Eczema Treatment with Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil vs. Hempseed Oil

Eczema Treatment with Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil vs. Hempseed Oil
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Are there dietary supplements that can help with atopic dermatitis?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Atopic dermatitis,” more commonly known as eczema, is ranked as “the skin disease with [perhaps] the greatest [global] health burden,” because it’s just so common. Maybe one in ten kids have it, and about 3% of adults, where you get patches of red, itchy skin. Topical steroids, like cortisone cream, is “the mainstay of treatment” since its Nobel Prize winning discovery in 1950.

People are scared of steroids, though. It’s “not uncommon for patients to express irrational fear and anxiety about using” steroid creams and ointments—a “phobia” that may arise from confusing topical steroids with oral or injected steroids, which have different effects. Really potent topical steroids can thin your skin, but skin thickness should return to normal a month after stopping. So yes, it can cause side effects, but the concern people have “seems out of proportion” to the small risk they pose. Still, okay, if there’s a way you can resolve a problem without drugs, that’s generally preferable. What did they do for eczema before the 1950s?

Well, in the 30s, some researchers tried using vitamin D dissolved in corn oil, and to their surprise, it worked—but so did the corn oil alone, without the vitamin D that they were using as a control. Others reported cases improving after feeding flaxseed oil—or even lard! The “National Live Stock and Meat Board” did not want to be left out of the action. The problem is that none of these studies had a control group. So yeah, feeding someone corn oil for 12 to 18 months, and they get better; but, maybe they would have gotten better anyway. You don’t know until you put it to the test.

All these researchers that claimed benefit from the use of various fats apparently lacked “any great interest” in doing controlled studies. But, not this researcher, who tried out some oils, and found no evidence of benefit over routine treatment. Most got better either way, which suggests that the previous “benefits claimed may [have just been] due to the usual treatment, with perhaps a dash of enthusiasm.”

By then, hydrocortisone was out, and so, the medical community gave up on dietary approaches, until this letter was published in 1981 about the treatment of eczema with supplements of evening primrose oil, which contains gamma linolenic acid, an anti-inflammatory omega-6. And indeed, when it was put to the test, it seemed to help. But then, a subsequent larger study found no effect.

Whenever there are conflicting findings, it helps to do a meta-analysis, where you put all the studies together. There was the study that showed benefit, the one that didn’t, and then seven other studies, and seven out of the seven showed benefit. And so: “The results show that the effects of [some brand of primrose oil supplement was] almost always significantly better than…placebo.” Case closed, right?

Well, the analysis was funded by the supplement company itself, which can be a red flag. Where exactly were these other seven studies published? They weren’t. The company just said they did these studies, but never released them. And, when they were asked to hand them over, they said they would, but never did—even threatening a lawsuit against researchers who dared question their supplements’  efficacy.

An independent review failed to find evidence that evening primrose oil or borage oil worked better than placebo. And so: “As we bid goodnight to the evening primrose oil story, perhaps we [will] awaken to a world where all clinical trial data…reach the light of day.”

Borage oil actually has twice the gamma linolenic acid as evening primrose oil, and still didn’t work. But, that didn’t stop researchers from trying hempseed oil, which has evidently been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years. They tried giving about a quarter-cup of hemp seeds’ worth of oil to people every day for a few months and found significant improvements in skin dryness, itchiness, and the need for medications—but not compared to placebo.

In fact, dietary supplements across the board, whether “fish oil, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, …E, [or] …B6, sea buckthorn oil, hempseed, [or] sunflower oil,…overall, no convincing evidence that taking supplements improved…eczema.”

That’s disappointing, but wait a second—that’s just for oral supplements. What about natural remedies applied topically? We’ll find out, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Luis Prado, Ian Shoobridge, Academic Technologies, Zidney, and Nico Ilk from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Marek Isalski. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Atopic dermatitis,” more commonly known as eczema, is ranked as “the skin disease with [perhaps] the greatest [global] health burden,” because it’s just so common. Maybe one in ten kids have it, and about 3% of adults, where you get patches of red, itchy skin. Topical steroids, like cortisone cream, is “the mainstay of treatment” since its Nobel Prize winning discovery in 1950.

