How To Heal Eczema Using Functional Nutrition
How to heal eczema naturally? That's the topic we're going to be talking about today.
So what is eczema?
It's basically this inflammatory skin condition. It can show up as red bumps, scaly skin, leathery, and sometimes it'll even leak some fluids and conventionally it's usually treated with like medications. So topical oral steroids, antihistamines, or using different types of moisturizers and modifying your environment, the types of things that you put on your skin.
It doesn't always work though. So, which is why it's a really popular question that people ask me about functional medicine. Like, what the heck's going on?
What's the root cause of my eczema because changing these topicals and things helps a little bit, but I still have it. We're going to talk about that today.
I'm Ashley Oswald, I'm a functional medicine dietitian and founder of Oswald Digestive Clinic where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and more. And if you or somebody you know, wants to work with our clinic, just schedule an appointment with us or start by downloading our Free Guide: 5 Ways to Improve Gut Health.
So let's dive right in and talk about how to heal eczema naturally.
How To Heal Eczema Using Functional Nutrition
So in order to start healing eczema, we need to talk about the possible root causes of eczema.
So the first one is food intolerances and sensitivities.
The second is an unhealthy gut.
The third one is inadequate fatty acid intake.
The fourth one is micronutrient deficiencies. Don't we talk about that, right?
And then the fifth one is personal care products. So let's start by talking about the food allergy and sensitivity conversation.
So how do we know that this is connected to eczema? Well, because basically elimination and reintroduction diets have been shown to help with eczema as well as elemental diets (Elemental diets, or this powder of really broken down food compounds). So protein broken all the way down to amino acids and then carbs and fats the same to its smallest version.
So when you're drinking it, it's going to have as little of an effect on your all-over immune system. Cause it's going to be least likely to trigger an autoimmune reaction, which could be the root cause of your eczema.
Food Intolerances and sensitivities
And then the most common food sensitivities with eczema include milk, wheat, eggs, and soy. So what I would suggest with this is to cut it out for four to six weeks and see if you notice improvement, when you add it back in, is your eczema getting worse again?
If you're going to do this with kids, two things that I want to talk about, the first thing is that kiddos with growing could be at risk for different nutrient deficiencies. If you're cutting out whole food groups.
So make sure if you find that it helps their eczema, to really connect with a functional medicine dietician to make sure they're not putting themselves at risk for micronutrient deficiencies down the road. And then the second one is if you're going to be doing this, if a kiddo has a really strong sensitivity to a food, it can be dangerous when you're re-introducing.
If it's like severe asthma gets significantly better when the food gets cut out and you just, maybe you're like going on a trip and you're going to end up eating it, be supercritical, like reintroduction, those cases should really be done under a trained medical provider.
And then that's the same for like elemental diets. If someone's going to do the liquid elemental diet through like integrative therapeutics or something, there are a few good elemental formulas on the market, reintroducing foods then after that, could be a higher likelihood of triggering a more severe auto-immune reaction.
Okay, so an unhealthy gut, some things that have been tied to eczema include low stomach acid because if you think about it, this actually ties into food intolerances and sensitivities too because the stomach's supposed to be very acidic to start that breakdown of food. So that by the time it gets to the small intestine, you're not your body's not going to be reacting to it as much. Cause it's going to be partially broken down by that point.
Also histamine intolerance. So we talked a lot about this and that video about seasonal allergies (you can go back and read or watch that) but this could be contributing to eczema. So then you could use those foods that we talked about in that video to help decrease histamines, if that's the case of celiac disease and eczema there may be a connection there.
Inadequate Faty Acid intake
And then also inadequate digestive enzymes, which that kind of goes hand in hand with adequate stomach acid as well. And then low fatty acids so fatty acid deficiency, there's some research showing that could be contributing to eczema and it could be from malabsorption. So it could be stemming from the gut again.
And research is really mixed on what type and how much it's been researched everything with like flaxseed oil, Cod liver oil, sunflower seed oil, fish oil. So it's really safe to just trial introducing more of this. And if you're finding that your stools are floating and really odorous, that's a sign of fat malabsorption, it could be the root cause of why you're having a fatty acid deficiency if that's the case.
So the next one we're going to talk about is micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrients that have been shown to help with eczema include zinc. Effectiveness within just two months of supplementation, careful with over supplementing or supplementing too long term because this could cause a copper deficiency.
Also vitamin D, but the research is really around if you have a deficiency in it, which, you know, Minnesota, most people in winter months have a low level of vitamin D. So that could be helpful.
B complex vitamins can be helpful for eczema and then also vitamins A and E can help.
So next, let's talk about products. So products in your day-to-day life could be making eczema worse. I would really encourage you to go to the environmental working group's website to try to find products that might be better tolerated for your skin.
So things from laundry detergent, lotions, shampoos, perfume, cleaning products, and air fresheners can all be making eczema worse. So when you're shopping for these products, just try to read the ingredients, avoid anything with perfume in it, and the environmental working groups database for clean products, you can find ones that are rated green for safer products.
And then some little bonus materials. So prevention of eczema if you're pregnant. So the ways that you could prevent eczema on your kiddo is to
Breastfeed. And then..
If you have food sensitivities, while you're pregnant, avoid them. And then..
Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy has been shown to decrease the risk of eczema.
Also a fun little easy addition, a fun tip for eczema is that oolong tea could help with eczema. It contains these polyphenols that could benefit the gut balance. So polyphenols can increase the growth of good bacteria, and suppress the growth of bad bacteria.
Four cups a day for six months has been shown in the research to improve eczema. Now it was only 21 participants, but really low risks. So what's worth the harm in, in trying?
If you don't notice the benefit after a few months, I wouldn't just keep doing it because teas can put you at risk for other micronutrient deficiencies as well. And of the 21 participants, 63% showed improvement in just one to two weeks.
So I would even say that just after a few weeks if you don't notice improvement, I wouldn't keep doing it for the concerns of how tea could deplete, that much tea four cups a day, could deplete nutrients if you're drinking it throughout the day.
So in conclusion possible root causes, are food sensitivities and intolerances, an unhealthy gut, inadequate fatty acid intake, micronutrient deficiencies, and personal care products.
So I hope this topic is helpful to you. Unhealthy gut? If that resonates with you, you can download our FREE GUIDE: 5 ways to improve gut health. I think it's going to really help you because I talk about all the different categories in functional medicine that you should really pay attention to and work to improve in an effort to optimize your gut health.
I hope you have a great rest of your day. See you at the next one!
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH