I had eczema pretty much my whole life. (I wasn’t breastfed.) I had it when I was a baby and a little girl, then went years without it, and then saw its reappearance when I was 16. (It seemed to be right about the time I started smoking cigarettes.) I didn’t know what it was, and my mom told me everyone in my family has had eczema. I remember always having it and never really being bothered by it. It was just a small amount.
Then when I was about 24 the eczema spread around my hands and I broke out terribly. It was weeping eczema. I was pretty miserable. I tried putting tea tree oil on it, lotion, and many other things. I even tried vegetable shortening. (I read that somewhere, and I was willing to try anything.)When a coworker saw me rubbing vegetable shortening on the eczema she was concerned and encouraged me to go to a doctor. I don’t see medical doctors. I haven’t since I was 15. I was really desperate, and I knew I needed help, so I went to a place called Glenn Burkett. There were hundreds and hundreds of vitamin combinations on the shelf, and a woman asked me what I needed help with. She got out a big book and told me to stop eating any sugars. Grains were forbidden. No bread, no potatoes. I charged $300 worth of vitamins to my credit card, walked out, and went to the natural foods store nearby. I walked around and around bewildered about what the hell I was supposed to eat. Somehow I gathered up some foods and went home. When it was time to eat, I cannot express enough how confused and out of my comfort zone I was. I lived on grains. We were poor, and grains were super cheap, and we were super addicted to them. We ate pasta for dinner multiple nights per week, and grains were the main part of every meal.
I think I sauteed some beef and vegetables together for my first meal. This wasn’t even food. I was so unsatisfied, and I knew I couldn’t do that for long. I don’t know how many times I ate like that, but it wasn’t for long. But you know, what? The eczema did subside. That was almost ten years ago.
I spent the next four or five years with mild to more annoying cases of eczema. It was becoming more a part of my life. Again, I just kinda thought it was something I had to deal with. I didn’t think about healing it.
But then in April 2012 I had one of the worst things happen to me that I can imagine. My entire body broke out in eczema. It was so strange. I know that my dad said some mean things on the phone to me the night before the breakout, and I suppose that stress combined with all the drinking, smoking cigarettes and living on grains caught up to me. I woke up one morning HORRIFIED to find my face and eyes red and swollen. I looked like one of these whales. I didn’t leave the house for two weeks. I was absolutely horrified and petrified. How long would this last? Would I have to live the rest of my life like this? All I could do was rub lotion on it and take Benadryl and sleep to escape my absolute misery. My hands were weeping what seemed like gallons of yellow fluid out of the eczema. I had to wrap rags around my hands to absorb the fluid, and when I removed the rag it was stuck to the eczema. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. It was the most horrifying thing I ever saw.
My partner was desperately researching to try to help me. As much as I was against medical doctors, maybe that was my only answer, because I couldn’t live like this. I would do anything not to live like that. Maybe even take harmful prescriptions if it meant not going through this. But his research found that there’s nothing medical doctors can do for eczema but give you harmful steroids, which are a temporary minor help.
After an eternity in my house lonely, bored and desperate, I decided I had to return to work. I wore sunglasses to cover my swollen eyes, covered the redness on my face with foundation, (It was excruciating to rub makeup over it.) and wore gloves over my weeping hands. My coworkers were horrified. They begged me to go to a medical doctor. The pity and fear were all over their faces. They could see how sad I was and how much I was suffering. They warned me that inflammation is dangerous. I went home and walked across the street to a natural health store where there was often a natural doctor working behind the counter. I told him what I was going through. He asked me to take my sunglasses off and show him my eyes. “Is it really bad?” I whimpered? “Do you think it’s really bad?” he replied sarcastically. I was so fragile, and that statement really sent me reeling. But I was desperate for help, so I scheduled an appointment with him. I told my husband that the doctor’s energy wasn’t kind and compassionate, and that I was leery of my visit with him because I didn’t know if I could handle it. So I asked him to go talk to the doctor and tell me if he thought I should go to the appointment or not. I don’t remember what he said he thought I should do, but I decided I was too fragile to be in the hands of that energy.
I was at my wit’s end. I really couldn’t stand it anymore. I laid in bed, and I literally had to self comfort. I had to hug my own self, stroke my arm and tell myself everything would be ok. Finally I got out of bed and I decided to do the only thing there was left to do, take matters into my own hands, get online and research. I found all the possible causes of eczema, and I eliminated all of them from my life. I bought Cetaphyl soap, I stopped the use of the chemical lotions I was applying. I quit smoking cigarettes. I quit drinking alcohol. I gave up these foods: gluten, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant), sugar, caffeine, chicken, eggs and dairy. I researched beneficial herbs and drank dandelion tea. I juiced, and I ate foods that were particularly good for eczema like flax seed and avocado and leafy greens. I even started drinking bentonite clay.
