(Spoiler: There?s a healing swap-out suggestion with an Eczema Healing Tea recipe included)
Does Caffeine Cause Eczema
Who doesn?t love their morning cup of caffeine? Coffee and tea consumption have become a significant part of American society. The cafe culture is a multi-billion dollar industry. This isn?t anything new?many civilizations for centuries have worshiped them too. But do these beloved brews contribute to eczema?
This is a question I?ve had to tackle for years in my practice with patients and for myself. Like any issues related to food or root causes of eczema- it?s a matter of individuality and how it?s affecting the inflammatory process in your body.
Personally, I love both tea and coffee for different reasons- I?ve been a lifelong tea drinker (thanks Grandma), but in my early 30?s I discovered coffee. I?d always loved the smell, but didn?t care for the taste. But as I began changing my diet to be cleaner and gravitated to Paleo/Primal, my taste buds changed.
Suddenly, I really liked coffee. I enjoyed the slight bitterness, dark chocolate, and fruity notes, much like a good wine. I hear this from patients too- they report liking bitter things such as coffee and really dark chocolate as they lose the taste for sugar.
I can drink it black, but I really love a warm cup of joe with grassfed butter and coconut oil in the morning. That?s heavenly for me!
So when the question of caffeine consumption and elimination arises, the reaction is similar for most of my patients- complete horror (even for a short duration). I?m often met with comments like: ?there?s no way I can do that!? Or else, ?you want me to do what!! And, for how long????
I get it. The thought of giving up my tasty, warm beverages (especially considering that I live in Minnesota) gave me slight panic too.
Caffeine is America?s number one drug of choice. Some of us like it for the taste, mental boost, or the purely for the energy surge. But sadly, your favorite pick-me-up can be counterproductive if you have a condition like eczema that has roots in inflammation.
I don?t ask patients to drop the mug to torture them (although some may strongly disagree). I do it because I understand the many ways caffeine alters the immune and inflammatory response.
How do Coffee and Tea Cause Eczema
At first thought it may seem crazy to consider coffee and tea as causes of eczema, but they can alter the inflammatory response in ways that play a role in the process of developing eczema. Once you have eczema, they can contribute to the vicious cycle of exposures (foods, infections, toxins, etc.) that perpetuate the condition until they?re removed.
Here are the most significant ways that coffee and tea promote eczema:
1. It spikes adrenal hormones just as stress does. I generally suggest stopping if someone has HPA axis dysfunction (also know as adrenal fatigue) because of caffeine?s effects on the inflammatory process. Caffeine sends a signal to the brain which sends a signal to the adrenal glands to pump out cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine), effectively putting your body in constant fight-or-flight mode. Not good if you have eczema and need your cortisol for its anti-inflammatory effects.
2. Elevated cortisol contributes to Leaky Gut. The chemicals secreted during the stress response are linked to intestinal permeability (leaky gut), inflammation, overgrowth in bad bacteria, and decreased microbial diversity that can alter immune function. These are significant root causes of eczema that need to be addressed to completely heal it.
3. You can react to the mycotoxins found in coffee. Mycotoxins are toxins produced by fungi and the 2 commonly found in coffee are ochratoxin A and aflatoxin B1. These compounds are known to be immunosuppressive, carcinogenic, and brain damaging among other health problems. Chronic, low level exposure can build up in your system causing an immune response that can promote inflammation.
Swap Your Caffeine with a Warm Drink That Will Help Heal Eczema
I hate to tell patients that they must avoid something forever. In some cases this is necessary, like a Celiac sufferer avoiding gluten, but generally, most people can handle some caffeinated beverages once they?ve healed their eczema and gut.
But until that joyous day when you can imbibe again, here?s an alternative that?s equally as tasty and will help heal your eczema and gut.
Eczema Healing Tea
I enjoy this drink because it?s reminiscent of my favorite morning coffee, but it also incorporates the spiciness of ginger and turmeric that I love. It?s also warming and soothing on cold days. Prep is quick and easy too- usually 5 minutes from start to finish.
- 1-2 inches peeled, fresh turmeric
- 2 inches peeled, fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove peeled- don?t worry, the other flavors mask the garlic 😉
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 serving collagen powder
- 8-12 ounces hot water
Tip: If you want to have a speedy process, peel and portion out the turmeric, ginger, and garlic for several days. I keep mine in a mini mason jar or glass container in the refrigerator. If you prep too much it can start to dry out, so placing a small damp towel or cloth on top can help prevent that.
1. Get your water heating up before you start prepping so that you can pull if off and let it cool if necessary before you pour it into the mixture. I like to use a kettle to warm mine up.
