Eczema, a persistent skin condition affecting millions, is notorious for its discomforting symptoms, including redness, itching, and inflammation. Effectively managing eczema necessitates a holistic approach that accounts for multiple contributing factors. And while conventional treatments mainly revolve around topical remedies and dietary adjustments, there's an often underestimated variable with a considerable impact on eczema: magnesium.
Magnesium holds a more substantial role in our overall well-being than commonly acknowledged, and its association with eczema's development and control is progressively gaining recognition. Thus, we will delve into the connection between eczema and magnesium, shedding light on how this crucial nutrient holds promise for those seeking relief from this persistent skin condition.
Joining us for this episode is Dr. Ana-Maria Temple, an expert in eczema and other skin-related conditions, to embark on a discussion regarding the often underestimated and misunderstood skin condition – eczema.
Eczema as a sign of underlying health issues particularly autoimmune diseases and the importance of addressing root causes.
It is necessary that we point out that eczema is frequently a precursor to more severe health issues and that it is plagued by several myths and misconceptions. Dr. Ana-Maria emphasizes that eczema manifests as itchy, inflamed, and uncomfortable skin that can range from being oozing and weeping to crusty. A common misconception is that people often believe that a simple lotion can alleviate eczema, which Dr. Ana-Maria firmly refutes.
Eczema is a condition extending beyond skin-deep problems; it is a full-body inflammation, but it physically presents itself on the skin, and serves as an early warning sign, often appearing before more severe health issues like autoimmune conditions, anxiety, PANS, PANDAS and ADHD become evident.
It is also important to note that eczema typically begins between three and six months of age, and about 20% of children with eczema continue to have it into adulthood. Statistics show that 60% of children with moderate to severe eczema develop asthma, 60% of kids with asthma develop seasonal allergies, 30% develop food allergies, and 6% develop ADHD.
This prompts the need for a deeper understanding of eczema beyond its superficial manifestations. And thus, addressing eczema, according to Dr. Ana-Maria, requires a holistic approach.
Common temporary treatments for eczema.
One of the most common solutions to eczema is the use of topical steroids and topical creams. While they indeed offer short-term relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of eczema, it's crucial to emphasize that they do not constitute a comprehensive or long-lasting resolution of the underlying causes of this condition.
These topical treatments primarily serve to manage the symptoms of eczema, such as itching, inflammation, and skin irritation. They provide a sense of immediate relief, which can be invaluable for those suffering from the distressing discomfort that eczema can cause. In essence, these creams and steroids act as band-aid solutions, soothing the surface-level effects of eczema without delving into the deeper factors contributing to the condition.
The causes of eczema and autoimmune disorders in children.
Eczema is not solely due to stress. In fact, it is often a puzzle involving multiple factors as it does not have a single, straightforward cause. At this point, there is a need for us to highlight the importance of the health of parents. Antibiotic exposure during childhood, recurring ear infections, sinus infections, and other health issues can impact the gut microbiome of both parents, which may set the stage for eczema in their child.
In addition, a mother’s health during pregnancy, such as antibiotic usage, antidepressant use, and dietary habits, can affect the baby's microbiome and overall health. Stress during pregnancy, particularly its long-term effects, plays a significant factor in the development of eczema, asthma, ADHD and more.
The delivery method of the baby must also be taken into consideration when talking about eczema insofar as vaginal birth can expose the child to beneficial microbiota from the mother, whereas C-sections may lead to different health outcomes, including eczema. The use of medications such as Tylenol and other antibiotics can also have a potential impact on eczema risk.
Holistic approach to treating eczema and related issues.
With respect to the skin, we are all born with a neutral pH. However, as we age, the skin continues to acidify. Individuals can influence their pH levels through lifestyle choices, including diet and what they consume. And so, we must have a proactive approach and express that it's essential for parents to ask their healthcare providers about the research behind the medications prescribed to their children.
Dr. Ana-Maria highlights the issuance of off-label medication use and the potential consequences it can have on a child's health. She states that MiraLAX, a commonly prescribed treatment for constipation, is not FDA-approved for children under 17 and can have negative neurocognitive effects.
It must also be emphasized that a properly functioning gastrointestinal system is crucial for detoxification and overall well-being considering that there is a link between gut health and skin health. In fact, when children can have regular, healthy bowel movements, their skin often improves.
