Today we have a guest post from Christina, who suffered from eczema from childhood all the way through to her adult years. Christina only finally managed to control her eczema when she addressed the health of her digestive system.
The gut is a very important organ in your body, and much more complex than most people think. I never thought that something as seemingly unconnected as the gut could have an impact on my eczema or skin issues in general.
But before I go deeper, let me give you a little background about me…
I’ve had eczema ever since I was a kid, about 8 years old. I remember it would just randomly appear on various places on my body, specifically my arms and legs and sometimes on my chest and neck. I was often brought in to see dermatologists and skin doctors, but the diagnosis was always the same thing: “It’s just eczema, it’s normal for kids to have.” The doctors would prescribe some creams and ointments to relieve the itchiness and help dry it up, but it never got rid of it completely.
As a teenager it was rough. I wasn’t able to do other “normal” things, like wear shorts or sleeveless shirts or go swimming in the summer. I was so embarrassed of my eczema that I even made up stories to the friends I did have, telling them it was “bug bites” or that it was a rash from something I ate. Most of the time I would try to just change the subject whenever my peers or adults would ask me what it was -because I didn’t really know myself.
I remember hoping it was an “age factor” and that it would get better as I got older. I had read testimonies of people who had horrible breakouts that miraculously disappeared once they hit their 20’s. Even my dad told me that he had really bad eczema when he was younger, and that it had gone away eventually. I desperately hoped this would apply to me! Unfortunately, the hope of it only being “teenage eczema” wasn’t the case, and my eczema followed me through my 20‘s and after.
An adult with a crisis
As an adult I became so frustrated at this never-ending problem that I considered just giving up trying to find solutions. I had doctors tell me that since it seemed hereditary, there was a big possibility it would never go away. I was prescribed steroid creams, corticosteroid creams, antibiotics, and medicines that just didn’t work! I was spending lots of money and not seeing any of the results I wanted.
Because I had to use the creams and medications regularly, I was at the point where if I DIDN’T use them my eczema would get out of control. (The picture is how my eczema looked when I was using creams) When I would have a flare up, I hid it the best I could. Out came the creams, topical ointments, gauze, tape, and band aids. I would apply and re-apply until it went away, then repeat the process when it came back. At some point my eczema was returning as fast as it was clearing. It would flare, I would apply the cream for 2 or 3 weeks, and then it would go away-only to return 2 weeks later.
I was so frustrated and unhappy. Even having a physical relationship was uncomfortable, and some nights it was so bad I would cry out of frustration because I couldn’t sleep. When I was on vacation or traveling I couldn’t enjoy myself because I always had this very literal itch.
Just like many of you struggling with eczema, I spent a lot of time online. I would browse new medications and look on forums for people’s experiences with eczema, trying to find a new solution to an age old problem. It surprised me to see how many people were suffering from the same issue that I was, and getting near to no help from their doctors either.
It was one of these days that I stumbled across an article on gut health–related to adult skin problems. The article talked about how gut health could be critical in healing skin conditions like adult acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It talked about gut health as the key to revolutionizing the way dermatologists treat eczema.
Now from what I knew, eczema was an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, and so far the only reasonable way for me to treat it was to use medicines or creams to help my body fight against it. I would use antibiotics and medicines (to help my body’s immune system), anti-inflammatory creams (to lessen inflammation), and so on. I never considered that I could go natural and try to heal my body from the inside-out!
Consequences of an Unhealthy Gut
For years I had been addressing my eczema as just a surface problem, never realizing it went way beyond that. As I did more research, I realized that in order to heal your skin you had to go a lot deeper than just lotions and topical creams.
As I mentioned before, the human gut is something so overlooked, but very important as it is responsible for so many different functions in our body. It promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides us protection from infections, regulates our metabolism and comprises more than 75 percent of our immune system. Most importantly, it’s home to over 100 trillion micro-organisms, (bacteria) both good and bad. Research has shown that in order to maintain a healthy gut, there should be a ratio of around 80 percent good bacteria vs 20 percent bad bacteria.
This balance of bacteria in particular has a lot to do with skin and our overall health. Medical researchers and experts in mucosal biology have shown that that the gut was a key factor in autoimmune diseases, like coeliac, diabetes, obesity, and more. Their conclusion was that an unhealthy gut was the main cause for a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including eczema, psoriasis, and other chronic skin issues.
