L. Plantarum Cured My Eczema

I’ve got an exciting personal experiment to report on.

Some time in the past decade, I developed a very troubling case of hand eczema that is mostly triggered by cold, dry weather in the fall and winter. It can also flare up when I do a lot of cleaning — when my hands are exposed to a lot of water and soap, which are very drying. It results in patches of painful, red, itchy, inflamed, dry skin covering most of my hands. If you know anything about eczema — also referred to as atopic dermatitis — you know that it’s very different from your run of the mill “dry skin.” In fact it’s a completely different thing — it’s an inflammatory byproduct of an overactive/abnormal immune response. Like an allergy, but on your hands. In my case, I’ve determined that a certain level of dryness is required to trigger this response — hence the weather and cleaning triggers. The dryness allows something in the environment — things that should usually be benign like dust or pollen — to trigger the overactive response.

I initially treated this the same way most people do — go to a dermatologist and have them prescribe a steroid-based cream. But as I learned more about what eczema actually is, I decided this was an absurd way to treat it — essentially nuking your skin with steroids, which have nothing at all to do with the pathogenesis of eczema, to make it simply stop producing more skin. At best it treated the symptoms, and it had side effects that didn’t seem very worth it (is there anything creepier than “skin thinning”? It’s like out of a horror movie). Given that dermatologists have a monopoly on prescribing steroid creams, I figured they were probably more useful to them than they were to me. So I just lived with it.

But a funny thing happened. Over the past couple of years,  it stopped happening. But I didn’t actually realize it stopped happening until this fall, when it came back. It was quite a shock — I had completely forgotten about it. But as soon as the weather began to turn cold and dry, it hit hard. Nothing had significantly changed about my environment this year compared to the past few. So then I started to think about diet. But I had not made any dietary changes in the past year or two. And then it occurred to me — I actually did, and very recently. In September I decided to stop consuming a few staple fermented/probiotic foods that I have steadily consumed for the past couple of years — sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. The kombucha was much less frequent — probably a few times a month. But sauerkraut or kimchi were consumed almost daily. I decided to stop them all to see if it made any real difference in how I felt. And for a while I didn’t notice anything. But then fall came, and so did the dry, cold weather. And then the eczema. And I also realized that the last time I had eczema was the winter right before I began regularly consuming these foods. Was there a connection?

I decided to focus on kimchi and sauerkraut, as I consumed them much more frequently than kombucha. And I already knew what the “active ingredient” in these foods would be — fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kim chi are dominated by the bacterial species Lactobacillus plantarum. In addition to this, I knew that, unlike the commensal bacteria that take up residence in our gut, the primary mechanism of action that exogenous bacteria from fermented foods have in the human body is immune system modulation as they pass through. And again, eczema is a product of abnormal immune response. If sauerkraut & kimchi were responsible for the abatement in my eczema, then it was the L. plantarum and its immunomodulating effects.

Well, after multiple flares over the past few months, I finally got around to testing this hypothesis out.

I searched around and was able to find a probiotic supplement that was solely composed of isolated L. plantarum (it’s marketed as a digestive aid, but I ignored that). I then waited for my eczema to flare up again. As soon as it did, I began taking the L. plantarum. Within three days, the eczema had completely disappeared. This would usually be when the eczema actually gets worse. It usually has about a 2 week cycle before the active inflammation completely subsides. I’ve never seen it disappear like this. Usually at this point, hand washing would be painful and exacerbate it. Now I could hand wash with abandon. Even more amazing: I was able to walk around outside during a particularly cold spell without gloves, and did not have any exacerbation or return of the symptoms whatsoever. Being able to do these things three days into a flare up is unheard of. My hands now feel completely impervious to the triggers. Something has clearly interrupted the inflammatory response.

Following this discovery, I searched around and actually found a tiny handful of studies that support the effect of L. plantarum on eczema:

  • Two separate studies showed L. plantarum inhibiting house-dust-mite-induced eczema in mice.
  • Another study found a similar effect — L. plantarum inhibited allergic reaction and histamine-induced scratching (which is a hallmark symptom of eczema) in mice. It concluded that L. plantarum “may improve allergic diseases, such as anaphylaxis, atopic dermatitis, rhinitis, and pruritus…”
  • L. plantarum was successfully used as a vaccine against dust mite allergy in mice.
  • And based on the promising results in these mouse studies, a human study was done to see if L. plantarum had an effect. It did. The study looked at 118 children with eczema, and found that in the group given L. plantarum, the bacteria was seen to have a beneficial effect.

