5 natural cures for eczema

Permaculture magazine
Monday, 7th November 2011

There are all sorts of eczema treatments, some people are told simply not to scratch and many have been given steroid creams. But have you found that after you finish the course of medication, it just keeps coming back? Rather than dampen the symptoms, this article discusses 5 simple steps you can take to get to the root of the problem and beat eczema forever.

I've had eczema since I was a child and have tried everything including homeopathy and herbal medicine as well as more conventional treatments. I was told that I would probably grow out of it but unfortunately I was still itching into my 20s. None of the treatments I was given worked, they either gave temporary relief or made it worse. After years of trying, I decided to take a little look at what was in the emollient given to me by my doctor and I found some surprising results. It mostly consisted of parabens (which can be an irritant in some people) but the wost ingredient was sodium laurel sulphate, an ester of sulphuric acid that dries up the natural oils on your skin and can cause skin corrosion and severe irritation. The thing they were prescribing me was creating the problem and it is in most soaps and moisturisers. Crazy right? So why do cosmetic companies use it? Well, It started off as an efficient detergent for garage floors and it's incredibly cheap. It does so much more but one of its finest qualities is mimicking estrogen (EEK!) to read more about SLS click here. 

This article will discuss tackling the causes of eczema as well as how to treat it.

1. Change your shampoo and soaps: Look at the ingredients labels

Get rid of anything that has SLS in it, you are not a garage floor! This means you need to look at your shampoos, conditioners, hand soaps, shower gels, moisturisers. Anything and everything that comes into contact with your skin should come under scrutiny. My motto is, "Don't put anything on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth." Try to avoid parabens and other synthetic substances that could be irritants as well, the Ecologist have a great list of beauty baddies on their website.

Go for the products that pride themselves on being organic but keep looking at the ingredients labels as they are not always 100% natural. The rule to go by is if you don't recognise what's in it, don't buy it. A personal favourite of mine is a company called Raw Gaia, the world's first range of living organic skin care products and raw organic beauty products . When you use their delicious smelling creams it really feels like you are nourishing your skin.

2. Moisturise naturally as much as possible: Aloe vera, cocoa butter, almond oil benefits

This is the piece of advice I really agree with the doctors on. Every time you think of it, like right now, get the moisturiser out. Eczema is usually caused by dry skin (but you should check with your doctor in case it is an infection) so it makes sense to give it tonnes of moisture but just make sure it's the right kind. I find that using 100% pure products was the only thing that didn't irritate or block my pores.

Cocoa butter is great for your skin because Vitamins E among others is naturally found within it. If it is cold pressed, the vitamins will be more prevalent. It also makes your skin beautifully soft and smells like a dream! It's best to buy it in its most pure form as this guarantees there will be no parabens mixed in but it's also so much cheaper than shop bought brands. It keeps forever so there is never any need to put artifical preservatives in it anyway.

Sweet almond carrier oil is also vitamin rich. It contains contains the plant-derived compounds ursolic acid and oleic acid which are known to have anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects. Try massaging it all over your body an hour before having a bath to prevent dryness.

Aloe vera is used for treating burns and has even shown to be effective at healing wounds. It has been amazing at treating my eczema with overnight results but when I told a friend this she said it always gave her a rash. It turned out she had been using a cream with all sorts of other ingredients in it because harvested aloe juice needs preservatives. The best way to get around this is to just buy a plant from your local garden centre and cut off a leaf and keep it in your fridge to use as and when you need it. This is a really cheap way of moisturising but it also means you can get the full benefits of the aloe plant by drinking it as a juice too.

3. Dietary supplements that might help eczema

You should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals you need from a balanced diet but it's sometimes useful to have an extra boost. It is always best to consult a nutritionist before taking supplements. In some cases, eczema can be caused by a fatty acid defficiency. Fatty acids can reduce inflammation and relieve dryness, and can also help to heal eczema, therefore, it is worth taking a fatty acid supplement that contains Omega 3, 6 and 9.  Antioxidant vitamins C, E and D might also be good for treating eczema. This is because antioxidants can improve the skin's texture, collagen production, protect from free radicals and help with essential fatty acid metabolism. 

