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Coping with Eczema? Read These Tips for Emotional Health (Guest post)

Eczema can really get you down – whether you have eczema yourself or you’re a caregiver for someone who has this skin condition. Either way, it’s not easy dealing with the daily emotional and physical stress that eczema brings. After a long journey of battling eczema physically, today Abby shares her advice for coping with eczema emotionally. So get ready to relate to this piece, big time.

-Jennifer

 

Coping with Eczema? Read These Tips for Emotional Health (Guest post)

By Abby Lai (Bio below) 

Eczema was the hardest time of my life. For those who suffer with it (or have a close friend or family member who suffers with it), you’ll probably know that eczema comes with a lot of physical and psychological baggage. Read more

The Allergy Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

It is critical with Back to School coming up that we educate ourselves and those around us about food allergies. 

Let’s all be safe at school this year!

We had someone who is knowledgeable about food allergies take the quiz and she was surprised to learn a couple of new things. 

Take the quiz and tell us if you learned something too!

Share what you learned on Twitter or Facebook (bottom of post) and let’s spread the knowledge!

THE ALLERGY QUIZ

It’s back to school, and time for all of us to learn about anaphylaxis.

How much do you know about severe allergic reactions? Here’s a quiz prepared by Allerject™ that will test your knowledge.

Greater public awareness and understanding could help save lives.

Take the Allergy Quiz. And to learn more, visit www.allerject.ca.

1. The first line treatment of anaphylaxis recommended by physicians is:

a) keep the person warm and wrapped in blankets

b) immediately inject epinephrine

c) induce vomiting

2. Which of the following is among the 10 priority food allergens most frequently associated with anaphylaxis:

a) peanuts

b) mustard

c) soy

d) all of the above

3. Which of the following is NOT a typical symptom of a severe allergic reaction:

a) hives

b) nose bleed

c) shortness of breath

4. How much of the food allergen does an allergic individual have to ingest before a severe reaction occurs:

a) the individual usually has to eat at least 100 grams of the food

b) only a full serving will trigger a reaction

c) exposure to even trace amounts of the food can cause anaphylaxis

5. Auto-injectors are used to inject epinephrine into:

a) the muscle of the mid outer thigh

b) a vein

c) the buttocks

6. What percentage of young children in Canada are estimated to have a physician-diagnosed food allergy?

a) 1-2%

b) 5-6%

c) 30%

7. After exposure to an allergen, a severe reaction can occur:

a) from within a few minutes to 2 hours

b) it usually takes 4 or more hours to occur

c) it usually occurs after a day or two

8. Reactions can be triggered by:

a) inhaling airborne food allergens

b) using food utensils that have come into contact with the allergen

c) being exposed to the vapor or steam produced while cooking certain foods

d) all of the above

e) none of the above

9. In cases of auto-injector use, what percentage of injections are administered by someone other than the person having the reaction or the parent of an anaphylactic child?

a) 31%

b) 12%

c) 6%

10. According to one Canadian study, what percentage of children allergic to peanut did not have immediate access to an epinephrine auto-injector at school?

a) less than 10%

b) 10-20%

c) almost 50%

11. After an individual has been injected with epinephrine, he/she must:

a) be immediately transported to hospital, ideally by ambulance

b) take antihistamine

c) drink plenty of fluids

12. In addition to certain foods, anaphylaxis can also be triggered by:

a) exercise

b) latex

c) certain medications

d) all of the above

e) none of the above

I just took the Allerject quiz & learned something! Take the quiz here! @eczemacompany @allerject #foodallergies

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ANSWERS:

1. b) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

2. d) (Source: Health Canada, http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/fa-aa/index-eng.php)

3. b) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

4. c) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

5. a) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

6. b) (Source: Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/index-eng.php)

7. a) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

8. d) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

9. a) (Source: Ipsos Healthcare, Allerject Patients Study, June 2014.

10. c) (Source: Ben-Shoshan M. et al. Availability of the epinephrine auto-injector at school in children with peanut allergy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Jun;100(6):570-5. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60056-7.)

