I am hopeful that, at this stage of the game, it will not come as a total surprise that even the health and appearance of our skin is affected by microbes and the microbiome.
Many of us grew up at a time when bacteria were universally considered to be detrimental and and therefore were the targets of therapies to treat specific conditions. Acne, for example, was considered to be a disease caused by the action of a bad bacterium which was then targeted with topical and oral antibiotics, as well as various other skin sanitizing techniques. Unfortunately, to a significant degree, this mentality remains pervasive. Continue reading
Food allergies, and a specific skin condition called eczema, are rapidly increasing in the youth population. Now, in what may be the largest study of its kind ever performed, researchers are studying a woman’s diet during pregnancy, as well as duration of breast-feeding post-birth, to assess a child’s susceptibility to allergies, as well as risk for conditions like eczema and autoimmune disorders. British investigators, evaluating over 1.5 million people, have come up with some very compelling information.
The research is what’s called a meta-analysis, meaning that it is review of previous studies (over 400 in this case) involving over 1.5 million people, and dating as far back as 1946. The researchers discovered that there was a weak, but nonetheless demonstrable, relationship between breast-feeding and reduced risk of eczema during infancy, as well as reduced risk for type I diabetes. In addition, probiotics seemed to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to cow’s milk.
The data, however, was much more supportive of the relationship between taking a probiotic supplement while 36 – 38 weeks pregnant, and during the first 3 to 6 months of breast-feeding, and risk for childhood eczema. In fact, in those women taking probiotics, risk for eczema in their child was reduced by 22%. The scientist noted that most of the probiotics contained a bacterium called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Continue reading
Eczema is becoming a fairly common problem in young children. This condition is characterized by frequent outbreaks of reddened, inflamed skin with significant itching. But beyond the discomfort, it is now recognized that when children are diagnosed with eczema, they have a much greater risk of other immune issues, like persistent inflammation of the nose and eyes, as well as full-blown asthma.
It’s now become clear that the level of inflammation in the human body is determined, to a significant degree, but the health and diversity of the bacteria living in the gut. In fact, an astounding 70% of the immune cells in our bodies are clustered around the intestines!
So it’s no surprise that researchers have begun looking at ways to modify the gut bacteria in children in hopes of balancing inflammation and the immune system, specifically as this relates to eczema. Continue reading
Modern medicine is clearly vested in what I like to call the Las Vegas mentality. We’ve all heard that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” and it seems that, as it relates to medicine today, we still tend to look at illness as being uniquely related to the body system that is affected. For example, autism is thought to represent a brain disorder having to do with the development and functionality of that organ. This is despite the ever-increasing research that demonstrates significant gut abnormalities associated with this disorder. Further, a recent study has shown that giving children with asthma increased amounts of dietary fiber leads to significant improvement. This study clearly challenges the notion that asthma is specifically a lung related disorder.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder and has been described as the most common autoimmune condition in the United States. It is thought that as many as 7.5 million Americans suffer from this condition with more than 120 million people worldwide having this disease.