Posts Tagged ‘eczema’

I Think the Eczema Is Finally Going Away!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Well, it would seem that we have finally had a breakthrough. Through a strange series of circumstances (namely, me getting a 24-hour bug which messed with my digestion big time, slowing it to a crawl for almost a week, until a friend did a treatment on me), we discovered Bowen therapy. Now, Bowen is usually used for injuries, like sports injuries, not for issues like eczema, but since one simple move that took less than 3 seconds to do had so dramatically fixed my digestion (and by dramatically, I mean that I felt better instantly), and since my friend who told me about the therapy suggested that Manny might be benefited by it, we found a therapist and scheduled an appointment.

After the treatment, we didn’t notice any results, but we decided it was worth scheduling one more treatment. Around that time, we realized that he was reacting to yeast (he would eat a slice of yeast-raised bread, throw it up, eat half of a second slice, throw it up, etc). His body was rejecting it, and yet he could eat all the other ingredients in the bread in other forms (like pancakes), so we knew it had to be the yeast. So we cut all yeast out of his diet–switched to soda bread, quit using nutritional yeast, etc. About 6 weeks later, ie, today, he is able to tolerate them again. It would seem that the Bowen therapy, although it didn’t have any dramatic results with him like it did with me, really did help him, and now his body is at a place where it can heal.

His face was getting better. Within the past week or two, the eczema that was chronically around his mouth has begun to heal, and by heal, I mean disappear. His face is about 90% clear now (if you don’t count the scratches he got from playing outside), and in another week or two, if he keeps going as he has begun, it just may be totally gone. Behind his knees has also almost completely cleared. We noticed it improving even though we hadn’t used any hydrocortisone for several days. My husband put a little on once or twice within the past few days just to hurry up the healing, but I haven’t put any on, him, and he certainly hasn’t had it every day. I’m really excited about this. I am going to watch him, and if he continues to improve, I will ask his doctor if we can do another IgE test in a month or two and see if his score has come down (last time it was over 3,000).

This is probably unrelated, but I have started giving him B12 shots again (.1 ml of methylcobalamin every day, or at least every day when I remember it–probably more like 3-4 times a week). I doubt this caused the dramatic healing, but I’m sure it hasn’t hurt anything, either.

So it seems that the combination of avoiding yeast (which was hindering healing) and doing the Bowen therapy has been exactly what he needed to allow his body to heal. Indeed, if he is healing on the outside, he must be healing on the inside. If that’s the case, then it may be that his sensitivities to many foods may diminish or even disappear. That would be such a blessing!

That’s where we’re at at the moment. I’ll keep you posted as to how things go and the results of any tests we do in the future.

Making Some Interesting Connections – Yeast, Heavy Metals, and Eczema

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

There might be a pediatrician or other MD that would make the connection, but they would be few and far between.

What connection? The connection between yeast, heavy metals, and eczema.

I’ve been doing a bit of research on the topic. Let’s just say that there does seem to be a connection. And it would make sense. I had dental work done (“silver” fillings) while pregnant with my second child–the one that inspired me to start this site. Now both my sons have eczema. This thought has gone through my mind more than once in the last year or so. Today, well, it just came together. It started when I asked myself why both of my children who have eczema also have yeast, especially since they were born at home and I had no antibiotics during either birth, and none in the second pregnancy–I did take some during the first pregnancy, but in the first trimester, and I took probiotics afterwards. On the other hand, I had antibiotics during the pregnancy and during the birth of my first, and all I had to deal with was thrush, which cleared up and she’s as healthy as can be today–no allergies.

Here are some links that I’ve been reading. They aren’t all great scientific studies, but in my opinion, sometimes the experiences of others are more helpful than all the scientific studies in the world. Hence this website. But I digress.

This site talks about the connection between candida and skin conditions. It made a lot of sense to me.

This thread on the Mothering.com forum about a lady’s experience with her daughter’s eczema and its connection to candida is fascinating. I was intrigued when she brought up heavy metals several posts into the discussion. If you read far enough, you’ll find out that she got them all out and they are both doing better.

I’m going to keep researching this topic, and I’ll keep you informed on my findings. I’ll also let you know what happens next week when we talk to Dr. Dramov again.

 

My Baby Has Eczema

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Our visit to the doctor yesterday confirmed our suspicions: Ralfie has eczema too. This makes two out of three of my children with eczema.

However, contrary to what one might imagine, I am not devastated. I had enough clues over the last 2-3 weeks to guess that he might have it–”acne” that didn’t quite look like acne anymore; redness around the anus; dry skin patches; yeast in the folds of the neck and behind the ears (Manny had it too). So when the doctor said, “You are right: he does have eczema,” I was not really surprised. In a way, it was kind of a relief; the suspense of wondering if he would have it or not was not fun.