11. a) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

12. d) (Source: Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 2nd Edition Revised, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)

Book Review: The Unhealthy Truth

After proudly reading and enjoying my first ever medical book, “Healing the New Childhood Epidemic,” I was ready to embrace another (GULP) non-fiction, this time written by my new inspiration and role-model, Robyn O’Brien, founder of AllergyKids Foundation. I actually first heard Robyn’s name, not in the food allergy community, but rather from her speech at TedXAustin about the declining state of our food system. After watching the YouTube clip, it seemed I began to hear her name everywhere. And like “Healing the New Childhood Epidemic,” many parents recommended her book, The Unhealthy Truth, as a must read. Who am I to turn up a great book recommendation? Written by a fellow allergy mom? About chemicals in our food? Not me! Sounds right up my alley.

I was totally and completely unprepared for how shocking this book was. Robyn O’Brien writes about her inspiration for starting AllergyKids and how creating the foundation brought her to some very startling revelations about the state of our food and how big business and our government are happily playing a game of Russian roulette with our health.

Please keep in mind that the following information was derived from the book as published in 2009 and it’s entirely possible some of the facts have changed since then.

GMO Soy and Wicked Monsanto

According to the US Dept of Agriculture, “92% of soy grown worldwide is genetically modified.”O’Brien states “On the simplest level, genetic engineering involves manipulating genes, altering an organism’s DNA to create a new trait. A genetically modified crop might be developed to resist bugs, for example, or to withstand frequent spraying with herbicides.” And that’s where Monsanto comes in. Monsanto is a GIANT biotech and chemical company who happens to make Roundup, an herbicide and a great chemical-laden weed killer. Roundup was so powerful that it killed most of the crops it was sprayed on, nut just the weeds. So, Monsanto set out to create a soybean that could withstand chemical bathing in Roundup. (Mmmm, doesn’t that just make you want to eat a bowl of soy?) The company successfully created and patented the genetically modified soybean. More money in their pocket from Roundup and more money from the patented soy beans.

Very limited studies on genetically modified soy have been documented using humans. But then again, I suppose we are all un-knowing test subjects in this current world-wide study. Are you nervous about that? I sure am, especially since a 2005 study by the Russian Academy of Sciences found that “more than half the offspring (55.6 %) of rats fed on genetically modified soy died in the first three weeks of life – six to eight times as many as those born to mothers given either convention soy (9%) or no soy (6.8%). Six times as many rat babies (36%) were severely underweight as well, compared to those in the other groups (6%).” Of course, we’re not rats, and no, our babies on soy based formula are THANKFULLY not meeting the same horrific fate, but what is this GMO soy really doing to our bodies? I’m certainly not buying into the fact that it’s safe. The book goes on and explains other studies that have shown the effects of genetically modified soy on animals conducted in other countries; Italy – negative effects to pancreas and liver, Australia – lung damage, and so on.

Although Monsanto started this whole mess, Monsanto is no longer the only one creating GMO products. Many others have joined force, like DuPont with it’s Pioneer Hi-Bred seeds.

Corn and Bt Toxins

She then goes on to discuss how GMO corn is impregnated with its own bug killing pesticide, Bt toxin. The idea behind this toxin is that it kills bugs from the inside out by destroying their digestive track. I wonder what happens when humans eat the corn that contains Bt toxins over a long period of time? Does it destroy our digestive track slowly? Could it lead to leaky gut, which seems to be on the rise these days? What’s just a wee bit scary is that this very toxin was recently found to pass from a pregnant mother to her unborn fetus in this Canadian study.

Unfit for UK Consumption, But Safe for US/Canada?

Something I found fascinating and downright hurtful is that O’Brien claims large corporations are preparing the same food differently (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for example) for the US market vs. UK market. I’d heard about non-food items being banned in Europe, but not here, but now food? Oh boy. Check out this article from AllergyKids, Robyn’s non-profit for more info. The same companies have also removed harmful food dyes from foods in the UK because parents demanded it after studies came out linking hyperactivity to the same dyes? Read here for more. But yet, those banned dyes are considered safe here. Are they? Is the UK being overly cautious or are we being careless?

