Australia has one of the highest incidences of eczema in the world, with one in four children developing the condition before age two*. Fifty years ago, it affected only 10 percent of the population.
Symptoms include scaling, flaking, itchiness and fluid-filled blisters that weep and ooze then form a crust.
While getting to the root of the cause can be challenging, there are natural ways to manage eczema, says leading nutritionist, naturopath and herbalist Janella Purcell.
“Eczema is one of the oldest known diseases and also one of the most difficult to cure,” Purcell says. “Those who suffer from any of these conditions will often tell you that when the symptoms of one disappear, another set appears.”
Purcell says keeping the liver functioning properly and avoiding inflammatory foods are essential for reducing symptoms.
“Stress is a huge trigger for eczema and other inflammatory conditions, so you need to learn how to avoid and handle stress well, and also what prompts your stress.”
Janella’s Top 10 Habits and Supplements to Manage Eczema
2. Introduce Omega-3 foods and supplements including: Sustainably caught deep sea fish. Add in vegetable sources such as flaxseed, chia and hemp seeds. Micro algae and seaweed are also high in omega oils. Include a high quality supplement. In my clinic I use Lifestream V-Omega3.
3. Eat probiotic foods and add in live bacteria supplementation to help populate, heal and balance the gut, such as Lifestream Bowel Biotics.
4. Goats milk is the closest in composition to mother’s milk and has been known to be helpful in soothing eczema internally and externally.
5. Foods rich in Vitamin A to help with immunity and skin health. These can include carrots, kale, paw paw, sweet potato, spinach pumpkin, leafy green vegetables and watercress. I also recommend a high quality greens powder such as Lifestream Essential Greens+, Spirulina or Wheatgrass, which can help support the liver.
Triggers to Avoid
6. Inflammatory and acidic foods, such as red meat, processed dairy products, refined wheat such as white bread and pasta, nightshade vegetables such as white potatoes, capsicum, eggplant, tomatoes and chillies.
7. White sugar—a common culprit behind many inflammatory conditions. When high amounts of sugar are consumed, the body releases insulin. Harmful free radicals are released along with the insulin hormone. This has the potential to damage cells.
8. Say no to refined fats and oils including fried and junk foods.
9. Dried fruit, which generally contain sulphates, a compound known to trigger allergies and cause other negative health issues.
10. Too much citrus. Loading up on lots of fruit causes build up of citric acid, which may irritate the gut and show up on the skin, particularly those who are susceptible to skin irritations.
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A sought-after naturopath, nutritionist, medical herbalist, iridologist and chef, Purcell has been a regular on Australian television with appearances on Masterchef, and as the “good chef” on Good Chef, Bad Chef. She is also a regular contributor, columnist for many of Australia’s best-loved magazines including Nourish, Woman’s Day and Good Medicine magazines.
As an author, Janella has three best-selling books, including Eating for the Seasons, which won the “best health and nutrition” category at the International Gourmand Awards. Janella’s Wholefood Kitchen was also shortlisted for the prestigious award. She will release her fourth book this year.
Janella has combined her vast knowledge of food and nutrition to create a multi-disciplined approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to a core philosophy of food as medicine, Janella teaches how to get the most out of our meals – and how to avoid the pitfalls. She has been working with wholefoods since childhood and honing special diets for the past 15 years.
Besides her wholefood workshops, media appearances and online work, Janella can be found consulting with clients at her Natural Food and Medicine Store in Sydney’s Surry Hills, as well as from her clinic in Bangalow, Northern New South Wales.