In all of these studies, L. plantarum led to inhibition of allergy & dermatitis through immunologic alteration. Exactly as I predicted would happen to me. I did not know these studies existed until after my own experiment. The fact that they corroborate my own experience is quite compelling.

If anyone else out there has this issue, consider giving this a try and reporting back. I’m really curious to see if it works for other people. I also think it must hold some potential for alleviating environmental allergies. I plan to post an update looking more deeply into how L. plantarum is having this effect, as I think there is a lot more to be learned from this.

And a final note. This all goes to show that probiotics/fermented foods certainly do have their place in gut health, but in a very different way than fermentable fiber consumption. Contrary to what many believe, probiotics and fermented foods will not significantly alter the bacterial composition of your microbiome. As these studies indicate, and my experience shows, the bacteria and their beneficial effects are undetected once consumption ceases.

Which makes sense.

As I said, the main mechanism of action for exogenous bacteria is through immune modulation as they pass through — a fundamental principle of the “Hygiene Hypothesis,” which contends that humans evolved to have regular exposure to bacteria from foods, soil, animals, and the environment to the extent that these bacteria became a fundamental part of our immune system. They don’t take up residence, they are merely tourists exploring a vast jungle. But like any deep pocketed traveler, they have beneficial effects as they pass through. A steady, constant exposure is the key.

In the case of our resident, commensal gut bacteria, it’s a very different ballgame. In this instance, we’re looking to modulate a rainforest teeming with flora numbering over 100 trillion. Do you really think parachuting in a few billion foreign flora, who don’t even consider this their home, is going to significantly affect this ecosystem? Or does it make more sense to, say, make it rain 50% more in a given month?

Want to alter your microbiome? Make it rain. Consume plant fiber.

But if you have an annoying case of eczema, you might want to host a few more jungle tours.

— Heisenbug

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105 thoughts on “L. Plantarum Cured My Eczema

  1. For a couple of days now it has been very cold in Vienna. Yesterday -10°C (14°F) and very dry. I got the exact reaction you are describing on my hands and upper lip.
    Since starting with RS and more fiber in my diet (it has been roughly a week) I’ve been having some probiotics as well (mostly kombucha and kefir). I have to see if sauerkraut intake reduces the symptoms. Quite funny you write this post the exact same day I have such skin reaction.

    • Drini, where do you get kombucha and kefir in Vienna, or do you make your own? (I also live there currently). The only kombucha I’ve seen is Carpe Diem, and I don’t think it has live probiotics as they don’t even need to refrigerate it. I’ve even had trouble getting live-bacteria sauerkraut, most are either pasteurised or fake sauerkraut made with vinegar rather than fermented. Some health food shops seems to stock the real stuff. I’d appreciate any guidance you can offer. Thanks (and thanks Mr Heisenbug, you’re doing great work!)

      • You can easily make your own if you can get a scoby (for kombucha) and grains (for kefir). People who make their own are very willing to share. It’s much cheaper, has more probiotics and tastes better than bought. And you can make sauerkraut easily with just cabbage and salt.

      • Oh yeah, I don’t get to the Naschmarkt often, but that’s probably the real thing and worth the trip. Thanks.

      • Hi GB, Mr. Heisenbug is spot on. The Sauerkraut at Nachmarkt is the real deal. The guy who sells it is a legend in Vienna –> http://unlike.net/vienna/shop/gurken-leo.
        I buy the Kombucha at Denn’s, which is a bio-supermarket, but I’m not really sure the kombucha they have is unpasteurized. They used to have another sort, which stated on the label unpasteurized, but for some reason they discontinued it. I also buy raw milk at Denn’s. I have a question for you. It appears that in Austria, all bio-honey is raw, i.e. unpasteurized. Can you confirm this? Thanks a lot.

