The symptoms of an autoimmune disease come in many forms. You might experience anxiety, muscle pain, fatigue, allergies, headaches, frequent colds and a myriad other common things that many people brush off as just being part of life. While everyone experiences an occasional bout with something unpleasant, the frequency of occurrences can tell you if something more is going on.
Various forms of dermatitis, including acne, psoriasis, rashes and eczema, can also be signs of an autoimmune disease, which affects almost one in six people. Any of the over 30 million Americans – from infants and children to adults of all ages – who have experienced eczema (atopic dermatitis) knows the discomfort and embarrassment of flare-ups: itchy rashes; dry, scaly, leathery or dark patches; inflamed red skin and more. All of these symptoms can worsen if left untreated. If you’ve gone to a dermatologist for eczema, you’ve probably been given a topical medication, OTC recommendation, biologic drug, or immunosuppressant steroid to help keep the itching and redness at bay. These medications just manage eczema, they don’t cure it, and those flare-ups can and will return when triggered. In addition, both prescription and OTC medications come with their own set of risks and side effects, from mild to downright dangerous.
What’s the Real Cause of Eczema?
Conventional medicine has long accepted that environmental triggers like stress, chemicals on clothing, some foods and allergens can cause flare-ups. Although many in the medical community still stick to the theory that there is no cure for eczema and that sufferers will face a lifelong cycle of outbreaks followed by symptom management, the opposite is being proven. Important medical journals including the International Journal of Gastroenterology, The British Medical Journal, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and others as well as the National Eczema Association are now reporting that eczema is actually an autoimmune disease, something functional medicine doctors have known for years. Some of these journals also finally recognize that leaky gut is at the root of autoimmune disease, another fact long known in functional medicine circles. This means that rather than just suppressing the symptoms on the outside, you can actually heal the problem from the inside.
In many people with autoimmune problems, the gut microbiome is out of balance; since the gut houses two-thirds of your immune system, you need a healthy microbiome in order to have a strong immunity. A microbiome that’s out of balance may be missing key anti-inflammatory good bacteria and/or have an overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast. Ironically, a yeast overgrowth can be caused by steroids, which are among the treatments commonly prescribed for eczema. Other causes include diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates or processed foods as well as antibiotics or hormone use.
Healing is Possible
Leaky gut can be healed naturally by following an anti-inflammatory diet, getting your microbiome back in balance and healing gut lining perforations with nutrients. Achieving the right balance that will restore your microbiome to a healthy level is an individual thing and depends upon many different factors that are specific to you; there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
The medical community is touting new topical and systemic drugs that suppress either the entire immune system or specific immune proteins. FDA approval is being fast-tracked, and long-term health risks will be determined only in the aftermarket phase, a blind risk for those who use these new medications. Tampering with the body’s natural functions is not a safe approach, but healing the body for optimal functionality is both safe and widely effective. Once again, these new medications are not cures, merely more means of symptom suppression. Since medications like these can cause other health problems, whether recognized as associated or not, the safer and more permanent alternative is to heal the condition naturally. Not only will you avoid additional risky health issues, you’ll be strengthening your immune system and creating a healthy gut microbiome, which yields a wide range of both physical and mental health benefits.