As I mentioned in part three of this series, inflammation is a key issue in skin disease, as well as many other conditions. To treat skin naturally, one must discover the cause of a patient’s inflammation. When I do that, I have a chance to get the individual to remove that provocation, or help his body’s own systems to do so.
Those systems include organs of excretion like kidneys, liver, intestines, lymphatics, and lungs, cells that do clean-up work, and chemical “machines” known as enzymes, which have the ability to break down specific unwanted substances.
If some of my treatments bear similarity to each other, it is because we live with a number of cultural and environmental imbalances that take a similar toll on a wide variety of individuals in a variety of ways. Awareness of this is natural skin care. Not only are individuals unbalanced, but the norm for our whole society is unbalanced as well.
In part two of this series, I discussed how healing most skin diseases involves looking for inflammation. This investigation is a cornerstone to natural skin care, or Holistic Dermatology. What is inflammation?It’s an attack by white blood cells and other chemicals at the site of an irritation, injury, or infection. These chemicals and blood cells have good intentions; they are actually there to facilitate healing.
But as with too much of any good thing, they often end up causing heat, redness, swelling, pain, and sometimes loss of function. It is our body’s defense system gone awry.
And unfortunately, inflammation has been found to play a significant role not only in dermatological conditions, but in common health issues such diabetes, heart disease, allergies, asthma, and arthritis, to name just a few. More on inflammation in part three.
What is natural skin care, from the point of a Holistic Dermatologist? An essential part of the dermatologist’s training and knowledge is about the serious internal disorders that may be indicated by a particular change in the skin. Holistic Dermatology extends that to looking for relationships between more common skin disorders and the “concert of conditions” that brought those conditions about.
Because dermatologists normally deal with diseases of the skin, many people think that I deal with surface issues. But the truth is I look at patients’ insides to find out the cause of what is happening on the outside.
Since foods, chemicals, infections, and stress often lead to inflammation, and inflammation is the process that causes allergy, autoimmunity, and many of the diseases of the skin, my burning passion is to identify whatever it is that provoked the immune system to start its virulent attack in the first place. More on this in part three of the “what is natural skin care” series.
One of the first questions I get from people upon hearing that I practice natural skin care, or Holistic Dermatology is, “What do you do in Holistic Dermatology that is different from regular dermatology?”
In short, I treat the underlying cause(s) of your skin condition. I treat the “causal factors” that aggravate the unique individual I am seeing. And I keep digging deeper into those causes, like peeling off the layers of an onion, to get to the core.
As often as possible, my prescription for natural care of the skin focuses more on diet, nutritional supplements, and herbs than on drugs and surgery, but I use western modalities when they are the best option for the situation. Also, hidden infection and environmental sensitivity and toxicity are also sought out and remedied as gently as possible. So are emotional conflicts that eat up the individual’s health from the inside out. More on this in part two of this post.
Even the experts don’t agree. Chinese medicine says don’t eat cold food, Ayurvedic medicine says don’t eat spicy food most of the time, raw foodists say heat kills the best enzymes in the food. Some say soy is out of the question, others say chicken makes the body alkaline. With so many conflicting kinds of advice about what to eat, how much sun to get, etc., it can be difficul to know what’s right for your body.
I like to look at the arguments and the data coming from both sides of such controversies, and the literature that supports both sides. I like to see who is sponsoring the argument on each side, and follow the trail of the money supporting the studies.
For me, the harder it is to follow the trail of evidence, the more hidden the support, the more I suspect the data to be tampered with. I know that data can be selectively chosen to emphasize a point. I also know that a vast variety of information, from anecdote to in vitro study, from animal work to epidemiology, can point in a given direction. Because making the right choices in these areas are integral to a natural skincare regimen, it’s important to get it right. Begin to become your own detective.
How can you tell what is the best treatment for your body, even when experts don’t agree? There are so many conflicting opinions and facts in the sphere of health that it can be difficult to tell what’s right to eat, wear, etc. Some swear by avoiding wheat and gluten, some eat only raw foods. Some say dark chocolate is good for you, others say it causes acne.
Part of the answer comes in asking the questions: how much, for whom, and when? Sun exposure benefits come with small amounts of exposure, and what you can tolerate depends on your skin color. Except where there is an absolute toxicity or specific sensitivity, most regularly used products have an ideal level of exposure. Too little water and we dry our; too much and we drown. More on this in part three.
How do we know what we can compromise on and what we cannot, in the field of health? How do we know what treatment is best for what ailment? What treatment is best for what person? Medicine is not now, nor has it ever been, a field of absolutes. New information often changes how we think about ailments, treatments, and cures. Not to mention the fact that any number of people have different ideas on any number of subjects.
For example, we have been told for years that eating eggs is bad for you. Now it appears that eggs have gotten a bad rap. Someone says that sunlight is bad for you, and someone else says that it is necessary to make Vitamin D.
A dermatologist who writes about the benefits of sun exposure (Dr. Michael Hollick) gets fired from his academic post, while others tell you to avoid the sun as much as possible. These controversies are numerous and rage on regarding soy, milk, coffee, cell phones, childhood vaccines, and pesticide exposure, just to name a few. How do you know what is right for your body, when even the experts cannot agree? Because making the right choices in these areas are integral to a natural skincare regimen, it’s important to get it right. I’ll go into the answers in part two of this post.