you in. :)

Announcing the Follow Your Gut - Spring Cleanse for Gut Health

As you may know by now, I am passionate about gut health and healing the body from the inside out. I also do a Spring Cleanse each year. So...this year I am combining the two to create a wonderful 10 Day spring cleanse focussed on gut healing. In my practice I have seen many health concerns, such as eczema, autoimmune thyroid condition, rosacea, histamine intolerance, basic gut issues and much more, improve when we clear up and heal the gut! This cleanse will focus on the 4 R's in gut healing I have mentioned before while eating delicious and nourishing foods. Click the photo below to bring you to all the details. 

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen