What’s Your Spirituality Have to Do with Your Skin?
I’d like to talk about spirituality and skin disease from a holistic dermatology perspective. What does spirituality have to do with skin disease? We know skin disease is related to your skin, it might be related to allergies, it might even be related to the food you eat and what you absorb. So what does spirituality have to do with that?
Let me start with the process of digestion. Digestion breaks down your foods so that they get absorbed as single amino acids or small peptides. Molecules that are so small that they don’t set off a reaction; they don’t cause an allergy. But if you don’t break your food down into small molecules, big pieces get through; molecules big enough to set off an immune response. The receptor in the lymphocyte sees a big peptide in, say 8 amino acids, and it reacts. So we want to avoid having big peptides getting into your bloodstream and your lymphatics. And the way we do this is by enhancing digestion.
If you’re eating and you are on the telephone and you are buying something on the internet or you are worrying about your classes, or your career, or your income taxes, or what your friend said on Facebook, or any number of things, you’re interrupting your digestion. If your mind is in that place, you are in a reaction mode, or stress mode, which we call a flight or fight response. That’s known technically as Sympathetic Response. And if you are in Sympathetic Response mode, you shut off your digestion. Because evolutionarily, thousands of years ago, you didn’t need good digestion if you were being chased by a tiger. You needed to get away and use your muscles and shut off your digestion–or you’d get digested yourself.
But if you are in stress mode when you are eating or you are watching a TV program that has some horrendous scary thing going on, you are back in stress mode, and you are not going to digest your food optimally. And if you don’t break down your food adequately, then you are going to absorb bigger pieces, molecules, food substances that are big enough to set off an allergic response where they hit in the skin. Or these molecules might put you to sleep and make you drowsy or other kinds of things.
So, the old-fashioned method of taking a moment before you eat is good. Relax and let go of your thoughts, your worries and cares, and then take an additional moment and become thankful for the universe providing this and filling your whole body with that thankfulness. And then fill your body with the joy of the food you are about to eat. That gets the digestive juices flowing, and that’s very important for breaking down allergens and for preventing allergic disorders of all kinds especially skin diseases.