Happy Healthy Babies VI: Eczema
Eczema in babies and young children is more common than it should be and entirely avoidable. Yes, that is a true statement, even if it runs in the family. Just as with all of the topics in my Happy Healthy Babies series, the answer to eczema will be found in addressing the root cause of the symptom and that is certainly not the skin! Eczema is merely an expression of the body’s inability to eliminate optimally. Because the bowels and/or kidneys are overburdened, the skin becomes an emergency exit for cleaning. You can read more about this topic here.
While topical treatments may give temporary relief, they cannot heal eczema. The only way to put an end to eczema is to support bowel and kidney function and eliminate inflammatory foods that are adding to their load. In adults, the healing of eczema can take months, but in babies the process is usually quite straightforward and simple with the right support. Before taking a look at Marie’s story, let’s revisit last week’s post because it is related.
The Complications of Suppressing Symptoms
Last week I shared the story of Sam and the respiratory troubles he faced, waking in the early hours of the morning and giving his parents a fright as he struggled for breath between coughs. What we learned from Sam’s story is that these acute respiratory episodes need a two-fold approach. First, an acute protocol (Black Currant and Lithy) was in order that would give immediate relief to his spasmodic cough. Next, and just as important, Sam needed a daily protocol of Gemmotherapy to improve his elimination. The extract needed for Sam’s elimination would be individualized based on symptoms pertaining to his elimination, vitality, and inflammation. Because the daily protocol would take a week or more to help establish better elimination, it was likely he would have another acute episode or two and it was important his parents had an option.
I’m drawing your attention to Sam because children who have similar respiratory symptoms and are treated with medications to suppress the symptoms often exhibit skin conditions like eczema next. The same can be true in reverse as well: children who have skin symptoms that are suppressed often develop respiratory symptoms.
Eczema and croup or coughing symptoms are connected but only because they both share the same root cause – poor elimination. While elimination can and will be improved by the correct Gemmotherapy protocol, this must be paired with a diet that does not add to the inflammatory state. While there are many groups of inflammatory foods, it has been my experience that consuming milk and products made from milk is the greatest cause of symptoms in children. This can be problematic if the child is under one year of age and not breastfed because the options are limited. However, there ARE options and knowing the age of the child will guide the best choice. This is something I help parents with on a daily basis.
Let’s take a look a Marie’s story. Marie’s parents began to notice the first small patches of eczema on her cheeks and then on the back of her neck when she was five months of age. They found they could give Marie some temporary relief with coconut oil but after a few weeks they noticed the eczema was spreading when they discovered a patch on her leg and upper arm. At this point Marie began waking frequently at night irritated by her skin. When offered a steroid cream by their pediatrician, her parents began looking for options.
By the time this family made it to my office Marie was not a very happy baby. Itchy and uncomfortable, she seldom slept straight for more than an hour or so. Needless to say Marie’s parents were quite exhausted and worn down as well. The intake for her case, as with all babies, was quite simple and it wasn’t long before the root cause was clear.
Change in Diet
Four weeks before the eczema appeared, Marie’s parents began giving her a night time bottle of formula to supplement mom’s breastfeeding. The plan was for mom to return to work when Marie was six months of age and so it seemed to make sense to begin introducing formula.
Wisely, Marie’s parents introduced it slowly with one bottle at a time but after the first week of watching carefully for any reaction they felt safe in their choice. Like many parents, Marie’s expected a negative response to be immediate and obvious. The fact is that there was a reaction, a mild one, but important.
Impact on Elimination
The frequency of Marie’s bowel movements changed within the first week of beginning the formula but had gone relatively unnoticed. Normally having had 3 per day on breast milk only, she began to not have one until late in the day and on occasion she skipped a day between movements.
The next symptom to appear also seemed random and that was the onset of a wet cough. Marie’s parents treated this cough with all natural syrup for children from the local health food store and continued on with the nightly feeding of formula, attributing all of what Marie was experiencing as normal babyhood.
It wasn’t until the eczema appeared that Marie’s parents began to seek outside help. The problem with eczema is that the medical community does not have a cure – they have a treatment. The treatment, topical steroid creams, can temporarily suppresses the eczema but it will never address the reason it is there in the first place. Lucky for Marie her parents weren’t pleased with the prescription they were handed and so they looked for further help.
It’s important to understand that by the time the body begins to use the skin for an emergency exit the elimination organs have been overburdened for some time. Resetting this compensation to use the skin to clean takes some time and in Marie’s case no further feedings of formula.
After one week on the Gemmotherapy extract Silver Birch Sap and only breast milk, Marie’s parents saw a return to normal bowel movements, the cough subsiding, and no further spread of the eczema. The rest of Marie’s eczema cleared over the following weeks with continued daily doses of the Silver Birch Sap. Once all three symptoms, bowel movements, cough, and eczema were corrected she would no longer need the Gemmotherapy protocol if she kept all dairy out of her diet.
As I have mentioned before, addressing these early symptoms in babies is so important and can be simple when the case has not been complicated by suppressing medications. I love this opportunity to offer parents an alternative that really works and I’m already looking forward to sharing next week’s post on babies and sinus congestion. What if Marie’s parents had used he steroid cream? Well this is a good question to ask. They would see a temporary relief of the external symptoms but her cough and poor elimination would not have resolved. In many cases, those symptoms would only increase in intensity leading parents to seek another separate solution for the cough.
Important to note is that all eczema cases can be resolved, even when they have been suppressed. However, the protocol and time required will be slightly different from Marie’s.
Has Marie’s story has sparked your interest in Gemmotherapy? You can find out much more about restoring your child’s immunity with Gemmotherapy in my latest book. If you are a practitioner or interested in becoming a practitioner consider joining one of my upcoming Foundations of Gemmotherapy courses.