A Battle That Starts In The KitchenI’ve always wanted to tell this story and do it proper justice because it has such a good ending. Eczema is brutal and for some can be a truly devastating affliction. Most dermatologists wage war against issues with the skin on a surface level. It’s logical, that’s where the problem is, right? What if I told you there is a cure for eczema? What if the cure was simple and only takes changing two things that are present in your life? Think you’d be up to the task?
Back StoryBrady is almost 9 years old and though his energy is endless and quite frankly, hard to keep up with sometimes, you’d never be able to tell from his bright and beaming smile that his skin used to be scratched raw from head to toe. Every. Single. Day. You see, I met Brady when he was about two and a half. He is one of a handful of children in our beautiful blended family. At the time I didn't yet have kids of my own but my girlfriend had two boys. I don’t know who’s going to be mad about this admission but Brady was my favorite when I started spending time with them. I mean, he was a handful back then too but his persona just appealed to me because he was a true underdog. That resonated with me personally. Brady was born with eczema. Up until the point I met him, and for a while after, there was not a day that he didn’t know constant torture. I respected the tenacity he had despite the issues he was facing with his skin. True grit was him still being a happy boy even if every peaceful moment was interrupted by a severe itch and subsequent indulgence of an unsatisfying scratch. It makes me shudder a little bit when I think back on those times. Brady’s skin was like worn leather. When he would scratch you could hear it from another room. Like sandpaper, wearing down the surface of a heavy hide jacket. His cheeks, chest, insides of elbows, backs of hands, backs of legs, tops of his feet were all reminiscent of scar tissue. Often scratched completely raw and more often than not, bleeding as a result.
Can’t Doctors Help?What you have to understand about eczema is that it’s two-fold when it flares up. It’s inflammation of the surface of the skin which causes an itchy rash. That’s part one. Part two is, depending on your self control, how you alleviate that itchy feeling. Remember, Brady was a toddler who had never truly had a day of peace. His mother wrapped his hands in anything she could when he was an infant to keep him from destroying his skin. Ultimately, that was an unwinnable fight. Doctors are masters in specializing. It’s a high level skill that not everyone is capable of achieving. Training and honing one's focus to such a degree is why they should be held to the level of esteem that they are. There can be shortfalls to hyper specialization in any field, however. In medicine, this can manifest as only being able to provide inadequate solutions to a problem depending on the approved methods. Science, coupled with bureaucracy, can become a tool of limitation. According to practice, there is no cure for eczema. You either outgrow it, find a way to manage it or you don’t. The medical solution is most often steroid cream and antihistamine when the itch is unbearable. The problem with steroid creams is that you can build a tolerance to them. And antihistamines tend to make you go sleepy night night.
Lost HopeWhen Brady was around three and a half I remember Renee, his mother, coming home from a dermatologist appointment a little distraught. The Dr. had told her that he would never outgrow his eczema, it would be a life long battle and the best course of action was the one we were taking. Steroid cream 3x a day and Benadryl before bed on the bad nights. Most nights were bad so needless to say, the prognosis was pretty bleak. Renee had said before and after this particular experience, that dermatologist was one of her favorites because she actually cared. But despite all of her specialization, she could offer no solutions that existed within her field of expertise. This happens, to be sure, not every problem is fixable but it bothered me. There is nothing to be done, really?
The ClueYou have to know when to go beyond the obvious. Dermatology is medicine focused on the intricacies of one organ, the skin, of the complex system that is the human body. Science had no solutions for us there. So it was time to dig deep. Deeper than Brady was determined to go when trying to alleviate his constant itch. We had to go below the surface. People in the medical field hate when patients use google for diagnosis or treatment. It’s a slippery slope to be certain. If you do enough research, some experimentation and try to be as objective as possible, sometimes you stumble across the right information. I’m the curious type so I started tumbling down the rabbit hole quickly. I did so because I am not a specialist and if there are no solutions then what did we have to lose? Plus, I had a clue. Brady has food allergies. He was born lactose intolerant, allergic to peanuts and eggs. Maybe it wasn’t a whole lot to go on but eventually lead to the cure for his issues. With food allergies, your digestive system isn’t optimal. The wrong inputs can cause bad reactions, sometimes deadly ones. That doesn’t mean you have to be allergic to foods to benefit from this cure if you have eczema.
DiscoveryOver time, having poured hours into medical and anecdotal articles, I began to notice a visible pattern. Your skin is the last filtration system in your body. Any waste that you can’t process effectively elsewhere will end up filtering through the skin. This is where the clue comes into play. Brady’s digestive system was compromised from birth so what if his inability to process certain foods is linked in some way to his eczema? I kept cross-referencing information and compiled enough of it to consider that maybe something he was eating caused his skin problems. Two culprits kept coming up enough times to pin down what we needed to do.
The CureIf you suffer from eczema you are going to hate me for suggesting this as a cure. First, I’m no Dr. but I do believe that it was Hippocrates that said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.” Dr.s take a Hippocratic Oath (the same guy) to practice medicine so maybe they are neglecting one of his most important teachings. Second, because though it’s only two things you have to change, you have to make sacrifices and be vigilant in your follow through. Dairy and Gluten need to be removed from the diet. In all forms. This is the hard part because food is an addiction we often let ourselves indulge in. There is a possibility we have may be overindulging. Dairy and Gluten are in EVERYTHING. Every food that’s packaged has some form of milk or wheat in it. Then, if you can get over the feeling of extreme loss associated with giving up those staples from your diet, the vigilance part is a true trial of will power. You have to read the ingredients labels on all things that you buy. Gluten and Dairy are in EVERYTHING and can sometimes be hidden as a derivative that can still cause a negative response. The alternative is moisturize constantly, lather yourself in steroid cream that you may develop tolerance to, frequent dermatology visits, higher risk of skin infections and dosing with antihistamines. At the end of the day, these things only reduce the symptoms and along with the regular responsibilities of raising children, raising one in a cycle of hopelessness like that can be very tiresome and add to elevated stress levels.
A Real Solution For Eczema?
I know, it’s a lot to digest (pun intended). But maybe you are tired of feeling sick, being exhausted, having bad skin with the nagging feeling of a scratch that can’t be itched or simply worried for a loved one who is going through the worst of those problems. All I can say is that Brady hasn’t had a lick of eczema in 5 years. His skin cleared up months after being told he would never outgrow the problem. And the cure wasn’t a steroid cream or nightly dose of Benny. Winning the war against Eczema isn't about treating the symptoms, it is about finding the problem and dealing with it there. I am not a Dr. and maybe cure is a strong word because it takes work daily to ensure that there isn't a regression to the way things were. Our journey into the importance of food started with Brady. Squarefoot Gardens was born out of a need to get back to our roots and strengthen our relationship with food to build better health.