Newborn Series: Naturally Healing Eczema for Life with Dr. Ana-Maria Temple

In today’s Newborn Series episode of the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim interviews Dr. Ana-Maria Temple. Dr. Temple is a holistic pediatrician, best-selling author, mother of 3, and award-winning speaker. She has appeared on over 100 TV News and Podcast segments. During her 22 year career, she has treated over 36,000 patients. Her passion is to inspire, educate and empower parents to revamp their family’s health to prevent children from developing chronic disease. Today, Kim and Dr. Temple talk about naturally preventing and healing eczema. 

What is Eczema? 

Eczema is a skin condition where a person can develop red, scaly, itchy, and often painful patches on their skin. While the severity varies from person to person, it often shows up around joints like knees and elbows. It is a very tricky condition and it’s made to believe that it’s a normal part of childhood. 

Dr. Temple’s child developed eczema around 5 years old. At the time, all of her kids were taking medications, antibiotics, topical steroids, and eating processed foods and sugar. As a mom, she knew she couldn’t have her kids living like this forever, taking medications constantly and still getting sick. She decided to see a nutritionist about her child’s eczema and discovered that sugar is a huge underlying cause of eczema. Then, Dr. Temple completely changed the food in her home. She got rid of sugar and processed foods and replaced them with fruit and vegetables. 

Typical Treatments for Healing Eczema 

Through her own research and experience as a pediatrician, Dr. Temple found that most eczema was treated by topical steroids and drugs, but it wasn’t really healing eczema, just slapping a quick fix on it. 

Today, 1 in 5 children will develop eczema. In the 1970s, this number was only 1 in 15 children, proving that something in our environment is affecting these children. Eczema can carry on throughout a child’s entire life if not properly healed. When a child develops eczema, it’s a red flag from the body saying that something is unwell. This is why a child who typically develops eczema may also experience food allergies, seasonal allergies, asthma, ADHD, and more. 

What Causes Eczema?

In the interview, Kim pointed out that there is a strong connection between reflux and eczema. Dr. Temple says this is because medication often used to treat reflux causes eczema. A lot of parents think that eczema has ties to genetics, which is partially true. The filaggrin gene is an indicator of eczema. Filaggrin is a protein structure that holds the skin together and plumps cells. A deficit of filaggrin can often cause eczema, but it’s not the only cause. 

Another large tie to eczema is dairy consumption. Dr. Temple doesn’t recommend completely removing dairy, but watching your consumption and limiting it. If babies are being breastfed and developing eczema, she recommends the mother eliminate dairy from her diet. 

Like reflux medication, giving acetaminophen to young children can cause an eczema flare-up. In fact, Dr. Temple says that just 1 dose of acetaminophen can accelerate eczema by 50%. 3 doses can increase the chances by 80%. 

Misconceptions When Healing Eczema 

The biggest misconception for treating and healing eczema is that there’s nothing a parent can do. This just simply isn’t true. If you think that eczema can only be healed with topical steroids and drugs, you are mistaken. 

People often also think that just cutting out dairy will fix eczema. But, if that’s not changing the severity of eczema in your child, try to cut out sugar and processed foods as well. A lot of parents think that they need to use an elimination diet on their children. This isn’t easy or helpful. Dr. Temple says that there is specific gut healing that needs to happen to clear eczema. Once the gut is healed, a child can eat a variety of foods without breaking out into eczema. 

Healing the Gut to Heal Eczema

Dr. Temple says “eczema isn’t a skin issue, it’s a gut issue.” The first step to healing your gut is to change your mindset. Dr. Temple believes that  “knowing that you have the power and control to change your child’s skin is the first step.” She also differentiates between curing and healing by saying “healing is giving the body the right tools and the body fixes the problem.”

Topical steroids are often just a cure for eczema – they don’t heal what’s actually going on in the body. True healing takes a lot of work. You have to change your lifestyle. You cannot live the same lifestyle that caused a chronic illness (eczema) and expect everything to stay the same. As parents, we have to take a good look at our home, food, and environment to really see the causes of eczema. 

But How Can We Help Our Kids Without Medication?

There may be parents reading this wondering how to help their kids with things like teething, colds, ear infections, etc. without the help of antibiotics and medication. Dr. Temple suggests asking your pediatrician if there’s anything you can try to naturally heal before turning to medication. A lot of doctors are quick to prescribe, thinking it’s what the parents want, but take the time to really communicate your values. 

If your doctor doesn’t offer to help with finding natural healing techniques or at least listen to your concerns, it may be time to find another provider. You don’t need to find a holistic pediatrician necessarily, but find one who is open-minded to trying other avenues of healing. 

Kim points out that your relationship with your pediatrician is a long one. You need to feel like you can tell them anything, and that your concerns are heard. 

Natural Remedies to Alleviate Pain Without Accelerating Eczema 

As parents, we never want to see our children hurting or in pain. So, what are we supposed to do to help them without things like Tylenol and antibiotics? In this episode, Dr. Temple talks specifically of teething, because Tylenol seems like the typical teething remedy. 

First off, Dr. Temple wants to remind parents that pain is ok. It’s part of living. It’s not our responsibility, nor is it even possible, to take away all of our children’s pain. But, we can reduce pain. We can do this, specifically with teething, in a few ways. 

One approach is to take frozen breastmilk in a mesh feeder to alleviate your child’s teething pain. Breastmilk has naturally occurring sugars that act as pain relief. Similarly, frozen fruit like mangoes or grapes put in a mesh feeder can help naturally reduce pain.

Circling back to reflux, there are alternatives to anti-reflux medication. Dr. Temple shares an example of a study that showed that 75% of babies who had dairy-free breastmilk or formula never needed anti-reflux medication. Try to look for natural remedies over the prescriptions. 

More Help on Natural Healing

Dr. Temple’s goal is to change parents’ and kids’ lives, naturally. She knows that on social media, it may appear that a family’s healing journey happens overnight. She wants listeners to know that her family is still 12 years into the healing process, and they still have a ways to go. 

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see changes happening overnight for your child. The changes discussed in this episode are lifelong lifestyle changes. All Dr. Temple advises is to “be better today than you were yesterday.” 

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In the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim West will interview parenting experts on everything from mindfulness to developmental milestones and how it relates to gentle parenting. Kim West is a LCSW-C, bestselling author and founder of a world-renowned gentle sleep training method. She and her team of Gentle Sleep Coaches have helped over 1 million families find gentle sleep through her courses, best-selling book and 1:1 coaching. Kim is the only baby sleep expert out there with 25-years of experience, and she’s seen everything when it comes to parenting.

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