Eczema is a form of dermatitis, or inflammation of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. Symptoms are recurring skin rashes that are characterised by one or more of these symptoms; redness, skin oedema (swelling), itching and dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding.
Eczema is an allergic disease on the rise due to the hygiene hypothesis which proposes that the cause of asthma, eczema &other allergic diseases is an unusually clean environment,
Supported by epidemiological studies for allergic disease. The hypothesis states that exposure to bacteria and other immune system modulators is important during development, and missing out on this exposure increases risk for asthma and allergy.
Atopic eczema (infantile eczema, atopic dermatitis), is an allergic disease believed to have a hereditary component and often runs in atopic families whose members also have asthma, hayfever and urticaria. An itchy rash develops on the head and scalp, neck, inside of elbows, behind knees, and buttocks. Doctors are being urged to be more vigilant in weeding out cases that are actually irritant contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis is of two types
1. Allergic Resulting from a delayed reaction to some allergen, such as poison ivy or nickel.
2. Irritant Resulting from direct reaction to a detergent, such as sodium lauryl sulphate. Some substances act both as allergen and irritant (wet cement). Other substances cause a problem after sunlight exposure, bringing on phototoxic dermatitis. About three quarters of cases of contact eczema are of the irritant type.
Xerotic eczema develops as a result of skin becoming seriously dry. Symptoms are dry, itchy and tender skin. It is worse in dry winter and limbs and trunk are most often affected. The skin resembles a dry, cracked, riverbed. This disorder is very common among the older population.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis ("cradle cap" in infants) is a form of eczema related to dandruff. It causes dry or greasy peeling of the scalp, eyebrows, and face, and sometimes trunk. Cradle cap is related biotin deficiency.
Dyshidrosis (pompholyx eczema) only occurs on palms, soles, and sides of fingers and toes. Tiny opaque bumps called vesicles, thickening, and cracks are accompanied by itching, which gets worse at night. A common type of hand eczema, it is worse in warm weather.
Discoid eczema (exudative eczema) is characterised by round spots of oozing or dry rash, with clear boundaries, often on lower legs. It is usually worse in winter. Cause is unknown.
Venous eczema (varicose eczema) occurs in people with impaired circulation, varicose veins and oedema, and is particularly common in the ankle area of people over 50. There is redness, scaling, darkening of the skin and itching. The disorder predisposes to leg ulcers and often results after vein stripping.
The hygiene hypothesis proposes that the cause of asthma, eczema, and other allergic diseases is an unusually clean environment. It is supported by epidemiological studies for asthma. The hypothesis states that exposure to bacteria and other immune system modulators is important during development, and missing out on this exposure increases risk for asthma and allergy. For more on the Hygiene Hypothesis and Molecular Mimicry see Naturopathic Causes below.
5% of people showing antibodies to house dust mites.
Diagnosis is based on history and physical examination. However, in uncertain cases, skin biopsy may be useful.
Western Medical Management
Prevention Those with eczema should not get the smallpox vaccination due to risk of developing eczema vaccinatum, a potentially severe and sometimes fatal complication. Treatment According to western medical pathology, there is no known cure for eczema. Treatments aim to control symptoms by reducing inflammation and relieving itching.
Corticosteroids are highly effective in controlling or suppressing symptoms. For mild-moderate eczema a weak steroid may be used (e.g. hydrocortisone), while in more severe cases a higher-potency steroid (e.g. clobetasol propionate) may be used. In severe cases, oral or injectable corticosteroids may be used.
Side effects of corticosteroids
- Immunosuppression (if used without antibiotics or antifungal drugs, lead to some skin infections (fungal or bacterial)).
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to increased gluconeogenesis, insulin resistance, and impaired glucose tolerance (“steroid diabetes”); caution in those with diabetes mellitus. Increased skin fragility, easy bruising (the most common symptom)
- Negative calcium balance due to reduced intestinal calcium absorption.