I asked him about doing an IgE test, but he said it would not be accurate. Babies get antibodies through colostrum and milk, and it can take 6 months or more for them to die out. If he still has problems later, we could do it later.

Then I asked him about the stool test. He said we could try one. He would he interested to see the results, because he had never done a stool test on someone so young. Because I have been doing a relaxed infant potty training, I know I’ll be able to get the samples I need, uncontaminated by pee, pretty much whenever I am ready for them. I’m not ready yet, because we need to figure out where the money to pay for them is going to come from (it needs to be prepaid). We’ll probably dip into our savings for this.

In the mean time, I’m going to take InfaSkin for a week or two (about all we can afford right now) and also give Ralfie the probiotics the doctor sold us. And I’m going on a very strict diet this week. I would do it longer, but we will be attending a half-week conference, and I won’t have time to cook whole meals for myself. I will maintain a gluten-free diet, however. My son’s naturopath told me that redness around the anus indicates irritation in the gut, and gluten exacerbates an irritated gut, even if the person does not have Celiac disease. And gluten isn’t as hard to avoid as one might think.

Now why is it that my daughter has no allergies at all, and both my sons have them, one severely? There are several things I could guess. First, the yeast is suspicious. Sure, yeast likes warm, moist places, like the folds of a chubby baby’s neck. So why doesn’t every baby get yeast overgrowth there? I have wondered for some time if I might have an overgrowth of it myself. It’s something I might look into soon.

I have another theory, too. While I was pregnant with my second, I got some dental work done, and although I was told that there was no mercury in the fillings, I think there is. So I need to replace those fillings. More money, of course, so it’s not happening right now, but it’s something I definitely am going to do before I even think about getting pregnant. In the mean time, I’m going to experiment with eating lots of cilantro. Cilantro is able to chelate heavy metals out of the body. It can’t hurt, anyhow. I bought 2 bunches of organic cilantro yesterday. I would have bought more, but $2 a bunch was rather prohibitive. I’ll probably make some kind of cilantro pesto, only without the garlic. I’m not sure how he will react to that much garlic.

[*UPDATE* After getting the first comment on this post, I decided to do more research about chelation, and have realized that there is a lot more to it than just upping one's intake of cilantro. It could be a problem since I am breastfeeding, and the body tends to dump detoxing toxins into the milk supply, which is why it is not good to detox while nursing. I need to do more research and talk to a health care professional (probably my son's naturopath for starters) before I do anything like I mentioned.]

In doing research for cilantro pesto, I found a site that mentions that food allergies as as a side effect of heavy metal toxicity. It also discusses the link between heavy metals and candida, not in depth, but still, the fact that there seems to be a connection is intriguing.

I’m suspecting that he is not allergic to nearly as many things as his brother is. I had fried egg sandwiches yesterday, yet his red, swollen eyelid was less swollen and not red this morning. Eggs are one of Manny’s most allergic foods, but they didn’t seem to make Ralfie worse. I will, however, avoid them for the next couple of weeks, along with a bunch of other things.

So basically I’m eating my son’s diet for a while. I never thought I could. But I guess we can do what we have to do. For sure, I won’t be cutting calories and will be eating plenty of fat; I want to make sure my milk supply stays strong. Ralfie is doing anything but failing to thrive–he gained 3 lb 3 oz in his first 6 weeks, not counting the ounces he lost before my milk came in. He’s nice an chunky. I can’t even touch thumb and forefinger around his thigh anymore!

So this will be an interesting experience. I’ll keep you all posted.

Dejavu

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

I strongly suspect that my second son, Rafael, better known as Ralfie, also has eczema. He has bits of red, irritated skin in the insides of his elbows, redness around the eyes, and the same yeast infection in the folds of his skin that his big brother had. He’s even got it in his belly button! In the last week, his poop went from perfect curdy orange to a smoother greenish color. This indicates irritation.

This morning his eyelid looked swollen. So I called and got an appointment at the doctor’s. I’m going to ask for an IgE Immunocap blood test, and also see if we can’t talk the insurance company into paying for a stool test. It costs over $200, so we wouldn’t be able to do it right away anyhow, which would give us time to try to convince the insurance company that it is necessary.

I’m also going to go on a strict elimination diet starting tomorrow. I’m out shopping today, so I can’t start today. I’m going to eat green smoothies for breakfast, with some gluten-free grain, cooked or sprouted. I’ll eat veggies and another GF grain for lunch. I’ll adopt hemp seeds as my nut of choice for a few days, and toss flax seed oil in every smoothie. I’ll eat fruit and whatever I can for supper. I’m going to keep it simple for the first couple of weeks–rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth. Some of those are complete proteins, so coupled with fruits and veggies, especially greens, I should be okay. I’m not going to limit myself in quantity–I’ll eat as much as I need to not be hungry and keep my milk supply up. I’ll also take probiotics, preferably InfaSkin. With this limited diet, we’ll see how the eczema does, besides wait for test results.

