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Natural Relief from Eczema using Nutrition & Functional Medicine

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Eczema - Image of man with eczema scratching skin on hand

A Functional Medicine Approach to Getting Relief from Eczema

If you suffer from eczema, you’ll know how uncomfortable and frustrating it can be. The itching and redness which flare up unpredictably often make life a misery. But you’re not alone, as up to one in ten adults in the UK are affected by eczema 1.

In this blog, you’ll discover how functional medicine can help support people and provide natural relief from eczema and improve their quality of life.

What is Eczema?

Eczema, also known as atopic or contact dermatitis, is an inflammatory chronic condition causing red, itchy patches of skin. It occurs when the protective barrier on the outermost surface of your skin doesn’t function very well. In healthy skin, cells are tightly packed together, with fats and oils keeping the skin hydrated. Meanwhile, in eczema, tiny gaps between cells allow moisture to be lost and irritants to pass through, putting your immune system on high alert. It often worsens during hot, dry weather and frequently occurs in people who also suffer from hay fever or asthma.

Sufferers may find a variety of factors can trigger their condition. These include airborne allergens, food sensitivities, environmental irritants, stressful events and even dry weather.

Conventional treatments for eczema usually involve creams applied to the skin. These act by suppressing the immune reaction and calming inflammation, or may simply act as skin barriers. Sometimes, healthcare providers prescribe pills to suppress the immune response. However, none of these treatments address the question of why your immune system is behaving inappropriately, and they can have side effects.

How can Functional Medicine Provide Natural Relief from Eczema?

Functional medicine focusses on the root causes of disease rather than suppressing symptoms with a skin cream or steroid medication. Your practitioner will consider your body as a whole, with different parts all interconnected and affecting each other. For example, in the case of eczema, your gut has a very close connection to the health of your skin.

Can Poor Gut Health Cause Eczema?

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria living in a complex ecosystem. These play a crucial role in immunity and inflammation. When factors combine to disturb your gut bacteria, the result can be widespread inflammation. Since the majority of your immune system lives in your gut, a struggling gut may adversely affect immune function.

In addition, if your gut cannot efficiently expel unwanted toxins, and the lining of your digestive system is inflamed and permeable, toxins can be pushed out through your skin instead. This means your skin’s function may start to break down.

Is Liver Health Connected with Eczema?

Your liver is responsible for clearing unwanted toxins from your body. If it’s overloaded or sluggish, your skin will take on a greater responsibility for expelling toxins. Fortunately, your liver is capable of incredible powers of regeneration, given the correct tools for the job. Functional medicine practitioners often recommend using herbs like milk thistle 2, artichoke 3, and dandelion 4 to support liver function.

Can a Poor Diet cause Eczema?

Your skin needs certain nutrients to thrive. These include vitamins A and D 5, along with zinc 6. Many people find their eczema is triggered by eating certain foods, with common culprits being dairy, soya, wheat and eggs. Food sensitivities often have their origins in an overly permeable and damaged gut lining upsetting the immune system and causing it to react inappropriately to innocuous foods. A functional medicine practitioner will work with you to identify any trigger foods and to support your immune system and gut, so they no longer overreact.

Omega 3 fatty acids can be particularly useful to support healthy skin 7. They are not only crucial for managing inflammation 8, but they also help keep skin soft and supple 9 by improving its barrier function.

Understanding Your Skin’s Microbiome

Just as there is a collection of bacteria living in your gut, working hard to support your health, there is a complex community of bacteria living on your skin, too. These bacteria are influenced by your gut microbiome which can be thought of as the master bacteria controller.

Researchers found that the types of bacteria living on the skins of infants with eczema were significantly different to those in babies with healthy skin 10. Certain strains of bacteria were even seen to increase during eczema flare-ups. In other words, scientists think some types of bacteria living on the skin contribute to inflammation while others protect against it.

How to Heal Eczema from the Inside

Key to managing eczema is identifying causes and triggers. This means looking at potential nutritional deficiencies, problem foods, or any irritants present in the environment which may be sparking off inflammation, such as detergent or chemical-based skin creams and toiletries.

A diet rich in foods known to reduce inflammation can be helpful. This means plenty of plant-based foods, as colourful as possible, to ensure a good intake of phytonutrients. Because stressful events can cause eczema to worsen, lifestyle modifications like stress management can be extremely helpful in supporting healthy immune function and preventing eczema flare-ups.

Functional tests alongside a thorough case history can help pinpoint whether food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis or nutritional deficiencies are contributing towards your condition.

To start your journey towards natural relief from eczema, contact us today.

A discussion between our practitioners Jo and Lottie on Natural Relief from Eczema

References

Did you know you can request a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call

Do you or someone you care for need personalised support for natural relief from Eczema? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.

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