Eczema is a skin condition that causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed. Although the condition most affects children, some adults also battle with the condition, which causes visible, thick, patchy rashes on the body. These rashes are often itchy and uncomfortable – and without treatment, are likely to become progressively worse. The condition not only affects the skin, but often creates symptoms like pitting and weak nails. Eczema is also commonly seen in combination with other immune disorders. For example, psoriatic arthritis, which causes swelling and pain in the joints is not unusual in those with eczema. Even though researchers have extensively explored possible causes of eczema, the underlying mechanisms have yet to be uncovered. Researchers do know, however, that eczema (like many other curious diseases) has roots in autoimmune dysfunction. In other words, the immune system attacks healthy skin cells. The body then produces new skin cells at an expedited rate – causing an accumulation of new skin cells, which leads to rashes.
One of the newest studies to look at eczema focuses on behavioral factors and how these factors relate to overall health in those with eczema. The study out of Northwestern University notes that adults with eczema often have higher rates of smoking, drinking, and obesity than adults without eczema. Even more alarming, adults with eczema have higher rates of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With about 10% of U.S. adults battling eczema, these numbers represent startling associations, and the study reminds us that eczema is more than skin-deep.
The negative behavioral patterns seen in those with eczema are likely due to a variety of factors. First, researchers explain that adults with eczema likely battled with the condition during adolescence and developmental years. This type of condition can take a toll on self-esteem and identity. It’s likely that a majority of those with eczema who partake in negative behaviors use smoking and drinking to help cope with the effects of their condition. The higher incidence of obesity among adults with eczema is likely related to eczema symptoms. Eczema can be extremely painful, and can even cause pain in the muscles and joints – making it less likely that those with eczema will be able to work out without painful effects. The study suggests that patients with eczema are in need of behavioral and lifestyle counseling, as well as standard treatment for the inflammatory skin condition. In fact, the numbers are somewhat egregious. The Northwestern study reports that adults with eczema have a 54% higher chance of being morbidly obese than adults without eczema, 48% higher chance of having hypertension, and 93% higher chance of having pre-diabetes. These patterns are largely due to the negative behavioral factors associated with having eczema.
Because eczema is an immune condition, it’s likely that negative behavioral factors add to immune dysfunction. Note that immune dysfunction usually leads to inflammatory conditions, as inflammation is one of the major ways that the immune system reacts to potential harm by pathogens or trauma. Negative behavioral patterns like smoking, drinking, and eating a poor diet can increase systemic inflammation by working against the body’s antioxidant defenses. Smoking and drinking create oxidative damage to various cellular processes throughout the body, and when inadequate antioxidant intake is added to this equation, the eczema patient has little defenses against their condition in terms of immune function.
Aside from the need for behavioral and lifestyle counseling, eczema patients may greatly benefit from alternative therapies that focus on abnormal inflammatory responses and antioxidant availability. For these reasons, systemic enzymes should be included in an overall regimen against eczema. First, international clinical trials consistently demonstrate that systemic enzymes safely and effectively exert beneficial effects on the immune system. They do so by blocking exaggerated inflammatory responses in multiple points of the inflammatory cascade. Further, systemic enzyme products that contain potent antioxidant sources like rutin and amla can significantly increase the eczema patient’s exogenous antioxidant sources. In other words, patients who aren’t eating foods rich in antioxidants may still reap the benefits if antioxidants are consumed in supplement form with systemic enzymes. Through these dual protective effects, systemic enzymes are not only relevant in eczema treatment, but they are also free of side effects and inexpensive.
The eczema patient should use systemic enzymes in combination with standard eczema pharmaceuticals prescribed by their physician, and in combination with lifestyle and behavioral counseling. Systemic enzymes can assist and work synergistically with a carefully crafted eczema regimen, as it has no drug-drug or drug-nutrient interactions that may place the patient at risk. However, for patients on prescription blood-thinners, the addition of systemic enzymes should be discussed with a physician prior to implementation. Because systemic enzymes work to reduce blood thickness and platelet aggregation, it can create bleeding risks in those who are taking prescription blood-thinners. However, for patients who are not on blood-thinning meds and are interested in exploring all-natural remedies, systemic enzymes are among the most effective and promising routes available.