- Steroid-induced osteoporosis reduced bone density (osteoporosis, osteonecrosis, higher fracture risk, slower fracture repair)
- Weight gain due to increased visceral and truncal fat deposition (central obesity) and appetite stimulation
- Adrenal insufficiency (high-strength steroids used over large areas, or under occlusion may be significantly absorbed into the body, causing hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis suppression (HPA axis suppression))
- Muscle breakdown (proteolysis), weakness; reduced muscle mass and repair
- Expansion of malar fat pads and dilation of small blood vessels in skin
- Anovulation, irregularity of menstrual periods
- Growth failure, pubertal delay
- Increased plasma amino acids, increased urea formation; negative nitrogen balance
- Excitatory effect on central nervous system (euphoria, psychosis)
- Glaucoma due to increased cranial pressure (avoid the eyes)
Because of the risks associated with this type of drug, a steroid of an appropriate strength should be sparingly applied only to control an episode of eczema. Once the desired response has been achieved, it should be discontinued and replaced with emollients as maintenance therapy. Corticosteroids are generally considered safe to use in the short- to medium-term for controlling eczema.
Topical immunomodulators like pimecrolimus (Elidel and Douglan) and tacrolimus (Protopic) effectively suppress the immune system in the affected area.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a public health advisory about the possible risk of lymph node or skin cancer from use of these products, as the immune system may help remove some pre-cancerous abnormal cells.
Current practice by dermatologists is not to consider the skin cancer risk as a significant concern and they are increasingly recommending the use of these new drugs. The dramatic improvement on the condition can significantly improve the quality of life of sufferers. The major debate is about the cost of such newer treatments in the current financial climate.
Side effects of Immunomodulators
- Severe flushing
- Flu-like syndrome
- Photosensitive reactivity
- Possible drug interactions with a variety of medications, alcohol and grapefruit.
Immunosuppressant drugs are prescribed when eczema is severe and does not respond to other forms of treatment. These dampen the immune system response. Immunosuppressants can cause serious side effects therefore patients must undergo regular blood tests and be closely monitored.
In the UK and Ireland, the most commonly used immunosuppressants for eczema are ciclosporin, azathioprine and methotrexate.
Anti-itch drugs, often antihistamine, may reduce the itch during a flare up of eczema, and the reduced scratching in turn reduces damage and irritation to the skin. The itch relief is often due to the sedative side effects of these drugs, rather than their antihistamine effect. Hence, sedating antihistamines such as promethazine (Phenergan) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are more effective at relieving itch than the newer, nonsedating antihistamines.
Hydrocortisone applied to the skin aids in temporary itch relief.
Temporary yet significant and fast-acting relief can be found by cooling the skin via water, air or an ice pack
Moisturisers and ointments
Eczema can be exacerbated by dryness of the skin. Keeping the affected area moistened can promote skin healing and relief of symptoms.
Soaps and harsh detergents should not be used on affected skin because they can strip natural skin oils and lead to excessive dryness. Instead, the use of moisturising body wash, or an emollient like aqueous cream are recommended. Another option is to try bathing using colloidal oatmeal bath treatments. In addition to avoiding soap, powders or perfume should also be avoided.
Moistening agents are called emollients. In general, it is best to match thicker ointments to the driest, flakiest skin. While creams are easy to apply, they are quickly absorbed into the skin, and therefore need frequent reapplication.
Ointments with less water content stay on the skin for longer and need fewer applications, but they can be greasy and inconvenient. Steroids may also be mixed in with ointments.
There is a disagreement whether baths are desirable or a necessary evil. For example, the Mayo Clinic advises against daily baths to avoid skin drying. On the other hand, the American Academy of Dermatology claims "it is a common misconception that bathing dries the skin and should be kept to a bare minimum" and recommends bathing to hydrate skin.
Detergents and soaps
Detergents, often made from petrochemicals, increase the permeability of skin membranes in a way that soaps and water alone do not.Sodium lauryl sulphate , the most common household detergent, has been shown to amplify the allergenicity of other substances ("increase antigen penetration").
It may be best to avoid soaps and detergent cleansers altogether, except for the armpits, groin and perianal areas, and use cheap bland emolients in the bath or shower, for example aqueous cream.
Various measures may reduce the amount of mite antigens, in particular swapping carpets for hard surfaces. A number of environmental factors such as air exchange rates, relative humidity and room temperature (but not the level of house dust mites) might have an effect on the condition.
Light therapy using ultraviolet light can help control eczema. UVA is mostly used, but UVB and Narrow Band UVB are also used. Overexposure to ultraviolet light carries its own risks, particularly potential skin cancer from exposure.
