The skin is a multifunctional organ the primary function of which is to encase and protect tissues and organs of the body. The skin also provides sensory information and in its waterproof and insulating capacity acts to keep the external environment out and warmth in.
The skin contains two types of glands: the sweat glands and sebaceous glands .
The basal layer of cells grow and move towards the surface, becoming thicker as a protein known as keratin is laid into and between the cells. This keratinized layer is thicker on the feet due to persistent pressure from the weight of the body. It is this layer that offers the greatest protection from the elements. Within the deeper layers lie the sweat glands, involved with cooling the body and eliminating toxins, and the sebaceous glands, which produce the oily secretion that helps keep the skin moist and contains immunoglobulins to fight infection.
There are certain cells in the skin known as melanocytes that contain a chemical called melanin, which darkens in the presence of sun. This darkening is triggered by absorbing what would otherwise be harmful rays of the sun, in particular ultraviolet light. The more melanocytes, the darker the skin and the better the protection.
Disease or dysfunction of the skin may be a topical condition or reflect systemic or internal problems. The skin is dependent on good nutrition and hygiene, more so than the many other parts of the body that it protects. Specific problems are discussed here and should be looked up according to the disease process.
Through the layers just below the skin travel the major energy lines or meridians that the Eastern philosophies of medicine consider to be integral to health. A weakness in these energy lines by disease processes of particular organs or systems may reflect through the skin. Conversely, damaged skin may lead to a block in the energy flow and thereby cause disease.
CARE OF THE SKIN with excess nutrients, and cause an increased rate of growth. Sugar will also attract moisture and therefore prevent correct distribution of fluid to the skin tissues.
The integrity and tension of the skin is dependent upon nutrients to form elastin and collagen – the tissues underneath the skin that prevent wrinkling. As we age or damage the skin through sunlight and chronic dehydration, these fibres diminish causing the characteristic changes of wrinkled skin and cellulite.
Massage, saunas and exercise all have a closing effect on the skin by either increasing blood flow or encouraging natural excretion. All these should be practised frequently.
Keep the skin as clean as possible. Most of the world will achieve this with water but if soaps are available non-medicated types are the best. The skin pores will react to medication by assuming that it is a foreign body and, even if there are no symptoms, energy is expelled defending itself. Except in circumstances where skin may be sullied following sport or by dirt from the workplace, the skin should only be washed once a day. More frequent washing will lead to a loss of the natural skin oils and diminish quality and the skin’s immune response.
Avoid applications of deodorants and make-up beyond that which are socially necessary.
Remember that the surface of the skin is only one of many layers and that skin integrity is dependent on nutrition, hydration and oxygenation from within.
A well-balanced diet is essential for skin well-being and nutritional lack may well show up in a variety of skin conditions initially.
High levels of refined sugars and fats will find their way to the skin, providing surface bacteria
The skin maintains its moisture by protecting itself through the outer epidermal layer and by producing sebum from sebaceous glands. Sebum is composed of fat, proteins, keratin and hyalin, and cellular debris. The production of this compound is dependent upon the quality of oxygenation and nutrition supplied by an adequate blood flow to the sebaceous glands in the deeper layers of the skin. Poor nutrition or oxygenation will prevent sebum production and lead to dry skin.
The sebum travels up the hair follicle from the sebaceous gland and any blockage by dirt or infection prevents the natural moisturiser from reaching the surface layers. Without it, essential defence immunoglobulins are absent and infection is more likely to set in.
Excess heat externally will dehydrate the sebum and a lack of water intake will do the same. The Eastern philosophies would express the view that anything that heats the body, such as stress, excessive exercise, hot drinks and spicy foods, will also dehydrate the sebum and may result in dry skin.
Consider rehydrating from within rather than applying topical moisturisers. A skin that is dry but falsely moistened will not send out reflex nervous responses to try to pull more fluid into the area.
Ensure an adequate supply of fats and oils in the diet. Low fat diets are notorious for causing dry skin.
Remove heating foods such as hot drinks, alcohol, pepper, chillies and other spicy foods.
A cigarette burns at over 250°C. This heat is absorbed into the bloodstream rapidly through the lungs and heats the body. It is a potent dehydrator and a commonly overlooked cause of dry skin.
Avoid any contact with oils or chemicals that may block the skin pores. This includes most roll-on and spray deodorants.
Do not use antiperspirants.
Homeopathic remedies may be very beneficial and those that should be reviewed in your preferred homeopathic manual are Calcaria carbonica, Graphites, Petroleum, Silica and Sulphur. Use low potencies for an acute condition, six or twelve four times a day, or higher potencies 30 and 200 less frequently if the condition is longstanding.
The fullness and turgor of skin is maintained by the level and quality of the interstitial tissues , made up of protein and fats. Special tissue components known as collagen, fibrin and elastin give the tissues of the body its support and elasticity. These tissues are dependent upon good oxygenation, nutrition and hydration. Absence of the first two will lead to a breakdown of the protein structure and lack of water will damage the cells; the outcome will be similar to a grape becoming a raisin, or a plum becoming a prune.
Wrinkles are, therefore, not strictly a skin problem although the effect is reflected on the outer layer. Anything that dehydrates or depresses nutrition and oxygenation to the tissues will result in wrinkling.
Wrinkles are a natural part of ageing and are in no way a disease condition. They are generally only noticed by those who feel that their looks are suffering. Naturopathic attempts at repair or skin rejuvenation may have an effect but it is unlikely that the skin will ever return to its former glory. With wisdom comes wrinkles, and hopefully the reverse is also true.
RECOMMENDATIONS 1 Repair of wrinkled skin is much more difficult than prevention.
Encourage persistent good blood supply by avoiding those conditions that block arteries. Avoid smoking, high fat foods and a lack of exercise.
Please use the supplemental recommendations for atherosclerosis at reduced rates, depending upon the amount of fresh fruit and vegetable eaten. Five portions of fruit or vegetable should not require any supplementation and add in one-fifth of the recommendation for every portion not eaten each day.
Encourage oxygenation by frequent exercise. Yoga and Qi Gong are appropriate but should be supplemented at least three times a week by aerobic exercise.
Ensure that a breathing technique is practised; this will be enhanced by using a meditative or relaxation technique.
Ensure a daily intake of vegetable protein through beans, lentils, nuts or soya.
Do not avoid fatty foods but ensure that they are vegetable-based and poly-unsaturated fats.
Massage will encourage blood flow and specific Ayurvedic facial massage using acupressure points is particularly useful because it is wrinkles on the face that create the most despair.
The use of Arnica- or Calendula-based creams may be of benefit because this will attract blood and nutrients into the area.
Perhaps most importantly, ensure that at least half a pint of water per foot of height is drunk as a general rule and increase that by 50 per cent when actively dealing with skin problems.
Sunlight is damaging only if taken in excess and exposure should not be discouraged but monitored carefully.
Avoid cosmetic creams because they tend to increase fluid levels below the area to which the cosmetic is applied. They have an artificial ‘de-wrinkling’ effect which diminishes once the product is stopped. Whilst using such products, the body may stop nutrition and fluid moving into that area because it apparently does not need it. This creates a dependency upon the application.
Surgical repair is an option that may be very effective.