I returned to work and to coworkers who were mortified and doubtful at my self-healing plan. But there was one coworker who was into natural healing. She said her chiropractor might be able to help me. Later she called me with her chiropractor’s information, and she gave me what I had needed all along. In a reassuring, nurturing way she said, “Brittany, you’re not going to die. You’re going to be ok. You’ll eventually get over this.” I was so relieved. I wasn’t going to die. I would take care of this. For a few days after the changes I made I remember it was still spreading into little patches on my legs. But then the swelling was starting to go down on my face. I spent a million dollars on this green stuff that you put on your skin to take away the redness. Coworkers were surprised and told me I was really looking better. I only used that green stuff once. At that point the healing was happening so fast that I don’t even remember the healing process. I went straight to feeling phenomenal. Better than I had felt in my whole life. My restricted diet was hard. I was previously a steady, heavy drinker. I couldn’t drink with my friends anymore. It was strange not to be able to eat what seemed like anything. I ate tons of dark chocolate bars and avocados. (Somehow I missed the fact that there’s sugar in those dark chocolate bars. Oh well. It’s a complete paradigm shift.) I changed my mental attitude and thought healing thoughts. I stopped referring to it as “my eczema” and stopped identifying with the eczema at all. I visualized myself completely eczema free for the rest of my life. Meanwhile I lost weight and my figure looked better than it ever had. I was down to a size 7. My acne was gone for the first time since I was 14. I was radiating and glowing. The eczema was long gone. Every little bit of it was gone for the first time in fourteen years.
It turned out that it was gluten my body was reacting to. I was supposed to add those foods back in slowly to find out which food was the problem, but after a little experimentation I figured out it was gluten. I haven’t dealt with eczema since except for the tiniest little patch in the fall. Life went on, and I grew comfortable with my gluten free lifestyle barely missing gluten at all. But I missed the way I felt on my eczema diet. I had gained weight that I couldn’t seem to drop. I was eating tons of corn grains like tortilla chips and corn tortillas. I knew that eventually I’d have to return to a similar diet.
I researched the paleo diet and told myself “someday.” But soon I knew it was time to bite the bullet. I knew this was going to be a permanent change for the rest of my life. I knew grains weren’t good for me. They made me fat and I didn’t feel good after eating them. So I gave myself a few days before making the change. I spent those days researching and preparing mentally and emotionally. On my last night before beginning the diet I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant for my “last meal.” When I was finished eating I realized I hated eating this way. You’re not supposed to feel like crap after you eat. I’d had enough of that unhealthy lifestyle.
I started the paleo diet at the beginning of November 2014. One night I made myself a big bowl of ground beef and zucchini in a tomato sauce. And something happened that never happened before. My lips started throbbing. Oh my god. Was that a nightshade reaction? Sure enough, I ate nightshades a couple more times and there was the throbbing in my lips. The other strange thing that happened was that I had given up dairy previously due to acne, and now on the paleo diet I was able to eat dairy without getting acne. So I took to a paleo forum and someone told me to check out the Autoimmune Protocol so I could get an accurate assessment of my body’s reaction to certain foods. The diet forbids basically everything but non-nightshade vegetables and meats. You can eat 2 small pieces of fruit per day. Since I still did have that phantom tiny patch of eczema once a year, I knew my body wasn’t totally healed. Allergies aren’t healthy. The body isn’t supposed to be allergic to anything. This diet would get to the root cause of the eczema. This was exactly what I needed to do. Removing gluten from my diet hadn’t actually healed my body. I had merely eliminated a problem food.
The Autoimmune Protocol diet is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. What’s more, after starting the diet I had an alarming return of eczema on my hands. When it’s on the back of my hands and on my wrists I know I’m in trouble. My mind was reeling. How could this be happening again after all this time? How could this be happening after I made such a positive change in my life? There was nothing I was surrounded by or consuming that could possibly be giving me eczema. That’s when I remembered a discussion I had with someone online. They had asked me if my eczema had gotten worse during my eczema diet of April 2012 because theirs had worsened after they made positive dietary changes. I did some research for them and learned about healing crises. Relieved, I prepared myself for the daunting fact that I could experience another bout of eczema like I had experienced in April 2012. I’m very relieved that the eczema never spread, and I was back to very minimal eczema between my fingers. It has gone away and reappeared twice now. It’s currently gone again and has been for a week or two. After another week or two of it being gone I’m going to start adding foods back into my diet starting with seeds. I have experienced a great amount of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical healing since starting this diet. It hasn’t been easy. My body is going through an almost overwhelming amount of healing. I need a lot of sleep and rest.
I am determined to rid myself of eczema for the rest of my life, and I’m doing everything under my control to be as healthy as I can possibly be. I’m currently working to reset my immune system with the Autoimmune Protocol, and I’m creating a healthy ecosystem in my gut by eating probiotic foods. I’m also detoxing, going to a sauna regularly to sweat out toxins, and working out. Healing is a whole-life process. Mental, physical and emotional healing are all key for total health.
According to my research, eczema happens because we don’t have a healthy ecosystem of gut flora to properly break down the food we consume. Our guts become red and inflamed (kind of like our skin when it has eczema), and food particles leak out from the gut into our bloodstream. Our immune systems recognize these foreign particles as an enemy and so they start attacking the proteins of our skin. Eczema is your friend, because it is communicating to you that there are problems going on inside of your body that you can’t see.
You can heal eczema. You can ABSOLUTELY heal eczema. Our bodies are healing machines. If you question that, just remember a time when you had a scab and recall how quickly it healed all on its own. All you have to do is assist your body and let it do its job.
I hope this post is a starting point for your healing journey. Every body can heal. Every body is different, and your path to healing may be quite different from mine. We’re EXTREMELY fortunate to live in a time when we can take charge of our own health. There’s a wealth of information to be found online for healing just about anything. I wanted to add my experience to the mix. You don’t have to suffer. Diet is a healer and diet is a dis-ease maker. You choose. Diet is the key to everything. Diet is life or death no matter who you are.
I know firsthand how terrifying a bad case of eczema is. If you need help or support, please comment. I’ll keep you posted on my results.