The gut-skin connection
I started to better understand that the link between the gut and overall health was in fact, very strong. In my case, the consequences of an unhealthy gut showed up through my skin. From research and studies, here’s what I discovered:
The gut is a big part of the digestive system. What ever goes in, goes out – or at least this is how it’s supposed to work. Now remember how in order to maintain a happy healthy gut, there has to be IDEALLY a 80-20 balance of good to bad bacteria? Well, studies have shown that if you continually consume certain inflammatory foods or toxins, these types of foods can cause the bad bacteria to grow at a rapid pace, outgrowing the percentage of good bacteria.
This is a problem because when the balance is thrown out of proportion, the overgrowth of bad bacteria starts to create toxins that are damaging to our gut lining. These toxins then hit the walls of the gut lining, creating spaces and holes between the cells.
These holes are dangerous because they allow the gut’s bacteria (remember there’s a lot of bacteria in there!), toxins, as well as incompletely digested proteins and fats, to leak out of the gut and into the bloodstream.
This is what is commonly referred to as “Leaky Gut Syndrome” or increased intestinal permeability. Instead of going straight OUT (like it should), it’s going back INTO your body (where it shouldn’t).
So how does eczema come into play?
Well, because the damaged gut is no longer up to the job of dispensing these bad bacterias and toxins, the body has to use another method of elimination–the skin.
The skin is the body’s largest elimination organ, so it’s not surprising why a myriad of skin diseases come into play during this clean-up process. Because of this bacterial breach into our bloodstream via our leaky gut, the body now has no other choice but to react by pushing the toxins out through our skin. Our body is simply trying to eliminate the bacterial problem the best way it can and rid us of the escaped toxins in our blood.
Unfortunately for us, it essentially puts our skin under assault, resulting in multiple breakouts in skin rashes, acne, eczema, pimples, acne and psoriasis. Along with these effects, you may also experience gas, bloating, fatigue, sinus congestion, and foggy thinking.
How to heal your gut and help clear your eczema
Now that I understood how the gut-skin connection worked, I wanted to do something about it. Looking into my diet was important in helping me clear my skin. I realized that using creams and taking medicines to heal my eczema wasn’t the way to heal my body–I needed to focus on gut health in order to heal my eczema.
Here a few things I did to start healing my gut:
1) Get rid of inflammatory foods. When I first started to heal my gut, I stopped eating inflammatory foods like wheat(gluten), dairy, soy, and high amounts of sugar. Many people think that just because they aren’t allergic to these types of foods that it means they can eat them all they like. The fact is, however, that these kinds of inflammatory foods can create problems in your gut that cause the bad bacteria to grow. Sugar, for example, actually feeds bad bacteria in your gut, causing them to grow at a really fast pace.
2) Increase the amounts of probiotics. Just getting rid of inflammatory foods isn’t enough for your gut to fully heal. If you’ve been on medications, and especially antibiotics, you’re going to need to grow good bacteria. The fastest way to grow good bacteria is to increase probiotic foods and even supplement if necessary. Foods that contain good probiotics are things like sauerkraut, kimchi (marinated cabbage), kombucha (fermented drink), and kefir.
3) Add Omega 3’s to your diet. Another thing that greatly helps build gut-lining are healthy fats that contain high amounts of Omega 3’s and essential fatty acids. Fish oil, extra virgin coconut oil, and avocado oil are all good sources of essential fatty acids that will help rebuild your leaky gut lining.
How I healed my eczema through healing my gut
In my experience, I had never tried anything more revolutionary than using gut-health to clear eczema. As I learned more about the gut-skin connection and went off the creams and antibiotics that were inflaming my gut, I began to see my eczema heal.
After over 12 years of suffering from eczema, trying creams, medications, fad diets, artificial methods, and spending hundreds of dollars and having none of them work, I was finally able to see new skin! Through gut health I found the REAL, inexpensive, natural way to heal my skin, clear my eczema and keep it off permanently.
Doctors told me it was something I couldn’t get rid of, and that I would have eczema and be reliant on creams and medications for the rest of my life–but I’m proud to say I proved them wrong..and you can too!
Creams, steroids, and medications are not long-term solutions. It all starts with the gut.
Christina Reeves is the Author and Creator of The Flawless Program: a program focusing on gut health as a way to permanently clear skin issues.
Her website http://www.flawlessprogram.com, gives insightful information for anyone looking to heal their gut and fix their skin, naturally and forever!