      • Thank Drini and Bernhard! Drini, I’m not sure about the honey situation, I look for the German words for either ‘raw’ or ‘pasteurized’ but most don’t say either, so I can’t confirm either way (my German isn’t great). Sorry. Time for a visit to the Naschmarkt and Denns. Thanks again.
        Heisenbug, you’re obviously trending in Austria. Sorry for hijacking the comments page this week 🙂

  2. Very interesting post. For the last 9 months or so my dog has come out with an allergic reaction to something (still haven’t figured out what). Having restricted his diet, and giving his various oils etc to combat the flaring up of his skin, we still haven’t fixed the problem. Perhaps giving him a L. plantarum supplement would be a better thing to try…

    • Chris, of course I don’t know if this will help you and your dog, but we just went thru a nasty skin rash with our dog. I tried lots of creams, oils, etc., but what worked was adding 1/2-teaspoon white vinegar to each cup of his drinking water. Over two weeks, the rash eased off and then disappeared entirely. My guess is that the rash was a yeast infection. Can’t hurt, might help. Good luck.

      • Thanks Susan – that might be worth a shot too. The vet thinks it’s an allergic reaction to something, but I have no idea what it could be. The tests to find out are expensive and not always conclusive, so I’m not too keen to jump in for those. I’ll give the vinegar a go and see if it helps. Thank you.

  3. I’ve had major issues with eczema on my left hand since I was 13. Since starting a semi paleo diet 3 years ago the flare were greatly reduced. I did however still have 1 knuckle that would flare up in the winter and basically stay a hard calloused patch until spring. This year with RS supplementation the knuckle is better but not 100%. I’m a kombucha home brewer so I drink it regularly but I almost never eat real sauerkraut or kimchi. I’ll try getting a jar of Bubbies and see if it helps clear up the knuckle.

    • Great, would love to know how it goes. Small thing: I usually avoid Bubbie’s because it is heated during the manufacturing process and not technically “raw,” which results in some loss of live bacteria (they say around 10%). If it’s the only option then it’s certainly still worth it, but if you can find a raw, unheated option, you might want to opt for that.

      • There’s actually a new option at my Whole Foods that I’ve been meaning to try. I can’t remember the name but it’s in a bag and they have 3 different flavors (caraway seed, jalapeno and something else (probably plain)).

      • Day 1 – all I’ve learned so far is that the Farmhouse brand is awesome and luckily on sale. Bubbies might as we’ll be toilet kraut.

      • Day 5 – I’m eating 4-5 fork loads of the Farmhouse kraut per day and I believe that my knuckle has improved a small amount. I’m also keeping an eye on my ankles. They get dry and scaly in the winter and I never even thought of it being eczema related. There has been no improvement so far.

      • Day – 9 – I finished off the first bag of Farmhouse (22oz) and drank the juice. A couple of hours after downing the juice I have some bathroom issues but it was short lived. It may have been caused by the fact that I ate corn chips for the first time in 2 years. I’ll see if I can recreate it when I get to the bottom of bag #2. As for the eczema, I don’t believe that there has been any significant improvement on my hand or my ankles. We did get hit by extreme cold this past week. My plan is to try the supplement after I finish bag #2.

      • I’m basically 3 weeks into the kraut experiment and I believe that it’s been a failure. Minor changes/improvements to my hand that can easily be explained by a major weather improvement (0 degrees at the beginning of the test and 60 degrees yesterday). Today was day 1 with the actual L. Plantarum supplement. I’ll keep you updated now that I’m in phase 2.

      • Another thing that I forgot to mention. I’ve had a weird uptick in anxiety. I get the occasional anxiety and never really put much thought into it. I figure sometimes it’s work, or the lack of time in the sun. Either way the past week has been an odd feeling. I also feel like my sleep has been poor but at the same time I feel rested and my workouts have been very good.

      • Final report – Two bags of sauerkraut and over a 1/3 of the way through the recommended L. Plantarum supplement and no difference in my hand or ankles. This leads me to believe that neither are eczema. My actual eczema disappeared when I started paleo and only comes back when I’m bad.

  4. I had not had it diagnosed, but for the last 10 years or more I’ve suffered from the same symptoms. Very painful. I thought it was just insanely dry skin caused by the dry winter air, but maybe I had/have eczema too. Heck, everyone else in our house does by diagnosis.

    Until this year. Despite the colder than normal temps, I have not had any problems with my hands. Maybe they are a little dry (fixed with oil), but no open painful cracks like previous years. It’s been wonderful!

    Since last year, I’ve changed so many things about my diet. Went mostly paleo. I do the resistant starch thing. Eat per Jeff Leach’s recommendations. I do not have an organized program of eating probiotic foods, but I do eat them a least a few times per week. I made my own sauerkraut and pickled okra. I’ll take an occasional bite of South River dandelion leek miso. And I love housemade scallion kimchi and leek kimchi made by a local Korean store.

