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By Boaz Lehman (clinical herbalist) and Oren Landa (Osteopath, Naturopath).
The Skin is the largest organ in the human body. Yes, its an organ, and it has a huge role in maintaining our health. The skin is our first line of defense from the outside world, it regulates body temperature, produces hormones and makes us look great. Besides these more obvious roles, the most overlooked and perhaps the most important role the skin has in health is as an elimination organ. Our skin is constantly helping us remove compounds such as minerals (like salt) and toxins. Left over molecules from hormones, bacteria, proteins, and viruses are excreted via our skin out of our system, which is a vital function for healthy living. Its like a two-way protective suite, allowing needed things in, and redundant things out.
Once we understand the elimination purpose, we can have another perspective on how our skin behaves and how to treat it. In many traditional medicine disciplines (TCM, Ayurveda, Osteopathy and more) chronic skin conditions and irritations arise from an internal cause. The irritation is seen as a symptom of the cleansing process.
This means that we can treat the symptom with external help (such as creams and ointments), but we can also do much more by supporting our system through healthier living.
Many chronic skin conditions flair up in times of stress and anxiety. This is a very common occurrence and in many cases something that is overlooked by doctors and even the patience. Trying to be aware of when flair ups happen and our emotional state in the weeks before is crucial to better understand our condition.
Negative stress (because not all stress is bad) causes our body to release hormones that ensure we are ready for action. By increasing our sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight mode) these hormones move resources in to muscle power, energy production and cognitive function, and away from fundamental actions such as digestion, recovery, immunity and elimination. So first things first, improve your stress management.
Simple things such as mindful breathing (focusing on long and slow exhalations), short nature walks, spend some time with loved friends or family and laughing are great ways to do this. There are countless studies showing the benefits of simple stress reducing activities on chronic skin conditions.
Part of the benefits of being outside, is sun light. The suns UV rays are proven to reduce symptoms and progression in many types of Psoriasis and other skin conditions. Its important to not over due it and be well protect from the sun, but regular short exposure to sun light is extremely beneficial. It would also directly reduce the symptoms, but it will also improve your mood and the release of happy hormones (including Vitamin D), which will reduce stress and boost your bodies cleansing mechanisms.
Helping your system by actively avoiding toxins that are hindering its function is a great, cheap and easy way to help yourself. In the process, you will also become more aware of what you are putting in and on your body. Smoking tobacco and E-liquids, Alcohol, medication, processed foods and drinks with additives and industrial meat and vegetables can bring into our bodies countless harmful molecules. Overtime, these can overload our cleansing systems. In conditions such as psoriasis (considered an auto immune disease), in which the immune system is overactive, imagine how an overload of unwanted material can cause an overreaction of the immune system. Sure, many of these substances are considered safe, but the accumulated long-term effects can appear as an overactive immune response. Try to get natural and organic foods. Today it is easy to find local suppliers online that deliver locally grown organic fruits, vegetables and meat at fair prices. Take advantage of the growing popularity and get high quality foods.
Remember that our skin is a two-way protective suite? So also, things from the outside like soaps, detergents, air pollution, funguses and chemical that touch our skin can be absorbed and cause irritation and skin reactions. Today there are many natural substitutes to traditional chemical body and dish soaps, shampoos, face creams and any other hygienic or cosmetic products. Take the time to really look through your cleaning closet and bathroom counter. Read what is inside these products and see if you can recognize the ingredients. If it’s a no, think about replacing them with a more natural solution. A simple example is vinegar based house cleaning goods and coconut-based cosmetics.
Moving the body though regular exercise and activity will help the elimination process, healing, boost your immune system and help your body in endless ways. Sweating and increasing heart rate can be hard to begin with and cause worst symptoms in already irritated skin areas. In the long run, it will be worth it. Studies show that regular physical activity reduces Psoriasis, can help with eczema, moderate histamine reactions, and improve overall health.
Having chronic conditions of any kind is extremely challenging and painful, but you can take control over your own health. Millions of people are suffering from conditions such as yourself, and more and more of them are searching for natural and safe ways to deal with them. If we truly wish to better our health, we must listen to what our bodies are telling us, and better understand their needs. If you have any question, need any support, have a remark and a disagreement with us, please don’t hesitate to contact us on the email.