I feel like I know what to do this time. We won’t spend the first nine months wondering what to do. I’m going to start with what I know and run with it. Because this doesn’t just feel like Dejavu. It is.

Should You Treat Eczema With Steroids?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

When my son developed eczema, we had been seeing a naturopath for his well-baby check-ups. Once we were sure he had eczema, she began to try different things to try to bring relief. She said we could use a little .5% hydrocortisone as needed, but to use it sparingly. She also discouraged us from using steroid cream of any kind, because, according to her, suppressing the reaction could make it go other places, such as the lungs, and cause other problems. Plus I had heard all kinds of stories, such as the eczema coming back worse when the steroids were done, and I was afraid that it would suppress the reactions so much that I wouldn’t be able to see when he was reacting to a new food.

At first, this arrangement worked okay. Because his eczema didn’t start with a bang, but built up gradually. However, I watched with increasing discouragement as it spread, starting with his face, then down his torso, and finally down his arms and legs. At the worst point, it was everywhere except for his hands and feet, but beginning to encroach on them.

By the time he was nine months old, I was a nervous wreck. I could barely function as wife and mother. Cleaning house was overwhelming. I just wanted to escape my problems, and there were times I would let him cry in the back room while I tried to cope by watching a movie or playing some game online. Going back to get him would just rind me of my helplessness to do anything for him, and it was more than I could take.

We decided that we needed to move closer to my husband’s work, and with the move came the decision to find a new doctor. We had reached our limit for alternative care with the insurance company, and naturopaths are expensive–not to mention that most of their treatments are not covered by insurance. A little research turned up Dr. Paul Thomas, a pediatrician who liked to integrate natural methods into his practice as much as possible.

One of the first things he did was encourage us to use more hydrocortisone. And I was to the point where I just couldn’t deal with the eczema anymore, so I started using it generously wherever he seemed irritated. I also started using 1% on his body and .5% on his face. We found ourselves spending $20 a month or more on this over-the-counter cream, but it helped. His face stopped weeping, and he became a happy baby again. Sure, he still reacted to food and scratched a lot, but he didn’t start rubbing his face in the carpet every time I put him down to learn to crawl.

We continued this regime for about a year, taking different tests and trying a few things the doctor recommended. When he was about a year and a half old, the doctor asked me if I would like to try a stronger steroid cream, just to help alleviate the symptoms a little more. This was the second time he had suggested this, and I decided to try it.

So for the next nine months, we used Triamcinalon, a medium-level steroid cream. And I learned some things during this time that I wish I had known when my son was younger.

  • A topical steroid only treats the current irritation; it does not prevent new reactions.
  • There are several levels of steroids; they are not all the same.
  • Eczema is most likely to break out on already irritated skin.
  • Stronger steroids should not be the first line of defense, nor the only treatment.

Let us look at these more closely.

Topical steroids do not prevent breakouts. I was under the false impression that if I used a stronger steroid than hydrocortisone, that if I cleared his skin up with steroids, then I wouldn’t be able to tell what foods he was reacting to. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Sure, if I had been giving him oral steroids, this might have been the case (I will discuss oral steroids in a future post). But a topical steroid cream or ointment only treats current symptoms. It does nothing to prevent an outbreak. So I could still see when he was reacting to foods, depending on the severity of the allergy and the amount of food consumed.

Not all steroids are created equal. When we visited an allergist,I learned something about steroids that the no-steroid advocates had failed to mention: there are various levels of steroids. Hydrocortisone is the weakest steroid, and the difference between .5% and 1% is the concentration of the drug, not a different drug. We even used 2.5% hydrocortisone for a while–this was only available with a prescription. Triamcinalon is a medium level steroid. There are 5-7 levels, depending on whom you ask, and most doctors will prescribe the lowest level that gets results.

Eczema tends to show up on already irritated skin. So many mothers and natural doctors on the Internet were saying to avoid steroids at all cost, but after I started using hydrocortisone more liberally, I realized that he was much more likely to have a reaction on already irritated skin than he was to break out on healthy skin. As his skin healed, the irritation reduced from basically all over to select spots here and there. As a result, I was able to use less steroid cream, because I didn’t need to use it all over, but only on the irritated areas. At this point, a good moisturizing routine began to really help too. It hadn’t made much difference back when he was at his worst.