These are just a few of the unbelievable stories Robyn shares in her book. It’s a lot of information and it’s very overwhelming and easy to feel helpless after reading much of it. To this Robyn recommends not trying to make too many drastic changes in your lifestyle too quickly. “Do one thing.” Move from that processed blue yogurt to one that is organic and without any added dyes. Or maybe the one easy change would be to only buy GMO-free corn. Small, easy steps are easier than climbing an entire mountain and that’s just the idea behind Robyn’s “Do One Thing, ” movement.

Please add “The Unhealthy Truth” to your must read list. See what she has to say and then formulate your own conclusions. And most importantly, don’t forget to “do one thing” and make one change and see where it leads you.

 

A Little Peek Into My Cookbook Collection

If you’re new to the world of Allergy Free or Processed Free foods or even if you’re not, you may find it really overwhelming to find good recipes. I’ll let you in on a few of the weapons in my cookbook arsenal. Read more

Have You Tried Virgin Coconut Oil for Eczema?

I’m going to introduce someone special to you today – you know her, but you just don’t know it yet. Sabra has been helping edit and promote our Itchy Little World blog posts for over one year now. While she’s been behind the scenes for a while, I thought it was high time she made her official debut on the blog. I’m not calling this a guest post because Sabra will continue to write posts based on news and clinical trials. Her background, which you can read below, makes her an ideal candidate for this. I will continue to write posts as well, but as always, my posts will be based on personal experiences and are very passionate and from the heart. Reporting on news and clinical trials is not a talent I have, so I’m thrilled Sabra is here to help us interpret her findings with us.

Please, give Sabra a big warm welcome!

-Jennifer

Have You Tried Virgin Coconut Oil for Eczema?

By Sabra Way (Bio below)

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.50.44 AMWhen you are choosing what moisturizer to use on your eczema you want it to work for you. Right? Even more so when the person with eczema is a child. You want every drop of moisturizer to be working towards an itch-free child. Then you may want to consider Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO). VCO has multiple properties that make it ideal for eczema. When someone has eczema, otherwise know as atopic dermatitis, their skin looses moisture more easily than the skin of people not affected by atopic dermatitis. Even surrounding skin that is not currently afflicted with eczema is compromised in someone with atopic dermatitis. The most basic step in eczema management is to keep the skin moisturized. There is even evidence showing that routine moisturizing can prevent atopic dermatitis in some, more mild cases. Read more

A Proud Mama Moment: My Son Made the Right, Allergy Safe Choice

I have to share a big win today. I am so proud of my six-year-old son, Tristan, that it brings tears to my eyes. He really and truly “gets” his allergies and yesterday he proved that tenfold. Read more

Why We Use KozyEpi’s Autoinjector Carrier

Last year, in preparation for Tristan’s first time at day camp, I searched for a medicine pouch to keep all his rescue meds in one place and for an epinephrine carrier, an easy way to keep his epinephrine on him at all times. I wanted something fun and boyish that he wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen with. You know kids – if their friends don’t have the same thing – its so not cool. So, I was worried because none of his friends have food allergies. How would they react to seeing Tristan wear his epinephrine? How would Tristan handle it? Read more

Is Dairy Healthy For YOU? Plus, Tips on Going Dairy Free

It’s no secret that dairy can cause inflammation in the body, which can trigger eczema, chronic ear infections, asthma, and a host of other health conditions. Do a quick search and you’ll find article after article about how milk, yogurt, and cheese have all played havoc on our bodies. You can read here about my friend Selena’s battle with her health and how removing dairy from her diet really changed the game. I have another friend that suffered from cystic acne who after removing dairy, for the first time in her life has clear skin. When I added ghee (butter with milk proteins removed)to my diet I developed severe heart burn and chronic phlegm – a sign of inflammation. My son’s asthma flared with ghee as well.

