A Naturopathic Approach to Skin Care
Acne, eczema and rosacea are some of the most difficult and stubborn skin conditions to treat. Dermatologist will often prescribe topical and oral medications that will initially clear the skin condition only to have the problem recur. In Naturopathic medicine we see chronic skin conditions as a sign that there may be a deeper imbalance in the body. If you are frustrated with a recurring skin condition then it may be time to consider treating some of the common underlying problems.
1. Inflammatory skin reactions are often linked to poor digestive function.
There are many theories as to why our digestion affects our complexion. Some feel it is because our outer skin and the lining of digestive tract came from the same embryonic tissue and continue to maintain an important connection. Others believe gut inflammation disrupts the breakdown of food and blocks the absorption of vital vitamins and minerals. Nutrient deficiencies slow tissue repair and healing, especially in the skin, the largest organ of the body. Whatever the reason, a good Naturopathic skin care regime includes proper digestive support with high quality enzymes and probiotics.
2. Food sensitivities can cause a variety of chronic skin problems.
Approximately 80% of our immune system lines our digestive tract. This helps protect us from various foreign invaders in the form of abnormal bacteria, yeast and viruses. Sometimes the immune system can become overzealous in its defense by mistakenly reacting to the foods we are eating. This immune reaction can trigger an inflammatory response in the body which sometimes appears on our skin in the form of eczema, rosacea or acne. Fortunately there is a blood test that can help identify the foods that are triggering these immune reactions. This blood test is known as a food sensitivity and allergy panel. Eliminating these reactive foods from the diet for a time can decrease inflammation and give the skin time to heal.
3. Acne breakouts and rashes can indicate a need to support the bodyâ€™s detoxification pathways.
Our body is designed to remove toxins and metabolic waste through several different routes of elimination. The liver, bowels, kidneys, lungs and skin are the organs that help the body dispose of this waste. Just like rush hour traffic, if one route is blocked the other routes can become congested handling the extra work load. Acne breakouts and rashes can be a sign that the skin has become a dumping ground for toxins unable to be eliminated via the other organs. Naturopathic medicine encourages regular detoxification protocols to support all the pathways important for healthy elimination and ultimately healthy skin.
4. A low-fat diet will not help you achieve a radiant glow.
Every cell in the body is surrounded by a membrane composed of fat. The membrane allows good stuff in and bad stuff out of the cell. The cell membranes also have little antennae called receptors that allow the cells to communicate and detect changes for growth and repair. A diet rich in healthy fats found in fish, avocado, nuts, coconut, flax and olives provides the raw materials to grow healthy vital cells, including skin cells. Additional supplementation with fish oil and GLA can be particularly helpful for those with chronic skin conditions.
5. For women in particular, changes in hormones can lead to unfavorable skin changes.
Hormones are chemical messengers that let our body know that we are experiencing a change. Eating large quantities of sugar or experiencing increased amount of stress can cause the hormones insulin and cortisol to be made in large quantities. For women, this increase in insulin and cortisol can eventually lead to elevations in testosterone and cause irregular menstrual cycles and cyclical breakouts. Peri-menopausal women will experience natural hormone fluctuations as their body prepares to stop menstruating. This will cause large drops in estrogen. This change in estrogen can make the skin dryer, thinner and more fragile. The take home message for women is that balancing and regulating hormone levels is an important step for treating problem skin.
6. The use of sunscreen is important for our skin protection however can also lead to vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D, aptly named the sunshine vitamin, is made when our skin is exposed to the sun. Numerous studies have shown that vitamin D plays an important role in bone development, cardiovascular health and immune function. Having enough vitamin D may even protect us from developing certain kinds of cancer. Sunscreen blocks almost 100% of our vitamin D production. Unfortunately, frequently going without sunscreen can cause skin damage that can lead to chronic skin inflammation and skin cancer. It appears that 20 minutes of sun daily during the summer months can boost your natural vitamin D level. However to achieve and maintain optimal vitamin D levels most people require a daily supplementation of 2000-5000 IU of vitamin D3. A simple blood test is the best way to determine if you are getting enough vitamin D.
At NaturoMedica, we find that the prescription topical medications can be helpful initially when treating stubborn skin conditions. However, in the long run, a Naturopathic skin care protocol can decrease recurrence of the skin condition over time and promote a natural healthy glow. This is what the doctors at NaturoMedica do bestâ€¦treating the underlying cause of disease by blending natural and conventional therapies.
NaturoMedicaâ€™s Skincare Support Plan
- BioGest (Thorne): 2 capsules with each meal
- UltraFlora Spectrum (Metagenics): 1 capsule daily
- BioCleanse Powder & Capsules (BioGenesis): Follow Detoxification Protocol 2-3 times/year
- EPA/DHA (Metagenics): 2 capsules/day
- GLA (Metagenics): 1 capsule/day
- Hormone Balance (Vital Nutrients): 2 capsules/day
- Vitamin D1000 (Thorne): 2 capsules/day