Natural options for childhood eczema

Eczema is a distressing condition, for the child and for the parents as it is a constant, visible, reminder of something that’s wrong in the body. Eczema is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system. It can affect 10-20% of all infants, and steroid treatment is often suggested. However, there are many harmful side effects, both short and long-term, associated with steroids and these are just a few of them:

** Corticosteroids mimic hormones produced by the adrenal glands and they interfere with the metabolic balance. This results in knock-on effects throughout the body and the damage is cumulative.

** They are anti-inflammatory and can suppress many symptoms, including pain and eczema. However, they also affect our fight-or-flight response and thus alter our blood flow. This can be positive in the right circumstances, but on a long term basis redirecting blood away from digestion towards the heart, lungs, and limbs means blood is less available to absorb nutrients. A lack of nutrition leads to conditions like osteoporosis developing.

** Nearly all the diseases and conditions on the list of steroid side effects can be explained by the disruption of the body’s hormone system.

** Others, such as liver damage, are the result of the excess stress placed on the organ as it attempts to detoxify the harmful substance from the body.

It is no wonder that so many parents turn to alternative medicine. But how effective is it?

Complementary Therapies in Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal that recently reported a German study showing that homeopathy has better results than steroids for eczema. The study’s focus was on patients’ and doctors’ perceptions of improvement, both in terms of the eczema itself and quality of life over a one year period. The participants were patients aged 1-16 year-olds with eczema, and those that were treated with homeopathy had equal or better results than those treated with corticosteroids. Further, that those children whose conditions were worse at the beginning of the study had greater degrees of improvement with the homeopathic treatment.

Questionnaires were filled out by doctors and their patients, or when necessary, by their parents at the beginning of the study, at six months, and again at 12 months. The study focused on subjective results, not clinical tests, because although clinical tests may show differences in children with eczema and asthma in a biomarker like immunoglobulin E, it doesn’t have any bearing on the patient’s well-being.

Homoeopathy is a standard practice among doctors in both Germany and France, and often included in their medical training. Two groups of patients were studied, one who only had homeopathic treatment and the other who only received conventional medical treatment. The children treated with homeopathy started with worse symptoms than the control group and both groups showed significant improvements over 12 months. Here are the percentages of improvement reported by patients and their doctors after 12 months, and interesting the patients rated their improvement at lower levels than their doctors did.

Self Assessment Improvement:

* Homeopathy, 27% * Conventional, 38%

Doctor’s Assessment of Improvement:

* Homeopathy, 91% * Conventional, 75%

The study also bore out previous research which indicated that people with a higher educational level are more likely to opt for alternative treatments such as homeopathy. 64% of the homeopathic parents’ had almost double to the level of education than the parents who opted for the conventional medical option.