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Eczema Allergy and Beyond

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in allergies, originally published in issue 38 - March 1999

Jane, aged 54, came to see me with a few minor health problems, and one major one of severe eczema, a chronic skin condition, which she had suffered from for most of her life. Jane was extremely worried as she had just started working for a fitness training company and was expected to look fit, healthy and full of vitality, as part of the 'corporate image'. Summer would be a particularly anxious time for Jane as it was essential that she wore shorts and T-shirts that would reveal the eczema on her legs and arms. Jane felt extremely embarrassed about her skin condition and it was uncomfortable, irritating and itchy.

Eczema is an inflammatory skin problem causing dry, scaly patches of redness, and lesions, which weep blood and fluids. It is commonly found on the face, wrists and insides of the elbows and knees. The known causes of eczema involve hereditary factors, emotional stress, intestinal toxicity, and digestive disturbances usually involving hypochlorhydria - low stomach acid. In terms of nutrition, food allergies and faulty essential fatty acid metabolism are almost always connected with eczema. Vitamins A and E are especially important in skin health to prevent hyperkeritinisation - thickening of the skin. The mineral zinc is also significant as it is necessary for the production of stomach acid, and the conversion of the essential fatty acids to prostaglandins, which have the indispensable anti-inflammatory properties.

An assessment of Jane's case history was initially made using a questionnaire, a seven-day diet diary, and a consultation. The questionnaire suggested digestive problems, macro mineral imbalance, low zinc levels, and a previously diagnosed allergy to lead and formulin. The diet diary suggested an overabundance of processed foods, coffee, wheat and dairy products. On first meeting Jane she seemed very stressed and totally obsessed with looking and feeling good. Her self-esteem was low and she was willing to do anything to change these matters.

Before making my recommendations I tested Jane by Kinesiology to gain more insight into her case study. I discovered the following: a build up of mucus and bacteria in the small intestine and colon, inflammation caused by high histamine levels, low zinc and essential fatty acid status. She also showed sensitivities to wheat, oranges and dairy products and I had an intuitive feeling that "dairy" was in fact a major allergen.

The treatment strategy was to correct the digestive problems, to clear the intestines of mucus, to take out any allergens/sensitivities to foods, to build up the immune system, to treat the skin condition topically, and to exercise regularly to aid the lymphatic circulation.

A six-week cleansing programme was undertaken which involved a diet avoiding additives, preservatives, colours, sugar, wheat, oranges and dairy. All meats were excluded as they produce arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation. The diet included fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, millet, quinoa, potatoes, vegetarian protein and fish. Oily fish: herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, white tuna, was taken 3-4 times weekly and two tablespoons of cold pressed safflower oil was taken daily. These provided the body with the essential fatty acids needed for improved skin condition and reduced inflammation. Jane drank lots of filtered water for cleansing and green tea to aid the immune system.

A supplement programme was followed and included a Multi-Vitamin and Mineral, Zinc, Vitamin C and 500mg. of Quercetin. Quercetin is a bioflavanoid and helps to block the release of histamine and other allergic compounds involved in the inflammatory response.

Other strategies included avoiding all dust, aerosols, chemicals and greasy ointments, which can block the evaporation of sweat and aggravate itching.

Two topical applications were used on the skin: Evening Primrose Oil, to soften the dry scaly skin, and an ointment containing Glycyrrhiza glabra, (liquorice) which has anti-allergy properties and can prevent itching.

Aerobic exercise was followed three times weekly to aid the lymphatic circulation and to raise Jane's self esteem. Cotton clothing was worn whilst exercising to prevent further irritation to the skin, and a shower with lukewarm water was recommended straight afterwards. For relaxation and reduction in stress levels Jane chose to attend a yoga class and to listen to a meditation tape regularly.

Jane's progress was slow and steady with the eczema symptoms worsening in the first couple of weeks. By the twelfth week and the start of summer, she felt livelier, healthier, more confident and able to wear shorts! However, the eczema still erupted on occasions and it was at this point that we added a supplement of the essential fatty acids, Eicosapentanoeic acid and Evening Primrose Oil. The eczema finally settled down after twenty weeks.

One day Jane mistakenly added milk to her cereal and within a couple of hours the eczema started to appear on her legs. This confirmed my suspicions that she did have an allergy to dairy products, and should avoid them.

The sense of wellness achieved when dietary changes are made often lead clients to make further improvements to their health and lifestyle. So, with this success behind her, Jane was motivated to confront her secret worry that she may develop "Osteoporosis" in the future, as it was prevalent in her immediate family.

Jane courageously attended the 'Osteoporosis Screening Services' for an assessment of her bone density. The results indicated that she had average bone density on the right side, but the left side was 11% below average. To redress this imbalance she followed a resistance-training programme of 4 by 35 minute sessions weekly. Her routine was 'split', whereby she exercised the muscles of the pectorals, latissimus dorsi and deltoids on one session and the biceps, triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings on the next session. A supplement of magnesium and calcium was also taken. A year later a retest showed that she was 16% above average on the right side and 2% above average on the left side. This was an increase of 13% on the weaker side. An excellent outcome!

References

Osteoporosis Screening Services 0800 371989

Dr Braly's Food Allergy and Nutrition Revolution. James Braly MD Keats Publishing 1992 ISBN 0 87983 590 7

Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Michael Murray ND and Joseph Pizzorno ND Prima Publishing 1998 ISBN 0 7615 1157 1

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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;  junebutlin@btinternet.com

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