How Functional Medicine Can Heal Your Eczema

Eczema care from a functional medicine perspective is all about finding the cause. At Dr. Autoimmune, Dr. Ian Hollaman doesn’t only address his patients’ eczema symptoms; he looks for the root cause of the eczema and fixes it! 

In this article we will go over the common problems Dr. Autoimmune finds that cause eczema.

Eczema And Intestinal Problems

The first place we look for the cause of eczema is the intestinal tract. Whenever there is a skin problem (acne, psoriasis, rashes, boils, etc) the most common cause is something wrong with the gut. 

It’s rare to find someone with unhealthy intestines but healthy skin. That’s because the skin and the gut have some things in common. They both get rid of toxins. When the gut is damaged and not able to eliminate toxins effectively, or worse is ADDING toxins to the body, the skin becomes the place these toxins end up, resulting in a “skin illness” like eczema. 

Both the skin and the intestines are affected by bacteria. They each can be made sick by a lack of healthy bacteria or the presence of pathogens. So eczema care here would be to fix what may be wrong in the gut. Some of the common intestinal conditions that are found to result in eczema are:


This is a fancy word for the bacteria in the intestines being messed up. Our bodies need lots of healthy bacteria, probiotics, in the right proportions. If the probiotics are lacking or imbalanced, the result will be problems in the gut.

Intestinal pathogens

Intestinal pathogens are harmful bacteria, parasites or fungi (yeast or mold). These bad guys damage the intestines and can cause a condition called leaky gut syndrome.


A variety of digestive problems can hurt the gut. Hypochloridia is a condition where the stomach doesn’t make enough acid. When the digestion in the stomach is weak, food is not broken down. 

Along the same lines, if either the pancreas or gallbladder under-perform, there will be undigested fat, protein and carbohydrates. Poorly digested food irritates the gut and can result in skin problems.

With proper testing, all of these issues are easily diagnosed. Eczema care from a functional medicine approach will always address any problems in the intestinal tract.

Eczema And Food Sensitivities 

Food sensitivities can cause many skin conditions, including eczema. Sensitivities can be developed to any kind of food or food ingredient including chemicals like food coloring and artificial sweeteners, seasonings, and even things like baker’s yeast. 

Sensitivities are different from food allergies, which cause an immediate reaction. Instead, a delayed onset reaction occurs and can last for up to three weeks once triggered. Because of this delay and long duration it can be very frustrating to figure it out by trial and error. 

Thankfully there is excellent testing that can uncover what these sensitivities are. At Dr. Autoimmune, we’ve seen many health issues resolved in patients, even some unexpected ones, once their food sensitivities were discovered and their diets adjusted.

Eczema And Imbalanced Fatty Acids

Low or imbalanced fatty acids or high levels of pro-inflammatory fatty acids can lead to eczema. 

Fatty acids are very important in regulating inflammation in the body, and in eczema the skin is very inflamed. Fatty acid levels are affected by diet and absorption. 

If a person is eating foods high in pro-inflammatory fatty acids (soy, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, safflower, and mixed vegetable oils, or fatty meats like burgers, hot dogs, bacon, bologna, ribs, etc) or not eating enough foods high in anti-inflammatory fats (olive oil, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon) their biochemistry will become pro-inflammatory. That’s why testing fatty acid levels is an important part of healing eczema.

Eczema And Histamine Intolerance 

Most people are familiar with antihistamine drugs. Histamine is released in response to allergies and causes the runny nose and sneezing associated with allergies. 

The allergy component is just one of the jobs histamine is involved in. Histamine is also released in response to injury, inflammation and infection. 

In fact, histamine has 23 different functions in the body. When a person’s body can’t eliminate histamine and has elevated levels all the time, they develop an intolerance to histamine. Eczema is one of the possible problems histamine intolerance can cause.

Histamine intolerance can also cause leaky gut, which again can lead to eczema. This is a good example of how a problem like eczema can be complicated and multi-layered. 

A functional medicine approach looks for these various factors to uncover the root cause(s) of eczema.

Eczema And Toxins

Air pollutants from cigarette smoke, automobiles, industrial factories, and heating systems in buildings can all cause eczema. 

Also, heavy metals like mercury, lead and cadmium can cause eczema. And people with poor detoxification ability are at greater risk. 

Testing not only for the presence of these toxins in the body, but for how well a person is able to get rid of toxins, is very important.

Eczema And Mold

Mold can cause eczema. Testing here is critical because mold can cause so many other health problems. 

It’s very common that patients who have eczema that was caused by mold, had no idea that their home had mold.

