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Common Ailments ~ Eczema ~ Holistic Treatment

What is the holistic treatment?

How to keep the moisture in

Because eczema is generally a dry skin condition, you want to keep your skin moist. Although baths hydrate the skin, turn down the hot water, which often aggravates the itching. And don’t soak too long or bathe too frequently; you’re depleting your skins natural oils. On the few parts of your body that need soap (most do not), use a mild variety. Finally, when you’re done bathing, pat excess water rather than rub dry. Immediately apply plenty of body lotion or creams to hold the moisture. Avoid products with alcohol, synthetic fragrances or lanolin; use products that incorporate skin-soothing herbs.

Food for Rash Relief

To sooth itching, soak a flannel in ice-cold milk and lay it over the itchy area. Repeat several times a day.

Many experts believe that food allergies play a significant role in eczema. The troublesome foods are usually dairy foods, wheat, eggs, yeast and citrus fruits or juices. Try eliminating these foods from the diet for about a month, then bring them back one at a time for three days to see if the skin reacts.

The fatty-acid connection

Some people with eczema have fatty-acid imbalances. Basically, they need more of the omega-3 fatty acids (the kind found in cold-water fish and flaxseeds) and more of an omega-6 fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (found in borage, blackcurrant and evening primrose seeds).

Some studies have found that medicinal oils rich in gamma-linolenic acid improve the condition. One suggested dose for evening primrose oil is 3,000 milligrams in capsules per day.

Other studies show benefits from fish oil, a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid, which the body can convert to the omega-3 fatty acids that occur in fish oil. If you really want to boost your overall health along with your skins health, incorporate into your diet foods rich in omega-3s: salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and dark-green leafy vegetables.

Liquorice

This herb has potent anti-inflammatory properties, just what you want in a herbal remedy for eczema. It seems to act similarly to corticosteroids, but without the negative side effects of such drugs. Liquorice also inhibits the breakdown of cortisol, the body’s own corticosteroid.

In a study children with eczema who drank a tea made from 10 Chinese herbs – one of which was liquorice – showed marked improvement over those who received a placebo tea that didn’t contain the herbs.

Typical dosage: up to two 400-500milligram capsules three times per day; or 20-30 drops of tincture three times per day; or up to 3 cups of tea per day (simmer 2 teaspoons of dried root in 680 millilitres of hot water for 10-15 minutes). Liquorice is intensely sweet, so you might want to add other herbs to your tea.

To use liquorice externally, simmer 2 tablespoons of ground dried root in 450 millilitres of water for 15 minutes. Strain, cool, and apply to eczema patches with a clean flannel. Or you can look for natural skin products that contain liquorice or glycyrrhetic acid, one of liquorice’s active ingredients. CAUTION: do not take internally for more than six weeks. Do not use if you’re pregnant or have high blood pressure, heart or liver disease, diabetes or severe kidney stones

Burdock

Taken internally, this root decreases inflammation. Herbalists consider it a traditional remedy for many kinds of skin disorders, including eczema, rich in minerals; burdock also contains insulin, which stimulates an immune pathway to destroy the skin bacteria that can worsen eczema.

Typical dosage: 1 to 4 cups of tea per day ( simmer 2 teaspoons of dried rot in 680 millilitres of hot water for 10-15 minutes); or two 400-500-milligram capsules three times per day; or 10-25 drops of tincture three times per day. To use externally, simmer 1 tablespoon of dried root in 450 millilitres of water for 10-15 minutes. Strain, cool and apply with a clean cloth

Dandelion

Like burdock, this common plant contains insulin, which improves the body’s ability to dispose of unwanted bacteria. Dandelion also stimulates digestion and liver function. And it’s full of vitamins and mineral, many of which help maintain healthy skin. You can eat the young, fresh leaves raw in salads or steamed as a vegetable.

Typical dosage 1-4 cups of tea per day (simmer 2-3 teaspoons of dried root in 450 millilitres of hot water for 15 minutes); or two 400-500-milligram capsules three times per day.

Gotu Kola

This versatile herb can be used externally to help heal wounds and reduce skin inflammation.

Typical dosage 1 cup of tea per day (steep 1 teaspoon of dried herb in ¼ litre of hot water for 10 minutes); or up to eight 400-500 milligram capsules per day; or 20-40 drops of tincture twice per day. For external use, cool the tea above and apply it to the eczema using a clean cloth. You can also find gotu kola as an ingredient in herbal creams

Echinacea

This American wildflower contains substances that fight infection, decrease inflammation, and stimulate the formation and repair of connective tissue. A german study found that a salve made from the juice of the above-ground parts of Echinacea was effective in treating several types of inflammatory skin conditions, including eczema. In addition to using Echinacea salves, you can apply an echinacea tea as a cool compress, simmer 1 tablespoon of dried, minced root in 450 millilitres of water for 15 minutes. Strain, cool and apply to inflamed skin with a clean cloth.

Comfrey

This traditionally revered herb contains allantoin, an ingredient in many skin lotions. Allantoin soothes the skin and speeds healing by promoting the growth of skin cells. To use, apply comfrey as either a salve or compress. Simmer 2 teaspoons of dried root in 450 millilitres of water for 10 minutes, strain and cool; use a clean cloth to sponge on the solution. CAUTION: do not apply to broken or scraped skin. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid applying comfrey or comfrey products to large areas of skin

Coleus

This Indian variety of coleus should not be confused with the common houseplant. The medicinal coleus can reduce the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals by increasing levels of a substance called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) within cells. So far, studies have focused on its use for asthma, but researchers are currently looking at new eczema drugs that also work to prevent the breakdown of cAMP.

Oregon Graperoot and Goldenseal

These herbs have a place in the treatment of eczema for two reasons. First, they promote good digestion and liver function, thereby helping the body get rid of minor toxins that may promote inflammation.

Second the berberine that both herbs contain is a potent antimicrobial substance. It fights bad bacteria such as streptococci and staphylococci that can complicate eczema

Typical dosage: up to six 500-600-miligram capsules per day in divided doses; or 10 to 20 drops of tincture three times per day. To use externally, simmer 2 teaspoons of dried root of either herb in 450 millilitres of water for 10 minutes, strain, cool and use as a wash. CAUTION: do not take either herb internally if you are pregnant

Oats

This familiar breakfast grain soothes and moistens skin. There are three great ways to use oats for eczema. Method 1: boil2-2 ½ litres of water, toss in 2 handfuls of oatmeal, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain into a bathtub of water, or cool the solution and apply to your skin with a clean cloth. Method 2: put 1-2 handfuls of oatmeal in a sock or tie into a piece of muslin. Drop the oat sock in the bath as the hot water is running. You can then use the oat bundle as a sponge on itchy areas. Method 3: buy a commercial colloidal oatmeal mix, such as Aveeno, and add this to the bath. This finely ground oatmeal floats in the water and is soothing to itchy skin. The one method to avoid is pouring whole oats directly into the bath, this creates a giant cleaning project and isn’t good for your plumbing.

Avocado

Avocado is good to eat because it contains vitamins A, D and E. the same vitamins make avocado good for the skin. To help reduce the itching, dryness and inflammation, apply the mashed fruit directly to patches of eczema, or apply the oil.

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