4. Look at what you eat to beat eczema: Cows milk alternatives

Cows milk is the most common dietary trigger for eczema. Drinking cows milk may not be the thing causing your eczema but it is worth cutting it out for a couple of weeks just to see if it makes a difference to you. When you cut out a certain type of food it is important that you replace it with something. In terms of alternatives to cows milk, it really depends on your preference, almond and hazelnut milks are my favourites but others in my family love oat and rice milk. Goats, sheeps and buffalo milk are delicious creamy alternatives and also create amazing cheeses but if you are particularly sensitive, after the two weeks, it might be worth cutting these out too.

It is also possible that you could be sensitive to other foods like soya, gluten, citrus fruits or nuts so if you've tried all of the steps and they still aren't working it might be good to consult a dietician or allergy specialist.

5. Change your washing detergent and wear natural fibres 

It sounds so simple but we often forget that clothes are the thing that come into contact with our skin the most. I often found that my eczema got a lot worse as I started wearing more clothes when the cold weather set in. If you think about it, even though most of the detergent gets washed out every time you wash your clothes, they always come out the machine with a fresh clean smell so it must be leaving some sort of residue. There have been many eczema arguments against biological washing powder because the enzymes used to eat the dirt could also eat your skin but nothing has been proved. I would just say that natural is best because even after I got rid of the biological washing powder, there were still some that chafed no end! My favourite is the Simply pure range because it doesn't use harmful substances (to you or the fishes in the sea) and it leaves your clothes smelling delightful, it is also recommended by the national eczema society.

In terms of wearing more natural fibres, rather than getting a whole new wardrobe just change what you buy in future. It's a case of exchanging scratchy fibers for softer ones like bamboo, cotton or silk (look out for top quality pieces second hand at jumble sales or charity shops). If you decide to start buying organic fibres, it benefits not just your skin but the environment and the farmers too.

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john button |
November 30, 2011 - 3:39pm

I also suffered eczema for years and years, though it finally dissipated. While I agree with all of your suggestions, finally I realised that the most fundamental of all my problems - for me! - was self-judgement. If this sounds esoteric or whatever, the consequences have been totally practical. Even now, years after the chronic eczema has passed, if I am giving myself a hard time, eczema appears, and I only need to recognize it, literally look at myself in a mirror, and tell myself honestly that I love myself just the way I am, and the eczema goes into retreat!
Try it, and I hope it works as well for you. Do the other stuff as well of course.
Good luck!

SarahJane |
January 8, 2012 - 12:51pm

I had bad eczema for years and agree that aloe vera and almond oil are great for eczema. I used different types of creams from the chemist and eventually went natural (thank goodness!). I used proskin eczema by mama nature which is a cream with aloe vera, almond oil and calendula. It was amazing and helped me better than any other cream. I would definitely recommend natural products.

mrsbumble |
September 2, 2012 - 7:40pm

Spotted the thread on eczema and wondered if acne could be helped by similar treatments. A young relative (aged 20) has bad acne and it is making him very self-conscious and depressed. Any ideas?

RebeccaHarris |
October 6, 2012 - 8:47am

Super article. I found through trial and error that the only thing I can put on my scalp is aloe Vera shampoo and conditioner (faith in nature or dr. Organic). I struggled for years with eczema, but now it is very much under control.

jennynazak |
November 9, 2012 - 11:04pm

Thanks for this article! The other day for the first time, I thought to try a piece of Aloe Vera plant and when I applied it, it seemed to soothe quickly, so it's good to see confirmation in the pages of Permaculture Mag!

Jacobking |
December 4, 2012 - 5:23pm

Shampoo. Seriously ive had this since i was born and this shampoo made it worse quit messing with people and put stuff on here when you actually find a cure. There is none. The only thing to do is to keep it moisturized. I am 17 and im tired of hearing the same crap about how we cured it the only thing helping me is this soap i got from Louisiana. The Baylor college of Medicine. These natural cures don't work i've personally tried them all. It sucks when you can't even go to school with shorts on because your scarred people will see your eczema. Just go to Baylor College of medicine. That is the only "cure"

efgibbs |
December 14, 2012 - 11:21am

Because things don't work for you it doesn't render them useless. My son has had ecxema since he was 2 months old he is now 23, for him and I'm sure many others different things have worked at different ages, a cream we tried when he was 3 didn't work but at 20 it did, now we need to change again, hence I'm on this site.I believe it's a condition you manage not cure, you have to look at the whole picture, age, diet, stresses, enviroment, as they change so should the treatment. I'm glad you have had success with the Baylor College and I hope they continue to manage your ecxema.