Not first line of defense, nor only treatment. If someone develops eczema, using steroids should not be the first line of defense, nor should it be the only treatment. Not that you shouldn’t use a little hydrocortisone as needed (and you definitely should moisturize–sometimes that is all that is needed), but rushing out to get a strong steroid prescription right at first is probably not a good idea. You need to take a look at possible causes. In some cases, cutting a particular food out of the diet or getting rid of all chemical cleaners in the home will clear up the problem. In other cases, such as my son’s, the root of the problem is very deep and obscure. Most doctors in traditional practice are content with controlling the symptoms and never bother to look for the cause. That is why we keep going back to a naturopath: we are gradually identifying the cause and we are seeing results to such an extent that we haven’t needed the medium-level steroid cream for over a year. But I’m glad we used it when we needed it.

In summary, I do not believe that steroids should be avoided at all costs. I believe that the lowest level may be used to treat symptoms while the cause is being searched for. I also believe that topical steroids are a better choice for treatment of symptoms than oral steroids, though oral may be needed temporarily in a very severe case. Treating the symptoms will not cure the eczema, but it will make life bearable while the root cause is being sought out. Because “the curse causeless shall not come” (Proverbs 26:2); there is a cause for every disease, though it may not be readily discernible.

What has been your experience with steroids? Have you avoided them entirely? Used them liberally? Somewhere in between or back and forth? Please share your experience in the comments.

Too Many Allergies! Update on Manny

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Okay, it’s been a while since I shared about Manny and how it’s going working with his eczema. We went to the doctor today, and I decided it was time to record some things.

First, his eczema is pretty much under control, but he still gets itchy. And he keeps breaking out around his mouth–and if we don’t put something on it for a few days (which is hard, because he hates me putting anything on his face), it gets dry and cracked and peels and bleeds and, well, yeah, not good.

We have tried various and sundry supplements. We have taken him off of beans for the most part, added chicken once a week, and try to get down hemp protein and chia seeds whenever possible. And quinoa and amaranth are complete proteins (meaning they contain all the essential amino acids), and he likes them more or less.

At the last visit, I asked if we could do a test of several foods that were not on the normal IgE test. So we made a list of about a dozen foods–things like spinach, cucumber, apples, carrots, etc. I was floored by the results. Every single one of them was either moderate, high, or very high. As the doctor put it, at the moderate level, doctors prescribe epi pens just to be safe. At the higher levels, there is risk for anaphylactic shock. Granted, my son has never had that. The worst reaction he has ever had could best be described as a mild case of asthma, with wheezing and excess mucus. It usually only lasts 10-15 minutes. Also, the quantity of food determines the severity of his reaction. He doesn’t appear to react at all to minuscule amounts of allergens–for instance, I make nut milk in the same blender that I make his rice milk, and there is no way I can thoroughly clean the blade. So I couldn’t give his rice milk to someone who got anaphylaxis from, say, almonds, because they would probably end up in the hospital. On the other hand, if I gave him a teaspoon of almond milk, he would probably have some kind of immediate reaction–exactly what would be hard to say, since he’s never had any.

One reason we have been going to a naturopath is that we like taking a natural approach first and foremost. But we are running out of options. Today he started talking about what antihistamines we had tried, and had we ever tried oral steroids.

Now, many people trying the natural approach would shy away from steroids of any kind, especially oral ones. But I didn’t bat an eye. You see, I had an experience once when my left eyelid became inflamed, and there was no apparent cause. The doctor was puzzled; she had never seen anything like it. She tried a mild steroid for about 5 days, and it improved, but as soon as I ran out, it came back. She tried Prednisone for about 7 or 8 days, but it had the same reaction. I ran out near the weekend, and by Saturday I was very uncomfortable. My eyelid was almost swollen shut, and it was very irritated (thankfully they eye itself was never affected). As a Seventh-day Adventist, I attend church on Saturday, and do not believe in conducting business on that day. However, when one of the elder’s wives told me that I really shouldn’t wait for Monday, but should go to a doctor that very afternoon, I went. She told me of a Mexican doctor right on my way home, and even though I got there about 15 minutes after closing time, she was still there and took pity on me. She showed me a picture in one of her books of the very condition I had, gave me a longer dose of Prednisone and I think some cream, and it went away and never came back.

I do not believe that the Prednisone cured me. I believe it simply calmed the inflammation long enough for my body to deal with whatever was causing the problem and to heal itself. That is what the naturopath was thinking when he recommended the oral steroids. He said we would taper it, just like I did for my eyelid, and that the idea would be to simply give his digestive system a chance to calm down and heal a little. Because his allergies are just out of control. Honestly, the only things he has ever tested not allergic to are meat and chocolate. We haven’t tested any gluten-free grains, but all of them (except buckwheat, which is as bad as milk) seem to be okay. At least, we are trying to keep a little variety!