    My perhaps naive thoughts is that there might be some connection to how the body utilizes ingested fats. My hands seem less dry when I eat more fat. Or that might just be normal now that the possible eczema has cleared.

  5. It just occurred to me to clarify two points. I never ate probiotic foods until this winter, so kimchi and sauerkraut are new to my diet. Also, nobody else in my house eats sauerkraut and kimchi, and they are currently suffering diagnosed eczema. I’ll fix that! They do eat other probiotic foods like kefir and yogurt. This interesting. Thank you for your posts.

      • I’ve only been able to work with one person, but I can say after 5 days of radish kimchi that the eczema in that person is very clearly receding and, in a few spots, is completely gone. From prior experience, it would not have done this on its own. This person also did not use any of the usual medical remedies.

        A doctor has told us that there is a connection between the eczema and occasional asthma in this case. Do you have any idea if a daily kimchi dose might alleviate or stop asthma long term?

      • Wilbur, that’s fantastic news! Please keep us updated.

        Re: asthma — yes, very possible! Allergies are a major cause of asthma. It’s an immune reaction, just like eczema. Dust mites are a leading cause of asthma. The studies I wrote about tested L. plantarum on exactly that — dust-mite allergies. That’s because they can cause eczema, too. So the two are very similar and related. I would not at all be surprised if kimchi had an effect on asthma.

      • We’ve had an odd set of results. Patient 1 described above does indeed have receding eczema except that we noticed a new patch today. It’s possible we missed it before, but I don’t know how. Patient 2 has seen no effects from kimchi, and a new patch appeared today. I, on the other hand, have the best skin I’ve had in many years. That dryness on my hands is now gone. I’ve had to use face moisturizer for a LONG time every day. If I missed a day, my skin would be tight, burning, and red. I remember once missing a day and everyone at the office was terribly concerned about my health. Well, I haven’t used the moisturizer now for several days. My face even looks different in the mirror. Healthier. I’m eating scallion kimchi or leek kimchi a couple times per day. I like it, and it’s a good source of fiber.

        Both the other patients are also experiencing issues with possible colds and asthma. We’ll keep things going and take a longer view. Besides, they have stopped commenting on my kimchi breath now that they are eating it too!

      • Glad to hear of the progress. I wonder if I would’ve achieved such quick progress if I used the foods instead of a pill. Perhaps it takes longer with food. Who knows. I can see a cold affecting things as well, considering this is all an immune system “hack.” Thanks for helping to sort this all out, and feel free to let us know how things progress.

    • Lots to Kimchi.
      Read on this blog about ongoing experiment to cure Sinusitis: http://lactobacto.com/category/sinusitis/
      Lactobacillus Sakei from Kimchi is thought to be the beneficial strain in this case.
      It does work on airways, we have started a trial on this as well and it does clear airways. You just need to get used to have Kimchi juice and the spices in your nose. Pax.

      • This is a fun link. Thanks! There is some general hesitation at putting kimchi juice in the nose. Do you think there are other options? Maybe smelling the kimchi while stirring? I personally do not understand the hesitation. Really, we’ve all picked our noses, right? Who makes a special effort to clean their hands beforehand? I’d bet most would stick their finger up their nose right now with little hesitation. The stuff in kimchi can’t be worse that whatever random stuff is on our hands.

        Also, I fail to understand the reluctance of the people in the link to using fish sauce. As I understand, that’s an integral part of kimchi and possibly a source of the special bacterium.

  6. I’ve been interested in making homemade kimchi so I’m definitely going to give it a try. Just curious as to which product you tried. I’ve seen Ideal Bowel Support 299v by Jarrow which has 10 billion per tablet. Is this what you used or is it similar? So glad to hear you found what works!

      • Thanks! I may try this on my daughter who has been having odd patches of itchy dry skin on her torso. I’ll eat kimchi but she’s away at college and doesn’t have access to raw, fermented food.

    • I was thinking about replying to your comment about raw fermented foods being unavailable to your daughter, but decided my comments would not be particularly useful to you. Then I realized that my earlier comment about how often I eat probiotic foods might not accurately reflect reality.