Ellyn Kutch |
May 10, 2013 - 12:57am

Try a gluten-free diet for a few months. I couldn't believe how it made most of my eczema disappear.

kerst ster |
December 31, 2013 - 5:19pm

Hi There,

Apart from the "use-a-different-more-natural-shampoo-strategies" you can also stop using what you don't need.

Natural moisteriser for people with excema is probably a whole lot more usefull than shampoo is for anyone.

A lot of cosmetic products destroy your natural skin protection, which you then restore with yet another product, bullocks, stop using them all together....

I just use a bit of simple soap for my hands... and only use more soap if there is a reason for it, like having my clothes tear while cleaning the horses stables... not every day, thats really silly.

You can find a whole lot of no (sham)poo websites online these days...

SallyO |
November 1, 2014 - 11:53am

Hi. As a medical herbalist, I'm very surprised herbs didn't work for you. Touch wood, I've not had an eczema case (who followed my dietary advice) not clear up or improve dramatically. I wonder what or who you tried? Information about Herbal Medicine, the herbs themselves and practitioners all vary widely in quality. Oh, and well done John Button, yes, I find stress is very key. The skin and nerve tissues develop from the same embryological germ tissue, and I wonder if this is why.

J William N Williamson |
November 1, 2014 - 10:33pm

Did not hear one word about Hemp. If your not aware of the quality and benefits of this super plant, I believe everyone should. It provides us with a full spectrum of Omegas, in fact all of them in which the body needs. Even all the essential fatty acids we need to consume from our diet. Its known to clear up everything! especially eczema. And no not talking about marijuana. I am talking about Hemp! You can consume it from eating hulled seeds or oil. There is also many body care products out there with hemp oil in it. The hemp oil that I am talking about is the seed oil. As a good example I would refer to Robert from Canada Hemp Foods. Hemp will dominate once again, Slowly while we all educate ourselves since it is very clear our governments and corporations have been lying to us to benefit themselves. It could only last for so long and now is the time for people to start becoming aware of the high quality and benefits hemp has to offer.

Herbalista |
November 1, 2014 - 10:39pm

I'm also wondering what exactly you mean when you say you 'tried herbal medicine'. There is a world of difference between taking or applying over-the-counter herbal remedies (which may not be the correct herb for you, or may not be strong enough to tackle a severe case of eczema) and going to see a qualified medical herbalist, who can assess your individual needs and make up a specific treatment plan for your condition, which usually includes custom made herbal medicines, topical applications and detailed dietary advice. In this case the success rate for treatment of eczema and other chronic skin conditions is very high.

Kelly Ball |
April 21, 2015 - 11:06pm

I used to suffer from eczema for about 15 years so I have tried every single cream & ointment known to man. Unfortunately Aveeno and every other cream had little effect at all. Thankfully I was actually able to completely cure my eczema after my cousin told me how. I only had to do 2 things, which i will share below…

1. Use a humidifier in your house. This will add moisture to the air and to your skin without you knowing.

2. Follow every step in the EFF guide seen at http://solvehealthproblem.com/eczema

Try those two steps and hopefully you will get as much luck with getting rid of eczema as i did. Just remember eczema is not a permanent problem, creams may slightly ease symptoms occasionally but you need to tackle the root cause.

marina1 |
January 15, 2016 - 2:22pm

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maalainen2 |
May 6, 2016 - 10:01pm

