The idea of ingesting live bacteria may make some people a little squeamish. Surprisingly, consuming beneficial bacteria can actually boost our body’s ability to fight off the bad stuff. These healthy bacteria come in the form of probiotics, which can be taken as a supplement or found in yogurt. Probiotics’ positive effect on immunity may be good news for eczema sufferers. Early research shows a potential reduction in the incidence of the condition in high risk infants, though further studies are needed.
What do apples, onions, red wine and black tea all have in common? It’s quercetin–a powerful plant pigment that may act as a natural antihistamine. Like its fellow flavonoids, quercetin works in our bodies as an antioxidant. Specifically, it may prevent the release of pro-inflammatory histamine compounds by our immune system’s mast cells. Taking this supplement with a serving of fresh pineapple may further boost its antioxidant capabilities. That’s thanks to the fruit’s bromelain content–a digestive enzyme which may enhance the absorption of quercetin.
Dandelion does double-duty in terms of eczema–it has significant benefits as both a dietary supplement and a topical treatment. It’s been purported as both a “tonic” and a “blood cleanser.” Dandelion root supplements can help strengthen vital organs and also stimulate the kidneys to rid the body of harmful toxins. The plant’s juice can be applied externally to help fight bacteria and heal skin breakdown.
4. Vitamin E
The benefit of antioxidant compounds in the prevention and treatment of eczema is quite clear. Vitamin E, another type of antioxidant, may work to support the immune system and decrease the production of pro-inflammatory compounds. A 2002 study published in the International Journal of Dermatology looked specifically at the vitamin’s effect on eczema symptoms. Researchers found that 400 International Units (IU) daily for eight months produced significantly greater improvement in symptoms than did the placebo. Foods rich in vitamin E include wheat germ, nuts and seeds. This vitamin may interact with a number of prescription medications, so always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking it.
5. Gamma-linolenic Acid
Since omega-6 fatty acids are often implicated in promoting inflammation, it may seem counter-productive to take one for eczema. Gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, is different. Found in evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil, this essential fatty acid may be deficient in some individuals with eczema. This deficiency has been linked to increased inflammation, and supplementation can, therefore, restore proper lipid balance. Recent research, though, regarding GLA and eczema has failed to show a consistent benefit.
About this Author
Erica Brigati is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Pilates Instructor with a degree in Nutrition and Food Studies from New York University. She has extensive experience in diabetes, weight management and heart health. In both her practice and her writing, she advocates a balanced, realistic approach to health and wellness.