Eczema And Allergies 

There are many allergens that can cause eczema like: 

  • certain foods 
  • food additives
  • ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products
  • environmental chemicals and pollutants
  • seasonal pollen
  • dust mites 
  • pet dander

A Functional Medicine Approach To Eczema 

Healing eczema from a functional medicine approach is all about finding the cause and fixing it. 

Generally patients with eczema have more going on than just their eczema. Often these patients have one or more of these conditions as well: 

  • an autoimmune disorder
  • chronic fatigue
  • weakness
  • body pain
  • joint pain
  • headaches
  • sinus problems
  • brain fog
  • IBS &
  • depression and anxiety.

The components of the human body are so interwoven that when something is not working right a whole host of problems can occur. 

Functional medicine is all about recognizing this. 

Once the root causes are resolved, people get healthy and their symptoms go away.

Dr. Ian Hollaman aka Dr. Autoimmune

Functional medicine is one promising aspect of America’s healthcare future, in that it resolves medical issues at their source, before they become chronic challenges in your future.

If you or a loved one has eczema, Dr. Autoimmune and his team can help! Just click here or just click the Start Your Journey button below.

We’re the autoimmune wellness specialists that Boulder, CO. residents trust! 

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Healing Crohn’s Disease With Functional Medicine

Digestive issues are becoming more and more common! From bloating to IBS to SIBO and Candida overgrowth, there’s no shortage of people walking into my office hoping for a solution to their GI issues

Today, I’m going to dive into one of the more serious GI issues I see among my patients — Crohn’s disease

Many people with Crohn’s feel hopeless and like there’s no more that can be done. But I’m here to tell you that no matter what you’ve heard, there are steps you can take to improve your digestion and see improvements in your symptoms. Keep reading for everything you need to know.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. As of 2015, about 1.3% of the United States population had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBD is different from IBS in that it is characterized as an autoimmune disease, meaning the underlying cause of Crohn’s is an immune system malfunction that causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues. 

In the case of Crohn’s, the body attacks the intestinal lining, leading to localized inflammation. 

What Are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease? 

The inflammation caused by Crohn’s can lead to a host of symptoms, including: 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Bloating 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding and pain
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nutrient deficiencies 
  • Fatigue
  • Low mood or depression 
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

To be diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, these symptoms would have to be moderate to severe, and chronic. 

In order to officially make a Crohn’s disease diagnosis, a doctor will also do laboratory tests to check your inflammation levels, signs of nutrient deficiencies such as anemia, and infections as well as X-rays, CT scans, a colonoscopy, and an endoscopy.

What Does a Functional Medicine Crohn’s Diet Plan Look Like? 

If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, you may have already noticed that certain foods seem to trigger your symptoms and other foods seem to be “safe.” And while every person’s trigger foods are slightly different, almost all Crohn’s patients can benefit from reducing their intake of: 

  • Lectin-containing foods like beans and legumes 
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Gluten-containing grains
  • Dairy
  • Processed foods
  • Raw vegetables
  • Caffeine 
  • Sorbitol, xylitol, or other sugar alcohols
  • Alcohol 
  • Spicy foods 
  • Raw fruits

You may be reading the list above and feel a little bummed out. Does this mean you can’t enjoy your morning cappuccino or popcorn at the movies? Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune recommends reducing these foods as much as possible, especially in the first few months, but you may be able to be more flexible once your symptoms have improved.

The good news is that there are a ton of delicious foods that can actually benefit your gut health, such as: 

  • Organic meats
  • Fatty fish 
  • Cooked vegetables 
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Fruits and vegetables 

As a general rule, it’s been noticed that people with Crohn’s seem to benefit from eating cooked foods, which means soups, stews, and stir fry are your new best friends. 

Crohn’s can have serious consequences and should not be ignored. That being said, if your doctor does not seem open to dietary or lifestyle changes, or tells you they won’t make a difference, that is a red flag that you may want to find another physician to manage your care. Why? Because study after study has shown that lifestyle factors DO matter when it comes to Crohn’s and all inflammatory bowel diseases for that matter. 

Non-Food Lifestyle Choices That Can Improve Symptoms.

Even though Crohn’s is a gut-centric disease, there are other non-food lifestyle choices that seem to be able to improve symptoms. If you have Crohn’s, I recommend exploring the following:

1. Avoid smoking-

Tobacco products have been linked to the development of Crohn’s and an increased number of flare-ups. 

2. Manage stress-

Stress is not necessarily a cause of Crohn’s but it can definitely trigger flare-ups and worsen symptoms. I recommend yoga, meditation, or gratitude practices as a way to manage daily stress. 

