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COLUMN: Good-bye and Good Riddance to Rashes
There’s one thing that can drive a person crazy: an itchy rash. It’s one of the most common problems I treat and can affect anyone at any age. I’ve seen one-week-old babies to 95-year-old people for these rashes. There are many reasons people get rashes, but, the bottom line is that the liver, kidneys and/or lungs are overloaded and the liver is trying to clear the body of something. The skin is our next biggest elimination organ after the liver and kidneys, so if either is compromised, rashes are common. I’ll discuss the main reasons these systems can be over-burdened and some complementary strategies.
Water: Often people drink coffee or tea for fluids. These act as diuretics, are acidic and are stimulants. This forces the kidneys to over-work, decreases the liver’s ability to detoxify and increases adrenal cortisol release, increasing the histamine reaction from the immune system. Cow’s milk also creates a histamine reaction for most people. Drinking water is like having a shower from the inside; it rinses toxins, metabolites and breakdown products out of your body, so drink ½ your weight (in pounds) in ounces of filtered water or herbal tea per day. (If you are 140 pounds, you need to drink 70 ounces, or 7 to 8 glasses of water per day.) Use unsweetened almond, coconut, soy, rice, quinoa or goat milk instead of cow's milk.
Try to keep alcohol for social occasions to 2 or 3 drinks per week to keep that liver unloaded.
Food: Eating beef or pork creates inflammation for us because of the arachadonic acid, so, replace this with lamb, bison or wild meat if you like red meat, free range chickens or turkeys and especially wild salmon, herring, sardines or halibut, because they are actually anti-inflammatory.
Replace cream with coconut cream, sour cream with goat yogurt or organic cow’s yogurt, cream cheese with goat chevres and cow cheese with goat or sheep cheeses. I’ve worked with Ferraro’s to have a wide variety of goat & sheep cheeses, so try the goat gouda and feta cheeses or one of the sheep cheeses. Sheep manchego replaces romano, crotonese replaces a sharp cheddar, pecorino replaces parmesan and roquefort replaces blue cheese. I often find that people use cheese because it’s quick & filling, so another idea is using nut or seed butters like almond or cashew butter, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seed butter with crackers instead. Again, these are all anti-inflammatory to decrease rashes and moisten the skin.
Minimize acid forming foods like sugar, anything white (flour, bread, crackers and pasta), tomatoes, lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit. Use whole grain flour, bread, crackers and pasta, roasted red peppers for a red sauce or sliced for sandwiches, apples, pears, frozen cherries, berries or any other fruit available.
Allergies: Many things can cause allergic reactions, from medications or pets to laundry detergent or foods. If you take a medication, try to use the non-dyed versions and keep your pets out of your bedroom to minimize the dander exposure at night, when your body is trying to repair itself.
Use hypo-allergenic cleaners, detergents, soaps, creams, hair products, and make-up, and use perfume sparingly or on special occasions. One of the strongest combinations of chemicals is in house deodorizers or diffusers and fabric softeners. These stick to your clothes, so you are constantly being exposed to artificial chemicals that the liver has to try to detoxify. This often leads to rashes or asthma by over-loading the lungs.
Have your foods tested to see which foods work the best for your body. By substituting your sensitivities or allergies, you minimize the load on your liver, lungs and kidneys, so, with an empty wheelbarrow, so to speak, your body doesn’t create a histamine reaction and your rash goes away, and your spring allergies are also minimized, since there isn’t much else to have to deal with.
Immune system support: It’s amazing the number of people I see with recently diagnosed cancer who say “I haven’t been sick in years.” If you don’t continually give your immune system what it needs to get on top of any abnormal cells, break down irritants, sensitivities or allergies or take care of any viruses, bacteria or fungus, it can get over-burdened and over-react creating a histamine reaction, or not react at all, letting abnormal cells multiply.
Histamine reactions can be on the skin (rashes), in the lungs (asthma), in the joints (rheumatoid arthritis), in the muscles (polymyalgia) or anywhere else in the body. Unless you eat organic foods most of the time, it is a myth that you will get everything you need from your food. Feed it with Vitamin C rich foods, such as organic dark-fleshed fruit (cherries, berries, Italian prune plums -- NOT oranges, they have very little Vitamin C and are acidic) or take a non-citrus form of Vitamin C as a capsule or powder.
Adrenal system support: All of us lead busy lives, so coping well with all our stress is essential. If you are using non-coping tools such as coffee, alcohol or food to deal with life, build your adrenals instead. Your adrenal glands have to handle the stress that is created and I typically find we have to support that with B vitamin rich food, like lamb, bison or wild meat.
If your adrenals are not balanced, they will put out too much cortisol, which can lead to histamine reactions. If you’re not a red meat eater, you can use nutritional yeast flakes (also available at Ferraro's) where you would normally use salt. I often use them as a soup base, add them to stir-fries or stews, sprinkle my eggs with them or add them to my favourite snack, popcorn, instead of salt.
Otherwise, use a B complex capsule with extra B5, since you have to have all the B vitamins for any specific one to work well. B5 is the main food your adrenals need to handle stress well.
Nervous system support: Giving your nervous system a chance to re-charge allows you to make the most of your day without being exhausted, feeling over- whelmed or react excessively to a person or situation and keep the immune system from over-reacting.
Getting to bed after 10 PM doesn’t give your nervous system enough time to re-balance and repair itself. Every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight! So, start to wind down around 9:00 PM by reading to your children or settle down to a good book, so, your body is ready for sleep around 10 PM. Don’t watch news or play on the computer -- that stimulates the nervous system too much and it’s typically hard for the brain to settle, so it's harder to get to sleep or stay asleep. You can drink calming teas in the evening or use calming herbs as a supplement.
These suggestions give you the tools to get rid of that rash. If it persists, you can make an appointment to see Dr. Brenda Gill at 250-362-5035.