This is a peek at just some of the topics we cover on the Modern Ayurveda & Holistic Health Course Level 2, so get in touch if you’d like to know more about signing up to levels 1 or 2, or contact me for a 1-2-1 health coaching consultation.
Please remember not to take this blog post as medical advice and always listen to your intuition. Consult a healthcare professional before making changes, or if you are concerned about an issue.
Also known as ‘Atopic Detmititis’, eczema is one of the most common skin issues, especially in young children. The skin is closely linked to the immune system, and eczema is one of the most immune-system mediated skin issues. Eczema can be triggered by environmental irritants, which when cause an abnormal immune response, indicating that the client may already have a lot of internal inflammation, or the beginnings of an autoimmune condition. The word ‘itis’ refers to anything inflamed or irrtated, so the name ‘dermatitis’ can give you a clue as to the symptoms.
According to Ayurveda, the skin reflects the health of rasa dhatu, the first ‘layer’ of bodily tissue, and therefore indicates how nutritious our food is, how well we’re digesting it, how strong the immune system is, and how stressed we are. Many skin issues are linked to an excessive amount of Pitta energy rising to the surface of the skin and overheating and irritating it, increasing the qualities of oiliness too. Whilst some types of eczema could be caused by external factors such as an allergy to a specific skin cream or material, it’s much more likely that focusing on internal factors like digestion, an accumulation of ama, and emotional stress will give better results with eczema. Ayurvedic texts say that inflammatory skin issues and rashes may get worse before they get better, so it is important not to stop a treatment too early if you are sure of the diagnosis.
When it comes to looking at the remedies for eczema, each ‘remedy’ deserves an exploration of its own, so dive into whichever root cause you feel could be triggering your eczema (are you also intolerant of dairy? It’s most likely you have a gut health issue; do you suffer from blood sugar issues or diabetes? This could be the root cause). Remember that your health is your health, and we each need different things in order to be healthy. You may have heard a ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting is great for biohacking your body, but does it actually work well for you? You might think that lots of high intensity workouts is the way to get healthy, but is it actually causing more inflammation and fatigue within your own body and mind? Consider the root cause that could be linked to your eczema, or that of someone you know, and work from there.
Remember Ayurveda’s key principle; ‘like increases like & opposite brings balance’, so look to bring in the opposite qualities of eczema to remedy the issue.
Qualities of Eczema: Hot, sharp, dry / sometimes ‘wet’, heavy, rough
Possible causes of eczema:
- An accumulation of ama (toxins in the digestive tract)
- Weak digestive fire
- Intolerance to foods like dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, citrus fruits, which is usually linked to a gut health problem like leaky gut or candida.
- An autoimmune condition caused by excessive inflammation within the body
- Stress and anxiety
- Congested liver and gallbladder
- Excessive consumption of pitta-aggravated foods like sour, salty and pungent tastes.
- Consuming too many heavy foods like oils and processed fats
- A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Overuse of cosmetics
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Occasionally, eczema can be caused by a combination of someone with excessive pitta energy being exposed to excessively Vata weather (such as in the cold and dry air of Autumn and Winter)
- Inability for the skin to sweat and detox properly., causing congestion in other internal organs like the lungs.
- Environmental toxins or triggers such as dust mites, moulds and pollen
Signs + Symptoms
- Red, scaly skin often on the inner sides of the joints like elbows and knees, or on the cheeks
- Extremely itchy
- Skin breaks and possibly bleeds when scratched
Qualities to favour: cool, light, smooth, flowing, clear.
- These are just some of the remedies we look at for eczema on the Modern Ayurveda & Holistic Health Level 2 course. Students of the course will get to learn a lot more.
- Food allergens and intolerances can often indicate the you may have leaky gut, in which case this would be the place to focus on when healing.
- Consider where the issue is located on the body, as this can indicate a link to one of the internal organs that may be congested and contributing to the eczema. This can also link to an internal organ the client may have a dysfunction within. (e.g. eczema on the cheeks can indicate accumulated ama in the intestines).
- Adopt a pitta-reducing diet, with less hot, spicy, pungent, sour and salty foods, and more cooling, naturally sweet, bitter, astringent and light foods.
- Specific foods: cucumber, leafy greens, coconut in all forms, ghee, chia seeds, flax, courgette, hibiscus, bananas, turmeric, dark coloured berries, asparagus, celery, papaya, pineapple, oily fish, omega 3 fats from nuts, seeds and brussels sprouts (limit consumption of nuts and oils as they are ‘heavy’), quercetin from apples, red onion, peppers and tomatoes. Zinc from pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cocoa, cashews, kefir (non-dairy), mushrooms, spinach and chicken.
- Herbs: Hibiscus, candeldula, chamomile, mint, turmeric + black pepper, rose, cardamom, marshmallow, aloe vera, slippery elm, shatavri, saffron, coriander, parsley, liquorice. For acute cases, use blood-cleansing herbs like dandelion, red clover, yarrow, barberry, sandalwood, guggul, or honeysuckle. These can all be used externally and internally.
- Advise drinking a warm tonic of almond or coconut milk with saffron, triphala, cardamom, shatavri, turmeric, black pepper and ghee. Sweeten with maple syrup.
- Ghee (externally and internally). Ayurvedic external ghee remedy for inflammatory skin issues: Place ½ cup of ghee in a copper vessel with ¼ cup water. Keep for a month, stirring with a copper spoon each day. The ghee will turn w pale whitish colour and begin to smell a little like coconut. This method makes the ghee more absorbable for the skin.
- Supplements: zinc, quercetin, vitamin D, magnesium, curcumin, probiotics and prebiotics, vitamin C.
- Earthing (going bare-foot) to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation
- Balancing circadian rhythms
- Sufficient sunlight exposure
- Red light therapy
- Optimising sleep
- 3-5 day kitchari cleanse
- Reducing stress
- Eliminating possible allergens like dairy, wheat, peanuts, soy, eggs, fish and sugar
- Reduce alcohol, caffeine and refined carbohydrates
- Regular abhyanga (self-massage) with coconut oil, especially during Autumn and Winter
- Focusing on detoxing the liver
- Switch to a deodorant without antiperspirant so the body can sweat and detox naturally
- Eliminate all synthetic skincare products – use natural oils only
- Epsom or Dead Sea salt baths
- As a preventative approach, breastfeeding children can help protect against eczema.