People are scared of steroids, though. It’s “not uncommon for patients to express irrational fear and anxiety about using” steroid creams and ointments—a “phobia” that may arise from confusing topical steroids with oral or injected steroids, which have different effects. Really potent topical steroids can thin your skin, but skin thickness should return to normal a month after stopping. So yes, it can cause side effects, but the concern people have “seems out of proportion” to the small risk they pose. Still, okay, if there’s a way you can resolve a problem without drugs, that’s generally preferable. What did they do for eczema before the 1950s?

Well, in the 30s, some researchers tried using vitamin D dissolved in corn oil, and to their surprise, it worked—but so did the corn oil alone, without the vitamin D that they were using as a control. Others reported cases improving after feeding flaxseed oil—or even lard! The “National Live Stock and Meat Board” did not want to be left out of the action. The problem is that none of these studies had a control group. So yeah, feeding someone corn oil for 12 to 18 months, and they get better; but, maybe they would have gotten better anyway. You don’t know until you put it to the test.

All these researchers that claimed benefit from the use of various fats apparently lacked “any great interest” in doing controlled studies. But, not this researcher, who tried out some oils, and found no evidence of benefit over routine treatment. Most got better either way, which suggests that the previous “benefits claimed may [have just been] due to the usual treatment, with perhaps a dash of enthusiasm.”

By then, hydrocortisone was out, and so, the medical community gave up on dietary approaches, until this letter was published in 1981 about the treatment of eczema with supplements of evening primrose oil, which contains gamma linolenic acid, an anti-inflammatory omega-6. And indeed, when it was put to the test, it seemed to help. But then, a subsequent larger study found no effect.

Whenever there are conflicting findings, it helps to do a meta-analysis, where you put all the studies together. There was the study that showed benefit, the one that didn’t, and then seven other studies, and seven out of the seven showed benefit. And so: “The results show that the effects of [some brand of primrose oil supplement was] almost always significantly better than…placebo.” Case closed, right?

Well, the analysis was funded by the supplement company itself, which can be a red flag. Where exactly were these other seven studies published? They weren’t. The company just said they did these studies, but never released them. And, when they were asked to hand them over, they said they would, but never did—even threatening a lawsuit against researchers who dared question their supplements’  efficacy.

An independent review failed to find evidence that evening primrose oil or borage oil worked better than placebo. And so: “As we bid goodnight to the evening primrose oil story, perhaps we [will] awaken to a world where all clinical trial data…reach the light of day.”

Borage oil actually has twice the gamma linolenic acid as evening primrose oil, and still didn’t work. But, that didn’t stop researchers from trying hempseed oil, which has evidently been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years. They tried giving about a quarter-cup of hemp seeds’ worth of oil to people every day for a few months and found significant improvements in skin dryness, itchiness, and the need for medications—but not compared to placebo.

In fact, dietary supplements across the board, whether “fish oil, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, …E, [or] …B6, sea buckthorn oil, hempseed, [or] sunflower oil,…overall, no convincing evidence that taking supplements improved…eczema.”

That’s disappointing, but wait a second—that’s just for oral supplements. What about natural remedies applied topically? We’ll find out, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Luis Prado, Ian Shoobridge, Academic Technologies, Zidney, and Nico Ilk from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Marek Isalski. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

Meta-analyses can be skewed in the other way, too, by quietly shelving negative results so only the positive findings are published. Antidepressant medications are a classic example of this publication bias. Check out my coverage of it in my video Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work?

As I queued up at the end, I cover topical natural treatments in my next video, Eczema Treatment with Coconut Oil, Mineral Oil, vs. Vaseline.