When light therapy alone is found to be ineffective, the treatment is performed with the application (or ingestion) of a substance called psoralen.. This PUVA (Psoralen + UVA) combination therapy is termed photo-chemotherapy. Psoralens make the skin more sensitive to UV light, thus allowing lower doses of UVA to be used. However, the increased sensitivity to UV light also puts the patient at greater risk for skin cancer
Recent studies provide hints that food allergy may trigger atopic dermatitis. Identifying and avoidance of dietary can help minimise symptoms. Dietary elements that have been reported to trigger eczema include dairy products, coffee (both caffeineated and decaffeinated), soybean products, eggs, nuts, wheat and maize (sweet corn).
Medicine suggests that use of oral vitamin D3 supplements bolsters production of a protective chemical normally found in the skin, and may help prevent skin infections that are a common result of atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.
A diet rich in omega-3 (and low in omega-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids may be able to reduce symptoms.
Natural Medicine Causes
The Hygiene Hypothesis and Molecular Mimicry
The hygiene hypothesis is a hypothesis that states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing natural development of the immune system.
Other diseases, such as the rise of autoimmune diseases and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in young people in the developed world, have also been linked to the hygiene hypothesis. There is some evidence that autism is caused by an immune disease, with one study implicating the hygiene hypothesis as a cause of autism.
Mechanism of action
Allergic diseases are caused by inappropriate immunological responses to harmless antigens driven by an over zealous Th2 (T helper cells)-mediated immune response. Many bacteria and viruses normally encountered elicit a Th1-mediated immune response. This down regulates Th2 responses to keep the immune system in check.
The hygiene hypothesis states that insufficient stimulation of the Th1 arm leads to an overactive Th2 arm, stimulating the antibody-mediated immunity of the immune systems, which in turn led to allergic and some autoimmune diseases. This proposed mechanism however, cannot explain the rise in incidence of several Th1-mediated autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and type I diabetes.
The hypothesis suggests that the developing immune system of a child needs to come into contact with common childhood diseases, either bacterial, viral or parasitical in nature, in order to train the immune system to be able to recognise self cells from foreign cells and to down regulate overactive immune cells so that they don’t get out of control and attack their own body or elicit an overactive response. This lack of down regulation leads to the immune system being unable to recognise its own cells from a foreign cell therefore attacking its own cells resulting in autoimmune disease. See molecular mimicry below.
The hygiene hypothesis is supported by epidemiological data. Studies have shown that various immunological and autoimmune diseases are much less common in the developing world than the industrialised world and that immigrants to the industrialised world from the developing world increasingly develop immunological disorders in relation to the length of time since arrival in the industrialised world.
Breastfeeding is necessary to inoculate the child’s bowel with beneficial gut flora and to introduce the child’s immune system to food antigens through the mothers diet. This is why it is important NOT TO omit potential allergenic foods when breastfeeding as this is how your child develops antibodies to food antigens. Breasts, unlike bottles, are also not sterile.
The study of autoimmunity, the failure to recognise self antigens as “self”, has grown immensely. Autoimmunity is a result of a loss of immunological tolerance, which is the ability for an individual to discriminate between self and non-self. Molecular mimicry is a theoretical proposal that explains the causes of autoimmune disease and an overactive immune system such as seen in allergic disease.
Molecular mimicry states the body is unable to identify foreign and self-peptides which causes autoimmune disease. The reason the immune system is unable to downregulate and to recognise its own cells is because it has been untrained due to lack of exposure in childhood to childhood diseases. Vaccination is obviously a big issue from a naturopathic perspective.
T Helper cells and B cells are lymphocytes (immune cells) that fight antigens (pathogenic proteins). T helper cells when presented with an antigen generate cytokines to kill the antigens. The principal functions of B cells are to make antibodies against antigens. Upon the activation of B or T cells, it is believed that these “peptide mimic” specific T or B cells can cross-react with self-antigens, thus leading to autoimmunity.