Hi,
My daughter developed eczema between the ages of 11 and 20, then it disappeared. But those years were hell as many of you so well know. The usual routine; night scratching and weeping, stuck to the sheets, you know. And the diabolical treatments with steroids, paraffin rich gunk which was called 'moisturiser' for some obscure reason, and the emollient baths. Been there, sad times and I was ignorant and trusted the doctors as I never had experienced these things before. In fact I had never known anyone with bad enough eczema to mention in a conversation. But I had better ideas and tried to find a natural cure for the problem. Those days there was no internet, only some books in our very limited library and few more in another, further away in the city. So I harvested the little info there was but found not much. I tried almond carrier oil with few drops of lavender essential oil but that did not help a lot. I also mixed the lavender in the doctor-prescribed paraffin gunk because I had been convinced of its merits. Now I would like to drag all those doctors to court and sue them for child cruelty. I have also learnt to avoid doctors as much as possible. They work for the Big Pharma and recommend 'medicines' to make money and have no interest in your well being. In fact, eczema patients are well loved by Big Pharma as they'll never get better as long as they are 'treated' with the popular medicines, steroids and paraffin. And the money rolls in.
Eventually my daughter grew out her eczema but it did return. However, meanwhile I had enquired computer skills and found a wealth of new info on the net, and learnt so much more about herbal treatments. I also learnt how to make herbal creams and infusions with amazing results. When my daughter began to get a nasty rash around her mouth 4 years ago, aged 29, she went to see a doctor, against my wishes, and was prescribed steroid cream. My advice was to not to use it, but she thought that since there was only a little rash, something quick should remove it without fuss. Long story short; yes it did remove it but it returned in 2 weeks' time much worse. Then it was time to go to the garden and find some herbs. I found Chickweed and made an infusion, tea thus. The rash which was now burning and spread, was dabbed many times a day with this cooled 'tea' in a cotton wool ball. Immediately there was a cooling, soothing feeling, and less itch. This went on for 2 weeks, and we could see how the skin began to change colour from the angry red back to the normal paleness. After 3 weeks of daily washes there was no sign of any redness at all. Steroid cream was thrown in the bin to start with, and after that episode there have not been a new flair ups until recently when my daughter found the same redness on her eye lids. She started to use chickweed infusion again, and now the redness is receding. It is an amazing little weed and really works.Very cheap too, from a well known market place. Just buy 'dried Chickweed', put 1 teaspoon in a mug, pour boiled water on top as making tea and cover with a saucer. Let brew at least 15 minutes and let cool. Then dab on any eczema and keep on doing so until there is improvement. There will be and it is lovely to see. The same happens if you use Calendula. You can buy that very cheaply too and use like CW. You can also drink the tea for stomach upsets. Use Calendula cream, or CW cream, and avoid anything with paraffin. I'll write another post about those, Just AVOID them. Moisturise with almond oil straight from the bottle or Jojoba oil which is actually a liquid wax but it lets the skin breathe and does not block pores like paraffin does.
Also, you can have a bath without emollients. I make a bath oil for my 'patients',( people hear about me and come for help) and it is lovely. It contains 1 part of Polysorbate 80 and 3 parts of oils of your choice, say, Almond, Coconut or Jojoba. Put all in a bottle, shake up and use 1 cap full in a bath. The oil mixes with water and does not float on top, so you are not sitting in an oil slick. Also, in the warm bath the healing oils penetrate your skin and leave it moisturised afterwards. One lady prefers this for any moisturiser and makes her own now. Others have learned to make creams.
But do not forget that eczema also needs treatment from the inside. Bad diet, sugar and nasty fats as vegetable oils (Google about that and Omega-3 please) play hell with your skin. Toxins break out through your skin too, and an unclean liver will keep you ill forever. There are articles written about these things, so Google up and educate yourself.
With lots of love,
Marju

maalainen2 |
May 6, 2016 - 10:10pm

Copied and pasted, harvested from Gooogle.

This is the stuff you bump into everywhere;
Mineral Oil
One of the reasons it has become popular as a skin care product is
that it forms a film over the skin that prevents the skin from
contacting or absorbing anything in the environment.
For example, it’s best to keep a rash dry, and mineral oil helps
prevent the absorption of water.
Large cosmetic companies are continuing to use synthetic and
petrochemical ingredients in personal care products.
Pick up any bottle of lotions, cream, shampoo, conditioner, or
toothpaste in your house right now and see how many natural
ingredients they contain.
Another popular use is in bath oils. In this case, it supposedly keeps
moisture locked in, and makes the skin feel smooth. Since dry skin
generally feels rough and flaky, the assumption is that if the skin
feels smooth, then it is moist.
Mineral Oil Doesn't Allow The Skin to Breathe
The hole in these theories is that mineral oil doesn't allow the skin to ‘breathe’. While it may keep moisture in, it also
prevents the body from absorbing oxygen and from eliminating toxins and other waste products – both of which are
such vital bodily processes that their malfunction could create dry skin, and many other unhealthy conditions.
Mineral oil acts as a thin layer on the skin.
Mineral oil is not absorbed into your skin because the molecules are too large. It just sits on top of your skin and clogs
your pores, which doesn't allow your skin to absorb water (moisture) which slows the skins ability to eliminate toxins.
Remember, the skin in the body's largest organ and plays an important role in maintaining overall health! Once the oil
is absorbed, it is broken down by the liver and passes through the intestinal tract, it will absorb all of the fat-soluble
vitamins found there.
It is essentially stealing important vitamins from the body, which the body will not be able to replace.

