Radiant Skin For Life

When our skin is unhealthy it is usually a reflection of the internal
state of our bodies, and is often a sign of poor elimination of toxins and
waste products. Most of us are embarrassed by skin problems such as rashes,
boils or acne, especially in places where others can see our imperfections. The
skin is the body’s first line of defense against the environment. It has to
deal with the effects of weather, sun , cold, heat, dryness, humidity, scrapes,
bumps, soaps, detergents, chemicals, perspiration and dirt of all kinds. It is
a wonder that our skin stays healthy most of the time! We can help our skin
deal with this onslaught by optimizing our general health and by protecting our
skin from harsh environmental exposure. Western medicine generally treats skin
eruptions with either antibiotics, cortisone, or antifungal preparations. These
medicines may alleviate the skin problem temporarily, or occasionally for good,
but do not address the source of the problem. Putting a lid on skin symptoms
without getting to the root of the imbalance may even result in suppression,
that means the imbalance may be driven deeper causing more serious health
problems later without ever strengthening the underlying vital force of the
person. Fortunately, naturopathic medicine offers a wide vareity of effective
treatments for skin problems. The following is general advice for most skin
problems including acne, eczema, psoriasis, herpes, rashes, hives, and fungal
infections. We also give more specific recommendations depending on the
individual condition, body type, life-style, etc.

Cleansing: Your skin is a reflection of how well your body is eliminating the
toxins that build up on a daily basis. Chronic skin conditions such as acne,
eczema and psoriasis stem from a combination of genetic factors, immune stress,
dietary deficiencies or sensitivities, and the accumulation of toxins in the
body. For our skin to be radiant and clear, it is very important that the other
organs of elimination (kidneys, liver, lungs, and colon) are cleansing the
body effectively. If not, the skin will be overtaxed, pores will become
clogged, and eruptions of one sort or another will result. Here are a number of
steps you can take to improve your body’s overall elimination wtih specific
emphasis on your skin.

l) Think twice about what you put into your body. If you
think of your body as a sacred temple instead of a garbage disposal, it will
help. What’s most important is what you eat every day, not that occasional dish
of Haagen Das chocolate chocolate chip. The simpler, more natural, less refined food you eat,
the less your body will have to work at detoxification. Make sure that what
you ingest is alive so that it can provide the needed energy that it’s supposed
to. If you think about it, how much real vitality can you gain from a
cheeseburger that comes from a cow that’s been stuffed with hormones, then
fried in oil that may have been sitting around for hours, and perhaps prepared
by a cook who was muttering over his or her breath about hwo bad the day was?
Now, that may be an exaggeration, but the point is to think before you
! Once we taught a class on yoga and food where the meal was silent and
meditative and we simply concentrated fully on the process of eating. People
were amazed at how delicious simple, vegetarian food tasted and how different
it was to eat consciously rather than stuff food into themselves without even
tasting it.

2) Start out the day with a dry skin brush massage. Buy a medium
stiffness sauna brush and brush your skin in concentric circles before you
bathe each day. This will stimulate your skin, make those capillaries wake up
bright and shining, and help remove any flaky, dead skin.

3) Learn how to fast and, barring conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy, or severe anemia or
weakness, set up a schedule of periodic fasts for yourself. Thse fasts can be
anywhere from one day a week to several days a month to five to ten days one to
four times a year. Consult our fasting articles or classes or Paavo Airola’s
book on juice fasting for specifics.

4) There are a number of ways to cleanse your body in depth, all of which are very beneficial to the health of your skin. As mentioned in our Pancha Karma article, we individualize
detoxification programs according to one’s body type. Methods include
therapeutic enemas, colon irrigation, natural laxatives and purgatives, and herbs. Some Western herbs which we often use to improve body elimination and skin health include Oregon grape, Dandelion Root, and Burdock, and Knick-Knick. Depending on the nature of the particular skin problem, we might think more of herbs directly affecting the liver, kidneys, or colon.

5) A basic cleansing can be achieved by making sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet.
A high percentage of whole grains (50-60%) is adequate for some people. Others
need to add additional fiber sources such as oat or rice bran orpsyllium seed
or husk, particularly if you have sluggish bowels or a tendency to
constipation. For some body types we also recommend periodic bentonite clay
which is another detoxifying aid, and is often given in formulas along with
other fiber sources such as pectin, guar gum, psyllium, and bran.