Leaky Gut Syndrome (increased intestinal hyperpermeability)
Leaky Gut Syndrome is also described as increased intestinal hyperpermeability. Tight junctions (TJs) represent the major barrier between intestinal epithelial cells that line the digestion tract. Damage to the TJs leads to intestinal hyperpermeability ("leaky gut") which is part of the pathophysiology behind acute and chronic diseases such as systemic inflammatory response syndrome(SIRS), inflammatory bowel disease IBD including Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular disease type 1 diabetes, allergies including eczema and asthma, and autism.
Three mechanism are proposed
2. A "leaky" intestinal mucosal barrier
3. Altered intestinal immune responsiveness.
Dysbiosis refers to a condition with microbial flora imbalances in the digestive tract It has been associated with different illnesses, like inflammatory bowel disease and chronic fatigue syndrome.
A leaky bowel wall leads to bacteria and endotoxins building up in the bloodstream creating an immune response. This is an important stimulus for inflammatory cytokine activation.
2. A "leaky" intestinal mucosal barrier
The gastrointestinal tract is responsible for digestion and absorption of nutrients and electrolytes, and to maintain water homeostasis. Another important function is its ability to keep pathogens from the environment that enter through the gut from the host through this barrier mechanism.
The intercellular tight junctions of the intestinal epithelial barrier, together with the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and the neuroendocrine network, controls the balance between tolerance and immunity to nonself-antigens. Whilst this tight junction should allow absorption of essential nutrients and ions, intestinal tight junctions that are “leaky” allow substances, which should not be absorbed into the blood stream. Select enteric viruses, bacterial pathogens and parasites modulate intestinal tight junction structure and function and these effects may also contribute to the development of chronic intestinal disorders. Physiological, pharmacological, and pathophysiological stimuli all cause changes in the barrier properties of the tight junctions.
Enteric pathogens such as E. coli, Giardia, and TNF disrupt tight junctions function of epithelial cells. Alcohol consumption induces a state of "leaky gut" increasing plasma and liver endotoxin levels, leading (in excess) to liver diseases.
3. Altered intestinal immune responsiveness
Kupffer cells are macrophages located in the liver. When Kupffer cells become activated they produce a variety of substances including cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase metabolites, and reactive oxygen species such as superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide, and nitric oxide that damage the TJs and lead to increased intestinal hyperpermeability.
Non-IgE Mediated (Delayed) Food Allergy
These are allergic reactions that are delayed and are mediated by the cells of the immune system called immune complexes (antigen-antibody complexes), which circulate in the bloodstream. This is opposed to histamine release in immediate reaction food allergy.
These circulating antigen-antibody complexes can lodge in tissues creating all sorts of problems in particular, asthma, eczema and hayfever, but also can develop severe autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (children can get juvenile arthritis) and insulin dependant diabetes. There is a strong relationship between the antibody for bovine protein found in milk and the similarity of this protein to the pancreatic Islets of Langerhans for example as the body fails to recognise the difference in the cells due to the hygiene hypothesis and molecular mimicry.
Delayed reactions to food may take several hours or days to develop. Foods causing reactions of these types include cows’ milk, eggs, fish, wheat, other cereals, yeast, soya, pork, chocolate, citrus fruits, other fruit and some vegetables.
Sodium Laureth Sulphate
Both Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and its close relative Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) are commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to "foam up". Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents.
SLES has been shown to produce eye or skin irritation in experimental animals and in some human test subjects. Some products containing SLES have been found to contain low levels of the carcinogen.
A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations of SLS as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation.
The danger in skin diseases
In the same way that SLS is used in engine degreaser to dissolve grease on car engines, sodium lauryl sulfate also dissolves the oils on your skin, which results in drying of the skin. SLS also denatures skin proteins, which causes not only irritation, but also allows environmental contaminants easier access to the lower, sensitive layers of the skin.
The other threat from SLE
Once SLS it has been absorbed into the body through the skin it mimics the action of oestrogen and can increases the risk of hormone dependent cancers including breast, endometrial and prostate cancer.
Measures of eczema improved by about 23 per cent over eight weeks after consuming the DHA supplements, and this was associated with significant reductions in levels of markers of inflammation.