What about skipping the lard, and trying to eat healthier? See what happened in Treating Asthma & Eczema with Plant-Based Diets.

For more on skin health, check out:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

47 responses to “Eczema Treatment with Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil vs. Hempseed Oil

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  1. If this is your first video, or first week of Nutrition Facts exposure, please do read the doctor’s notes and note all the supporting/relevant videos he lists there. Also note that the archive is fully searchable and that all sources are listed for YOU to be able to read the reports yourself and answer many of your other questions.

    There is no prohibition against discussion of dissenting ideas and positions but please realize that this site is about the nutrition facts as found by the latest research, and OFTEN these things will be somewhat different from mainstream and popular belief and thoughts. Also that facts are subject to change depending upon findings, and that nutritional research is a difficult task for many reasons.

    Most common questions and conflicts on very many subjects have been previously addressed and can be found, along with the supporting studies and discussion if one will simply take a few minutes to look for them.

    We are glad to have you here with open mind and ready palate. WFPB works for so many of us, and works well! We hope to support your transition and create a tide of change. Thanks for stopping in.




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  2. “SCD diet”(vegan version of it) for all eczema, psoriasis, and other skin/dermatitus issues. The oils listed in video
    are usually just temporary-helpers, the diet itself fixes the problem.

    Google to find resources on the “allowed” SCD-diet foods, and follow it strictly for a few months. So many people
    get these issues resolved with this. Their guts simply can not handle some of the types of carbs they are eating….
    somehow adversely affecting their macrobiome.




    3
    1. Good comments. People keeps ignoring that not all people are the same and carb or grain can cause problems to some people and beneficial to others.




      2
    2. Eliminate all eggs and dairy even on while doing the SCD diet in order for it to work. At least for
      me, the SCD diet worked as vegan only, as far as skin issues.




      1
  3. For what it’s worth: I suffered through psoriasis from age 12 to 24, using the prescribed tar-based and steroidal creams to very little, if any, positive improvement. Being visible on my elbows, invited a great quantity of unsolicited advice, home remedies that did little to help. Until: I was recommended to apply vitamin E oil topically and within a couple of weeks the psoriasis disappeared completely and permanently. That was thirty years ago. I look forward to the next installment, where I expect that others benefitted from the topical application of this and other oils.




    8
  4. I suffered with terrible eczema from the time I was a small child until my late 30s when I stopped eating dairy products (and eventually all animal products). The eczema quickly disappeared and has never come back. It maddens me that not a single one of the many, many physicians I saw over all those years ever thought to consider my diet.




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    1. Tere Kaulfus: dairy was the cause of my dysmenorrhea. I suffered horribly for decades. And like you not a single one of the many, many physicians I saw over all those years ever thought to consider my diet.




      5
    2. There are different things for different eczema’s. No diet change did anything for me. I have not eaten dairy for more than six years and I didnt really have a lot of it to begin with especially milk, because why are humans drinking animal milk still when we are not babies. I have eczema, asthma and chronic sinusitis and they are always trying to give me rubbish chemicals for them like I’m an idiot!! Mine all disappeared when they found out that my vitamin D was 12. Have not looked back since. We all lack something that our body needs. Find out what it is and correct it.




      3
  5. Why Not Eat fish Or Take fish Oil? Fish oil — In one study people taking fish oil equal to 1.8 g of EPA (one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) experienced significant reduction in symptoms of eczema after 12 weeks. Researchers think that may be because fish oil helps reduce leukotriene B4, an inflammatory substance that plays a role in eczema.

    Eating Fish in Infancy Lowers Eczema Risk – https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/news/20080924/eating-fish-infancy-lowers-eczema-risk#1

    Do early intake of fish and fish oil protect against eczema ? A cohort study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19666630




    2
    1. Fish oil and coconut oil are obviously good foods but it is a forbidden food to discuss on this forum. It is all the biases that hurt people. Sigh!




