With Natural Cosmetics
The skin (integument) is a semi-permeable barrier that represents the body’s first line of defense in protection from the external environment. It is also one of the first things that people notice about us. Healthy skin is both a cosmetic blessing and a sign of healthy underlying systemic terrain.
In this presentation, we will focus on a program of rejuvenation designed to restore skin to a more healthful, beautiful state.
Functions of the Skin
The skin is often under-appreciated for the numerous benefits it affords us. It protects the body from mechanical, chemical and thermal injury. With the help of glandular secretions, skin provides a first line of defense against many pathogenic microorganisms. By virtue of its immunologically active cells, skin takes part in the defense mechanisms of the body.
The skin assists in regulating the water balance of the body. It both protects the body against desiccation (conserves water) and provides a method of loss of fluid and mineral salts (eliminates water). It also provides assistance to the kidneys in eliminating water-soluble toxins via such fluid loss.
Skin helps maintain body temperatures by its ability to regulate deep and superficial circulation and its ability to sweat, which provides a form of evaporative cooling.
With its many sensory nerve endings, the skin acts as a sense organ for pressure, temperature and pain. The ability of skin to blush, sustain piloerection (hairs standing up), express pallor, etc. means that the skin is also a communication method from the autonomic nervous system to the outside world.
GI-Liver-Kidney health are necessary for clear skin. The skin is an organ of elimination. The composition of perspiration is very similar to urine, only more dilute. Acne, boils and other infective skin diseases represent eliminatory attempts on the part of the body. Gut-derived endotoxins are absorbed from the large intestine into the hepatic-portal vein where they proceed to the liver for detoxification. Toxic substances are rendered water soluble in the liver and proceed to general circulation, and then to the kidneys for removal. When more toxins are presented to the kidneys than they can efficiently remove, the skin will also begin to eliminate the excess water soluble toxins. Such toxins can irritate, inflame and infect the skin, just as they can the kidneys and urinary tract. Taking steps to detoxify the gut-liver-kidney axis is an important first measure whenever infective skin conditions exist. [Refer to notes on Detoxification for a comprehensive list of herbs and natural remedies to accomplish this].
DIET AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Diet: The skin requires essential fatty acids, antioxidants and a wide variety of nutrients. Be sure to include ample berries and green vegetables in the diet, and minimize Omega-6 fatty acid intake (please refer to The Super Fast Diet for more information about healthful Omega Ratios).
- Water: Drink 64 ounces of pure water daily. Water comprises over 60% of the adult human body. Water keeps the skin “plump” and prevents the appearance of fine lines. Even subtle deficiencies of water will cause minor skin lines to appear deeper and more noticeable. Dry skin is often also associated with subtle dehydration.
- Don’t smoke! Smoking constricts superficial blood vessels that supply the epidermis with water and nutrients. Although the skin can sustain brief periods of diminished blood flow without incident, continuous deprivation of nutrients and water, as caused by cigarette smoking, greatly hastens the aging process of the skin. Additionally, cigarette smoking requires a person to repeatedly “purse” the lips. This, combined with compromised nutrition, accelerates the development of fine lines around the mouth.
- Ultraviolet light is beneficial to the skin and body in small amounts. Sunlight is antimicrobial to the skin and stimulates the body’s endogenous production of vitamin D. Excessive ultraviolet light, as from the sun or tanning booths, is associated with premature skin aging, excessive discoloration (“age spots”) and increased risk of skin cancers, including melanoma.
- Use Healthful Cosmetics. cosmetics applied to the skin can effect its appearance and function. Because the skin is a semi permeable barrier, ingredients in cosmetics can be absorbed into the body.
- Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals. Optimal (not minimal) doses all vitamins but especially vitamins A,C,E, carotenes, sulfur, silicon and bioflavonoids are particularly important to the skin.
- Omega 3 fatty acids:
Flax seed meal, 2 teaspoons per day with food
Flax seed capsules: 2-4 caps, 3 times per day (target dose range: 6-12 caps per day)
Flax seed oil: 1 tablespoon per day
Max EPA (Omega-3 rich fish oil): 1-2 caps, 3 times per day with meals (target dose: 3-6 caps per day).
- Grape Seed Extract: (100mg): 1 cap, 3 times per day with meals. The PCO’s in Grape Seed Extract help maintain and improve the skin’s elasticity.
A Basic Regimen for Skin Care
1.) Cleanse. The purpose of this is to remove surface debris and aid in the exfoliation. Cleansing should be accomplished with a mild soap such as Dove or with a gentle cleanser. Avoid harsh alkali products (most soaps) which strip the skin of natural oils.
2.) Exfoliate. Exfoliation involves removing the most superficial layer of the skin by mechanical or chemical means to accelerate the turnover of new skin cells. This exposes new skin sooner, giving a more youthful appearance. Exfoliation can also remove bumps and rough spots and “buff” smother skin. There are a variety of ways to exfoliate.
