Treating Eczema

Question:I have had eczema off and on for many years, causing me considerable discomfort, even pain. Conventional doctors seem to have nothing to offer me except steroid creams. Is there a natural solution to eczema?

Answer: Eczema, Latin for skin rash, is a common and vexing skin disorder that severely disrupts the lives of many people of all ages. The incidence of eczema has been increasing over the past forty years; in fact, it is now considered the most common chronic disease in the pediatric population in the western world. According to western medicine, the pathophysiology—that is, the cause—of eczema is unknown, although the current theories put eczema in the category of auto-immune diseases in this case an auto-immune disease of the skin. (For reference other auto-immune diseases include Hashimoto’s which is an auto-immune disorder of the thyroid gland, and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an auto-immune disease of the joints.)

Food allergies have long been suspected to play a role in eczema, although studies of the role of food allergies have shown conflicting results over the years. There is also the question of whether all eczema or skin rashes have the same cause, in that sometimes the skin will be wet and weeping, whereas in other cases the skin is overly dry and cracked. It is unclear whether these are actually the same disease or whether they should be thought of and treated as entirely different illnesses. There is also the question of whether the location of the skin disorder relates to the origin of the illness. Children typically have eczema in the crooks of their elbows, and behind their knees and ears, whereas in the teen years and twenties the eruptions are frequently on the hands and feet, and in older age the eruptions often occur on the legs and arms. All these things are unexplained in conventional medicine and in fact complicate this very difficult situation.

In trying to understand eczema on a deeper level, the first issue to address, as with all allergic and auto-immune diseases, is the fact that the antibodies that cause auto-immune reactions are made against foreign proteins that have found their way into the bloodstream. Whether we are talking about foreign food antigens (food allergies), or auto-immune reactions, the issue is not so much stopping the toxic skin reaction that results in the eczema, but rather sealing and healing the gut in order to stop the leakage of foreign proteins into the blood stream, either from food or other sources. Healing the micro-flora of the gut, healing the micro-villi of the gut, and stopping the absorption of antigenic proteins is the key to stopping the vicious cycle that results in chronic eczema. All of this points to the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet), the modified traditional diet, to start healing the gut and restoring the micro-ecology in our GI tract. From a epidemiological perspective, when we moved away from our traditional diet, with its emphasis on lacto-fermented foods, good fats, bone broths and properly prepared grains, we created the situation that has allowed chronic illnesses like eczema to flourish.

In addition to the GAPS diet as the basis of the eczema treatment, there are some natural medicines that can go a long way to relieve the suffering that often accompanies this disorder. Evening primrose oil has been shown to lower inflammation and often help with skin healing. For small children the EPO can even be rubbed into the skin. The dose of EPO should be 4000 mg per day for 6 weeks, then 2000 mg per day thereafter. The Chinese herbal medicine sophora is an anti-allergy herb that is widely used both orally and as a skin ointment with much success. Allergy Research sells a product called Dermaweed, which contains sophora, and is often very successful in helping to heal eczema. The dose is about three capsules, three times per day for about eight weeks. Fermented cod liver oil, about 1 teaspoon per day should be given to supplement vitamin A, which has been shown to heal the GI mucosa and is valuable in the treatment of a variety of skin conditions. Some people see partial success with the cod liver oil, and complete success in healing eczema when the high-vitamin butter oil is added.

Probitoics and probiotic food should be given, including a daily dose of sauerkraut, and a probiotic such as Biokult, building up slowly to a dose of 1-4 capsules twice per day. Finally the skin protomorphogen from Standard Process, called dermatrophin, which blocks the antibodies that eventually cause skin inflammation should be given at a dose of 1-2 tablets three times per day between meals.

Finally, for topical treatment, I cannot say enough about a Chinese herbal formula containing sophora—I have seen bad cases of eczema clear up in just a few days with this product. A member of the pea family, sophora contains a biopolymer called arabinogalactan consisting of two simple sugars, arabinose and galactose. Arabinogalactan functions as a signalling molecule between cells, as well as glue to seal wounds, and may also interact with the immune system in a positive way.

The sophora topical treatment is available from drkangformulas.com. The product is number 49 on the website. The preparation is quite expensive—ten dollars for a small packet—but many find that it is more than worth it in the almost instant relief from itching that it gives.

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2010.

14 Responses to Treating Eczema

  1. Nicole Barrett says:

    This is exactly the treatment I have been looking for for my children. However, does the treatment differ for a 3 and 6 year old? Also, Any recommended brand for Evening Primrose Oil?

  2. Katie Behringer says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!! My 15 month son has terrible eczema and I ahve been looking for a solution.

