According to the National Eczema Foundation, roughly 31.6 million people have some form of eczema. The symptoms of this condition include itchiness, discoloration, and dry skin. In the past, harsh steroidal creams were the gold standard for eczema treatment. But there's got to be a more effective way to heal the skin, right?
Thankfully, we're out of the dark ages and into an all-natural era of skin care. Today, alternative therapies abound, including clinically-tested cannabis ointments and DIY home remedies like oatmeal baths.
1. Anti-inflammatory Diet<p>Reducing inflammation and reversing eczema starts with the food you eat, especially when it comes to atopic dermatitis, which is rooted in an overactive immune system.</p><p>Eat more anti-inflammatory foods like:</p><ul><li>Omega-3 foods: the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28900017" target="_blank">omega-3 fatty acids</a> EPA and DHA are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce inflammation in the gut, joints, brain, and skin. The best natural sources of omega-3s are wild-caught salmon, sardines, and fish oil. </li><li>High-fiber vegetables: produce like artichokes, raw garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, and dense leafy greens feed healthy gut bacteria and reduce intestinal inflammation.</li><li>Probiotics: probiotics are living bacterial cultures that reinforce the gut lining and protect the bloodstream from inflammatory agents.</li><li>Collagen: collagen supplements and bone broth can strengthen the skin matrix and rejuvenate damaged skin cells. It's also a powerful nutrient for healing the gut lining.</li><li>Vitamin A-rich foods: yellow and orange vegetables like carrots are high in vitamin A and are great for skin health.</li></ul><p>Avoid inflammatory foods like:</p><ul><li>Fried foods: canola and safflower oil from deep-fried foods promotes inflammation.</li><li>Sugar: processed sugar feeds unhealthy gut bacteria and promotes inflammation throughout the body.</li><li>Additives: additives in processed foods are known to exacerbate eczema.</li><li>Dairy: products like cheese and milk are difficult to process and tend to promote inflammation, especially in people with autoimmune conditions.</li><li>Gluten: <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29202198" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removing gluten can improve autoimmune conditions</a> like eczema. </li></ul>
2. Sun Exposure (Phototherapy)<p>Sun exposure and phototherapy are proven to calm inflammation and reduce itching. UVB spectrum light helps the skin fight bacteria, boosts vitamin D production, and may help prevent eczema flares.</p><p>Just 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day may be all it takes to mitigate symptoms and speed healing. One <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19755951" target="_blank">recent study</a> found that 74.4% of patients had complete resolution of eczema symptoms during the sunny summer months.</p>
3. Vitamin D<p>During winter in the Northern hemisphere, you might not have access to sunlight or phototherapy. That's unfortunate, because <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23751100" target="_blank">vitamin D3 deficiency can compromise the immune system</a> and increase the risk of eczema. (5)</p><p>Luckily, you can still reduce the risk of eczema by supplementing with vitamin D.</p><p>Taking 2,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily can support the skin's natural ability to fight inflammation. Another option is to eat foods that contain vitamin D, like sardines, salmon, and cod liver oil, all of which are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.</p>
4. CBD Ointments and Creams<p>As cannabis and cannabinoid use becomes more common, the broad medicinal benefits of non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol) have been gaining widespread attention. New research also shows that it may deliver eczema relief to some patients.</p><p>For example, a 2019 publication in the medical journal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6429381/" target="_blank"><em>Molecules</em></a> confirms that "… cutaneous cannabinoid signaling is deeply involved in the maintenance of skin homeostasis, barrier formation and regeneration, and its dysregulation was implicated to contribute to several highly prevalent diseases and disorders, e.g., atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, scleroderma, acne…" </p><p>In other words, the skin contains natural receptor sites for phytocannabinoids like CBD, which at least partially explains its therapeutic potential.</p><p>Another <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30993303" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019 study</a> found that topical CBD ointment, without THC, had therapeutic effects in inflammatory skin conditions and cutaneous scars. </p>
5. Therapeutic Oils<p>Moisturizing oils like coconut oil and essential oils like lavender and primrose are proven to reduce symptoms associated with eczema and protect the skin.</p><p>Primrose in particular contains high levels of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which may account for its <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3890448/" target="_blank">benefits in treating atopic dermatitis</a>. </p><p>At the same time, lavender essential oil may help reduce the mental health conditions associated with eczema. For example, <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/heart-disease-risks-common-in-people-with-eczema" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Harvard Medical School</a> found that people with eczema have higher rates of anxiety and insomnia. They also exercise less and drink more alcohol. </p>
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According to the UN Environment Program, up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used globally each year, and because of the material they're made from, most municipal recycling centers don't accept them (more on this below).