"With this randomised, double-blind, controlled trial we show that an 8-week supplementation with 5.4 g daily of the n-3 PUFA DHA led to a significant clinical improvement of atopic eczema compared with baseline scores,"
C. Koch, S. Dölle, M. Metzger, C. Rasche, H. Jungclas, R. Rühl, H. Renz, M. Worm., Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in atopic eczema: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. British Journal of Dermatology, Volume 158, Issue 4, Page 786-792.
Children who eat lots of foods containing vitamin E have a lower risk of eczema. To look into the association of vitamin E and eczema risk, researchers followed 396 Japanese children, aged between 10 and 13 years, 240 of whom had eczema, wheezing, or asthma. The researchers measured the levels of vitamin A and E in the participants’ blood.
No relationship was found between a child's risk of any of the conditions and his or her blood levels of vitamin A-related compounds. However, those with the highest levels of vitamin E-related compounds were at 67 percent lower risk of eczema than those with the lowest. Even those with only moderately higher than average levels of the compound, had a similarly lower risk.
It's not clear why vitamin E would lower the risk of eczema, but the researchers speculated that vitamin E’s antioxidant and immune-boosting effects might play a role in cutting eczema risk.
Masayuki Okuda et al., Association of serum carotenoids and tocopherols with atopic diseases in Japanese children and adolescents, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Volume 21, Issue 4p2, pages e705–e710, June 2010.
A study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests that use of oral Vitamin D supplements bolsters production of a protective chemical normally found in the skin, and may help prevent skin infections that are a common result of atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.
The researchers studied patients who were suffering from moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema that affects around 10 to 20 percent of children and around one to three percent of adults. This skin disease causes patches of redness, scaling and severe itching. Over a period of time, changes occur to the skin due to constant rubbing and scratching. People suffering from atopic dermatitis are susceptible to skin infections caused by Staph aureus, and to the herpes virus and small pox virus.
It has been proven that earlier that if the immune system of the body has a defect, then the skin is unable to produce a chemical known as cathelicidin. This chemical is a polypeptide that helps to protect the skin from microbes. In a person suffering from eczema, the lack of cathelicidin is associated with increased chances of infection.
In the study, 14 patients with atopic dermatitis were given 4000 IUs of Vitamin D orally for 21 days. It was found that after 21 days, the skin managed to produce cathelicidin, which was earlier lacking or deficient.
This clearly shows that Vitamin D and eczema are connected, and it might be helpful for patients to take oral supplements of the vitamin after consulting their doctor.
Tissa R. Hata,et al., Administration of oral vitamin D induces cathelicidin production in atopic individuals., Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology Oct 3.
A study evaluated the clinical and immunologic effects of cow's milk elimination without and with the addition of Lactobacillus GG (5 x 10(8) colony-forming units/gm formula) in an extensively hydrolyzed whey formula in infants with atopic eczema and cow's milk allergy. The second part of the study involved 10 breast-fed infants who had atopic eczema and cow's milk allergy. In this group Lactobacillus GG was given to nursing mothers.
The clinical score of atopic dermatitis improved significantly during the 1-month study period in infants treated with the extensively hydrolyzed whey formula fortified with Lactobacillus GG, but not in those receiving the extensively hydrolyzed whey formula only. These results suggest that probiotic bacteria may promote endogenous barrier mechanisms in patients with atopic dermatitis and food allergy, and by alleviating intestinal inflammation, may act as a useful tool in the treatment of food allergy.
Majamaa H, Isolauri E., Probiotics: novel approach in the management of food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Feb;99(2):179-85.
Effect of Lactobacilli on Paracellular Permeability in the Gut
A rat study showed the probiotic strain Lactobacillus plantarum can reduce paracellular permeability in the gut resulting from cytokines, chemicals, infections, or stress.
There have been few human studies focusing on the effect of lactobacilli on intestinal paracellular permeability but recently it has been shown that they could influence the tight junctions. More precisely, short-term administration of L. plantarum WCSF1 to healthy volunteers increased the relocation of occludin and ZO-1 into the tight junction area between duodenal epithelial cells.
Siv Ahrne and Marie-Louise Johansson Hagslatt Effect of Lactobacilli on Paracellular Permeability in the Gut, Nutrients 2011, 3(1), 104-117.
Natural Medicine Treatment Principles
3. Repair gastrointestinal lining
4. Re inoculate bowel flora
Reduce food antigens ie. Foods that may cause allergies, dairy products, coffee (both caffeineated and decaffeinated), soybean products, eggs, nuts, wheat and maize (sweet corn.