  3. Anna says:

    I ordered the Dr. Kang formula cream for my 3 year old son. To say that the packet is small and expensive is to put it lightly, my total cost including shipping came out to $28 for a tiny tiny packet of cream (think sample size)…however it really does seem to be doing wonders on my 3 year olds skin! He has eczema on the back of his knees and inside the elbows and its already clearing up and healing after 2 days of use. I also give him 4 biokult probiotics per day and have for some time now. I am still waiting for all the other supplements to arrive in the mail. After doing some googling I found a cheaper place to by the cream with free shipping http://www.naturalnutritionals.com/dk149.html where the total price only comes out to $12!! Will have to order from there next time. Hope this helps!

  4. Anna says:

    My Son’s Eczema is completely gone/healed!!!

    I’m writing this comment 4 days after I wrote my first comment. My 3 year old’s eczema is 100% gone and you can’t even tell that he has ever had it!! This is amazing! So besides following a WAPF diet which he has been since he was born, he’s been on 4 biokult a day (for about 6 months now), and after reading this article I put him on 4 tablets of dermatrophin a day which he’s been on for only 4 days now, and I’ve been using Dr. Kang’s formula twice a day for about a week now. I haven’t received the EPO or the Dermaweed yet but as of now it doesn’t seem like he needs it since his eczema is 100% gone for now! I will keep it for future use if needed. I should have taken before and after pictures! Thank you Dr. Cowan!!!! On a side note, my husband who has had Exfoliative cheilitis for the past 10 years (extreme peeling/chapped) on his lips has been using Dr. Kang’s cream as well and his lips are almost healed as well. GAPS diet helped my husband a lot but the final healing is happening with Dr. Kang’s cream! Amazing!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Anna,
      I cannot find the cream by Dr.Kang. Can you point me in the right direction? Did your son’s eczema ever come back?
      Thanks!

  5. rachel says:

    just so you know, derma weed has been discontinued

  6. Misty Tudor says:

    How much Dermatrophin would you give a 16 month old that weighs about 20 pounds. I was thinking maybe one pill a day, but maybe divided?? Thanks!

  7. Our family’s weird rash cure…

    Both my mother and sister have had occasional bouts of long-lasting skin rashes (I hesitate to say “Eczema” since it was never diagnosed by a doctor.) The rashes were quite red and dry, and lasted for several months. Both of them made their rashes go away by soaking the affected area in the ocean. It seems to take about 1/2 to 1 hour in the ocean water for the rash to be affected. In their case, the red patch healed over a few days after the ocean soak.

    They live in a land-locked state well away from the ocean, so this is not a very convenient cure for them. You mileage may vary.

  8. alma says:

    I have a 5 months old baby with terrible eczema. I wonder what would be doses of the EPO, dr’s Kanga’s cream, etc. I’m already giving him DHA and probiotics, although he’s pediatrician just prescribe him an antibiotic called “keflex” bc he’s skin is infected with Staph. I need help!

  9. Char Terrana says:

    I am now 52 and have had eczema since I was 12. About 20 years ago I figured out that as long as I supplement with GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), I have absolutely no symptoms of eczema. The one that works best for me is borage oil. I take it in combination with flax oil in some juice or a smoothy in the morning (about a tablespoon). Now I only NEED to supplement once a week to keep it away, though I do take it every other day. If I go longer than about three weeks without GLA, the eczema starts creeping back. I am SO glad I’ve found this solution! I hope this helps for others. Once you start taking it, give it at least a month of supplementing every day before you see results.

    • Michele says:

      My 5.5 month old baby has had eczena now for the past few months now. It started a few days after his first vaccine (DTAP).I have been using Eucerin baby eczema lotion, plus borage oil mixed with coconut oil applied directly on his skin. I also comsume fish oil plus borage oil since I’m still nursing. It does seem to have reduced some of the inflammation and added moisture to his skin. They theory is that babies may have not have the enzyme to convert from LA to GLA.Eventually they are able to make this enzyme and make their own GLA. It makes me wonder if the realy culprit is a mineral deficiency since the production of enzymes relies on vitamins and minerals, in particualr zinc and magnesium.

  10. I highly recommend consulting a qualified Chinese Herbalist for anything related to eczema, psoriasis etc. My personal experience with my own children and my patients is that Chinese herbs work very well for skin conditions. Dr Kang cream has been discontinued, there are some concerns that it contained steroids in it. Spring Wind makes great ointments for skin, depending on the condition, there are 4 different formulas to choose from. Following GAPS diet is also imperative.

  11. Samantha Paez says:

    Hi there. My husband used Dr. Kang’s sephora cream after reading this and it showed great results. However, after talking with the company, they told us in so many words that there is cortisone in the cream, which is why it works so quickly. And it doesn’t produce long lasting results. Very disappointing as we thought we were buying something natural. Going to consider GAPS diet not.

  12. Lynn says:

    I Just found Dermarash by Dr. Kang at http://www.drkangformulas.com

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