Now, all that being said, it’s difficult to label dairy as the enemy for a few reasons. Read more

How Does One Family Go GAPS? – One Pot of Soup at a Time (Guest Post)

How Does One Family go GAPS? – One Pot of Soup at a Time  (Guest Post)

By Ronit Feinglass Plank (bio below)

Well, it’s happened. I, a former vegan, have animal parts in my refrigerator. Seriously, there are all kinds in there: steaks, turkey breasts, lamb shanks, fish filets, sausage, ribs, I’m even thinking about getting a liver if it will help. I went from slow-cooking hearty soups brimming with legumes to slow-cooking the knuckles and joints of cattle for this new modified GAPS-Paleo-Auto-Immune type diet we are trying for my eczema and allergy-addled son.

Those of us who face chronic eczema know sometimes no cause can be found for the itching that keeps our children suffering and awake at night. After years of trying to get to the bottom of things with food elimination and scores of naturopathic visits, then three days a week light therapy with no measurable result except the faint charred smell of something burning every time my son got out of the UV booth, last fall my husband and I finally agreed to the dermatologist’s recommendation to put our son on immunosuppressive drugs.

These are strong. And not to be used for long periods of time because they can be dangerous. Yet for five months now my son has finally been able to sleep at night, and my husband and I learned for the first time since before our six year old was born what rested feels like.

But the whole time our son has been on the drugs, I’ve known we were only being granted a short respite from the relentlessness of his chronic condition. Like ducking under an awning during a downpour, I knew we’d eventually have to go back out into the storm.

So now, in anticipation of weaning him off these drugs, and after talking to other eczema moms, I have found this new way of eating—heavy on restorative animal fats, broth and collagen–to possibly be my last hope. In lieu of feeding my son gluten, sugar, grains, dairy products, eggs, legumes and soy, I’m to fill him up on nourishing meats and vegetables so his sensitive body can repair.

These days I’ve got all kinds of bones simmering and clinking around in pots; I feel like some kind of witch stirring my cauldron into the wee hours, scraping gelatin off of soup-softened joints and knuckles and harvesting marrow to blend up with fat so I can sneak into foods my son might eat. I’ve literally caught myself giggling while cutting up beef tallow, plotting how to slip chunks of it into his school lunches.

I am an all or nothing, a do it right or don’t do it at all kind of person and I’ve gone into hyper drive over my health challenged son. I really, really wish I could eliminate just a food or two and see results, but it’s not that simple for us. It never has been. For some kids with atopic dermatitis kids, there is not merely a trigger or two. As my (many) doctors have reiterated as they shake their heads over my son, he’s just unlucky. There is no magic bullet, no “one” thing that will put a stop to this, though for years I have been searching for it.

Maybe this new way of eating will make him better. I am pinning my hopes on it. It can’t hurt, right? Almost no processed food and actually cooking for my family, as in not ordering in, not buying take out or pre-made grocery meals. Tough for this New York girl, city of all night diners, home of the 7:00 delivered breakfast sandwich, the single cookie at midnight from the coffee shop on the corner because, really, it’s too hard to get off the couch. I’m talking the full on planning what to buy at the grocery store, then going to that store, buying it and—wait for it—cooking it.

My family eating it, now that’s another story.

  • My homemade blueberry Jell-O was not a hit. The kids spit it out after one chew.
  • My homemade almond milk: Rejected.
  • Home-ground pumpkin seed flour and banana mini muffins: Rejected.
  • 24-hour beef broth: Rejected.
  • 24-hour chicken broth: Rejected.
  • 2-hour chicken soup: Consumed. Progress at last!
Homemade Jell-O

Homemade Jell-O

When I got the okay from our naturopath to add a little white rice into our son’s diet I immediately cooked it up in the really good 24-hour chicken broth I had boiled. I added extra smears of chicken fat, schmaltz my people call it—my people being east coast Jews. I look at it richly: does it hold my salvation? How much can I disguise in my son’s food before he notices? Do my clothes reek of it? I was at the dentist’s office this week and swore I picked up the fatty mineral scent of boiled animal. Could it be trapped permanently in my nostrils? I smell bones everywhere.