2. Remove the skin from you turmeric, ginger and garlic. You can use a knife or spoon (scraping down the sides) to get rid of the skin. Note: spoon scraping gives a slightly better yield but is more time consuming than using a knife. Place them in the blender.
3. Add in the coconut oil and honey.
4. Pour the water over the mixture. Warning: don?t blend it up if it?s too hot and steaming because the pressure could build up and burn you when the lid is removed.
5. Add the collagen in last (truthfully, it probably doesn?t matter when it?s added, but I try to keep the collagen from clumping or sticking to the sides of the blender cup or carafe).
6. Blend up until all ingredients are fully incorporated. It should take 15-30 seconds for most high speed blenders.
7. Pour into a mug and enjoy!
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be adjusted to taste and needs. Don?t like turmeric- don?t add it. Have a sensitivity to collagen powder? Leave it out. Got Candida or a fungal issue? You may want to adjust or eliminate the raw honey. You can customize this as you wish.
I actually make variations on this recipe often. I?m a ginger lover so I?ll add a huge 3-4 inch piece in sometimes. I?ll bump up the collagen if I feel more stressed. I don?t always have raw turmeric on hand, so I make it without it. If I?m feeling congested or sick from a cold, I?ll decrease the water by 2-4 ounces and add in the juice of one lemon and/or raw apple cider vinegar (ACV). Be careful using this variation if you?re in an eczema flare as the histamines in lemon and ACV can make symptoms worse.
Eczema Healing Tea is a Healing Bomb and Inflammation Buster
The elixir is packed with several anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, antimicrobial, and skin supporting ingredients. Coffee and tea definitely can?t claim that. Here?s a breakdown of the benefits:
1. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family which is why they share similar characteristics. However, the curcuminoids are what give turmeric it?s superior inflammation fighting power. The journal Oncogene published a study that found turmeric to be one of the most potent anti-inflammatories in the world, even beating out NSAIDs. It can also help heal the lining of the intestines which is critical for resolving eczema.
2. Ginger, like turmeric, supports immune and anti-inflammatory pathways in the body. Ginger is a great antimicrobial too, acting against a wide range of bacteria and fungi like Candida. It?s widely supports the gut too- relieving nausea, bloating, constipation, and acid reflux which are symptoms that often accompany eczema root causes like dysbiosis, GI infections, and food sensitivities.
3. Coconut oil is considered to be the ?motherlode? of healing foods. One of best features is the broad antimicrobial activity of lauric acid- helpful for addressing bacterial, fungal, and viral infection, but also maintaining daily health. The antioxidants in coconut oil are well documented to combat inflammation. It also has pain relieving (analgesic) capabilities. The same properties that make it amazing for internal use also apply to the skin. Externally it can be used as a cleanser, moisturizer, and as an ingredient in a healing salve or ointment.
4. Garlic in its raw form is a close second to coconut oil in it?s ability to protect against the ?bad bugs,? having potent antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. The sulfur containing compound allicin is effective against the opportunistic staphylococcus (staph) bacteria which is thought to play a role in eczema for many individuals. Personal note- when I did stool testing on myself during the peak of my symptoms I had a slight overgrowth of staph that had to be treated.
5. Raw honey is an antioxidant powerhouse. It contains several classes of polyphenols and flavonoids that support the immune system. In addition, it contains 22 amino acids, many of the B complex vitamins, and 27 minerals including magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, and phosphorous.
6. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and a critical building block of the skin. Using supplemental collagen powder has been shown to improve skin quality by increasing the barrier function meaning better elasticity, moisture, and texture. Good news if your skin is damaged from eczema! Another reason collagen is great is that it heals leaky gut, which is a primary root cause in eczema. It?s benefits are similar to what?s seen on the skin externally- it ?seals and heals? the intestinal barrier breakdown that?s the hallmark of leaky gut.
Doesn?t all this goodness make you want to brew up a batch right now?? You may not ever want to go back to coffee or tea! Maybe?.. 🙂
Leave a comment below about your caffeine swaps!
Hi Dr Stephanie
what do think about herbal coffee bullet proof ? would you take this as substitute for coffee??
That’s definitely a great option too. There are many herbal coffee alternatives out there now like the dandelion or mushroom based ones. Add in your MCT oil and butter, and you have a healthy blend that will support your liver, immune system and skin.
Thanks for asking a great question!
If i cant find turmeric root can i use turmeric powder?
You can definitely use ground turmeric or even ground ginger. Sometimes I use those in a pinch!