Diet and nutritional supplements: Regular consumption of plenty of fresh
fruits and vegetables, in whole form or juiced, along with legumes, grains,
nuts, seeds, and little or no refined, overprocessed foods, fat, sugar, and
caffeine will help your skin to stay young and healthy. Pay attention,
particularly in the case of hives and rashes, to any foods to which you may be
oversensitive. The nutritional supplements that are most of benefit to the skin
are Vitamin A (we recommend it in the form of Beta carotene, which is
non-toxic, since prolonged use of over 50,000 I.U. of Vitamin A can result in
hair loss, skin dryness, and other symptoms of toxicity), Zinc, Vitamin E, and
Vitamin C. We suggest these in combination with a mega multi vitamin and
mineral containing 25-50 mg of the B vitamins but use higher amount with some
skin conditions. Essential fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acid are
necessary to keep the skin soft and pliable. PABA, often found in sun tan
products, helps prevent against damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Lifestyle: Regular aerobic exercise is very important in keeping your skin
vibrant and healthy. Inhaling large amount of clean, fresh air not only helps
to oxygenate your whole body, including your skin, but is essential in
balancing the deeper energy systems of your body. A healthy dose of Viamin D
through sunlight is wonderful for the skin, though it has been shown by
considerable scientific research that excessive ultraviolet exposure often
results in skin cancer and for that reason we discourage the use of tanning
beds. Skin eruptions are often aggravated by stress, so it’s essential to
relax, keep your life stress at a manageable level, enjoy your life and
relationships, and express your emotions as they come up rather than bottle
them up inside for them to erupt later as herpes or an angry rash.

Natural skin applications: Although treating the skin from the outside in may
not get to the underlying cause of your skin problems, it’s a useful adjunct
and, in some cases, may be all you need. For dry skin, daily massage with
unrefined sesame oil or olive oil can help keep the skin supple and
moisturized. For skin inflamations or rashes, coconut oil or Aloe veramay have
a cooling or soothing effect. When excess oil and toxins are present, such as
with cystic acne, we often recommend periodic clay masks to help bring pimples
to a head. Itching is often relieved greatly by a warm bath with a cup of
baking soda in it to neutralize excess acidity in the skin, oatmeal baths such
as Aveeno, or dilute vinegar applications or soaks. Herbal creams or salves
containing such herbs as calendula, comfrey, plaintain, and chickweed can be
very soothing for the itching of eczema and dermatitis.

Homeopathy: We have found homeopathic remedies to be invaluable to help heal
skin conditions, particularly when some or all of the above has been tried
without success. We have used Apis mellifica (honeybee) many
times for the type of skin rash which is hot, red, swollen, and burning. There
are many remedies for eczema, including Graphites (graphite) for the
type of eczema which is scaly and oozes a honey-like discharge,
Petroleum when the skin is severely dry and cracked to the point of
being leathery or like parchment, and Sulphur for eczema with terrible
itching, worse after a hot bath or shower, often accompanied by dandruff or
athlete’s foot. Nearly any skin problem can be benefitted by homeopathy. Skin
conditions often heal through homeopathy from the top of the body downwards. We
heard of one case of ichthyosis, a severe hardening and drying of the skin
which produces which is called “fish skin” where the body cleared first after
the correct homeopathic remedy almost miraculously from the head down to the
waist, then gradually healed from the waist down.

What is your skin trying to tell you? Often the skin is a metaphor for deeper
issues and a way for your body to send up a red flag to warn you that all is
not well underneath. One patient came in about six months ago with a terribly
itchy and annoying red rash over most of her face.

The visit was also a good excuse to get an overdue Pap smear, which was found
to indicate very early cervical cancer, which we treated successfully. She was
busy in graduate school and she somehow needed an embarrassing rash to force
her to check out her overall health. Her rash was a gentle, though aggravating,
message which accomplished just that purpose for her.

The skin also serves as a kind of open book to our emotions. Red, fiery
rashes, sometimes brought on by the sun or acidic foods, often mask an
underlying fire in the form of suppressed anger or irritability. Dryness and
cracking of the skin sometimes go along with a feeling of being emotionally
dried up, stuck, or numb. If a person has a stubborn or persistent skin
problem, we often use hypnosis or guided imagery to help that person understand
why the skin problem has manifested, if there are any emotional issues which
need to be addressed, what lessons are to be learned from the experience, and
what would be the best path for healing. It is quite common for a skin
condition to result from a grief or disappointment, in which case a combination
of homeopathy and re-experiencing, releasing, and integrating the traumatic
event can alleviate the skin problem once and for all.

Just as our eyes are said to be the windows to our souls, our skin might
be considered the door to our temples. Treat your skin with love and respect.
It’s your friend for life!

Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are naturopathic
and homeopathic physicians and cofounders of the Northwest Center for
Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They are coauthors of
The Patient’s
Guide to Homeopathic Medicine and Beyond Ritalin: Homeopathic Treatment
of ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems. They can be reached at
(206) 774-5599.

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Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND MSW Written by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND MSW

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