      Anyway, my comments were going to be that one can easily make their own raw fermented stuff. For instance, with a bottle of water, non-iodized salt, a head of garlic, and a glass jar, one can make pickled garlic in about a week. That will last at least a week nonrefrigerated, depending on ambient temperatures. Rotated, this is an easy and healthful source of raw fermented food. Sauerkraut is just cabbage, salt, and water left on the counter for 2-3 months. Kraut-chi is sauerkraut with ginger, garlic, and chiles. True kimchi is more complicated according to my understanding.

      This stuff is all edible for many months and, by design, does not require refrigeration. I would taste my sauerkraut daily starting from about one month until i refrigerated it 2 months later. I got to taste the progression in flavors as it “matured.” The same was true for pickled okra, which matured in days rather than months.

      On a trip, I’d think nothing of putting a jar of pickled okra or sauerkraut in my luggage with no thought of refrigeration for several days, provided the ambient temps were reasonable.

      Like I said, this does not seem to be particularly useful to your daughter’s immediate skin problem. But it does remind that around the start of cold weater, I WAS tasting my creations every day. So despite my earlier claim that I am an irregular eater of probiotic foods, when it mattered I was a daily eater. Just in case it matters…

      • Wilbur, when you make sauerkraut,you really leave it out for 2-3 months? I’ve never left sauerkraut out for that long. Maybe 1.5 months at max. In fact, most sites recommend start eating after a couple of weeks. What’s the benefit of extended fermentation and what do you do with the top layer? Remove it or eat it? Sometimes I leave my kvass out for 4 weeks but I always remove that top layer which forms.

      • It’s very much temperature dependent. I have a pretty cold basement (60 d f). I go by taste. I blend chile peppers, garlic, tomato, etc. and keep that at room temp in the basement for two months or so. I just scoop off any mold or discolored veggies from the top.

      • Don Diego. Here’s more information about the temperature dependence of the process:
        “Effect of Fermentation Temperature

        The best quality sauerkraut is produced at 65-72° F (18-22° C) temperatures. Temperatures 45.5° F (7.5° C) to 65° F (18° C) favor the growth and metabolism of L.mesenteroides. Temperatures higher than 72° F (22° C) favor the growth of Lactobacillus species. Generally, lower temperatures produce higher quality sauerkraut, although at 45.5° F (7.5° C) bacteria are growing so slow that the cabbage might need 6 months to complete fermentation. Higher temperatures produce sauerkraut in 7-10 days but of the lesser quality. This creates such a fast fermentation that some types of lactic acid bacteria don’t grow at all and less reaction take place inside what results in a less complex flavor.

        Below 45.5° F (7.5° C) fermentation time is up to 6 months.
        At 65° F (18° C) fermentation time is 20 days.
        At 90-96° F (32-36° C) fermentation time is 10 days.”

        Excerpt taken from: https://www.foodpreservationmethods.com/sauerkraut-kimchi-pickles-relishes/sauerkraut/fermentation

  7. Hi Heisenbug,

    Thanks for your work here. Very interesting stuff.

    Apologies for going off topic but, what do you make of buckwheat groats? They have a lot of fiber. I usually soak them overnight, rinse them, and then blend them with salt and water to make a batter with. Then I generally make pancakes with them. Very tasty.

    • I don’t have a lot of personal experience with buckwheat groats. But they seem great — a very good soluble to insoluble ratio for a cereal, and even a decent dose of resistant starch (even after cooking). Get your pancake on.

  8. Regarding immune system modulation vs gut repopulation. What is your opinion on the benefits of a kefir grain enema? Or any kind of probiotic enema?

    • Not something I know much about. But again, since probiotics exert their effects through immune modulation (not repopulation), and since we’ve always gotten them by breathing them in or ingesting them, I don’t see much of a reason for “end running” that process. 🙂

  9. Mr. Heisenbug,

    How much sauerkraut and kimchi were you consuming when your eczema disappeared? How frequently did you consume it? Every meal? Once a day? One fork-full or a bowl? My wife has eczema on her hands similar to your experience, but she doesn’t care for my homemade sauerkraut. I’d like to know the dosing so she’ll give this regimen a fair shake.

    – Ross

    • Once a day, probably around three or four fork fulls. Almost daily — around 5 or 6 days a week.

      You could always try the probiotic route if that’s easier, and then switch to food if/when the results are proven.

  10. Pardon the ignorant question, but I was surprised to learn that probiotics work by modulating rather than repopulation. Do you have a good link/reference for this?