The most sustainable option is to skip the bag altogether. You can also make your own reusable produce bags out of old T-shirts. But if you'd rather purchase them new, here are our recommendations for the best reusable produce bags on the market today.
Eco Joy<p>If you're making the switch to more sustainable shopping bags and want a variety of products to use, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Sandwich-Biodegradable-Eco-Drawstring/dp/B003PK4W3I/ref=sr_1_36?crid=3TDUCB8ZOM7WI&dchild=1&keywords=produce+bags+grocery+reusable&qid=1613484643&sprefix=produce+bags%2Caps%2C189&sr=8-36" target="_blank">Eco Joy Cotton Reusable Produce Bags</a> set is a great place to start. The set comes with three mesh drawstring bags, three muslin drawstring bags, a large mesh tote and a zippered sandwich-size pouch.</p><p>Each product is made with organic, non-GMO cotton that's ethically sourced in accordance with Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) standards. The cotton comes from India and Turkey, and the bags are hand-assembled in Canada by the owner of Eco Joy, so you can feel good about supporting a small business while reducing your environmental impact.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 300 Amazon reviews</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Zero-waste; Handmade in Canada; WRAP compliant; Machine washable</p>
Organic Cotton Mart<p>Some shoppers prefer to use mesh bags when shopping for fruits and veggies. We recommend checking out <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Best-Reusable-Produce-Organic-Cotton/dp/B07CK2TJKL/ref=sr_1_16?crid=10A7NM0LQ0B7E&dchild=1&keywords=mesh+produce+bags&qid=1613483897&s=home-garden&sprefix=mesh+pro%2Cgarden%2C162&sr=1-16" target="_blank">Organic Cotton Mart's Reusable Cotton Mesh Produce Bags</a> if you're in this camp, as they're made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton.</p> <p>Mesh reusable produce bags can make the checkout process easier than muslin bags since you can see what's inside them without having to open them up. Plus, the tare weight (i.e., the weight of the empty bag that should be subtracted from the total weight of your produce to make sure you don't pay extra for using your bag) is printed right on the label of Organic Cotton Mart's bags, making everything that much more convenient.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.6 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable
Simple Ecology<p>On the other hand, if you just want to purchase muslin bags, we like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Ecology-Reusable-Organic-Shopping/dp/B004UJ0U0C" target="_blank">Simple Ecology's Reusable Produce Bags</a>, which are also made with GOTS-certified organic cotton. Simple Ecology also has a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6AUMBG/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01N6AUMBG&pd_rd_w=MA3ZS&pf_rd_p=cbc856ed-1371-4f23-b89d-d3fb30edf66d&pd_rd_wg=hVunQ&pf_rd_r=G6RTQ1Z5DKEY325MAJZ9&pd_rd_r=5d298b3a-1be7-4ebd-a9e1-d5d672a40497&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExMzc4RVAxWjNLOTdCJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTc0NTAwMzBDMjFYOVJPTUpWSCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjYyOTM4M0s4Vk81SVBPS1NFSyZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbF90aGVtYXRpYyZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=" target="_blank">starter kit</a> that comes with several reusable grocery bags if you're looking for more variety.</p> <p>The benefit of using muslin reusable produce bags is that, unlike mesh, there are no holes for small items to slip through. This means that in addition to larger produce, you can use them to purchase bulk foods like lentils, beans and rice — or even powders like flour or spices — without worrying about anything leaking. They're also best for keeping leafy greens fresh.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,500 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified packaging when purchased from manufacturer
ECOBAGS<p>Whether you're buying bread, fresh flowers, produce or all of the above, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/ECOBAGS-Market-Collection-Reusable-Natural/dp/B08KFGPGN5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ECOBAGS Market Collection Reusable Bag Set</a> is ideal for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/farmers-markets-coronavirus-safety-2645581711.html" target="_self">farmers market</a> shopping or large grocery hauls. The netted bags are durable, flexible, and pack down small so they're easy to keep in your car or purse.</p> <p>ECOBAGS is a woman-owned certified B Corp, which means it uses sound social and environmental practices. These bags come in packs of three or five and have a few different handle lengths and color options, but they're all made with GOTS-certified organic cotton.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating: </strong>Not applicable</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Certified B Corp; SA8000 certified for the protection of basic human rights of workers</p>