Magnesium deficiency and its relation to eczema.
Dr. Ana-Maria highlights the importance of magnesium in the body and its impact on various aspects of health, particularly skin conditions like eczema. If you don't have regular bowel movements or experience difficulty sleeping, your skin may be affected, with itching, scratching, bleeding, and oozing potentially indicating a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium plays a role in stabilizing mast cells in the immune system which contain histamines that are released when the mast cells are activated triggered by stress or exposure to allergens. Histamines can affect various parts of the body, leading to symptoms like allergies, brain-related issues, or skin problems, such as eczema. As such, magnesium is essential for managing eczema.
Eczema can even influence a child's behavior and emotional well-being. The good news is that magnesium helps relax muscles, decrease muscle tension, and work on neurotransmitters like GABA, which helps calm the brain. It also has receptors on GABA, enabling them to work together to reduce excitatory neurotransmitter activity, making individuals feel more relaxed.
Magnesium for skin health and stress management.
What we want to emphasize is that medications can contribute to magnesium deficiency, and the more stressed an individual is, the greater their magnesium deficiency may be. Chronic stress can deplete magnesium levels, as the body requires this mineral to cope with the fight, flight, or freeze response.
Magnesium is noted for its ability to decrease the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with the body's “fight or flight” response. And as we know, prolonged stress leading to consistently elevated cortisol levels can have negative health consequences. Magnesium is crucial in lowering cortisol levels and reducing the adverse effects of chronic stress. By aiding in stress reduction, improving sleep, and promoting relaxation, magnesium helps to rebalance the body, ultimately leading to the healing of the skin.
Nutrition and eczema management.
Supplements alone cannot compensate for a lack of changes in diet and lifestyle. Lifestyle changes and stress management are integral components of managing skin conditions like eczema. Dr. Ana-Maria advises starting the journey to address eczema with an exploration of the family history, including birth history, to understand contributing factors to the condition.
A key aspect in addressing eczema is nutrition. We have to eliminate processed foods. In fact, even seemingly healthy options like Gatorade can be detrimental for the skin due to additives, preservatives, and food coloring. It is encouraged to reduce added sugar to less than 24 grams a day, and for those dealing with chronic diseases like eczema, reducing it to less than 12 grams a day is ideal.
Fruits, however, are not considered added sugar, so they are a viable option for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth. However, natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup should be used in moderation, as they still count as added sugar.
Changing a child's diet and reducing sugar can be challenging for parents and families. Dr. Ana-Maria introduces the concept of a “sugar budget” to families, emphasizing the importance of making choices within that budget and teaching children about responsible sugar consumption. The goal is to make informed, mindful dietary choices for improved skin health.
To address these challenges, Dr. Ana-Maria encourages parents to start small and make gradual dietary changes. She shares a personal example of how she transitioned her own children from unhealthy foods to healthier options. Her approach was to create a “yes culture” by allowing her kids to have healthier versions of their favorite treats. For instance, she introduced smoothies that taste like milkshakes and slowly replaced ice cream and sugary yogurt with healthier ingredients over time.
It's crucial to recognize that dietary changes should be a family initiative, so no child feels left out or isolated in their food choices. This fosters a more positive and supportive environment for making dietary changes. Ultimately, parents should persist, be tenacious, and support their children as they transition to healthier eating habits, understanding that it can be a gradual process.
Holistic approaches to treating eczema.
When you embark on a journey to explore natural solutions for conditions such as eczema, one of the most vital considerations is to find a healthcare provider who resonates with your mindset and shares a similar approach to holistic healing. This alignment between you and your healthcare provider is pivotal in ensuring the success of your natural healing journey.
When you have the opportunity to work with a healthcare provider who understands and acknowledges the potential of natural and holistic approaches, you open doors to a broader spectrum of possibilities in your healing journey. This alignment creates a space for exploring various complementary therapies, dietary interventions, and lifestyle modifications that may offer a more comprehensive and sustainable solution to your eczema or any other health condition.
Dr. Ana-Maria also highlighted the need for gradual dietary changes, starting with diet as the cornerstone of a holistic approach to healing, even if it begins with small changes. We have to empower parents and encourage them to be consistent in their efforts.
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