      2
  6. I have been suffering from atopic dermatitis since childhood. Now 77. A few treatments helped, including hydrocortisone. But nothing was really effective. Until about 15 years back….
    Selenium sulfide shampoo seemed good for my scalp, so I wondered how about my face. After about a week of alternate-day washing vigorously, my condition improved dramatically. With regular washing every few days, my facial skin has remained clear. If I stop for more than a week or so, the blotchiness starts to reappear. Resumed washing with the shampoo (Selsun Blue) clears my skin in a few days.




    5
  7. I have been a lacto ovo vegetarian for about 35 years. I eat about a dozen eggs per year and use dairy sparingly (e.g., I sometimes sprinkle a tablespoon of crumbled feta cheese on a large spinach salad). So, I’m a “virtual vegan”. Anyway, three-and-a-half years ago, I suddenly developed atopic dermatitis. Over the next two-and-a-half years, I suffered with large, extremely itchy rashes that I reluctantly treated with topical steroids. All the while, I wondered whether my condition might be affected by diet. One evening, during a particularly bad flare-up, I slathered steroid cream over most of my back (I was desperate for relief!), and then was unable to fall asleep all night. I assume I had absorbed enough of the steroid to cause insomnia. The next day, I resolved to quit using steroid creams. (I had been prescribed two different ones, but neither seemed particularly effective, even though both were classified as ” strong”.) I suspected it was the moisture, not the medicine, that provided (limited) relief, so I started applying simple body lotion to itchy areas of my skin. It was as effective as the steroid creams. But my goal, of course, was to prevent the rashes in the first place. I knew the culprit was inflammation, and I considered taking curcumin supplements. However, I was skeptical about the bioavailability of it in supplements. I ultimately decided to start taking low-dose aspirin. I am a fifty-five-year-old female with no known risks for heart disease, but I was willing to assume the greater risk of hemorrhagic stroke to see if the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin would help my atopic dermatitis. About the same time (I know, I know- this is not a controlled study!), I started taking a multivitamin. I had taken one daily for decades, but had stopped a few years prior to developing skin problems. I stopped because my diet was unassailable. I ate a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts daily. And shortly after I ditched the multivitamins, the nurses study showed that taking a multivitamin was correlated with increased mortality, so I felt that my decision had been validated! Anyway, when pondering the cause of my atopic dermatitis, I wondered whether I had developed a dietary deficiency that might be difficult to detect. By this time, I had seen four different dermatologists and had had two skin biopsies and blood work done. (One dermatologist thought it was celiac disease; another wondered about lymphoma.) Anyway, I figured a multivitamin was a pretty low-risk thing to try. After a few weeks of this low-dose aspirin/multivitamin regimen, ninety percent of my skin problem disappeared, and it has not come back. I have been on this regimen for nine months. There are two small areas of atopic dermatitis that persist, and I occasionally get a small, minor rash somewhere else. But what I have now is completely manageable compared to the debilitating rashes I had been treating with topical steroids. For two different periods of time, each lasting two to three weeks, I took myself off the aspirin after noticing a lot of bruising on my forearms. Both times, I developed a large rash reminiscent of the ones I suffered from before I began my low-dose aspirin/multivitamin regimen. However, it should be noted that I started taking the aspirin about a month before I started taking the multivitamin, and I didn’t notice an improvement in my condition during that month. I just wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it will help others suffering from atopic dermatitis. I would love to see some scientific studies that replicate my experience.




    5
  8. I discovered that my eczema was caused by my acidic drinking water. Adding bicarbonate of soda to my drinking water solved the problem, though I have to keep on adding it in small quantities.




    2
      1. Thanks for the baking soda tip Susan. I’ll start adding some to my tea which is acidic. I have a mild flare up of redness and itching on my back which is very annoying while doing back exercises like pull-ups and push-ups.