3. Take fish oil-

Fish oil may help reduce the underlying inflammation present in Crohn’s disease. In fact, one study showed that patients taking fish oil were twice as likely to remain in remission compared to patients not taking fish oil. 

4. Try acupuncture-

Another great option is the traditional Chinese medicine modality acupuncture. While the research isn’t conclusive, several clinical trials have shown promising results that acupuncture could be helpful for inflammatory bowel disease. 

How Functional Medicine Can Help Heal Crohn’s Disease

Many patients with Crohn’s disease report feeling frustrated with conventional medical protocols. Patients overwhelmed with drug risks and side effects want an alternative approach. Functional medicine practitioners like Dr. Ian Hollaman (aka Dr. Autoimmune) is an expert in alternative therapies- He has found that when he helps clients with Crohn’s disease change their lifestyle, he can help them change the severity of their disease. 

He then customizes a program that utilizes diagnostic tests, protocols, and procedures to help identify autoimmune triggers caused by Crohn’s disease which may be contributing to the client’s symptoms. 

He then uses additional protocols to help the body deal with the identified stressors. 

How Is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Crohn’s disease may often prove to be a complicated task, given the complexity of symptoms, the varying degree of their severity, and the fact that the signs may not manifest the same way for all patients. It is likely that several different types of tests are needed, after considering your symptoms, their frequency, and seriousness. 

Functional Medicine Labs to Test for Crohn’s Disease

Functional medicine testing can assess the extent of inflammation in the intestines and the rest of the body along with nutrient deficiencies, anemia, and infections and help identify underlying contributing factors.


The Celiac, IBS, and Crohn’s Assay (CICA) measure genetic risk markers and antibodies directed against yeast in the gut (Anti-Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Antibody (ASCA), which is an indicator for the presence and severity of Crohn’s.


Fecal calprotectin is a marker of mucosal inflammation in IBD and can be used to monitor disease activity.

Comprehensive Stool Test

The GI-MAP assesses relative amounts of healthy and unbalanced gut bacteria, inflammation and leaky gut markers, parasites, and yeast overgrowth. Individuals with Crohn’s frequently have an overgrowth of Candida and Malassezia yeasts that join harmful bacteria to create biofilms that are difficult for the immune system to get rid of. This can trigger autoimmunity and perpetuate the cycle of inflammation, so detecting and healing gut infections and imbalances is important.

Micronutrient Testing

Crohn’s causes nutrient deficiencies that result in further immune system dysregulation and impaired healing. The damaged intestines cannot effectively absorb nutrients, leading to deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, magnesium, and other nutrients. 

The functional status of nutrients within the cell can be assessed with a micronutrient panel to target any deficiencies.

Other Labs

Other basic labs to assess contributing factors and complications include

  • complete blood count (CBC) to detect infection and anemia
  • inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) to assess inflammation throughout the body, and
  • liver function tests to screen for liver and bile duct problems.

After careful consideration, a highly trained integrative functional medicine practitioner can determine the presence of Crohn’s disease, its location in the digestive tract, and its state of progression. 

If you’re an individual suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, it is imperative to develop a close, trusting, and reliable relationship with your integrative functional medicine practitioner to avoid the worsening of your condition and even to restore the standard functions of the digestive system.

Why is it Important to Work With an Integrative Functional Medicine Practitioner?

An integrative functional medicine practitioner will examine all areas of your life when creating a plan for managing your Crohn’s disease symptoms.

With the help of various scientifically proven allopathic and complementary medicinal methods this disorder may become entirely manageable, remaining in remission for extended periods of time. The goal of care therefore, will always be:

  • to control the inflammatory processes, most often with the help of anti-inflammatories
  • to balance the immune system- by aiding its health with proper nutrition
  • to correct any nutritional deficiencies developed by creating a proper diet protocol and adding appropriate supplementation
  • to relieve all bothersome symptoms, usually with the help of natural therapies, herbal remedies, stress relief, and other alternative approaches

Functional Medicine Care for Crohn’s Disease

A functional medicine approach to Crohn’s disease addresses underlying factors to balance the immune system, calm inflammation, and avoid the progression of the disease to avoid complications.

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make


Diet strongly influences the gut microenvironment, impacting microbial composition, function, gut barrier, and immunity. 

The composition of the gut microbiota can change in response to diet. So like we mentioned above, an individualized nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help balance inflammation to avoid flares and further irritation to the gastrointestinal tract while optimizing nutrients.

