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Natural help for exfoliative cheilitis
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James Offline

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Natural help for exfoliative cheilitis
Does stress or autoimmunity play a role in exfoliative cheilitis (EC)?

Yes, stress plays a role. EC can occur from infections, which would be easier to take hold with suppressed immunity. And stress weakens the immune system as excess cortisol release will atrophy the thymus and adrenal glands, which both play major roles in immunity. Chronic stress can also lead to hypothyroidism, which has also been linked to EC. The role of hypothyroidism is likely due to the fact that hypothyroidism increases levels of inflammatory homocysteine, and EC is an inflammatory condition.

Autoimmune disorders though result from immune suppression, not hyperactivity as is commonly believed. It is the suppression of the adrenal glands that lead to the over production of low affinity (nonspecific) antibodies that tag healthy tissues for destruction. The rest of the immune system does its job just as it is supposed to. This is also why immune suppressants, such as stress, stimulants and steroids actually make autoimmune conditions worse.

What other things can lead to EC?

Fungal Candida or Staphylococcus bacterial infections.

Mental stress can contribute through immune suppression and increased inflammation though adrenal and/or thyroid dysfunction. Stress suppresses immune function primarily through the release of cortisol, which can atrophy the thymus gland. Chronic stress also atrophies the adrenal glands, which can also decrease immune function and reduction of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids. Chronic stress can also lead to hypothyroidism by decreasing T4 to T3 conversion from adrenal dysfunction, and by elevating rT3 levels, which interferes with the activity of T3.

What do you recommend to help?

First of all several forms of cheilitis (inflammation of the lips) involve infection, primarily from Candida or staph. Thyme essential oil is one of the best antifungals available, and it kills bacteria as well. You can dilute the thyme essential oil in some coconut oil, which is also antifungal to make an antiseptic lip oil. I would add 30 to 40 drops of the thyme essential oil to one ounce of coconut oil, and apply it to the lips throughout the day.

Dry mouth can aggravate the problem. So stay hydrated by drinking plenty of spring water throughout the day. Not alkaline water since Candida thrives in an alkaline environment. Alkaline waters also neutralize stomach acid, which interferes with the absorption of some B vitamins, which you will need. Also avoid distilled or reverse osmosis water since these can rob the body of vitamins and minerals. Go with spring water, or add some mineral drops to purified waters to saturate them before drinking. Also make sure you are not taking any medications that can dry the mouth out like antihistamines.

Hypothyroidism has been linked as a possible contributing cause of exfoliative cheilitis. To rule this out you can do your basal body temperature, which is a more accurate way to determine hypothyroidism than lab tests. Instructions can be easily found on the net. Make sure to get at least a weeks worth of readings before you get up in the morning and average them out. If you are hypothyroid then that will have to addressed separately as there are numerous factors that can cause hypothyroidism.

Don't bite or lick your lips. These actions will only make things worse.

Lack of B vitamins or anemia can also aggravate the condition. Taking a B complex twice a day will help keep vitamin B levels up. If you are anemic then the form of anemia needs to be determined. There are quite a few forms of anemia, and they are addressed differently.

Stress can affect EC because stress leads to increased inflammation in large part due to decreased adrenal gland function. Adrenal gland dysfunction, lowers levels of anti-inflammatory adrenocorticosteroids. Adrenal dysfunction also adversely affects the function of the thyroid gland. This in turn can elevate levels of inflammatory homocysteine. Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine will also weaken the adrenals and therefore should be avoided as well. To build up the adrenals focus on vitamin C and the B vitamin pantothenic acid. Vitamin C is best in a natural form like amla, acerola cherry, kiwis, strawberries, blueberries, etc. The synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid) normally sold in stores is very unstable and not as strong as natural sources. Natural sources also contain the bioflavonoids needed for vitamin C to work properly. There are also various herbs you can take to help support the adrenals. The ones I highly recommend are licorice root (also a steroidal anti-inflammatory), schisandra berry, ashwagandha, Gynostemma (jiaogulan), rose hips, pollen and nettle leaf.

Keeping your flora healthy would also be a good idea since exfoliative cheilitis can be caused from overgrowth of fungal Candida. Candida albicans is a dimorphic microbe, which means it can exist in two forms. In its yeast form Candida is not harmful to the body. In its fungal form though the Candida forms finger-like projections known as hyphae that allow the Candida to dig in to tissues causing tissue damage and inflammation. Candida is kept in its benign yeast form by a slightly acidic environment provided by our beneficial acid forming flora. The acidity not only keeps the Candida in its benign yeast form but also turns off the Candida growth gene. In an alkaline environment, such as after antibiotic use that kills the beneficial flora, the Candida growth gene is turned on and the Candida morphs in to its pathogenic fungal form.

The best way to maintain the flora is with probiotics and prebiotics. For probiotics I recommend kefir, which is much stronger than yogurt and unlike most yogurts that falsely claim the cultures are live, the cultures in kefirs are live. Other good probiotic sources include miso, tempeh, raw apple cider vinegar or fresh sauerkraut or other cultured vegetables.

Fibers (prebiotics) are also important since this is what the flora feed on. Good choices are fruits and vegetables, rice bran, vegetable gums (xanthan, konjac, guar, etc.), inulin and FOS (fructooligosaccharides). Yucca root powder is also a good choice as it is antifungal and a steroidal anti-inflammatory. It also helps to make a more suitable environment for the growth of the intestinal flora. Make sure it is in a non-extract powder form as liquid and powdered extracts have the beneficial fiber removed.
02-13-2014 03:32 PM
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