        3 yrs ago I got a full body of itchy red hives after I started drinking a glass of fresh lemon juice a day. I think that is very acidic also. I guess my then 59 yr old body could have a leaky gut by now. All I know is the lemon juice did a job on me when I never had a food reaction in my life before.




        1
    1. In all my brilliance…I lost about 50 lbs drinking nothing but a saturated solution of baking soda (cheap version of an alkaline diet) for several weeks. Stopped when I got hemorroids. Don’t try this at home?




      1
  9. I HAD eczema…tried everything, coconut oil, essential oils, prescription cream (yes! Scared of that…the eczema was on my face…very bad case) anyway, I googled “healthiest diet”and got lead quickly to the WFPB diet world. My eczema was GONE in less than two weeks. Every now and then get a mild flare up, but it’s always when I’ve cheated with processed “good” (not great!) foods like whole grain crackers. It’s been two years. I will NEVER EVER GO BACK! Thanks to Dr.Gregor, Dr.McDougall and others I also “cured” a very painful neuroma on the bottom of my foot.
    No dairy, no animal, no processed foods. Just healthy carbs, legumes and lots of veggies and fruits.




    16
  10. I worked with a dermatologist and an allergist for two years on my eczema to no avail, then took all of the possibly offending personal care products out of my home and eczema cleared up in two weeks. soaps, shampoo, filtered shower water, filtered drinking water, laundry products, dish washing detergents, etc. etc. Replacedall with items with one or two common ingredients.

    David Kessler
    Rock Climbing Instructor




    4
  11. My 9 month old daughter has ‘atopic eczema’ she is still breast fed and developed it before we started giving her solid foods. (I am 99% vegan and she has not had any animal products since we started weening her)
    I really didn’t want to use steroid creams but was forced into due to how uncomfortable my daughter was, it covered most of her body and she was writhing at her skin it was horrible to watch.
    The 1% hydrocortisone cleared it up completely give or take a tiny dot of red skin here or there. Still… I don’t like the idea of masking the problem with this cream. Does anybody know what could be causing it or is there anyway I can be put in touch with anyone who can help. The ‘skin specialist’ seems to think it’s hereditary as my partner had it when she was younger but grew out of it when she got older, I on the other hand have read all sorts and watched all sorts and think someone out there must be able to help wether it’s a link to diet or what I don’t know..

    Many thanks




    2
    1. Thank you for your question. You are definitely taking the correct approach for your daughter as plant based diets are greatly beneficial for eczema. Unfortunately this does not mean that all cases of eczema can be treated completely in this way. There are other potential environmental triggers for eczema that can be difficult to pin point. There may even be some components of plant foods that can act as a trigger like gluten so it may be worth consulting an allergy expert for skin patch testing. I understand your concern about using steroid creams but short causes of low dose steroids should not have any long term effects and sometime are crucial for getting the condition under control. I do agree that many children grow out of childhood eczema. Don’t forget to emphasise all the healthy components of a plant based diet – whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetable and avoid refined sugars and added oils.
      Although this article is mainly about asthma, the same principles apply for exzema
      https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/07/02/how-fruits-and-vegetables-can-treat-asthma/




      0
    2. Hi Brett, thanks for your question about Eczema and natural treatment for that for your baby. As Shireen Kassam kindly provided you with good advice, I just wanted to add another video by Dr Greger that refers to extra virgin coconut oil. Head-to-head, topical virgin coconut oil works better than topical mineral oil at decreasing eczema severity, with twice as many children experiencing an excellent response after two months’ treatment. “Thus, among pediatric patients with mild to moderate [eczema], topical application of [virgin coconut oil] was superior to that of mineral oil.”
      Eczema Treatment with Coconut Oil, Mineral Oil, vs. Vaseline




      0
  12. Thanks for this research and video. I have eczema over 80% of my body. I’ve had it since I was a kid, but for the first 45 years of my life, it was relegated to a small dry patch behind my knee. Things changed when I came into contact with a noxious environment at work, filming a commercial in an old, dirty, dusty industrial loft in Argentina a few years ago. Soon after my neck first, then legs, arms and truck became totally flared with extremely itchy, dry and scaly skin.

