Zaeem was only a few weeks old when he first developed eczema covering his face and body. The doctors prescribed steroidal treatment, but being a naturopath, I knew there must be a better way. Instead, I wanted to explore all the natural solutions in my knowledge. Of course, the first thing I did was try to figure out what I had been doing wrong!
I was a first time mum and admittedly, I was nervous. I sought the help of professionals like lactation consultants to advise me on how to breastfeed and take care of my baby properly. In the first few months of breastfeeding, I was advised to eat plenty of fatty foods to ensure that my milk was fatty enough to satisfy Zaeem. I happily followed this advice without thinking, gobbling down all sorts of cakes and pastries. And then it happened - Zaeem developed eczema.
I figured I must have overdone it. My diet had caused him to become gluten intolerant. My solution? I had to cut gluten out of my diet. Unfortunately, Zaeem's eczema didn't improve much, if at all. So I moved onto the next most likely culprit - lactose - and removed all dairy products from my diet. Was it successful? There was only a minimal improvement. In fact, sometimes it got better, and sometimes it got worse. It was confusing. I really wasn't sure what was causing or triggering Zaeem's eczema. But what I did know was that I needed to continue digging deeper.
I started giving him probiotics and fish oils. I concocted homeopathic remedies. I stopped bathing him with soap. I introduced fish oils into my diet, while avoiding chilli and spicy foods. I tried to drink 4-5 liters of water per day (this was tough) and ate a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Sadly, Zaeem still had eczema. That is, until I finally went to see natural health practitioner who practices Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique, also known as NAET.
NAET helps the body to overcome food and environmental allergies, sensitivities and intolerances through treating the muscular symptoms of allergies. By working with the natural health practitioner, we discovered that Zaeem had not just one allergy, but an entire list including gluten, dairy, eggs, fish, nuts, seafood, and foods containing salicylate (of which there are many). It was clear why his eczema had not improved much from my strategies - he had a lot more allergies than I thought. As fish was one of them, the fish oil supplements that I was giving him were doing more harm than good. I removed all the allergenic foods, but continued with probiotics to strengthen his immune system. Finally, his eczema started to disappear. By the time he was 1, his skin had cleared up to reveal soft and supple skin.
I thought hard about why he had so many allergies and I realised it must have been his exposure to toxic chemicals in utero towards the end of my pregnancy. We had just moved to a new house, which was filled with chemicals from the paint and varnish. I did buy air purifiers, but I guess they were ineffective in removing the toxicity in the air.
Looking back, Zaeem's paediatrician told me that he would have to live with eczema until he was at least 5 years old. Thanks to the natural health practitioner, I am so happy that this was not the case. Zaeem is 3 now and has been pretty much eczema-free for the past year. The practitioner even helped to strengthen and balance Zaeem’s immune system so that he no longer reacted negatively to the foods that he was allergic to. He still reacts slightly to eggs though, so I try to avoid that. But the main thing is that he can now enjoy the foods at his preschool just like all the other kids. No special diets required!
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