  11. Very interesting post. L. Plantarum could boost your immune system.

    Recently some more promising results, this time regarding influenza:

    “Our data therefore reveals a novel immunoregulatory role of the L. plantarum AYA strain which enhances mucosal IgA production and provides protection against respiratory influenza virus infection”.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0086416#close

    Please pass the sauerkraut 😉

    • There are lots of confounding variables in my diet, but I am unique in my house for regularly eating lacto-fermented foods (even more regularly now thanks to Mr Heisenbug) and for eating a gut bacteria friendly diet. That said, we have had 4 versions of colds pass through our house. For one of them, I suffered just like every one else. The other three, however, had significantly shorter duration and in (only) one case significantly milder symptoms.

      The most remarkable on is when a stomach virus was being passed around. Vomiting, fever, chills, achy joints, and pure misery for 18 hours or so each person. In the middle, I had an odd episode in which my temperature shot up, I felt slightly ill, and my joints ached. This is all I felt for about 3 hours. Then I felt myself getting well, and it was done. Enjoyed a great dinner out a couple of hours later. I’m going with something protected me from the worst of the virus.

      Yes, please pass the sauerkraut. I’m eating it most days now!

  12. Going off-topic here – have you looked at the studies on butyrate’s effect on regulating gene expression by inhibiting HDAC?
    I have been taking resistant starch (raw potato starch) for two months now, initially with the intention of getting my blood glucose under control. My BG control is now very much better, and I have been intrigued, and pleased, to notice other effects:
    – a knee injury that has been bothering me for six years is now almost pain-free
    – chronic tension in my shoulders has greatly decreased
    – my mood has been good. Not euphoric, simply less up-and-down than is usual for me

    I did not expect these outcomes (& it is possible, though I think not likely, that they are due to other factors than improved gut bugs), but I started looking for an explanation. Google Scholar and good ol’ Wikipedia lead me to think that the explanation might be: Resistant Starch feeds the good gut bugs > good gut bugs produce SCFAs, most notably butyrate > butyrate inhibits the action of HDAC, allowing greater expression of various genes > greater expression of these genes leads to anti-inflammatory effects in both body and brain, which would account for the changes I have noticed.

    Do you have any thoughts on this aspect of the microbiome?

    • I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for small changes with the RS experiment that my wife and I are doing. One thing I’ve noticed is that she isn’t bruising as often. In the past she was just accustomed to her having one of two large bruises on her legs from something as simple as walking into counter. We are also both laughing a great deal more. Our moods have definitely improved. The downside is that we are in week 3 of our experiment and we both caught a cold so it didn’t help with preventing that and we’re both still experiencing gas (much less than week 1 though).

      • @Jason
        I wish my husband had started the RS experiment with me – if we’d both been getting the dreaded gaseous side effects it would have been better! I found that the gas problem resolved completely after four weeks, thank goodness.
        Interesting re your wife bruising less (or healing better) – I will keep an eye out for that myself in future.

    • Hi Ozquoll. Butyrate directly leads to anti-inflammatory effects through HDAC inhibition in colonic tissue. As I saw in my own case, gut mediated immune modulation/inflammation suppression can have far reaching/unexpected effects. I’m not surprised to hear of these kinds of unexpected results from RS. Still a lot to figure out.

  13. Congrats to your successful trial. Naschmarkt is one great place to be, surprised you know the place.
    You state: “Contrary to what many believe, probiotics and fermented foods will not significantly alter the bacterial composition of your microbiome. As these studies indicate, and my experience shows, the bacteria and their beneficial effects are undetected once consumption ceases.”
    Ok. This at first, is a disappointment. I believe here we have to find a way to alter an already inherited troubling microbiome (further compromised by the well meaning doctors over lifetime) and do this permanently to find healing.
    Our trials here, at the present diet, show a “blooming” of some alien being in the gut, in a time scale between 14 to 20 days, worse especially when sugar, even sugar from fruit or sweet veges, enters the diet.
    Indescribable result of digestion then, thick, foamy, gargantuan volume, whilst amounts not digested then.
    My hope was to slowly ( as the patient is very vulnerable) alter the composition by doing what we are doing now, adding slowly more and more fermented foods.
    Previous tests showed no results, maybe we just missed the blooming of whatever this being is. Any ideas? Peace.

    • Regarding potato starch (and noting you seem to be Austrian, Bernhard), I bought ‘Ruma’ branded Kartoffelstarke at Billa, it was the only choice they sold. I can’t confirm from the packet wording whether the product is raw, but I don’t notice any spike and crash in energy from the product, which suggests it isn’t having a major insulin response and that the product is indeed raw. Give it a try.