So I decided to try Zyrtec. We had already tried Benadryl (he reacted to it) and Claratin (no reaction, but no improvement, either), so that was our next OTC choice. I think there is one more option if we ever need it; after that, we would have to look at prescription antihistamines. We already tried one, but either it tasted so bad that it gagged him, or he reacted to it and threw it up. He was too young to ask, but whatever it was, I’m not trying it again! (I’m sure the doctor has a record of what prescriptions he gave back then, so I could ask for a different one if needed.)

We are also going to look into L-glutamine. I can’t remember if we ever tried it or not, and I can’t remember where I heard about it, but I know I’ve heard of it before. We’re going to see if it has any effect on him at all. I think the steroids would be the last resort.

At the suggestion of a couple of people, I decided to test pumpkin seeds on Manny. He had never had them before. I started with a simple skin test. I crushed one seed between two spoons and rubbed some of the crumbs between my fingers until they felt oily. Then I rubbed this into the back of his knee, in the soft skin where he has recently broken out (at the moment, it’s pretty clear). When no reaction showed after several minutes, I let him try a tiny bit of the crushed seed. [Please note: If your child has a history of anaphylaxis, you may want to try such a test under a doctor's supervision; my son has never had any form of anaphylaxis, and the severity of his reactions are directly proportional to the amount of allergen consumed. He does not appear highly sensitive to small amounts of contamination, or I would probably ask his doctor to do an allergy test before testing any food orally. I would strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor about doing such home tests on your child.]

When he still had no reaction–including no funny sensations in his mouth, such as he had with coconut and cashew–I gave him the rest of the crushed seed, followed by one whole seed. He really liked them, and didn’t seem to react at all. No congestion, no “allergy asthma” (this is the best description I have heard for one of the reactions he gets), no itchiness, nothing. So I posted on Facebook that I was “cautiously optimistic” about the seeds.

That night, however, he was restless. After being put to bed, he fell asleep quickly, but then would keep waking and calling for Mama or just groaning or fussing and rubbing his eyes and scratching his neck (which is somewhat irritated still). I had observed this behavior before, usually after consuming such small quantities of allergens that he had no reaction at the time of consumption. One example would be the night after he ate the gluten-free pasta at the Olive Garden. I found out later that it is made with corn, tomatoes, cheese, and a number of other known allergens. I wish they would just serve rice pasta! But I digress.

I had gone to the pharmacy earlier in the evening and purchased the generic Zyrtec antihistamine, and when my husband started complaining about how he wasn’t going to get any sleep that night (and I began to wonder if I would either), it occurred to me to give him a dose. So I did. He only whined once after that, and then slept peacefully the rest of the night. So apparently Zyrtec is the drug of choice for Manny. I like that it only has to be given once a day, unlike Benadryl. So if it causes drowsiness, I will just give the dose in the evening and put him to bed. He’s over any drowsiness he might have by morning, so it works out well.

So that’s where we are at. Still struggling with his diet–especially now that he is in the very picky/doesn’t like anything stage (normal for his age, but very trying, since his choices are already so limited). Top that off with him being hungry all the time (I think he might be growing), and, well, you can probably relate if you are reading this, because either your child has eczema too, or someone close to you does. So wish me luck, and if you have any ideas, please share them!

Two Allergy-Free Recipes and Links to More

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Eczema usually means allergies. Unless it’s contact dermatitis, which is simply a reaction to something that was touched, the allergies are usually to food. Food allergies mean diet restrictions.

Since my son was weaned at age 12 months, he has eaten beans and GF cereals every day. Until sometime around his 3rd birthday last month. He finally decided he was tired of beans and cereal. He became extremely picky, and it was very frustrating.

I finally realized that it was time for me to start cooking and baking, not just making a batch of cream of rice or whatever other grain in the morning and adding beans that I had precooked, blended, and frozen in ice cube trays. That worked when he was younger, but he is three years old now. He needs texture and variety. Not to mention that he is becoming more and more sensitive to beans. He tested in the medium range for black beans on the last IgE test. That means he should probably not eat beans every day.

But how to get protein? If he weren’t allergic to eggs, dairy, nuts, and most seeds, that wouldn’t be a problem. I would just give him an egg every day. Or some nuts. Or milk or cheese. But he can’t have any of that. Apart from quinoa and amaranth, most grains are missing certain essential amino acids (essential means the body cannot manufacture them, and therefore they must be consumed in the diet).