Mineral Oil Increases the Photo-Aging of the Skin
We wonder why we keep looking older, why our skin continues to dry out, even with
all the products we use? (Plus you will burn faster when using petroleum products...
and a burn is not a tan).
So, the skin problem is not being treated, it’s being masked, and possibly even
worsened.
This will quickly be obvious once you stop using the products, and find that the skin
problems immediately reappear.
Also, your skin can become more dehydrated because mineral oil dissolves your skins
natural oil.You may also want to check the label on the baby oil you're using. Most are 100% mineral oil. Petroleum, paraffin,
paraffin oil and propylene glycol are all derivatives of mineral oil and have similar effects on your skin.
The solution is to use a product that locks in moisture and forms a protective barrier against environmental toxins,
without leaving a greasy or oily film that prevents the body from absorbing oxygen and eliminating wastes – which is
how a shielding natural product works.
Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap. Mineral oil, a
common ingredient in commercial lotions, creams, and baby care products.

Why Is Mineral Oil Used ?
It is produced as a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil, the
same stuff they make gasoline from. Mineral oil is leftover liquid, and because it is abundant, it is very inexpensive.
It is less expensive for manufacturers to purchase these by-products as a filler
than it is for the industry to dispose of it.
Mineral oil is the main ingredient in many baby care items as well. Baby oil,
Vaseline, baby wash liquid soap, and baby lotions all contain mineral oil as a key
ingredient.
In fact 98% of all cosmetics use mineral oil, including your eye shadow, blush,
lipstick, shaving cream and your everyday moisturizer and lotion you use at home.
It is also used in most SPF sunscreen.

Hope this helps!
Love,Marju

maalainen2 |
May 6, 2016 - 10:14pm

Copied and pasted from google

Dangers and Even Death to Small Children
800px-Baby vs. Bathwater
Mineral oil, also commonly known as baby oil, has a sad history of harming infants and small children. The risks are very real. Children have been known to inhale the oil and as a result many have died a slow death of asphyxiation. One child is reported to have struggled for a very long 28 days to breathe before death occurred.
In 1991 a lawsuit ensued against Johnson & Johnson after their 15 month old child suffered permanent brain damage.
Baby oil is only one product containing mineral oil. Many sunscreens and beauty products contain it as well. The hydrocarbons in the oil cause damage to the stomach if ingested, as well.
With such damaging effects, parents must take extreme caution with products containing mineral oil. The risk of brain damage, stomach damage, skin damage and even death from inhalation, should be enough to incur strong warnings of the dangers of mineral oil.
Alternatives Using Essential Oil Blends
Parents who wish to use baby oil without risking environmental or health-related consequences can make their own alternatives to baby oil with plant-based essential oils.
Natural, homemade baby oil is effective in moisturizing an infant's skin and is free of commercial chemicals. The following types of essential oils can be used on their own or combined in formulas that are significantly more Eco-friendly than mineral oil:
--Rose oil soothes and softens a baby's skin. This oil has a naturally delicate and pleasing scent.
--Chamomile oils such as, Roman chamomile and German chamomile are calming and helpful in easing skin irritations.
--Primrose oil is added to homemade baby oil as a protectant against skin inflammation and rashes.
--Neroli oil helps to rejuvenate the skin and to reduce itching sensations.
--Sweet almond oil is ideal for babies with sensitive skin.

Babies rock!

