Book Review: The Eczema Diet

Identifying what really is the culprit to anyone’s eczema is trial and error. Causes of eczema can range from genetics, environmental allergens, food allergens, stress, negative reactions to cosmetic ingredients and more or a combination of all the above. If you’ve tried the low nickel diet without positive results AND limited your physical contact with nickel, I’d suggest you read Karen Fischer’s book The Eczema Diet: Discover How to Stop and Prevent the Itch of Eczema Through Diet and Nutrition.

Author and nutritionist Karen Fischer created “the eczema diet” to address her own daughter’s severe eczema. Fischer writes how over time the eczema diet itself evolved using scientific evidence and client feedback. Though she doesn’t discuss systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS), she provides all kinds of useful information for treating eczema.

First Fischer discusses a high level overview of eczema and atopic dermatitis, including leaky skin and provides hope for healing eczema. Next she provides a great explanation on how the diet works like an elimination diet, removing certain foods and then slowly reintroducing them back into your diet.

She sets anyone interested in trying the diet up for success by including a section on planning and tips to starting the eczema diet. In the back of the book, Fischer provide several of her recipes with “eczema healthy” food ingredients that reduces the body’s reaction. Some of the foods she recommends eating to naturally treat your eczema are unfortunately higher in nickel, such as leafy greens, beans, whole grains and seeds.

That’s why I suggest if the low nickel diet hasn’t worked you (after at least a month), perhaps trying another diet in consultation with your physician could alleviate your eczema. If you do react to nickel in foods like me, many of Fischer’s recipes are still useful or can be modified so they are lower in nickel.

In addition Fischer writes extensively about nutrition and other “anti-eczema” solutions. For instance, I didn’t know anything about histamines or histamine intolerance until her section about histamines and how “allergy sufferers have increased levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), the antibody found in your blood and tissues that mediates allergy” (p. 34). Foods that can lower your bodies histamine levels Fischer writes include foods rich in vitamin C, B6 and quercetin. That’s one of the reasons why Fischer promotes those with eczema to eat papaya regularly, as it’s “a rich source of histamine-lowering vitamin C” (p. 159) and does so much more!

Fischer discusses liver detoxification and how “promoting proper liver detoxification can reverse or reduce multiple chemical sensitivities” (p. 49). Last year my annual blood tests showed I had elevated liver enzymes that mimicked nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. I wondered if eating the low-nickel diet of white grains and limited leafy greens could effect my blood test or if there was a legitimate issue with my liver. Concerned, I worked to reduce my stress load and detoxify my liver. Six months later my blood was re-tested and fortunately my liver enzymes were back in the normal range!

The book The Eczema Diet provides all kinds of practical health advice. If you’ve tried Fischer’s eczema diet or read the book and learned something insightful, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

12 comments
  1. Hello,
    I also suffer from atopic eczema and recently was diagnosed with nickel allergy via patch test. Prior to that I read Karen’s book and started myself on her diet and supplements regime and I saw some improvement in my skin. Today I stumbled upon your wonderful blog and am reading it the whole morning. I found a list of nickel foods and was disappointed to see so many foods there that Karen actually recommends in her book, for example:
    – buckwheat
    – oats
    – cabbage
    – linseeds and linseed oil
    – soy lecithin.
    I’ve stocked up on these foods and supplements and now I feel totally lost as to what to do with them…

    1. Hi Antonina,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. There are a lot of foods traditionally beneficial for eczema that are high in nickel, that aren’t great for those of us with systemic nickel allergies. Not all those with nickel allergies have systemic nickel allergies otherwise a nickel food allergy. If you try the low nickel diet, excluding those supplements, and see improvement in your skin your nickel allergy is probably systemic. Some can tolerate cabbage, whereas nuts, seeds and oils are higher in nickel. Using a food journal that corresponds with your symptoms can be very useful.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

      1. Hi Christy,
        Thanks for your answer. I guess I’ll just go along with food elimination diet / food diary strategy. Thanks again for all the precious information on your blog!

  2. I have the read Karen’s book and have learned a lot and improved my eczema situation a lot iwth her advice. However, I agree with the post above that I hadn’t realized the amount of Nickel in many of the foods recommended in the “eczema detox” diet. I am going to try to tweak my diet to reduce the quantity of Nickel I intake. Are there any tests that can be helpful to root cause this or is it best to just do some experiments with our diet?

  3. Is there a way to determine the type of nickel allergy we have? I was diagnosed with a “severe” nickel allergy later in life (34) using a patch test, but my doctor didn’t say anything to me about a “systemtic” allergy and she rolled her eyes when I asked about a low nickel diet.

    1. Hi Danielle,
      Thanks for your comment. My doctor technically diagnosed me with a severe nickel allergy at the age 24 using a skin patch test. He didn’t use the name “systemic nickel allergy,” however since I don’t wear jewelry or really react by contact, he suggested I try the low nickel diet, which is a treatment for systemic nickel allergy syndrome and within 4-6 weeks all of my eczema cleared and when I eat foods higher in nickel, I experience eczema again. It’s really a trial and error type of eczema, as most are.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  4. Because I am scientifically minded & perhaps because having a better understanding might give me more peace of mind about my nickel allergy, I have relentlessly pursued figuring out the underlying reason for this allergy. I am sure there is an amalgamation of reasons, but I recently discovered that I have hemangioma of the liver. Hemangiomas are benign, but can be influenced by estrogen. I also have endometriosis and have recently realized that having a high level of estrogen and these other conditions might correlate with my nickel allergy. In fact- there are a couple small studies which reveal that nickel allergy might be more prevalent amongst those with endometriosis. I can’t help, but wonder if this might be true of many women with excess estrogen whether they have endometriosis or not. My endometriosis also negatively affects my iron levels. My newest approach to this allergy has been addressing a surplus of estrogen and finding ways to increase iron in diet. Along with eating iron rich, but low nickel foods, cooking in a cast iron skillet, getting more vitamin c (through food and supplements), on the estrogen side- I am using a magnesium spray, drinking raspberry leaf tea, using oil of oregano (the two orevious items have been shown to help metabolize estrogen & I have found their effects to be profound), & will soon speak to my doctor about natural progesterone creams and other methods, such as surgery, for my personal situation. To help clear my body off excess nickel I have been drinking lemon water & eating cilantro along with safe sources of fiber as well as in many, many dishes or just on its own. It has been a long journey, but all of the above has led me back to far better health. I keep commenting on your posts because your blog has helped me immensely on my journey back to health. I was incredibly ill the second half of 2019 & I did not receive much guidance from my doctors- aside from advice to “avoid problem foods”. I hope that sharing my personal story might also help those with this allergy too, especially if it effects them in a similar way.

    1. Hi Nicole,
      Thanks for your comments on multiple posts and all your positive feedback about my website. I’m really happy that it’s been so helpful for you in your low nickel journey and that your overall health has improved with all the various tips and things you’ve implemented in your life. I love tea and lemon/infused water! 
      I wasn’t aware of hemangioma and their relationship to estrogen, until your comment. You make an interesting point about nickel allergies and endometriosis. I don’t know if I have endometriosis, but both my mother and sister do/did.
      Thanks for sharing your story and persisting with the low nickel diet to improve your health. I hope you’re able to stay well and healthy with everything going on globally.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  5. Hi Christy,
    Thank you for creating this blog. It’s really helpful and I am happy to read your journals as it gives me a sense that I am not alone having nickel allergy and eczema. All these while I had dependent on medication for my skin problems. I am pretty new to low nickel diet, do you have any recommendation how should I start with low nickel diet?

    Kind regards,
    Lian

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