      • GB Thank you. That is the brand we started off with, two months ago, but had to restart recently. Yes, Ruma is perfectly raw starch and yes am Austrian. By now we use Organic starch, had to buy a huge quantity, but never mind it will be used up by the end of the year latest 🙂
        Great it seems to work so well for you.
        Pax.

  14. Hi Bernhard,

    To significantly alter microbiome composition, you need to change the overall environment to make it less hospitable for some organisms, and more hospitable to others. The primary way to do this is through fermentable fiber consumption from plant foods. Foods high in fructooligosaccharides, inulin, resistant starch and others. These fibers are known to feed beneficial organisms, which produce acids that make the environment much less hospitable to potentially detrimental organisms.

    For someone dealing with a specific condition, it may be useful to start slowly with a concentrated source of fermentable fiber, such as raw potato starch. Have you read about this? Many people start with 1 tablespoon mixed in water per day, and work up to 2 – 4 tablespoons. But you have to make sure it is raw starch, not flour.

    Of course, if you are dealing with some kind of true pathogenic infection, you may need to seek out something more aggressive. Good luck.

  15. Thanks so much for sharing! I totally agree that probiotics help SO much! Everyone’s gut flora is different, so I would imagine that different strains of probiotics would work on different ppl. It has helped me a lot as well. Either way – it is a great learning to know that it worked for you!

    For me, diet worked most for me to clear up my severe eczema, and I shared it on my website as well: http://www.primephysiquenutrition.com

    I look forward to reading your other posts!

  16. Mr. Heisenbug, in re: smoking…. in Japan, natto consumers (Bacillus subtilis/Vitamin K2) have a surprising low rate of lung cancer.

    Is it the B. subtilis or the vitamin K2?

    Dr. Angela Cheung, UHN, Toronto, conducted a 5 year study with post-menopausal women giving them 5mg K1 per day. This was an osteopenia/osteoporosis study. But it showed a very reduced incidence of cancer.

  17. In re: eczema.

    I have a patient who suffered from eczema on her hands since childhood. About 5 or 6 years ago I suggested to her that she could trial eliminating nightshades from her diet. The eczema cleared up. She has been on a zero nightshade diet since then and has never had a flare.

    Possibly the aetiology of eczema may be multifactorial.

    • Or perhaps the two are related. Maybe nightshades exacerbate her intestinal permeability, and probiotics reduce intestinal permeability. In other words, maybe she can eat tomatoes if she also eats sauerkraut 🙂

  18. Not sure if she’s eating sauerkraut but definitely kefir (which she pronounces keefer to my eternal annoyance.) I’ll find out.

    I think I may recommend she start up on potato starch. This may have an anxiolytic and mood altering effect once usage is well established.

  19. I have a very similar eczema condition. Have just started with the L. plantarum, it’s only been a week so no improvement yet, very interested to see how efficacious it will be (if at all in my circumstances). In Australia, the most readily available source seems to be Ethical Nutrients’ “IBS Support”, which is 20 billion per capsule of 299v. I’ve also been taking for the last couple of months L. acidophilus + BifidoHN019 + BI-04 (Swisse Inner Balance, 100 billion), which has been transformational for my gut health — I have high hopes for the L. plantarum. Once I’ve got the probiotics habit established I’ll be trying the RS.

    • Hi Edster,

      My name is Milena, I work for the Insight program on SBS Television, Australia.

      We are currently working on a program exploring the health potential for fixing ones gut! I would love to speak to you about your experience with you eczema!

      If you would email me at milena.dambelli@sbs.com.au it would be great to hear from you. Alternatively, I can be reached on 02 9430 3688

      Looking forward to hearing from you.

      Thanks,
      Milena

  20. For a while now a have one finger with eczema. Not very extreme, just a slightly more red, dryer en the lines more pronounced. Sometimes gaps arise, especially after cleaning.
    A few weeks ago, I had a small pimple underneath my finger. It itched for three weeks and very slowly disappeared. The day before I read this article, came another. Since I had sauerkraut in the fridge, I immediately started eating a couple of spoons. Raw of course. Now I have eaten it six out of the seven days. After the second day I saw the pimple became soft and smaller. The third day it was gone. Great, very happy. The skin of my finger has become a little more softer but is still dry. The color is now almost identical to my other fingers. The skin lines are unchanged I think. I will go on eating raw sauerkraut and in a month or so will let you know the results.