Digestive enzymes including saliva, stomach acid and bile flow using herbal bitters which are naturally;
- Sialogogues (promote saliva)
- Cholagogues (promotes bile)
- Orexogenics (promotes stomach acid)
Short-term use of digestive enzymes such as bromelain and papain may be advisable, alternatively eat pineapple or papaya after meals as these fruits contain the proteolytic enzymes.
Chew your food 32 times.
Avoid liquid with meals as this dilutes hydrochloric acid.
3. Repair gastrointestinal lining
4. Re inoculate bowel flora
Retrain your immune system
Get dirty, allow your children to get dirty. Encourage normal play on the beach or in the dirt. Avoid the overuse of antibacterial particularly on eating utensils and dishwashing liquid.
Remember, the development of specific immunoglobulin antibodies to environmental allergens encountered early in life is a normal, healthy physiological response to develop tolerance to the environment. Examples of these allergens include not only surface and airborne bacteria and viruses but also foods in particular and cows’ milk or egg. However, if there is an abnormal response and large numbers of antibodies are generated, this may cause an allergic reaction.
The ability to throw a good fever is an example of the strength of what naturopaths term, the Vital Force. Many patients with chronic autoimmune conditions and allergic disorders do not get fevers. Many patients have taken fever suppressing medications there whole lives. The fever is a natural response and should not be suppressed. When the fever is between 38-40°C cancer destroying immune cells are activated.
The fever inhibits toxins and clears waste from the tissues, lymph and blood, on which bacteria feed and multiply. Killer T-cells are increased, as are neutrophils and macrophages, which are the white blood cells responsible for destroying invaders. Fever IS NOT DANGEROUS unless the temperature is over 101°F (38.3°C) in an infant, 103°F (39.4°C) in a child or 104°F (40°C) in an adult.
The treatment principal is to encourage and support the fever. Next time you get sick do not take paracetamol or aspirin. Lose the soldier on attitude. Eat chicken soup and go to bed. For fever management I recommend Yarrow Elder and Peppermint (YEP) tea. YEP tea is a blend of diaphoretic herbs, which promotes sweating to lower temperature. Please note herbs are amphoteric meaning that they can increase the temperature in a low-grade fever or increase temperature in a high-grade fever. Alternatively if someone is throwing a low grade fever, ie < 38 °C a warm YEP tea will increase the body temperature.
Replace nutritional deficiencies
Specifically for leaky gut
L-Glutamine for gut repair
Glutamine is important for a large number of bodily functions. It is one of the most important nutrients for healing leaky gut syndrome because it is the preferred 'fuel' for the cells lining the mucosa of the small intestine (enterocytes). Glutamine is also required for the production of both intestinal mucus and Secretary Immunoglobulin Type A (SIgA). Glutamine will help repair and maintain a healthy small intestinal lining. The suggested dosage for moderate-severe leaky gut syndrome is in the range of 5-20g per day.
An essential nutrient for the production of the GI tracts protective antibodies (SIgA). Vitamin A also helps to maintain a healthy intestinal mucosa and soothes inflammation. Vitamin A can be used safely in doses of up to 20,000-25,000 IU's per day. Vitamin A is also involved in immune function, skin and cellular health and displays antioxidant activity.
Zinc is required for growth and healing and is essential to cells with a rapid turnover. The cells of the small intestinal mucosa have an extremely rapid turnover, being replaced about every four days, so zinc is extremely important to the integrity of the intestinal lining.
Small intestinal permeability is often increased in patients with Crohn's disease and may be pathogenic for clinical relapses. Clinical studies have shown zinc supplementation can resolve permeability alterations in patients with Crohn's disease in remission. Improving intestinal barrier function may contribute to reduce the risk of relapse in Crohn's disease. Dosages in the range of 50-80mg per day are usually taken to correct deficiencies of zinc.
Sturniolo GC., Di Leo V., Ferronato A, D'Odorico A., D'Incà R Zinc supplementation tightens "leaky gut" in Crohn's disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis.2001 May;7(2):94-8.
Glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans. GAGs form an important component of connective tissues and is essential for the secretion of the mucus that creates a protective lining on top the cells of the gut.
