The Skin and Digestion Connection
Various skin conditions have been extremely common in my practice lately and because the underlying cause is largely due to the same issues, I decided to address it all here. If it is a skin allergy situation, and is not due to direct contact as in the case of plants like poison oak, ivy and sumac, or certain chemicals you were in direct contact with; then read on. What we need to understand is that the skin is an organ, and its primary jobs are protection and detoxification. If you or your child suffers with eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, or any type of skin rash, discoloration, or irritation, chances are there is an issue with the GUT lining. When I say gut, I mean everything a string would touch if you put it in your mouth and followed it all the way through the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and out your back end. As you were formed in your mother’s womb, your skin and gut were formed at the same time. Your skin is actually an extension of your gut. So if you have a problem on your skin, the same problem is going on in your gut magnified by 100 (or even more). In order to handle the problem on your skin, you must work with the gut FIRST. While you are working on the gut, remember to refrain from picking or scratching at the affected area. Your skin is your protective barrier and if it cracks or is open, you can cause scarring and can leave an open area for other bacteria, viruses, and parasites to enter the body.
The Problem with Conventional Treatment
Conventional treatment usually consists of applying a topical solution on the site of the rashes to ease the itching, and your doctor will be able to prescribe treatment that is calibrated in strength to match your concern. BUT, in my opinion, this is not handling the problem from the inside out. This may handle the outward manifestation, for a while, but it will come back every time (even though it may be in a new or different spot than before). That is because the actual problem is not on the skin. As we have already discussed, unless you have a rash from a substance your skin came in direct contact with more than likely, the problem lies in your GUT.
The 3 R’s: Remove, Reinoculate, Repair
Any time I see patients with allergy symptomatology, (and especially in the case of skin manifestations) I recommend the three ‘R’ approach. Remove, Reinoculate, Repair. We start by ‘R’emoving the top two food offenders. Dairy and wheat. And I must say, if you want this to really work for you, you need to understand that even one single drop of dairy or a speck of wheat will set your progress back. If you have been having skin, allergy, or digestive issues for a long time (more than 1 year) it is important to also remove anything that remotely resembles wheat as well. These are all the gluten grains (wheat, barley, oats, spelt, and rye). It is possible to find oats that are gluten free as technically oats are not a gluten grain by nature, but because they are almost always produced in a facility along with other gluten grains, they pick up that attribute during processing.
Once the offending foods are eliminated, we move on to the ‘R’einoculate portion of healing. There are very specific good bacteria living in your gut. These bacteria keep things working properly. They are also a main component of your immune system. These good bacteria are often wiped out after a course of antibiotics or if there have been digestive or allergy issues for an extended period of time. Before trying to add any nutrients to heal the gut, you must add back this good bacteria. Your gut will not hold onto any nutrients without these little bacterial buddies. You need to find good bacteria (also known as probiotics) that include a few different bacterial strains. I must stress to you that yogurt WILL NOT CUT IT. I hear people say they’re eating yogurt while taking their course of antibiotics and thinking they are replenishing their body. Far from it. You will need a minimum of 15-30 billion organisms daily to properly reinoculate yourself. Yogurt alone will give you 2 million, tops. This reinoculation phase should continue at this 15-30 billion rate for a minimum of 1-3 months. After this, it is okay to drop down to a maintenance dose of around 5-10 billion. Everyone should really be on some type of probiotic whether they have any health concerns or not. This allows the immune system to be in tip top shape all year round. The ones I prefer to use for myself and my children are these.
The third stage is ‘R’epair. We are now to the point where specific nutrients can be added in order to repair the gut lining. One thing to remember is that once the gut has been damaged, and is what we call ‘leaky’ (meaning too many protein molecules are sneaking through the lining and into the blood stream-causing allergens and other concerns), you must do something to repair that lining by closing up the leaks and adding back a nice juicy lining. If this phase is not done, you will be back to allergies in no time. Step one for repair is to insure you are getting the nutrients needed to make the healing reactions happen. You will need green leafy (kale, collard greens, swiss chard, and other lettuces) and cruciferous (ex. broccoli/cauliflower) veggies with each meal if possible. Be careful though, if you have been having allergic concerns for a while, these vegetables will be hard to digest. Make sure they are steamed until soft for any of the stages of the three ‘R’s. As an aside, once the gut lining has repaired itself and the allergies have been eliminated, you can go back to raw vegetables, as the raw form is actually the healthiest and most nutrient dense. As part of repair, you will also need to work on the lining itself. A good quality liquid aloe supplement such as the one shown here,is probably the best and fastest way to repair your lining. A great food for lining repair is okra. You know that slimy coating okra has? It is very close the the lining you need in your gut. There are various supplements you can also get with okra in them. You will need to take this product and/or the aloe along with the probiotics for at least 3 months. Lastly, I will recommend Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. Ingesting up to a tbsp per day will help you immensely in so many ways. Put this directly on any skin rash as well. I use coconut oil on EVERYTHING. My skin, hair, face, kids’ cuts/scrapes, food, you name it, our family uses coconut oil on it!
Remember to consult your doctor or natural health care provider before starting any supplementation or dietary changes, or feel free to get in touch with me for a personal designed clinical nutritional consultation. I would love to work with you on a personal level to achieve optimal health!
–Dr. Ida Allen-Bergman, DC, Nutrition Counselor