Love
Marju

maalainen2 |
May 6, 2016 - 10:20pm

Copied and pasted from Google

Chickweed
What is chickweed? This is the typical response of people when the herb chickweed is mentioned. And it's a shame that it is not a well recognized herb, because it has so many benefits. Some people use chickweed as a vegetable, and it can be prepared in salads or even cooked in soups. It is known to taste like spinach. It is a very healthy green plant because it contains the following nutrients, amino acids, vitamins and minerals:VITAMIN C, BETA-CAROTENE, CALCIUM, GAMMA-LINOLENIC-ACID, FLAVONOIDS, MAGNESIUM, RIBOFLAVIN, NIACIN, OLEIC ACID, POTASSIUM, ZINC, AND SELENIUM...AND THIS IS REALLY ONLY A PARTIAL LIST!
RELATED ARTICLES
It is also known as a medicinal herb. Besides the high level of nutrition and digestional roughage, it has several applications for both internal and external healing. Some people will create or buy a chickweed based cream, salve, or even a compress as a healing agent. Also, some people use chickweed to stop intestinal bleeding like ulcers, etc.
What makes it able to reduce pain is it works to reduce inflammation. In fact, research has demonstrated it acts as an active antihistamine, reducing the inflammation and pressure in the body caused by allergies and infections. This is great news for people suffering from chronic allergies, and it may even be a replacement for drugs like Claritin and Benadryl.
Chickweed works particularly well when combined with aloe vera drippings, because they both have similar healing properties. Also, the aloe can help the chickweed penetrate deep into the skin, reducing swelling and consequently pain. Since aloe vera has a similar effect on the skin, these two can make a powerful mix for topical healing and reducing inflammation.
Because chickweed reduces inflammation, it can also be used to treat rashes and itching. Again, a salve of chickweed or compress of chickweed can be applied to areas that are broken out in rash or are itching.
Chickweed can also be used to treat acne, particularly cystic acne where the skin around the lesion has become inflamed. Mixing chickweed and tea tree oil to use as a diluted warm compress can have an almost magical effect in treating acne. Both are clinically proven to have compounds that will attack acne bacteria and the relating inflammation. Add a little fresh aloe vera to promote fast healing and reduce acne scarring, and you have an all natural acne triple threat!

This is the star performer and will be your friend forever!

Love,
Marju

maalainen2 |
May 6, 2016 - 10:37pm

I cannot tolerate any commercial shampoo, even the usual popular baby shampoos which are the worst and leave my scalp burning. I make my own shampoo which has two main ingredients; Decyl Glucoside and Lamesoft. D.G. is very mild and does not remove natural oils from the skin, therefore being ideal for eczema sufferers.
(It is also used to bathe premature babies in hospitals).
You can find shampoos, usually in organic baby brands, which are made with this ingredient. Avoid anything from super markets. They all contain SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) which is a skin irritant. Whatever you buy, make sure it is SLS free, it says so on the label.

Decyl Glucoside is a natural, non-ionic surfactant, ideal for all foaming and cleansing products. Decyl Glucoside is obtained from renewable raw materials and is a combination of plant based fatty alcohols (coconut c8-16) and glucose (corn starch). Decyl Glucoside mild surfactant and because it does not dry it is ideal for the formulation of personal hygiene and toiletry cosmetics.
It produces a very satisfactory level of foam, comparable with that obtained using conventional anionic surfactants. Moreover, the foam obtained is fine and particularly stable, which is an advantage for the formulation of bubble baths and shower gels.
Decyl Glucoside does not contain any impurities. Its chemical nature and the production process results in a surfactant without ethylene oxide or 1,4-dioxane and is suitable for baby, and pet, products.

Lamesoft is a mild, water-soluble emollient used to thicken liquid surfactant products such as shampoos, body washes and bubble baths. To achieve optimum thickness the pH should be adjusted to around 5. It can also be incorporated into lotions, creams and conditioners.

Lamesoft is 100% plant-derived (Coco Glucoside from Coconut and the fatty acid Glyceryl Oleate from Sunflower Oil) and is gentle enough for use in baby care products.

It is also a lipid layer enhancer and thus replenishes the skins' moisture barrier function.
It helps the hair retain its natural oils and moisture and assists with detangling.

Happy bath time!
Love,
Marju

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