  21. This is only slightly related, but interesting. My cat (indoor only) has/had an ear condition for years in which numerous benign cysts would grow on the inside of the ears. At times they would become very irritating and it was cosmetically ugly. The Veterinarians could never help, and just said it was something they see, but no one had come up with a cure.

    Then a holistic vet friend said she thought it might have something to do with the immune system. And he has always had bad teeth and gums as well. Light goes on, and I start putting probiotics in his food. Within days, the irritation is gone, and within a month, no more cysts. Period. His ears still itch a bit, so the condition is not completely gone, but it’s better than it’s ever been and almost cured. And he’s had this for all 10 years of his life.

    The probiotics I used were SBOs–soil-based-organisms, the kind of probiotics he would get if he were an outside cat. But I’m now going to add the L. plantarum, since it is a skin condition. Who knows if it will be the same in cats as humans, but it’s worth a try to get that last 10% fixed.

    And as an aside, he no longer bugs me to go outside so he can eat grass and throw it back up. Which indicates to me his stomach feels better, too.

  22. I’m pleased to announce my two year old daughter’s eczema is almost completely gone after 1 week of Jarrow’s Ideal Bowel Support. She hasn’t scratched her skin at all starting on day 2 of the treatment. Now all of her scabs and scaly patches are healing. Poor girl would scratch herself until she’d bleed on a daily basis. Her doctor suggested we stop bathing her as often and apply lotion. Well that didn’t do a thing for her.
    The directions on the probiotic say 1 pill twice daily. She’s little so I’ve been giving her one pill (pulled apart, powder mixed into full fat yogurt) in the a.m. only. I am amazed and so grateful I read this blog. She’s so much happier now. Thank you thank you.

  23. ​I have had eczema on my hands since I was a teenager. No prescription cream has ever helped. Last year, I read a blog about the Lady Soma Skin & Nail Cream which has cocoa butter and kokoa butter – and it keeps the eczema under control better than anything I ever used. I take it on every flight and to every destination (dry or humid). I’ve had it seized from me in several airports because I forgot that its a large 4oz. But anyway, yeah – you should try it – I don’t know what I would do without it!

  24. I have been suffering the past 2-3 years with the worst case of this hand exzema plagueing my life until I foun this blog, thank you thank you7 day in taking the L. Plantarum and it is working amazingly about 85 – 90% healed I would say with some flakey dry skin around where all the boils and bumps were and some skin cracks frm all the steroids I am so thankful to have found this thanks for sharing.

  25. I have had atopic dermatitis on my face and neck for over 20 years. I started taking L. Plantarum (sisu integris 30) twice a day. Within 4 days my skin had cleared up. It was even better then when I take prednisone which I haven’t had to take since I started this experiment.

    I stopped taking L. plantarum for a day and my skin flared up. It took 3-4 days for my skin to settle back down but it did!

    This is definitely a life changer for me. Thanks for posting. I have tried so many things from a raw vegan diet to autoimmune paleo, acupuncture to yoga and it is the L. Plantarum that resolved my atopic dermatitis.

    I have historically avoided foods high in histamine but may venture into sauerkraut to see if I can consume L. Plantarum through food instead if a pill.

    THANK YOU!!!!

  26. If anyone has any experience with FMT (Faecal Microbial Transplant) for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions then please share your experience. I have gut issues but I am also particularly interested in whether FMT has helped to improve or cure other conditions such as Eczema & Psoriasis.

    I understand the link between gut/immune and other inflammatory conditions but I am interested in hearing any personal experience or even if you have read about people having improvements with FMT for other inflammatory conditions (such as Eczema, Psoriasis & other conditions beyond the gut)…. then please share.

    Many Thanks

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  28. I have been battling eczema, primarily on my hands for years now. I am a nurse, so I wash them constantly. I have been through every medication, lotion and remedy out there, and would only get occasional, partial relief, but never a complete remission until I started drinking Kombucha. In the span of 4 weeks, my hands became completely clear, and my skin continues to be healthy. I started making and eating lacto-fermented vegetables a couple of months prior to starting the Kombucha with great overall GI tract results including a 10lb weight loss. However, my eczema was still a problem, so I credit the Kombucha for the impressive healing. I now make my own! I am a believer and recommend it to everyone.

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