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Alice’s Healing Story – Inspired by Eczema

Posted Mar 08 2012 7:30am

If you are looking for a natural cure for eczema and ready to explore alternative, complementary, and holistic healing for eczema, read on. We appreciate Alice Braga sharing the story of her healing journey inspired by…eczema.

By Alice Braga of A Rosy Outlook

Eczema’s not pretty, but it’s a pretty good teacher.

For starters, it has a digestive connection. Climate, stress, and the outcome of Dancing with the Stars may contribute to the skin condition, but diet has a lot to do with it.

It took me 30 years and almost as many dermatologists and allergists to find this out after asking an acupuncturist about it. Not that I’m bitter about the delayed enlightenment. Bitterness would only exacerbate the eczema, and I’m not interested in that.

From kindergarten onward, I used creams and ointments to suppress the symptoms, which include “weeping,” swelling, and Dante-couldn’t-have-dreamt-this-up itching. The strongest concoctions came with warnings not to use them while pregnant or nursing, which makes you wonder what they were doing to me besides clearing up the skin on my hands.

When my prescription ran out in 2007, I heard a whisper to stop using the creams. I wanted lasting healing, and taking fewer showers wasn’t the way I wanted to go about it. A dermatologist in sunny, humid Florida once suggested that to me. And also to use coal tar shampoo.

Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, says symptoms of disease are often signs of a calling and that when we are not well, we ought to ask, “What dream is trying to come through?”

I did wonder what I was “itching” to do. I also wondered if the discipline of not scratching my skin was helping me not scratch the “itch” to accept every invitation that came my way, keeping too busy to notice what really needed attention in my life, like my addiction to sugar, approval and other ego-based “itches” the Buddhists call shenpa.

When I brought up the notion of eczema as metaphor to naturopath-acupuncturist Dr. Clara Barnett, she encouraged me to record my theories. In my journal, I marveled at how quickly her needles could take me from fight-or-flight tension to rest-and-digest tranquility that seemed to last for days. I was also in awe of how many different conditions acupuncture could treat. As my current practitioner Douglas Knapp says, “If you have a broken bone, you go to Western medicine. If you have a chronic condition, you go to Chinese medicine.”

If only I could walk around with needles in me all the time. Living in New York, I could probably get away with it. My fellow straphangers would just think I’m in a band from the East Village and resume reading Eat, Pray, Love, one of the books that came to me during my holistic awakening. In the memoir, Ketut, a Balinese medicine man, had the perfect message for me: smile when you meditate, and that includes your liver. I couldn’t help but smile just reading that. Elizabeth Gilbert’s prose often made me laugh out loud, and that’s when I realized what I’d really been itching to do: laugh!

A carefree, not-worrying-about-my-daughter’s-chronic-digestive-condition kind of laugh. A healthy I-can-touch-baby-wipes-and-use-any-kind-of-hand-soap guffaw. An I just-watched-two-episodes-of-30-Rock-back-to-back-while-my-healthy-girl-sleeps-soundly chuckle.

For the record, 30 Rock and the mere sight of Alec Baldwin were the core of my self-imposed laughter therapy , which complemented yoga classes , Chinese herbs , and a Feng Shui consultation, which may have illuminated the final piece of the wellness puzzle for both my daughter and me: a properly combined, mostly vegan diet.

Sure, my skin is still drier than the average bear – or lizard – and I need to rotate my foods regularly and be extra mindful of stress in the winter, but my symptoms are essentially gone.

Do I wish that my daughter, who also receives acupuncture, and I didn’t have to literally “gut” out so many treatments before discovering this way of life? Yes, but I prefer to focus on the gifts like the spiritual endurance I’ve developed and the compassion I feel for others who have experienced what we have and worse. I also love being able to share our success stories with other families seeking alternatives to Western remedies.

Healing notwithstanding, my laughter therapy is still in place, as is writing stories like this one, something I’d stopped doing when I immersed myself in music and motherhood. It’s enough to make all my organs and hopefully yours, smile.

By Alice Braga of  A Rosy Outlook

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