    The first dermatologist prescribed a strong cortisone cream and very rich skin cream. It helped a little, but the flair ups never subsided completely or for very long and they always came back with a vengeance. The next dermatologist added oral meds and weekly UV light therapy to the regimen. I didn’t try the UV light because it was very expensive. There is an interesting clinical trial on eczema at Rockefeller University Hospital that is studying UV light therapy and it’s effect on the underlying inflammation of the blood. I am really looking forward to it.

    On a natural tip, topical echinacea works wonders, as does wait for it… urine. Sounds gross but actually the uric acid in urine is healing. Apparently there are creams you can buy with uric acid in it, but the first morning urine is free and flowing. You can apply with cotton and then rinse with water in the shower.




    2
  13. Does anyone know of a cure for sebhorreic keratosis – those brown spots on your back that come with age? I am using ACV which is fading them slightly, but I would like to know the root cause and possibly what diet changes to make. The dermatologist says to just live with it as the treatments are usually temporary, and the scarring is just as bad as the condition itself, plus very expensive.




    0
    1. Jack,

      since we don’t know what is the cause of this condition, we don’t have a cure for it.

      Genetics, stress and too much of sun appears to play a role.

      Did you discuss cryo/electrosurgery or curettage with your dermatologist?

      Regarding diet, just stick to a healthy, whole-food plant based diet. It certainly can’t hurt.

      Good luck!

      Moderator Adam P.




      0
    2. After you have had a thorough examination by your dermatologist, ask him/her about using salicylic acid (wart remover) on your spots. You, with a family member, can do this at home. About $5 at Kroger. This also works on pigmentation spots on your face and backs of hands. Check with your dermatologist first.




      0
  14. Thanks for all these interesting contributions.
    Now that we are on skin; is there any natural remedies for florid vitiligo?
    I am a physician and do see cases I am unable to help.




    0
    1. Dear Opreh,

      since vitiligo is associated with oxidative stress, you should suggest to increase intake of natural antioxidants. We have a lot of information regarding sources of natural antioxidants:

      https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/antioxidants/

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/minimum-recommended-daily-allowance-of-antioxidants/

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-reach-the-antioxidant-rda/

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/antioxidant-content-of-300-foods-2/

      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/antioxidant-content-of-3139-foods/

      And there is also evidence that ginkgo biloba can be helpful:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12780716

      Thanks for recommending natural cures to your patients,

      Moderator Adam P.




      0
  15. Good day, Dr. Greger:

    Thanks for shedding light on the evidence.

    Given how commonly people are taking these supplements, I’m surprised that these research studies did not comment on the risky side effects of borage oil:

    (From WebMD): “Borage seed oil is LIKELY UNSAFE when products containing a dangerous chemical called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are taken by mouth. Borage plant parts including the leaf, flower, and seed can contain PAs. PAs can damage the liver or cause cancer, especially when used in high doses or for a long time. Only use products that are certified and labeled PA-free.”

    It’s a shame that supplement companies can market and sell products that can be harmful by misleading the public that they are “natural” and therefore safe for consumption. I once took borage oil for eczema (of course, with no benefit whatsoever for my skin) after a shoddy recommendation from a very popular integrated medicine physician (who I won’t name here) until I fortunately read these warnings online.

    So I thank you again for showing that (other than the few essentials: vitamin D3, B12, algal omega-3s), the supplement industry is … just another INDUSTRY, with more interest in profit margin than evidence-based health and wellness.




    3
    1. A reminder, again, that in all aspects of health, there are NO MAGIC BULLETS. It is the conglomeration and interaction between our day to day lifestyle, behavioral, and dietary choices that add up to make a difference.




