These years of journeying down the eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (tsw) path with my two warriors, we have consulted with countless general practitioners, pediatricians, dermatologists and other specialists of the like, traditional chinese medicine (tcm) practitioners, and a homeopathy practitioner. Oh and not forgetting Google, you would be surprised at how good a doctor it can be!
Before I discuss our views on conventional medicine vs alternative medicine for eczema, let me start with this story…
The story of the blocked tear ducts
From infancy, my son J always had gunk on the inside corners of both his eyes. His pediatrician said it was caused by blocked tear ducts, which was common among babies. They would usually outgrow it by 1 year old. The tissue that blocked the ducts would not pose anymore problems as he grew. But if it did not not resolve on its own, he would have to undergo a surgery to help unblock the tear ducts.
So everyday, we cleaned out all the sticky whitish, sometimes yellowish, mucus that would accumulate, multiple times a day. We had to take care to prevent infection. Every single day, we also religiously carried out a massage routine, to help promote drainage in the tear ducts. With the index finger, sweep downward firmly from the inside corner of the eye, down along the side of the nose, until the corner of the nose.
J’s one year birthday came and went. The problem was still there. He hadn’t outgrown it. His pediatrician referred us to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, who urged us to let him undergo the surgery that would unblock his tear ducts, as the success rate drops as the child grows older, and surgical probing may need to be repeated if the first or subsequent attempts were not successful. Moreover, she also told us that beyond one year old, it was unlikely for the issue to resolve on its own, so there was no point in waiting further.
We were very reluctant to put such a young child under general anesthesia. So we kept delaying the procedure. Then it was timely that the whole family moved temporarily to a foreign land as my husband decided to pursue his studies there. That gave us the excuse to shelf the procedure for one and a half years, until we came back.
Meanwhile, we continued to massage his tear ducts almost everyday. After he turned two, we realised that the blockage had improved, the gunk that accumulated each day was not as much as before, there were even some clear days. Slowly, over some weeks and months, the problem completely resolved on its own! We saved him and ourselves the agony and trauma of a surgery under general anesthesia, and also saved the hole in our pocket.
As a young and inexperienced parent, that was my first major encounter with conventional treatment and doctors’ advice not working for us in the best way possible.
Conventional treatment targets the symptoms
J has had to deal with eczema since very young, but the problem exacerbated when he was around 5 to 6 years old. My daughter M had itchy skin since the day she was born, and she broke out into a full-blown rash and inflamed skin right after her 1 year old vaccination.
I have detailed their painful and itchy eczema journey in these posts:
So I won’t be dwelling too much on it here. The point I would like to make is this: the conventional medicine way to treating eczema (and any other condition, for that matter) is to target the symptoms.
Have rashes and itch? Apply steroid to stop the inflammation.
Have running nose? Take this to dry up the mucus. Have cough? Take that to suppress it. Have fever? Take this alternate with that every 3 hours, to bring down the temperature. Have infection? Take antibiotics to wipe out the entire microbial population, no time to differentiate the good guys from the bad!
High blood pressure? Bring it down instantly! High cholestrol? Here, take these that will lower your cholestrol but kill your liver, that will give some business to the liver specialist down the corridor anyway. Cancer? Wipe them out, including the vitality of your life.
Conventional medicine and treatment tend to leave people very happy, as problems seem to be resolved instantly when the symptoms disappear. But of course the root cause of the problem never did disappear, so the symptoms keep coming back. And we keep going back to conventional medicine, which earns from our ailments for the rest of our lives, and yet we are not better off, but just managing and controlling the symptoms so we can get by.
So this is why we prefer alternative treatment
In the case of eczema, the causes are varied and many. As long as we don’t get to the root cause of the problem, the symptoms will keep presenting themselves. Using steroid to cover up the inflammation only poses more problems as it is a synthetic hormone.
Messing around with our hormones can be dangerous, since hormones are responsible for many functions within our bodies that ensure our survival. It can wreak havoc and create a systemic upheaval, things can then get ugly and out of control.
The skin is our largest organ. And the body considers it not as essential as the other major organs for our survival. So issues from within will surface on our skin. Toxins that our liver and kidneys cannot handle will get pushed out through the skin.
Eczema is not a skin problem. It is a presentation of deeper problems like unhealthy gut, allergies, and immune system disorders. Strengthen your gut, remove all the allergens from your diet and environment, boost up your immunity, and you’re on the road to recovery.
It’s easier said than done, as all these take time. Even identifying the root cause of your eczema can be such a time-consuming and draining endeavour, full of trials and errors, lots of research, finding support from communities of like-symptoms people, etc.
And very importantly, finding support from naturopaths, homeopaths, whatever paths you call it, who believe in natural healing, and will provide the ingredients that the body needs to boost its healing ability. Whether you use NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques) to alleviate your allergies, or chinese herbs and acupuncture to restore balance in your organs, or meditation and yoga to rejuvenate your soul, or homeopathic elements and minerals to stimulate your body towards deeper healing, or gluten free diet to soothe your gut, you are going to the root cause of the problem, and treating it from inside out.
So, this is why we prefer alternative treatment.
Conventional medicine still has its place
Yes, it certainly does. I’m not here to negate all the wonderful feats accomplished by conventional medicine and its advancement. Treating symptoms certainly makes us feel better, relieves the pain and discomfort, and brings our bodies to a better position to heal ourselves. Without the antibiotics, some of us would have succumbed to the infections. Without the paracetamol, we would have sleepless nights as the baby cries and fusses through the night.
Conventional medicine has saved us on many fronts. On bigger health issues, countless lives have been saved, through heart bypass surgeries, stem cell transplants, knee replacements, slipped disc surgeries, caesarean procedure for childbirth, etc.
So, we cannot deny the place of conventional medicine in alleviating suffering and saving lives. That would be too big an injustice.
The point here is, there is a place for everything. Looking for control of ailments or physical procedures that can save lives, conventional medicine has not seen more advancement than now. But if you’re looking for cure and prevention, healing from inside out, then alternative medicine is the way to go.
Believe in the body’s ability to heal itself
We can never defy nature nor cheat nature. We are the miraculous works of nature, and we have to believe that our bodies have the ability to heal themselves. Whether we provide what the body needs or not, that is the question.
If we choose to carry on our unhealthy ways of binging on fried food, sugar and other junk, there is no way those dying cells are going to reverse whatever is ailing us. On top of that, we load the failing body with synthetic drugs, in a bid to control the high cholestrol and heart diseases that were caused by the junk food in the first place.
However, if we take care of ourselves by loading our bodies with all the nutrients and minerals they need to heal themselves, even cancer and other life-threatening conditions can be reversed.
So look for the root cause of the problem, support your body to heal from inside out, seek whatever help you need from alternative treatment by finding one that resonates with you. Then give it time, time and more time. And the faith that your body will do its own work.