I recently had a break from the Auckland winter with an amazing trip to the Gold Coast. I was fortunate enough to attend the International Congress on Natural Medicine, which brought together internationally recognised experts in the field of natural medicine. Subjects included ‘nutrigenomics and tissue specific inflammation’, ‘managment of neuroendocrine and immume dysfunction in psychiatry’, and ‘hormesis and epigenetics in clinical practice’. Big, complex subjects and that was just 3 of the 15 lectures I attended! So exciting and inspiring.
All the specifics aside, the overwhelming message for me, was that a new era of healthcare is on it’s way and it is being lead by research based natural medicine.
The old addage ‘prevention is the best cure’ is now more true than ever, so lets not ignore those little niggles; your body is trying to tell you something!
Today I want to talk about a very tissue specific inflammation……..Eczema
Eczema effects all ages and can range from causing extreme pain and debilitation, to mildly dry, itchy patches.
There is often a family history of eczema and in babies it can be a forunner to other immune mediated conditions such as asthma and food sensitivities.
Possible contributing factors
- environmental allergens such as animal fur, laundry detergents, soaps, creams, pollens, dust mites etc.
- immune imbalance – most eczema sufferers have mast cells (a type of immune cell) that release extra amounts of histamine. Histamine is a chemical that triggers inflammation particularly in areas like the skin and mucosal tissue.
- stress or anxiety can exacerbate eczema
- food sensitivities
Naturopathic treatment of eczema
1: If possible, identify the cause
No matter what age, an assessment of the foods and beverages you consume (or your baby consumes via breastmilk), and the cleaning and personal care products you use (or use on your baby) can give you clues about the cause of your eczema. Keeping a food/symptom diary can help you pick up patterns that may be occurring when you have certain foods. For example, many people find that dairy products or citrus foods tend to cause a worsening of their eczema the following day. If they avoid the foods for 3 weeks or more they get significant improvement. Secondly……..
2: Balance the immune response, get those histamines under control
One of the most effective natural treatments for eczema is to get the gut based immune system working smoothly. For some people probiotics do this exceptionally well, although you need to get the right form of bacteria (and no, yoghurt does not contain enough!).
Adults respond well to a mix of Lactobacilus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacilus rhamnosus (HN001). These are all bacteria found naturally in the gut, but they seem to get out of whack, leading to eczema in some people. As for how much you need to be effective – a staggering 12 billion organisms daily! I use a product called Ultra Flora Immune for this.
To prevent eczema in babies and children, pregnant mothers can take Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GG) during the last trimester of pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Formula feed babies and older children can also take Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GG) to help with eczema symptoms. I use a product called Eczema Shield in these cases.
3: Topical treatment
Over the years of treating eczema, I have seen so many people having to use ever increasing amounts of steroid creams, to get ever decreasing results. Although they are sometimes neccessary for flare ups or extreme eczema, I wanted to make an alternative to steroids that my clients could use along with the other treatments as above. This balm is packed with fresh chickweed, native New Zealand botanical extracts and New Zealand grown cold pressed avocado oil. It is called eczema ease.
“Eczema Ease takes the redness out of my daughter’s eczema trouble spots surprisingly quickly, and I find it works just as well as hydrocortisone creams. It is a relief to find something natural that is effective… we’ve tried everything!”
Giselle Reid, Auckland.
Homemade lemon & ginger drink
I seem to need a constant supply of hot drinks over winter, going through herbal tea bags 10 times faster than in summer! So when I came to my mother’s this weekend and she pulled out a batch of this delicous drink, I thought I would share it with you. Thanks Mum!
• 100gm fresh ginger, grated
• 2 cups of water
• 3 large lemons
• 2 -3 dessertspoons of honey
1. Simmer the ginger in the water for 30mins with the lid on. Strain and return back to the pot
2. Add the juice and pulp of 3 large lemons. Simmer again for 30 mins until reduced to appoximately 500mls
3. Add the honey and stir till melted. Let cool.
Keep in a glass jar or bottle in the fridge. Use about an inch in the bottom of a mug and pour boiling water over the mixture for a devine winter drink. Tip: shake the bottle before pouring as the lemon pulp sinks.
Blueberry Muffins – Gluten and/or dairy free
The muffins actually didn’t last long enough to get a picture! So I took one of the little loaf we made with the left over mix.
We used the Healtheries Simple gluten free baking mix, which contains rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, raising agents and some sugar. Switching this mix for spelt flour and a little extra baking powder should work well too.
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup of milk (cows, rice or soy)
100g butter (or 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil for a dairy free option)
1.5 cups Simple baking mix
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 200*C and oil the muffin tins. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and berries together (coating the berries). In another bowl combine and whisk the melted butter or oil, egg, vanilla essence and milk. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix gently before spooning into the tins. Bake for 20-25mins. Makes 8 muffins.
Tip: doubling the recipe may be wise! They taste so good.
Thanks for reading!