      1
  16. Dear Dr. Greger,

    Thank you for all your efforts in teaching the world about genuine natural healing. I reversed my eczema 5 years ago and now coach others to do the same using natural healing techniques, much of which has been reinforced by your work.

    My naturopathic nutritionist friend and I are putting together a course on how to naturally manage eczema / psoriasis / dermatitis, and we would like to use a few of your clips in an introductory video montage for each module of the course, providing links to your content of course. We would likely not use more than a minute or two in total of your work. Would you give us permission to do this?

    In health,
    Greg




    0
    1. Hi Greg,

      Yes, you may use the videos under our copyright guidelines. Under each video, right above the “view transcript” button, you will see CC symbol and “Republish” Please click on that for the guidelines. Thanks!




      0
  17. I would love to hear some discussion of coal tar topical products, which no one seems to prescribe anymore, yet I have found greater success with them than topical steroids (up to fluocinonide).




    0
  18. Here ya go:

    “No increased risk of cancer after coal tar treatment in patients with psoriasis or eczema. … Coal tar is an effective treatment for psoriasis and eczema, but it contains several carcinogenic compounds. Occupational and animal studies have shown an increased risk of cancer after exposure to coal tar.”

    J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Apr;130(4):953-61. doi: 10.1038/jid.2009.389. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

    Do you feel lucky? I don’t. So I don’t use it.

    Dr. Ben




    1
    1. So, I went and looked at the abstract and then the paper you quote, and the results (compared to corticosteroids) indicates slightly lower chances of cancer. Considering how debilitating my eczema has been (feet and hands), and the superior effectiveness of coal tar ointments, I think it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Thanks for the reference!!!




      0
      1. My pleasure. I’m very sorry to hear that your condition is that severe. I hope you get some relief.
        Have you tried a strict WFPB lifestyle first? And is your BMI within normal range? No other medications?

        Dr. Ben




        0
        1. WFPB, yes, but never strict. In fact, it was the same year (2011) that my wife and I first joined a CSA (and were most nearly strict) that my eczema first developed. I got rid of my car in 2012, and commute exclusively by bicycle (round trip 16 miles per day, no e-assist). I was taking no meds back then, but as of late 2016 I have been on metformin, losartan, and atorvastatin.




          0
          1. Your medications indicate you’re very unhealthy. If you suffer from LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes of adults) then it might be too late, but you could improve your glycemic control. If you simply have Type 2 diabetes then you just have too much visceral fat and your diabetes is likely 100% curable.

            Losartan may lower your BP and your risk of stroke, but compelling clinical studies indicate that losartan increases risk of heart attack. Combine that with your diabetes and your risk of early death increases more, not to mention the other systemic risks such as type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer’s).

            16 miles on a bike every day is a good start though. A strict WFPB lifestyle would likely reduce your risk of an early death, reduce your BP to normal so you can stop your losartan, allow you to lose weight so you can get off the metformin and may very well normalize your lipids so you can stop the atorvastatin.

            Keep in mind that all your medications are poisons that interrupt the normal function of vital enzymes that evolved to support a long and healthy life. Disrupting these highly complex and finely tuned metabolic systems is never the path to optimal health. I’m not a betting man, but I would bet that if you get healthy again then your skin condition would improve or be cured.

            If you make the WFPB dietary changes, it must be done under your doctor’s supervision as your BP and blood glucose level could drop rapidly.

            Dr. Ben




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  19. My experience of a link between eczema and diet was crystal clear. About 15-20 years ago, as a non-vegan, I got interested in the Zone Diet. I was having some positive results, but I developed, for the first time in my life, a serious eczema problem, particularly on my hands and arms. I stopped trying to follow the Zone principles, and the eczema vanished. This is admittedly anecdotal, and I cannot draw specific conclusions or reommendations. But this experience left no doubt in my mind that diet could cause or cure eczema.




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