A.) Mechanical, using scrubs that contain fine-textured particles such as salt, kelp, finely group walnut or other nut shells, or synthetics. Start with a very fine grain of scrub and use slowly, giving the skin time to get used to the abrasiveness. Skin brushing with a very soft, fine-bristle brush accomplishes exfoliation and buffs the skin to a fine texture.
B.) Chemical, using alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s): citric, lactic, or glycolic acids found in fruit. These provide chemical exfoliation and make the skin more receptive to whatever cream or lotion is to follow. They can be used alone, especially at night, for oil-prone skin. There are many AHA-containing products now available, ranging from .05-.10% acids. Stronger acids are available from a dermatologist or aesthetician.
3.) Moisturize. Use any pure product that contains fixed oils or fatty acids to help seal the skin and prevent moisture loss. Even oily skin needs to conserve water. A light, non-greasy moisturizer can be used. Rejuvenex cream contains healthful moisturizers and antioxidants which protect the skin from free radical damage.
4.) Protect. Use good sunscreen that contains at least an SPF of 15 and protection against UVB and UVA light. Sun damage greatly accelerates signs of skin aging including wrinkles, pigmented spots and patches, and skin cancer. Rejuvenex cream contains sunscreens to protect from both UVA and UVB radiation. It can be used alone or under makeup.
Special Treatments for Skin
Special treatments for skin include packs, masks, and deep-cleaning regimens that can be used once per week (more with oily skin) to give deeper therapeutic benefit.
1.) Clay packs. Made from bentonite or other clays, have a drawing effect which helps lift impurities from the pores. Essential oils can be added to the clay to give additional benefits. Lavender essential oil is soothing. All essential oils have antimicrobial properties and are useful in cases of acne where bacteria are involved.
2.) Moisturizing masks: Mashed avocado makes a wonderful mask that leaves skin feeling soft and highly moisturized. Other substances that can be used include mayonnaise and Crisco (vegetable lard).
3.) Exfoliating masks: Mashed papaya contains papain, an enzyme which gives a deeper exfoliating treatment to the skin. Plain yogurt contains lactic acid, strawberries contain fruit acids. Any or all of these can be used as pure, gentle, exfoliating masks.
Additional information about skin health you may find of interest:
Botanical Materia Medica for Skin Rejuvenation
Any and all herbs used for systemic detoxification are potentially useful in skin rejuvenation. Please refer to Detoxification.
Gota Kola—Centella asiatica (Umbellifereae)
Gotu kola is an Ayruvedic herb that is now popular in the West. It contains triterpene saponins, alkaloids, bitter principals, and is antimicrobial. It is credited with numerous actions, including anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic and antiseptic. Its effect on skin is to normalize connective tissue metabolism by stimulating glycosaminoglycan synthesis without promoting excessive collagen formation.
The herb is also used for varicose veins because of its ability to enhance the structure of the connective tissue sheath, reduce sclerosis and improve blood flow.
Grape Seed—Vitus vinifera
Oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPC’s) from grape seed and other species, such as Landis’ pine, is one of the most potent antioxidants known. OPC’s trap reactive oxygen species including hydroxyl radicals, peroxyl radicals, and lipid radicals; they also delay the breakdown phase of lipid peroxidation. OPC’s inhibit platelet aggregation in part by raising cGMP levels and protecting against epinephrine renewed cyclic flow reductions. In addition, OPC’s inhibit certain proteolytic enzymes, including collagenase, elastase, beta-glucuronidase and hyaluronidase which can damage the extracellular matrix surrounding capillary cells.
The flavonoids in bilberry, specifically, anthocyanosides, promote prostacycline production and inhibit platelet aggregation in a manner similar to ginkgo. The potent antioxidant effects seen in this herb stabilize the vascular system and are therefore useful in treating capillary fragility, venous insufficiency, and varicose veins.
Chamomile—Matricaria recutita, Anthemis nobilis
German and Roman chamomile are used interchangeably, especially for the skin. Both contain chamazulene, an anti-inflammatory agent that is commonly used in face creams.
Lavender contains up to 3% volatile oils. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibacterial. As such, the essential oils make a worthy addition to cosmetics, especially for those with acne or oily skin. Essential oil of lavender is one of the few essential oils that can be applied undiluted. It is useful for burns, cuts and abrasions to the skin.
Essential Fatty Acid-Containing Botanicals
Linoleic fatty-acid containing oils favor the production of the prostaglandin three series (anti-inflammatory). The essential composition favors adequate skin oil production without inflammation.
Borago officinalis (Borage seed)
Linum usitatissimum (Flax seed)
Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose)
Ribes spp. (Black and Red Currant, Gooseberries)
Other Herbs to Consider for Skin Health
Any flavonoid-containing herb may benefit the skin because of the stabilizing effect on the vascular system which decreases capillary fragility. Flavonoids also demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects