Post by Emily White
Anyone who suffers from eczema will know all too well the unbearable discomfort that it brings. Eczema, a rather broad term, is used to describe a variety of skin conditions that result in red, itchy skin. It can vary in severity, from slightly red and inflamed to full on weeping blisters.
Usually sufferers of Eczema will go to the doctor and be sent home with a tube of hydrocortisone cream to apply multiple times a day. While this is all well and good and usually relieves the symptoms, in most cases as soon as you stop applying the cream, the eczema will simply come back. Not to mention the array of nasty chemicals in these creams, it is better to heal eczema from the root of the cause, and what better way to do it then naturally, through your diet.
Many studies have linked the increasing prevalence of atopic eczema to the alteration in the western diet, specifically the marked reduced consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. A study was done that determined the effects of Omega-3 consumption on atopic eczema. It was found that the group that consumed omega-3 PUFA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) had a significant improvement in their eczema symptoms opposed to the group taking a placebo (1). Therefore increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids could be great for reducing eczema symptoms. Supplementing with high quality fish oil is a great way to increase your intake.
Just as with fish oil supplementation, probiotics are another supplement that seems to be of benefit for eczema. Probiotics appear to be another element that is insufficient in the modern day diet. Persistent evidence from randomized control trials has seen that probiotics could in fact be very effective in the prevention of eczema (2). More specifically another study looked at a specific probiotic 'Lactobacillus rhamnosus'. The results of this study showed a substantial improvement in irritation scores and eczema symptoms when supplementing with this particular probiotic. (3). Therefore eczema sufferers should try consuming a probiotic containing 'Lactobacillus rhamnosus' in order to improve symptoms. A great brand for both fish oil and probiotics is 'ethical nutrients' and this can be found at most pharmacies and health stores.
Many experts believe that eczema is primarily a problem originating from the gut (4). Therefore ensuring that you have a healthy gut is a great place to start. Apart from taking probiotics as mentioned above, limiting your intake of sugar can also help to lessen symptoms, as it can potentially be quite aggravating (5).
Another interesting find is that many people are now finding huge relief from their symptoms when consuming bone broth on a regular basis (6). Bone broth is rich in gelatin, which can be very soothing to the gut and also have great benefits on skin health. Making your own bone broth at home is incredibly easy and inexpensive and is far more nutritionally superior over store bought versions. Bone broth is rich in minerals and other important nutrients so incorporating it into your diet could do wonders for your health.
Eczema course of action:
1. Koch, C., Dölle, S., Metzger, M., Rasche, C., Jungclas, H., Rühl, R., . . . Worm, M. (2008). Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in atopic eczema: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. British Journal of Dermatology, 158(4), 786-792. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2007.08430.x
2. Boyle, R. J. (2010). Probiotics for preventing eczema. British Journal of Dermatology, 163(3), 450-450. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.09934.x
3. Hoang, B. X., Shaw, G., Pham, P., & Levine, S. A. (2010). Lactobacillus Rhamnosus Cell Lysate in the Management of Resistant Childhood Atopic Eczema. Inflammation & Allergy - Drug Targets (Formerly ???Current Drug Targets, 9(3), 192-196. doi: 10.2174/187152810792231896
4. Cross, M. L., Stevenson, L. M., & Gill, H. S. (2001). Anti-allergy properties of fermented foods: an important immunoregulatory mechanism of lactic acid bacteria? International Immunopharmacology, 1(5), 891-901. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1567-5769(01)00025-X
5. Turnbaugh, P. J., Ridaura, V. K., Faith, J. J., Rey, F. E., Knight, R., & Gordon, J. I. (2009). The Effect of Diet on the Human Gut Microbiome: A Metagenomic Analysis in Humanized Gnotobiotic Mice (Vol. 1).
6. Siebecker, A. (2005). Traditional bone broth in modern health and disease. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, 74 (5), 259-260).