Support the Microbiome

A properly balanced gut microbiome is crucial for balanced immune function. A diet rich in unprocessed whole foods that incorporates probiotic-rich foods like miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut combined with prebiotic-rich foods like leeks, artichokes, garlic, and beans that nourish healthy bacteria is critical for repairing the intestinal lining and reducing symptoms. 

In addition to diet, probiotic supplements like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to improve Crohn’s.

Manage Stress

Stress increases cortisol and inflammation in the gut via the “brain-gut axis,” triggering flare-ups. Therefore, stress management practices like yoga, meditation, breathwork, or gratitude practices and addressing emotions and trauma are helpful.


Exercise decreases the expression of inflammatory substances and encourages repair of the damaged intestines.

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT)

FMT is an emerging experimental treatment strategy for Crohn’s.

Dr. Ian Hollaman aka Dr. Autoimmune 

Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune, along with his team, is one of the top functional medicine telehealth providers in the world! We offer webcam health consultations for people suffering from autoimmune diseases. 

At Dr. Autoimmune, we use a functional medicine approach to identify the root cause of your condition and develop a custom plan using diet, supplementation, and lifestyle change to help you reach your health goals. 

With an 85% success rate, we are confident that we can get you the results you are looking for. 

If you’re ready for your life to change click here or just click the “Start Your Journey” button below.

We are the autoimmune wellness specialists that Boulder, CO. residents trust!

What is Leaky Gut?

95% of the good microbes in your body are in your gut. When in balance, these tiny organisms work together with your body to support many important systems, such as your immune system. In fact, 70-80% of your immune cells are in your gut! The tiny ecosystem of microbes in your stomach and intestines is known as your “gut microbiome”.

A problem occurs when the good microbes are overpowered by bad microbes. This creates a state of imbalance known as “gut dysbiosis”. Since your gut microbiome is so essential to the proper functioning of many of your body’s systems, gut dysbiosis is linked to various diseases- even brain diseases- such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

What affects your gut microbiota? Stress, alcohol, certain foods, the use of antibiotics can all harm the good microbes in your gut, leading to gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis can also cause inflammation, which can lead to what we call “leaky gut”.

The lining of your intestines is important for keeping most material inside your gut, while also letting things like water and nutrients be absorbed through it. In order to let certain things through the barrier, your intestine lining has to be somewhat permeable by having gaps between cells. However, when the gaps become too big due to inflammation, bigger particles can seep through. This is how leaky gut starts.

Food particles that escape your intestinal lining cause more inflammation. This is why leaky gut can is linked to inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The backbone of our immune system lies in our gut. When we have gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, and inflammation, our immune system can become dysregulated. This leads to a loss of tolerance for certain foods, environmental substances such as chemicals, and eventually our own cells.

3 Red Flags for Leaky Gut

Food sensitivities

Environmental sensitivities

Autoimmune disease

Healing Leaky Gut With Functional Medicine

As a functional medicine office, our focus is to dig deeper and address chronic health concerns by getting to the root cause. Because leaky gut is often the root cause of most inflammatory disorders and autoimmune diseases, our care is very gut-focused.

One of the most common questions asked in the natural health community is, “How do I fix my gut?” The problem is that this is not exactly a one-size-fits-all situation! Our personalized plans are designed to find and remove your specific triggers, which are not the same for everyone.


Since gut dysbiosis is a factor contributing to leaky gut, it is beneficial to add healthy bacteria back into the gut to “take up parking spots” and out-compete bad bacteria. Dr. Ian Hollaman uses advanced GI testing to identify exactly which strains of probiotics will be most beneficial for each patient. 

Sometimes, before adding in good bacteria, the gut needs to be cleared of an infection, or overgrowth, of bad bacteria. Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a difficult monster to tackle, but we have successfully helped many of our patients get it under control.


Eating a fiber-rich diet gives the good bacteria in your gut plenty of good food! This is another way to help their populations grow.


Polyphenols are antioxidants that help reduce stress on your body’s cells, therefore reducing inflammation. A recent study found that eating a polyphenol-rich diet for 8 weeks helped change the gut microbiota and therefore reduced intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). This study used polyphenols from cocoa and green tea. 

Dr. Ian’s proprietary supplement ImmunoXym contains caffeine-free green tea extract for its polyphenol content along with a specially formulated blend of probiotics and a slew of other vitamins essential for your immune system to regulate itself. 


Glutamine supplementation has been shown to dramatically and safely reduce symptoms in IBS patients that have leaky gut.

The Dr. Autoimmune Difference

At Dr. Autoimmune, we use a functional medicine approach to address the root cause of leaky gut and all other gut issues. Our solutions are always natural, always personalized, and always backed by science. If you are ready to change your life, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page!