We have found a few solutions. First, the hemp milk he drinks daily is a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids). He doesn’t get a lot of it–8-10 oz a day–but it’s something. Hemp protein can be used, but it has a strong flavor and is difficult to hide. I mean, I would drink it in a smoothie without a second thought, but he won’t. And I think it’s easier to make the horse led to water drink than to make a 3-year-old eat what he has decided he doesn’t like!

So although I am a 3rd generation vegetarian, and my husband has been almost exclusively vegetarian (with a few rare exceptions) for the past decade and a half, we decided to try giving Manny a little meat now and then. We tried turkey first. We wanted to get pre-cooked meat, so that we wouldn’t have to deal with raw meat in the home, but it turned out to be very expensive, not to mention that it actually had caramel color in it, which is probably not gluten free.

So then we tried chicken. Organic chicken. I went into Whole Foods and for once actually paid attention to the meat section. I settled on about 1/2 pound of ground chicken (they ground it for me). At $8 something a pound, it was a bit pricy, but it will last at least a month for the little guy! I mean, he only needs a couple of ounces per meal, right? It was wrapped in butcher paper, and went straight into the freezer when I got home.

I told my husband he would have to cook it, since he knows how to cook meat (hey, he knows how to butcher a chicken!) and I don’t. Besides, I have a mental block about touching the stuff. No moral objections (especially since it’s organic and was probably more humanely butchered than most meat is), but I just can’t bring myself to touch it. Ew!

So he dumped the ground chicken into a pot, added some garlic, cilantro, salt, and I don’t know what else, and cooked it to death. He wasn’t sure how long it needed to cook (being ground, obviously not very long), but he wanted to be sure any possible bacteria were dead.

Then he took shredded yuca (also known as cassava) that we had purchased at a Filippino market. (This picture isn’t the same brand as we get, but it is similar.) The root would cost almost $3 a pound at the grocery store, and then we’d have to peel and shred it and hope we got a good one. On the other hand, the frozen cassava came from a good root, and there’s no peeling or shredding to deal with. And best of all, we pay $1.25 for a 1 lb package! Considering the fact that cassava is high in calcium and also anti-inflammatory, and as gluten free as potatoes, it’s the perfect thing for someone on a restricted diet to include once in a while.

Once the chicken was done, my husband took some of the meat and mixed it with some cassava and a little extra salt (we froze the leftover chicken for future meals), formed patties with it, and pan fried it in a tiny bit of palm oil (more stable than olive, not refined like canola, and not an allergen to my son like coconut is). Health food stores sell Spectrum shortening, which is 100% unrefined palm oil. It works great in any recipe calling for shortening, has a very neutral flavor, and is very stable, so it’s great for baking and sauteing. Other seasonings could be added to this recipe, and even veggies (like shredded carrots). A gravy would be nice with it, too, but my son’s not ready for that yet.

The other recipe we have created in an attempt to get him to eat what he is not allergic to is Teff Pancakes. I created this recipe on my own, since I couldn’t find any recipes that I really liked online–or that were free of allergens. Because my son has more allergies than most kids–he’s the worst case his pediatrician has ever seen.

So here’s the recipe for Teff Pancakes as it stands now:

1 cup teff flour (I use the dark teff, but ivory teff would probably work too)
1/3 cup tapioca flour (did you know tapioca and cassava are the same thing?)
1 heaping Tbsp. sugar or xylitol
1 Tbsp. hemp or other protein (optional)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. xanthum gum or 1 tbsp flax seeds (the xanthum gum works better)
cinnamon to taste (I give it 2 or 3 dashes)
scant 1 1/2 cups of water (I use exactly 11 oz measured in a liquid measuring cup)
2 Tbsp. oil (I use unrefined grapeseed)

Mix the dry ingredients, then add the wet.  You will probably need a wire whisk to get the lumps out. Allow to sit a few minutes while a skillet heats over medium or slightly lower. Make pancakes, turning them when most of the color has changed.

I personally make little tiny pancakes about 2″ across, using what we always called a big spoon (the one you eat with when you are bigger–not a soup spoon, just a big table spoon). This recipe makes about 30 pancakes that size. You could make bigger ones, of course. I don’t grease the skillet, either. There is enough oil in the batter to keep them from sticking.

Besides these two recipes, I have found several simple, gluten-free recipes around the Internet, from biscuits to millet tortillas, as well as a couple of decadent desserts. But rather than repeat them here, I’ll just refer you to my mom blog, Life of a Happy Mom, where I already posted those recipes and my comments on them.

Have you found a good gluten-free recipe that is toddler friendly? Please share it! Gluten-free cooking can be daunting, but with some good recipes that kids will eat, it really isn’t so hard. And if we all share with each other, it will make the burden just a little bit easier to bear.