About how long after discontinuing caffinated beverages and drinking the Eczema healing tea should I expect to see a change
Typically healing eczema is much more complicated than that. For an extremely small percentage of people, this may alone do the trick, but for the remaining 99.9% of us, we will need to do more healing work. That may require identifying other trigger foods, environmental triggers, and things like gut, hormone, and nutrient imbalances.
Removing a trigger food and improving your adrenal hormone response (largely cortisol) by eliminating caffeine could result in improved skin in a couple of weeks to a couple of months if that alone is your issue. Truthfully, there’s usually more work to be done healing. Finding all of the root causes and triggers is key.
I can’t touch garlic due to allergy. Can I leave it out?
Absolutely!! This recipe is definitely meant to be modified according to your needs! Some people don’t tolerate ginger or coconut oil as well, so those can be omitted. Likewise, you can also add things…cayenne or cinnamon can be great additions.
I?ve been craving and roasted dandelion root tea! Will give your recipe a shot minus the garlic. The thing that has been annoying me the most is the time I need to take to prepare all this healthy food but I?m seeing results and am grateful!
That’s great! If you’re looking for a shortcut you can use powdered versions of ginger and turmericto save time;)
Hi, How did you heal yourself from intestinal staph? You said it needed treating but no details. I’m wondering if I have that? My eczema has been bad for too long now 🙁
Before you treat anything you should definitely do testing to confirm that you indeed have staph via stool test. I used a combination of herbs, botanicals, and specific probiotics. That being said, the combination that I used was specific to what I found on my stool panel. We always change it up in practice depending upon the organisms found in testing that we need to treat.
I’m interested in making your tea, but could you tell me what kind of collagen to use? I’ve never used collagen and I’m seeing it in so many recipes. Thank you.
I use many types of collagen. My favorite companies are vital proteins and primal kitchen. I also use great lakes brand in a pinch.
hi there, i was wondering what you think about decaf coffee? since adopting a low histamine diet / sibo diet and treatment, i started drinking decaf and seem to tolerate it well i think. i know coffee also has many liver benefits and the minimal caffeine leftover is way less than the green or black teas i drink. i was wondering what your thought on the mycotoxins, etc were with decaf? also what you think about caffeine consumption from green tea or matcha? my skins started flaring again but im thinking its at least mostly due to various other factors that i know have affected me lately. thank you so much for being a caring supportive dr and running this resource!
Some research suggests that mycotoxins are actually higher in decaf, so if they are an issue for you, you might want to rethink the decaf. If your hormones and blood sugar are in balance (and mycotoxins are not an issue for you), then regular coffee shouldn’t be a problem or a barrier to healing.
I like green tea and matcha a lot! They’ve got great health benefits as long as you tolerate them well.
If you’ve recently started to flare again, you might consider taking out coffee or other beverages for 4 weeks to see if that helps calm things. If there is no change, it’s likely not the culprit.
I don’t drink coffee or tea nor any type of caffiene type beverages yet suffer from terrible burning excema that blisters on my shoulder blades and arms. I have been vaccinated against shingles and have had chicken pox as a child. I have had skin cancer twice but my dermatologist schedules so far out by the time my appointment arrives my skin has settled down.- my skin cancer the first time required a skin transplant, the second time he removed the spot with dry ice- I never had excema prior to my skin cancer are these related? My skin screens for this year were ok.
To my knowledge I have not heard of the two being related, however since cancer is a disease of the immune system and inflammation, as is eczema, there could be an association.
What about Teeccino Chicory Herbal Coffee? Is that okay to drink?
Absolutely! That is one of my recommended substitutes. Chicory root is a great prebiotic, so that’s a bonus. Dandelion root coffee and tea substitutes are great too- especially if you need liver support.
If I?m using ground turmeric and grd ginger instead of fresh how much do I use? And would the benefits still be the same or is it better to use fresh? TIA ?
Ground spices can be difficult to judge depending on your taste… try starting out with half a teaspoon of each and increasing up to one teaspoon if you want it stronger. That said, pepper helps increase the absorption so you could add a little pepper as well.
Thank you for providing this helpful information. I was wandering what do you think about drinking Yerba Mate tea; I do have eczema and I stopped drinking coffee for a while now, but I do crave drinking something warm in the morning.
Yerba mate should be fine, as are most teas. The main issues would be allergy or sensitivity to it, or fungal issues. If those aren’t a problem you should be in good shape!
Really delicious! I a!so added just a pinch of fresh ground black pepper to boost the turmeric benefit. Strangely the combination wofks! Even my picky, coffee-addicted husband really likes it! Thanks, this was a new one. I have long suspected that my coffee might be undermining my health so this is a great way to detox from the mandatory a.m. coffee but still have a pleasant morning routine