Vitamin B complex
Essential for healthy skin and cell growth
A natural antihistamine useful for skin problems caused by allergy
Improve the action of vitamin C
Essential for skin health
Vitamin E, found in vegetable oils, nuts, and whole grains, is considered good for skin because of its antioxidant properties. Improves healing when applied topically.
Involved in essential fatty acids production.
Antioxidant and increases the action of vitamin E
Omega-3 Fish oils
Reduce inflammation by inhibiting COX.
Probiotics are live microorganisms taken orally, such as the Lactobacillus bacteria found in yoghurt. Research points to some strains of beneficial microorganisms having the ability to prevent allergic disorders including eczema and asthma, hayfever and urticaria.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice DGL
DGL has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and is very soothing to the upper GI tract. It has been comprehensively researched and shown to be an effective treatment for ulcers of the GI tract and also to prevent damage to the intestines by aspirin.
Most well known for its ability to protect liver cells from potent toxins, it also has a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the gut lining. Silymarin is a very good antioxidant and also increases levels of glutathione in the cells.
Slippery elm has a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect on inflamed and damaged gut lining. It is used for any gastrointestinal disorders ending in “itis”. Slippery elm provides mucilage which coats and protects the intestinal lining from toxins and pathogenic organisms.
Aloe is a natural healing agent. One of aloe's active component are called mucilaginous polysaccharides which give the plant its powerful anti-inflammatory healing action. It has been widely shown to have a beneficial affect on a number of conditions involving inflammation of the gut. In addition to its healing effect on the gut lining, aloe is also an immunomodulator and antimicrobial, both of which are beneficial to anyone suffering from leaky gut syndrome.
Berberine is a traditional herbal medicine, which has been used for patients with gastrointestinal disorders for a long time. According to a new report, berberine can ameliorate pro-inflammatory cytokines induced intestinal epithelia tight junction damage in vitro, and berberine may be one of the targeted therapeutic agents that can restore barrier function in intestinal disease states.
Conduct an oligoantigenic diet and oral food challenge.
Oily fish including tuna, salmon, sardine, herring and mackerel
Increase other omega 3 rich foods such as walnuts Increase oily nuts including sunflower and pumpkin seeds Eat a generally healthy diet, including five portions of vegetables per day, brown rice, millet, abundant green leafy vegetables and fruit (no oranges).
Drink 2 litres of filtered water per day see Carahealth Skin Tonic
Reduce consumption of animal fats and fried foods as they block the formation of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Avoid dairy products, sugar, white flour, fried foods and processed foods
Avoid or reduce excess consumption of foods that may cause allergies, dairy products, coffee (both caffeineated and decaffeinated), soybean products, eggs, nuts, wheat and maize (sweet corn).
SLS Sodium Laureth Sulphate
Buy SLS free products. Products found to contains SLS;
- Tooth paste
- Washing-up liquid
- Laundry detergent
- Stain Remover
- Carpet Cleaner
- Fabric glue
- Body wash
- Shaving cream
- Skin cleanser
- Sun Cream
Capsaicin applied to the skin acts as a counter irritant.
Temporary yet significant and fast-acting relief can be found by cooling the skin via water (swimming, cool water bath or wet washcloth), air (direct output of an air conditioning vent), or careful use of an ice pack (can substitute bags of frozen vegetables).
There is some anecdotal evidence that saltwater baths may help some children with atopic eczema. One reason might be that seawater has antiseptic properties. The Dead Sea is popular for alleviating skin problems including eczema.
Sulphur has been used for many years as a topical treatment in the alleviation of eczema, although this could be suppressive. It was fashionable in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
The digestive tract is the most responsive system in the body to the influences of the brain and the mind-body connection. In fact the digestive system is the only part of the body that contains and uses identical tissues and chemicals to the brain. This has led to the gut being referred to as the 'second brain'. Any technique which produces alpha or theta waves is beneficial to the leaky gut.
Some of the techniques that are effective include: ·
- Self Hypnosis
- Breathing Techniques
- Meditation and other spiritual practices
- Listening to specially prepared sound frequencies that induce the same frequencies in brain waves as meditation.
Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu.
Cert IV TAE