Feeding your family the #GAPS diet. Read this tale of perseverance and success! @eczemacompany #eczema

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The good news is a month into this I am still cooking up a storm. I research recipes and menu plan and shop and concoct all kinds of strange muffins from  applesauce and seeds.  And despite the late nights and greasy dishes, I feel calmer.

Doing all this makes me feel proactive. I can’t change my son’s genetics or take the pain on for him, so I latch on to the things I can do and I go like gangbusters.

I know from all these years of fighting the good fight that the end result may not be everything I ultimately had hoped for. But when you’re dealing with a disease that is relentless; that wears you out and crushes you for the pain it causes your kid, even a little improvement is worth it. Feeling like we are doing something to help make our children’s lives better is so much of what it is about.

Ronit

 

Bio: Ronit is a writer and mother of two whose youngest has faced eczema, asthma and allergies since birth. She is well versed in both western and eastern treatment modalities, having tried most in her quest to treat her son. Her essay “I want to heal my son so badly” was featured on Salon.com 

Her work has appeared in Brain,Child Magazine, Lilith, Niche, and The Iowa Review and is forthcoming in the anthology Best New Writing 2015. You can follow her and find links to her essays and fiction on  Facebook

Our Journey of Healing Asthma, Eczema, Allergies with Homeopathy (Final)

It’s been quite a while since I updated you on our homeopathic journey to healing Tristan’s eczema, allergies, and asthma. You can find previous posts on this subject here. And I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a happy ending for you, at least regarding custom treatment. While we saw some minor improvements with Tristan’s health while following a customized treatment plant from Tristan’s homeopathic doctor, after nine months we just didn’t see the results we should have. And nine months of homeopathy was quite costly. Luckily, we have good additional insurance with my husband’s company and so while the visits were covered, the tinctures and granules were not. But I don’t regret having tried working with a homeopath. Yes, I’m sad it didn’t work like we hoped, but I can at least say we tried. Because I do believe the last few remaining answers are still out there waiting for us to discover.

reckweg r23 for itchy eczemaAlthough this go around wasn’t the best, it’s funny because Tristan did respond well to homeopathy in the past with commercially prepared homeopathic tinctures for treating eczema and ear infections. Yet, a customized treatment plan, something unique and created just for his body, didn’t work enough. I find it quite ironic. But I guess these commercial products are mass produced for a reason, they provide great results to a large population of people, so they sell well. The only reason we stopped using them is that we got to a point where Tristan’s skin cleared up enough that the tinctures no longer helped him as much. I was hoping a customized homeopathic treatment would heal him of the rest of his issues, but it wasn’t the answer for us.  I have heard stories where great results were seen, so please don’t let our story lessen your faith in homeopathic doctors, who can do great things for many health conditions.

Here are the homeopathic blends for eczema that I’m aware of.  We’ve used two and found they worked really well.

Homeodel 43 – For dry eczema. We used this one and it worked great in combination with the next one. For wheeping eczema, you could try this one, #48.

Dr. Reckweg R23 – For acute, chronic, itchy eczema. Worked great with the tincture above.

We used the two tinctures above while also using this immune balancer (not a booster) and found the three worked VERY well together. Until we determined most of Tristan’s food sensitivities, this was our go-to plan and it provided some much needed relief. We started the three around the same time, so we weren’t sure which one was really helping the most. So, we tried stopping each of the homeopathic tinctures and the immune balancer in turn, but each time we removed one we saw the eczema come back either immediately or over a few day period. So, I really must say that in Tristan’s case, the three worked wonders together.

Recently we’ve learned that Tristan has pretty severe seasonal allergies that manifest themselves in typical fashion (itchy nose, watery eyes, etc.) and as eczema. So, we’ve been using Allergex, another commercially available tincture, but for allergies. It works really well for him to relieve his itchy nose and mildly for his eczema.  And it works GREAT for me. I use it religiously to survive allergy season. Honestly, I couldn’t do without it now. It’s amazing.

allergex homeopathy for allergies

 

Have you used homeopathy? Did it work well for you or your children?

 

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