By Eileen Morrissey
I hope that today's column has useful information for your patients, and perhaps for you too.
There's no question that our hands take a beating because we do what we do. There is endless washing numerous times each day, all days. We then stuff our hands into confining gloves. Are they as dry as they should be before they become re-encapsulated? Likely not. We then go about our work. Our bodies overall may become hot because of our need to be goggled, masked, gloved, and in protective outer gear. Our treatment rooms may be small, and with apprehensive patients, the temperature often continues to rise. As a consequence, our enclosed hands may also perspire, which contributes to the aforementioned beating taking place. And the cycle perpetuates.
When I was a 24-year-old practicing dental hygienist, I suffered from eczema on my right hand. At that time, wearing gloves was not the standard of care. I was very embarrassed about the appearance of my hand, not to mention the itchiness and roughness that would not go away despite a variety of treatments. One day a patient asked me if I had eczema. I replied yes, mortified that he had noticed. He said the only reason he knew was because he was also afflicted. He told me I needed to drink raw goat milk. He was certain it would help me. What?
In sheer desperation, I drove to a nearby goat farm in Rhode Island, where I was living at the time, and on his referral bought a quart of goat milk. I went home and started to drink it immediately. That was difficult, because it tasted unlike anything I was accustomed to. Very creamy, not unpleasant, and I could not get the image of a goat being milked out of my head. But I continued for a week, and the strangest thing happened.
My eczema began to heal. Understand that I had also been to the dermatologist, who prescribed topical cortisone, bag balm, and whatever other moisturizing agents. Nothing had helped me. Yet the goat milk ingested internally for whatever reason seemed to be treating me from the inside out. After a few weeks, I weaned myself off of it and resumed my normal dietary ways.
Fast forward to today. I've had a few reoccurrences through the years, but nothing I couldn't handle. Until the past few months, that is. The eczema reared its ugly head again, and I haven't been able to manage it. I remembered my Rhode Island experience and decided it was time to try that route again. I bought pasteurized goat milk from the grocery story, but it did not help. The challenge for me in my home state of New Jersey is that raw goat milk is prohibited from being sold. I drove to a farmer's market in neighboring Pennsylvania and made the purchase.
History is repeating itself and my eczema is healing. I find it miraculous, and when I Google this information, I see that the treatment seems to help many people, and that it has something to do with the enzymes in the raw milk. So I offer it here, to you!
Important note: Do not heat the milk or you will be doing your own half-hearted pasteurization. You must consume it raw and cold. (I learned that the hard way.) Disclaimer: The "powers that be" in more than a few states feel that consuming raw milk poses health risks.
My go-to person for nutritional counsel, brilliant Lori Saporito, RDH, explains that eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition. She told me that my "toxic load" must currently be high, making me more vulnerable to the syndrome. Why? I asked her. I've had times in my life that seemed more toxic laden than now. She said she does not know, but she applauds my unconventional approach of treating from inside out. She also informed me that goat milk is very close to human milk in its composition. Bottom line: The goat milk is working for me, and for this I am grateful.
Interestingly enough, I shared my story with a dermatologist I'd consulted with years ago on a different matter. He told me that the reason ingesting goat milk was effective for me back then was due simply to positive thinking. He used the example, "If that patient back in Rhode Island had told you that burying a potato in your backyard would cure your eczema, and you believed it strongly enough, then it would indeed have cured it."
His comment was somewhat baffling. I remember being optimistic at my patient's enthusiasm about the solution he offered, but I was also guardedly skeptical. I wanted to believe but could not imagine how it could help. And, voila, it helped!
Was it sheer belief that the goat milk treatment would cure me back then, so it did? Is the same thing happening today? Or is there really something to those enzymes? My message here is that we should be open to possibilities, however unorthodox they might be.
Onward we go; it is in our hearts' core! RDH
EILEEN MORRISSEY, RDH, MS, is a practicing clinician, speaker, and writer. She is an adjunct dental hygiene faculty member at Burlington County College. Eileen offers CE forums to doctors, hygienists, and their teams. Reach her at [email protected] or 609-259-8008. Visit her website at www.eileenmorrissey.com.