Product Review & Give-Away: Vidazorb Probiotics

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a representative of Vidazorb to try their probiotics and review them on my blog. They sent me a sample of the Vidazorb Belly Boost for children and the Vidazorb Daily probiotics for adults. They were especially interested to see how the probiotics helped my son’s eczema.

These probiotics have a lot of positive features. To start with, they have a CFU (colony forming units) count of approximately 10 billion per tablet, and they recommend 3 tablets per day. They are chewable, and for those too young to chew them, they are very easy to crush into powder to mix with food or liquid. They taste really good, too. My son always got excited whenever he got one, and often would beg me for “I-ah-kicks” whenever he thought of them. They also do not require refrigeration. They are also gluten, soy, lactose, and corn free and have zero calories..

On the other hand, they did not help my son’s eczema. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t help some children’s eczema, but it didn’t help my son. I stopped using the Infaskin that we had been using before to really try the Belly Boost, and during that time his eczema actually got a little bit worse, only to go back to what it had been after we added the Infaskin, which we did a few days before we ran out of Belly Boost. I don’t think that the Belly Boost had a negative effect, it just didn’t have a positive one. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t have as many variety of strains as Infaskin does. But Infaskin was specifically developed for skin conditions, while Belly Boost appears to be designed simply to maintain proper digestion, so this doesn’t surprise me too much.

They are to be taken 1 tablet 3 times a day, preferably with meals. I had a hard time remembering to give them to him at each meal, especially in the evening when I was so focused on getting the kids fed, dressed, read to, and in bed. The Infaskin was given once a day between meals, so it is easier to just give it whenever I remember–usually I do it before breakfast with his first liquid of the day. This isn’t really a negative, just for me it is.

They are a bit cheaper than the Infaskin is, at $43.60 if you buy it from Vidazorb. Infaskin costs me $50 for a month’s supply. They are probably a bit more expensive than some probiotics that you can get from another place, but they are very good quality, as far as I can tell, and if one were looking for probiotics to give their child during and after a round of antibiotics, I would definitely recommend Vidazorb as an option to consider. Very kid friendly.

If you want to try them, during the month of October, 2011, you can use the coupon code NEM50 to get 50% off any order. Now, that’s a pretty good deal!

But it gets even better! Vidazorb would like to offer one lucky reader a two-month supply of Belly Boost for their child. That’s an $87.20 value! Simply post a comment telling me which Vidazorb product you would like to try (click on the link to see them all). I will pick a name toward the end of the month of October using Random.com.

My Baby Has Eczema: The Cause Found and the Healing Begun

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

It has been 5 months since the last post, and a lot has happened. Before I fill you in on the results of the stool test, what we did as a result, and the results, let me briefly review our journey with my son’s eczema for those who don’t have time to read all the posts from the beginning.

He developed eczema at 1 month old. It was diagnosed around 3 months, and we tried to avoid all steroids, even hydrocortisone. But he was a really miserable little baby. We tried everything, even goat’s milk formula (turned out all dairy is off limits, not just cow), and I restricted my diet to the point of frustration until he was weaned at 12 months. We added Triamcinalon, a medium-level steroid around 18 months just to control the symptoms, and not long after that we started to see a naturopath who was recommended by his pediatrician. When I ended the last post, we were waiting on the results of a stool test.

Test Results

The results came late in February. For insurance reasons, they were sent to his pediatrician, and we received a copy in the mail as well, which we shared with the naturopath at the next visit. It just so happened that my son got a bad cold that turned into bronchitis just after the test results arrived, and before the scheduled naturopath’s visit–which I think got delayed for some reason, probably the cold. My husband took him (since I think I was also feeling under the weather at the time), and the pediatrician went over the results of the stool test.

In a nutshell, he had a gut full of pathogenic bacteria. Which confirmed his suspicion that the source of the eczema was in his gut.

Let me explain a little. You may have heard about beneficial bacteria in the gut. They help to digest food and do other things. They coat the surface of the intestines. If they are killed off and yeast (such as candida) is present, the yeast will multiply to fill in the gaps. On the other hand, they can be killed off by pathogenic bacteria–and they had certainly been doing that, because showed almost no beneficial bacteria in the test at all, in spite of all the probiotics he had taken for the past year. There were also neutral bacteria, neither beneficial nor harmful, but taking the place of the good bacteria.

The doctor, of course, prescribed antibiotics to treat the bronchitis. Normally I would have hesitated, but when I realized that some of the pathogenic bacteria was susceptible to the antibiotic, I figured this would be a way of killing two birds with one stone!

Not long after we met with the naturopath. He reviewed the test results and explained them to me. He asked us to up the Infaskin probiotics that had already proved to help him so much, to counteract the antibiotics. I think he also upped the Vitamin D from 1,000 IU to 2,000, because he felt Manny could be getting a little more of that.

