Alternative Medicine and Eczema

Eczema is widespread among children. Many parents prefer to make use of an alternative remedy for eczema instead of relying exclusively on traditional western medicine. A large number of cases of infantile eczema are been treated using one or more complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches.

This article looks at a few of these approaches to obtaining a cure for eczema.

Homeopathic Treatment

In Europe, homeopathy is the single most common alternative medicine approach used to treat eczema. It is fairly popular in North America as well.

Homeopathic Treatment for eczema

A study conducted at Germany looked at a set of over 1100 children and about 2800 adults who were using homeopathic remedies to obtain a cure for eczema. The study discovered that over 600 distinct remedies were being prescribed for these patients by homeopathic doctors. Common remedies included sulphur, sepia, natrum muriaticum and lycopodium. Most practitioners of homeopathy on both sides of the Atlantic are of the view that eczema is a chronic condition. Therefore, the treatment should involve constitutional homeopathic prescription rather than acute prescription. The term constitutional prescription implies that the patient’s underlying weakness or susceptibility needs to be tackled instead of merely seeking to provide short term relief.

Naturopathy

This is another popular alternative cure for eczema. A research study done in the United Kingdom found that out of a group of 46 children who used naturopathy, 19 saw their symptoms improve significantly.

Naturopaths recommend following specific diet rules to contain and cure eczema. They recommend that patient should include evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil or fish oil to the diet. This is done to increase the intake of essential fatty oils. Naturopaths state that deficiency in these fatty oils is one of the main causes of eczema. They also recommend eliminating or drastically lowering the consumption of animal products.

 

Naturopathy also involves consuming herbal preparations and mixtures as well as applying herbal creams topically to the skin. Herbal preparations for consumption include extracts of licorice root, blackthorn or hawthorn berry. Creams and other topical preparations may include German chamomile or licorice.

Some studies indicate that extracts from St. John’s Wort produced symptomatic relief, although it apparently is not a complete cure for eczema.

Mind/body approaches

Researchers have observed that emotional stress plays a role in eczema – many patients reported flare-ups when stress acted as a trigger. For this reason, some researchers theorize that stress reduction can be a means to a cure for eczema. Some have used approaches like hypnosis, yoga / meditation and autogenic training to help patients cut down on stress.

However, there is no consensus among researchers and practitioners about the effectiveness of these approaches. There are studies indicating that biofeedback, hypnosis and autogenic training helped children control skin lesions even as steroid medications were reduced. At the same time, other studies conclude that mind-body approaches do not have a significant effect on the disease and are therefore not an effective cure for eczema.

Traditional medicine

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine that relies on herbs and natural products to restore health. The alternative medicine program at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that eczema patients using Ayurvedic medication were able to reduce symptoms of the disease. It also found traditional Chinese medicine to be useful for the same purpose. These medicine systems are not very widely adopted against eczema – one study found that patients with an Afro-Caribbean or Indian background tended to use these systems more than Caucasians.

Overall, complementary and alternative medicine does seem to have a place in the search for a comprehensive cure for eczema. Future research efforts may reveal more effective ways to integrate these approaches into modern medicine.

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