To continue the discussion on why to go holistic with your skin care, I’d like to share about the dangers of traditional medicine. As I’ve discussed in the previous parts of this series, traditional western dermatology can be a vital tool for treating certain skin conditions. My training as a board-certified dermatologist was invaluable for understanding the necessity of “brute force”.
But when a cutting-edge “wonder” drugs is pulled off the market because it causes a new form of viral brain degeneration, it is not surprising that people now pause before taking the latest medications for their skin problems.
That drug was Raptiva, a biologic (a drug made by genetic engineering to inhibit a specific portion of the immune response). Raptiva was recently withdrawn from the market because of that rare side effect, along with an increased incidence of lymphoma and tuberculosis. This woder drug wasn’t so wonderful.
When confronted with this reality, natural skin care and natural treatment of skin conditions starts to look better and better. More on going holistic in the next post.
When working with traditional western medicine, one problem is that many people are beginning to doubt what they are being told by industry, medicine, and the government agencies that approve the drugs we take.
People are suffering serious side effects and even dying from approved drugs. When we see FDA regulators leave the agency and go right into cushy jobs within the pharmaceutical industry they were just regulating, it makes us wonder if the fox is watching the chicken coop.
The same kind of problem happens throughout government and industry, which has fostered mistrust about the whole process of government regulation and approval. Natural skin care has the benefit of being regulatd by… your own body. More on this in the next post.
Having practiced Holistic Dermatology for over 30 years now, I see the first problem that we are recognizing is that each person with a given skin condition, has his or her own individual circumstance that contributes to developing that disorder. Each person has their own colorful pallette of environmental factors, genetic triggers, and more that help or harm them.
In traditional medicine, the concept of “disease” made it much more possible to classify and treat disorders. But the idea of every person with the same disease needing to be treated in exactly the same way breaks down in face of knowledge of either human genetic individuality or various folk healing systems.
So does the insurance payment system, based on suppressive therapy to make symptoms “go away”. It is almost impossible for a well-trained professional to take the time to get a detailed history and transmit all the new information to change a patient’s diet and lifestyle within the timeframe paid for under insurance. This system is unable to address each patient’s unique issues individually. Natural skin care focuses on more than making the symptoms “go away” temporarily. More on natural skin care the next post.
In traditional medicine, when suppressive pharmaceuticals are prescribed, they rarely address the conditions that lead to chronic disease in the first place, like environmental exposure to allergens. And unfortunately there is a chance that the side effects of pharmaceuticals will dangerously outweigh the benefits they confer.
Topical steroids can stop an itch that prevents sleep or leads to scratching and infection, but chronic use of topical steroids can lead to infection, thin the skin permanently, and may even suppress the adrenal glands.
Oral steroids and more potent immunosuppressives can stop a dangerous allergic or inflammatory reaction that threatens life or function. Unfortunately, they can also paralyze the immune system, so that dangerous infections like tuberculosis can take hold, or tumors like lymphoma can start to grow.
Many patients who are not helped by current therapeutic paradigms are beginning to question what they are being told by the medical and pharmaceutical establishment, by insurance companies, and by the government agencies that oversee our collective health care. More in the next post.
Why not just go to your local dermatologist and get the latest conventional treatments for your skin disorder? Of course, these treatments are scientifically approved and paid for by your insurance. They often involve the latest and most sophisticated chemical drugs, which have gone through millions of dollars worth of testing and have been approved by the FDA after a rigorous process. And, it might not be a bad idea to get the expertise in skin diagnosis from your local doctor.
Perhaps you have an acute problem that clears completely with treatment. That’s a good thing.
But some people who respond initially to conventional treatments find that their condition returns again and again and that they need stronger medication each time to suppress and control it.Other people don’t improve at all. Sometimes a skin rash will clear completely through conventional treatment, but it serves only to drive the actual issue deeper underground. More on natual skin care and treatment in the next post.
When I practice Holistic Dermatology, or natural skin care, I look for the triggers of what originally caused the skin condition. When likely triggers for skin conditions emerge, I put my effort into reversing them as safely and naturally as possible, preferably with diet and supplements. (However, I will use drugs if I feel they are required for a particular situation.) This is one way I differ from an alternative practitioner.
So my patient history is far more probing than most of my colleagues’. This is not meant as a value judgment. Many people’s skin problems are successfully treated by dermatologists who are capable of treating a lot of people in a day, which is how most dermatologists practice. Nearly all of them would run broke and have to shut down, if they spent the time with each patient that I do, under the current insurance payment system. It’s just that some patients with chronic problems really do need the time to discover the cause.
If you find yourself with a more complex skin problem than you feel can be treated by your traditional dermatologist, or if you have a chronic skin condition that your doctor hasn’t been able to treat… Or, if you simply prefer to use the most natural course of action and do the least harm to your body as you care for it, contact me about a visit.
In the last posts, I discussed how there are certain “triggers” for inflammation, and how inflammation in an underlying cause of skin disease. To care for the skin naturally in the best way, we must look at these triggers. Just as different people react to different substances, they also tend to have different kinds of reactions once the “trigger” is pulled.
A certain part of the trigger mechanism, and the treatment to stop the trigger, will be the same for some groups of people. But each person has their own, unique reaction. More specific “suspects” for triggers may come from the experience of the dermatologist over the years, experimental data on the mechanisms of the disorder, and the lore of other systems of healing. I dig into these three deep mines of information to come up with a diagnosis and natural treatment for skin disease when I practice Holistic Dermatology.
Like my more conventional colleagues, I examine the patient, take a history, make a diagnosis, and prescribe treatment. But my history is much more detailed and extensive, because I am looking for the group of factors which may have set off the reaction, or set the stage so that the reaction would occur. I not only make a conventional diagnosis, but with my probing, I make a second diagnosis related to cause. That causal diagnosis covers the series of probable reasons the patient broke out in the first place. More on this in part eight of this comprehensive series.
When I practice Holistic Dermatology, I work with my patient to find the solution to their skin condition. Natural skin care means that we are both working like detectives to identify the cause, and clear the patient by removing it.
But when the possible causes seem overwhelming, and my conventional dermatologist colleagues simply prescribe cortisone-derived creams, or more powerful immuno-suppressive, our practices differ greatly. And when this is repeated for weeks, months, or years, I strongly believe that the wiser course is to figure out what is likely to be causing the skin problem, and treat it with gentler, more natural means.
Just as different people react to different substances, they also tend to have different kinds of reactions once the “trigger” is pulled. One person may get redness and rapid overgrowth of the skin, leading to the thick plaques of psoriasis, and another my develop inflammation of the oil gland/hair follicle structures, leading to acne. More on this in part seven.
That we currently consume 140 lbs. of sugar, per person, per year in the U.S.is one glaring example of our population following the pleasure of their taste buds in their departure from homeostasis (or stability, or equilibrium). In my practice of natural care of the skin, I invite people to examine what their taste preferences may mean for their skin. Sugar is a major cause of inflammation. And inflammation is a major underlying cause of skin disease.
Where my fellow dermatologists use their knowledge of immunology, exposure, and industrial chemistry to identify which chemicals are causing a “contact dermatitis” (inflammation of the skin that occurs due to exposure to some form of irritant), so that they can remove the allergic substance from someone’s life to clear the problem, there is tremendous overlap between my holistic dermatology and conventional practice. More on this in part six.
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.