On a side note, the results for the parasite test came in later, and they were negative. He also showed a little yeast, but it didn’t seem to be a significant problem. Especially since he eats mostly gluten-free grains and I sweeten his home-made rice or teff milk with stevia, so his sources of sugars are quite limited.

What Happened As a Result

Just around the time the antibiotic treatment finished, a tree fell on our house. It was quite a disaster, and we’re still not back in our home almost 5 months later. That was March 15th. We spent the next 10 days living with some friends in their house nearby, and during that time, we used the Triamcinalon for the last time. We haven’t used it since.

Over the months since then, I have watched my son’s skin steadily improve. He went from breaking out in small patches most everywhere to breaking out only on his tummy, face, neck, groin, and folds of elbows and knees. And in the last month I haven’t noticed anything on his tummy. I ran out of the prescription 2.5% hydrocortisone and bought some 1% at the drug store recently. I remember when we would go through a 2 oz. tube in a week, but now I think that tube will last us a couple of months–and I don’t use it every day, at least, not on the same spot two days in a row. He scratches less. He’s a happy little 2-year-old when he’s not having a melt-down. And he’s steadily improving. At the last visit with the naturopath–back in May, I think–he didn’t change anything about his treatment and scheduled his next appointment for September, saying to only call if he got worse or stopped improving. Which he hasn’t.

So that’s the latest. He’s not cured, but he’s on the way. It’s going to be a while before we start trying things we have eliminated from his diet, though we occasionally try new things (like parsnips–he likes them and they don’t cause a reaction, yay!).

So now it’s your turn. Share this story with others or share your story. What have you done that has worked? What didn’t work? Every case is unique, and what worked for Manny might not work for the next reader. But what worked for you might. If you would like to share your story here as a post instead of just in a comment, let me know!

My Baby Has Eczema: Trying Natural Methods Again

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Last week I shared about how we found a new doctor when we moved and eventually started using the steroid Triamcinalon. Once the pediatrician had exhausted his store of resources, and after a couple visits to an allergist proved that we were already doing everything conventional medicine had to offer, we decided to try a naturopath recommended by the pediatrician.

Dr. Dramov in Tigard

Dr. Dramov has got to be one of the nicest doctors I have ever met. Unlike your average MDs, he greets his patients in the waiting room and goes with them through every step of the visit. If he has an assistant other than the receptionist, I haven’t seen one. He acted like he has all day, asking me several times per visit if there is anything else I want to ask–very thorough.

During the first visit, he went over Manny’s history of eczema and asked what we were giving him. Then he asked me to try several things: upping the probiotics he was already taking, adding quercitin, switching from the digestive enzyme we were using to one with ox bile in it, and adding in evening primrose oil. We were to make one change per week, and to not add the next thing if we noticed improvement.

Well, we did our best, but nothing made the slightest difference. I had gotten him to where I was using the Triamcinalon only every other day most of the time, but I couldn’t taper off more than that. He would just get worse if I tried.

B12 Shots and a New Probiotic

At the next visit, he told me that he had just been to some kind of medical convention to learn more about the treatment of eczema. He said there were two things that seemed to help that we weren’t already doing: B12 supplements, either sublingual or shots, and a special probiotic called InfaSkin. He had ordered the InfaSkin, but it hadn’t arrived yet. My husband picked it up later.

He asked me how I wanted to do then B12. Because I wasn’t sure how well the sublinguals would work on such a small child (by this time he was just weeks away from his second birthday), I opted for the shots. He showed me how to give them, doing the first one himself. Then he sold me the tiny vial of serum and enough insulin syringes to last a month. I bought a sharps container at the drug store, and have since gotten so good at them that my son actually likes his daily shot!

It was almost two weeks after that visit that my husband was able to stop and get the InfaSkin probiotics. We started him on them on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Within two days, I knew they were doing something; I hadn’t reached for the Triamcinalon since his first dose! In fact, he was able to go 4 or 5 days without it–his longest stretch ever! I still used the hydrocortisone 2.5%, but I was actually using less of it. As you can imagine, I was thrilled! This was the first non-drug anything to actually make a difference!

Further Tests

At this second visit, the doctor also ordered stool and blood tests. We will get the results of those tests at our next visit, which will be next Friday

A couple of weeks after starting the Infaskin, I received samples of Renew lotion. Rather than repeat myself, I’ll just refer you to the post that tells what results Renew had on my son.

This brings the story up-to-date. I will continue to post updates as they occur. Now it’s your turn. Would you like to share your story? If so, please contact me; I would love to publish others’ stories here on this blog.