Wheatgrass extract protects topical steroid immune-suppressed skin from herpes infectionThis 60 year old financial planner was referred to me by his general practitioner who was disillusioned with the limited efficacy of topical steroids. He thought I might be able to help his patient with wheatgrass.
The patient had been using topical betamethasone (Betnovate) almost daily on his face and body for approximately 15 years. He used such large quantities trying to control his itchy, dry skin, his dermatologist prescribed 10 x 100gm tubes of the topical steroid at each visit - a very large amount! He had sought relief from numerous dermatologists to no avail. He avoided soap and hot water and used moisturisers often for dryness.
Three days earlier, he suffered a severe flare secondary to a herpes simplex virus infection of the eye, which affected his face and upper body. Most likely the rapid, wide spread of the virus, which is not typical, was a direct result of the patient's topical steroid-induced immune suppression. He was commenced on oral steroids (prednisolone 50mg) and antibiotics, by another doctor. When I first saw him, he had a severe eczematous facial rash that was inflamed, fissured and weeping in places. (Fig. 1.) He was commenced on wheatgrass topical Skin Recovery Spray twice daily combined with his usual colloidal oatmeal based moisturiser. Oral steroids were reduced to zero over the following week. He also ceased using topical steroids. The photographs below show rapid improvement in the first 4 days of wheatgrass treatment and thereafter, complete control of eczema 9 months later. He continued using the wheatgrass spray at least once daily since commencement of treatment. Nine months later, he was still free of topical and oral steroids.
|Fig. 1. 11 April 2003 - Prior to treatment with wheatgrass extract. Topical steroids ceased. Wheatgrass spray commenced twice daily.||Fig. 2. 15 April 2003 - After 4 days' twice daily wheatgrass spray.|
|Fig. 3. 3 July 2003 - After nearly 3 months twice daily wheatgrass spray. Nil other medications required.||Fig. 4. Nine months later, patient remains topical steroid-free with wheatgrass skin recovery spray daily. Skin stable.|
How does the wheatgrass work? I believe it has much to do with its ability to modulate the immune response. Topical steroid damaged skin appears to break out and flare when the skin reaches a point of critical dryness. Dryness is governed by the output of sebum from the sebaceous glands, which are hormonally controlled. It may be that wheatgrass influences these hormone levels as well as reduce inflammation in blood vessels under the skin.
Although atopic eczema is thought to be genetically determined, I believe there may also be an important auto-immune component to the condition. The reason I say this is because of the apparent immunomodulatory effect of the wheatgrass. It possibly reduces the level of auto-immune complexes under the affected areas of skin. This can be borne out by the observation that addition of oral wheatgrass often assists recovery when used in combination with wheatgrass topically. Overall, topical steroids damage the skin and its ability to recover naturally.
Dr. Chris Reynolds. M.B.,B.S.
View more information about wheatgrass skin recovery at these links:
- Easing the pain of topical steroid withdrawal
- Steroid-dependent skin recovery
- Steroid-dependent nail recovery
- Eczema case history
- Eczema testimonials
- Severe steroid-dependent eczema - major flare (Graphic content)