Sarah had experienced eczema around her eyes for five years. Although she had suffered from some minor outbreaks as a child, this eczema around her eyes had flared up suddenly at the age of 24, and had become a chronic pattern.
Eczema is a common health complaint, affecting an estimated 5-20% of children and 3-10% of adults in the UK. The number of people experiencing eczema in urban areas and developed countries is on the increase. While we are familiar with eczema symptoms and types of eczema treatment, what remains a mystery are the causes of eczema, why it occurs in the first place and why it often becomes chronic.
Don’t we already know the causes of eczema?
Many irritants have been identified as possible eczema causes, including detergents, toiletries, clothing, food sensitivities, house mites and pets. While this sounds plausible, it leaves many questions unanswered. What turns these substances from harmless to irritant (especially if the individual has experienced them long before the eczema started)? Why do different people react to different substances and why doesn’t everybody react with eczema? Most people aren’t bothered by these irritants at all!
Another factor being considered in modern medical fields is whether there is a genetic component, as skin issues like dermatitis have been found to run in families. The latest research by Dr Bruce Lipton and other epigeneticists is demonstrating that genes are not causal in 95% of dis-eases. Furthermore, our genes are not fixed: they are affected by our environment. Could sharing the same environment and beliefs as our parents count for more than our genes in predisposing us to similar health issues?
A third commonly-cited eczema cause or trigger is stress. In this article, we will go beyond current modern, complementary and alternative medical understanding by explaining for the first time how a specific type of stress causes eczema, and how there is a bio-logical meaning behind this.
What’s the latest biopsychosocial understanding?
META-Medicine® is a new healing paradigm in integrative medicine that finally explains the cause, process and meaning of health issues. It explains the mind body connection, and answers many of the puzzling questions about eczema, enabling us to understand exactly:
Why someone gets eczema – and why it isn’t a mistake
Why it appears at a specific time
Why it appears in a particular location on the body
Why it becomes chronic and flares up when it does
Once we know the why, then we can talk about eczema treatment and therapy. Knowing the specific cause enables us to choose the most effective therapies for truly overcoming the issue.
What’s the root cause of eczema?
Meta Medicine explains exactly how and why an illness starts. With the exception of poisoning and accidents, all dis-eases begin with a traumatic life event: a dramatic, emotional shock that is unexpected and leaves us temporarily stunned. Whether the shock is a major trauma, hearing bad news or simply seeing something unpleasant, the body-mind takes over, switching into fight-flight-freeze. At the same time, we experience a reaction in a specific organ. Which organ responds depends on the emotion we experience. Meta Medicine maps emotions to organs, via the brain, based on an understanding of the organ’s function. The body’s reaction is always meaningful.
So what’s the function of the epidermis (outer skin), where eczema occurs? It’s not protection – we have a much tougher skin layer for this, the dermis, which lies beneath the epidermis. The epidermis is a sensory organ. Its purpose is touch: to sense our environment and feel connected to those around us.
The type of shock preceding an epidermis issue is a separation anxiety shock: a sudden and unexpected separation from the mother, family or social group.
How can an emotional shock and stress cause eczema?
Meta Medicine reminds us that dis-ease is a process – not a label we’re stuck with forever! After a traumatic life event, or shock, the body goes into stress (Phase 1). This is where we typically experience:
Absence of appetite
Cold body (particularly fingers and toes)
Stress and tension
Compulsive thinking about the shock – attempting to resolve it mentally by thinking through what happened
In the case of the epidermis, the cells begin to decrease, causing the skin to become paler, cooler, and less sensitive
If we experience a sudden separation from a loved one, the epidermis desensitises, so that the body no longer feels the separation, and we can continue to function.
For example, consider baby eczema: an infant suddenly separated from her mother after birth may experience a separation anxiety. The baby will enter Phase 1, and her brain will direct the outer skin to de-sensitise. This process will continue until she is reunited with her mother and feels connected again.
At the moment of connection (resolution), the dis-ease process switches into Phase 2, the regeneration phase. This is where we experience:
Fatigue and tiredness
Quieter, calmer mind
Warm body and extremities
Activation of microbes – bacteria, fungi and viruses
In the case of the epidermis, it will start to regenerate and re-grow. This re-growth will be more rapid than regular skin growth, so the skin will be red, itchy and hot: what we call eczema symptoms!
What’s been labelled as the problem is actually regeneration: the problem was the preceding feeling of separation anxiety. The body-mind was responding to the emotion!
This new and revolutionary understanding helps to explain how many pharmaceutical treatments work. For example, eczema treatment like steroid creams may appear to resolve eczema, as the symptoms disappear. We now know that they put the skin back into Phase 1, in which the skin is desensitised. After approximately two years, use of steroids has to cease, because the skin becomes so thin. When treatment stops, eczema often reappears – not because the body’s making a mistake, but because it is a meaningful process! We can’t experience Phase 1 without going through Phase 2: this is how the body rebalances.
So why does eczema appear on a particular part of the body?
Why does one person get eczema around the eyes, while another gets it around the mouth or inside the upper arms? Why does it sometimes flare up in one area, then next time somewhere different? These questions are overlooked by modern medicine.
Meta Medicine explains how location is meaningful: eczema appears in the place where the individual felt the separation most strongly. The baby taken from her mother may experience a whole body eczema, as she feels totally separated. Sarah experienced a visual-separation shock. She worked abroad for six months after university. When she returned home, she expected to see her father at the airport, waiting with her mother. When she didn’t see him there, she got a huge shock! It wasn’t until several days later that she resolved the feeling, and the eczema appeared around her right eye. Other people get eczema on the head, where a loved one has stroked them; inside the arms, where they want to hold somebody close; or around the mouth, when they miss talking to someone.
Why does eczema sometimes become chronic?
Once somebody has experienced a traumatic life event and gone through the dis-ease cycle, a reminder of the original event is enough to re-trigger the separation anxiety. They don’t have to experience another trauma, just have the same feelings. For Sarah, not seeing a friend or family member when she expected to see them triggered the feeling of separation, causing a chronic eczema pattern.
This gives us a new perspective on irritants: if they are in the environment at the time of the shock, they can also become triggers. Many babies, for example, develop milk allergies when they are given cow’s milk in place of their mother’s breast. Interestingly, most cases of baby eczema resolve by age 5, as children become more comfortable with being separated from their parents and get used to different adults caring for them.
How can we use this revolutionary understanding to help ourselves and our clients?
Meta Medicine questioning reveals the specific information needed to empower a client resolve their issue, rather than simply suppressing their eczema symptoms. The Meta Medicine diagnostic process uncovers the specific separation anxiety shock the client experienced: when, where, with whom - and what re-triggers it. Using this information, we formulate a plan for overcoming the issue at all levels:
Mind – overcoming the memories, thoughts and feelings associated with the shock (in this case, separation anxiety or fear of feeling disconnected)
Body – supporting the whole body and specific organ (epidermis) to come through the two phases naturally
Spirit – helping the client to align with their higher self
Social & environmental – making real life changes to overcome the issue (for example, learning to feel comfortable with spending time alone)
Meta Medicine is a truly integrative approach that encourages understanding and healing at all levels. Most clients, like Sarah, get a huge ‘aha!’ when they finally understand their body, and begin to take control of their healing. Furthermore, Meta Medicine is meta-disciplinary: it can be learned and used by any therapist before any healing modality to pinpoint the root emotional cause and meaningful process of any health issue, and enhance the effectiveness of the therapy.
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