This article was authored by Klaus Ferlow, HMH (Honorary Master Herbalist), innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder Ferlow Botanical Enterprises Ltd, Vancouver, B.C. manufacturing/distributing organic toxin-free medicinal herbal and personal care products to professional health & wellness practitioners in Canada and parts of USA since 1993.
Have you ever heard the saying: "Healthy skin does not happen by chance?
We want our skin to be smooth, women in particular want young looking, radiant, glowing skin of rosy vibrant complexion, soft to the touch, warm, and of course wrinkle free and ageless.
In women's Magazines and TV wrinkle-free and anti-aging creams are promoted all the time and it seems that the "brainwashing" advertising works since the large multi-billion dollar companies with famous names sell them in jars with gold-plated caps in pink coloured packages in huge quantities at premium prices. Did you also notice the models promoting the "miracle" creams and lotions, mostly very young in ages between 19 and maybe 25 years!
Question I have to ask: have you ever checked the list of ingredients on the labels if they are listed at all? And how much do you have to pay for their "famous" names?
Our natural cover, which we wear quite casually, is without doubt the largest organ of our body, and possible the most versatile. Actually, none of its properties should be concealed from modern medicine, as the skin is easily accessible: it's clearly visible.
Unfortunately, recent research indicates that we know far too little of the skin's amazing capabilities, much less do the right thing for its good health. The surface organ "skin" takes up 20% of our body weight, and the statistically relevant average person (age 36, height 175cm / 5'7", weight 72 kg / 159 lb) has at his disposal a skin surface of 1.7 sq.m./ 18.3 sq.ft. In order to comprehend the physiology of our body covering better and take care of it in an appropriate manner, it is important to recognize the enormous performance of the skin. It acts as:
* a highly sensitive antenna for signals form outside, like pain, heat, cold, touch
* a filter for light, rays, and foreign substances
* a cushion against blows, pressure, and friction
* storage for fat, water, and various nutrients
* a mirror of physical-spiritual balance or unhealthy living
* a protective shield against viruses and bacteria due to the natural layer of fat and acidity
* thermostat maintaining a constant body temperature through perspiration and the contraction and dilation of pores
The skin of an adult, on each of its 17.000 - 20.000 square centimetres /2.635 - 3.100 sq inch), harbours approximately .6 million cells, 5000 sensory nerve endings, 200 pain receptors, 100 sweat glands and 20 - 40 sebaceous glands.
This three-layered miracle holds, in each sq.cm, delicate blood vessels totalling approx. 90 cm in length. Under normal circumstances, 25% of our bodies total blood supply circulates in our skin, which acts as an outpost of our immune system.
Our skin needs careful cleaning on a regular basis and especially when you get older, your skin gets thinner and dryer (your oil glands produce in your later age have the oil compared when you were young), as well as moisturize, fat, and oxygen, and a thorough purification. If you are willing to believe the claims of the cosmetic industry, their huge offerings suffice to supply each and every need. That's where the bewildering game of confusion starts!
The skin is an organ primarily aiding in elimination and less absorption, which means, it continual supply as well as eliminating has to be achieved through the vast network of delicate blood vessels. When your skin is pale, loose and tired, dry, spotty or taut, like a dress that fits too tight, a change in the lifestyle might be advisable, i.e. lots of outdoor activities, eating a balanced diet by avoiding junk food (processed food of all kinds) and pop drinks with artificial sweeteners, sufficient sleep, no smoking or alcohol and no unnecessary medications. Furthermore, a regular anti-stress program, such as breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, physical activities, and sports within a proper range.
Certainly, a person can end up penniless buying all the creams and bottles with expensive agents and substances inclusive hazardous, dangerous synthetic fragrance oils (shortly I will write an article about these petrochemicals derived oils which are a health hazard), advertised constantly "as seen on TV", offered to the public. The hoped-for miracle smooth, healthy, soft skin remains a dream, though, if, inside the layers of skin, the fuel of all life, oxygen, as well as essential nutrients are not present in sufficient quantities.
Externally applied products give your skin protection against cold, sunlight, dryness, and dust particles. They assist the bodyguard "skin" in fighting off the multitude of attacks from the environment. There is a rough classification of probable skin types, which considers the appearance image as a whole and which may be useful. It is in three types:
Slim, athletic and stocky or dry (most of us have a dry skin), normal or oily. Therefore you should use only natural herbal creams and lotions without any artificial colour, fragrance, synthetics, petrochemicals (used as humectant, moisture retainer, mineral oil, petrolatum, petroleum, propylene glycol, moisture retainer, lauramide DEA, surfactant, thickener, cocoamide DEA, surfactant) and preservatives such as benzylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben. You probably would like to know why manufacturers are using chemicals and especially a variety of parabens in their products. The answer is mainly to protect the products from bacterial contamination. When you put your finger directly into a jar of cream to scoop out a dollop, you are potentially introducing bacteria, fungi, yeast, and other micro organisms into the container. The bacteria multiply and break down the product, making it less effective and a haven for more bacteria, fungi etc.. Continuing to apply any water-based creams, lotions, gels this way can lead to skin irritation or even infection. Large manufacturer try to avoid these problems by adding substantial amounts of parabens to their products. The trick is to substitute a small spatula or wash well your hands and spatula after each use. Most natural quality creams, lotions, gels contain certified organic grapefruit seed extract as preservative to keep the number of bacterial microbes under control and their antioxidant activity also prevents the oils and fats in the products from becoming rancid. ALWAYS READ CAREFUL THE INGREDIENTS OF THE LABELS of personal care products. In addition you should consider using for example herbal tinctures internally to detoxify the liver and the kidneys, to purify your blood, to cleanse and boost your immune system since most skin problems are created inside your body.
Problems with hair and nails? Could be caused by iron as MSM (methylsulfonylmethane, an organic sulphur compound) deficiency. Approx. 15-20% of all women suffer form it. One of the best nature's supplier of iron is parsley. MSM is available in capsules, check your health food store. However, horsetail has a positive effect upon hair and nail structure. It contains, above all, salicin acid which aids in the restoration of skin, hair, nails and kidney function, benefits greatly from a daily cup of horsetail tea.
Traditional Medicine based on Ayurvedic medicine from India, Traditional Medicine from China (TCM) and Aboriginal Medicine from around the world (here I would like to quote from Dr. Carolyn Dean's book: "Death By Modern Medicine".."It is against our belief to use terms such as Alternative, Complementary or CAM, except when quoting. We must always remember that allopathy is only a medical model born in the industrial age, and to suggest that the oldest and most used healing arts in the world are secondary to allopathy is not only insulting, but inaccurate as well. These traditional methods restoring and maintaining maximum health, by virtue of their track record of safety and success, take second place to no other medical model." Dr. Dean is a MD, ND, Herbalist, registered Acupuncturist and Nutrionist and lives in NY.
Traditional Medicine is gaining more and more significance in our domestic health care, as a growing number of people use herbal creams, teas, infusion, lotions, shampoo, soaps, toothpaste to PREVENT or heal an illness. Chris Kilham, the "Medicine Hunter" tells people in his lecture in Health Shows, that today over five billion people on Mother Earth are still using natural herbal remedies for healing. Especially women recognize herbal medicine as an effective natural method of treatment: particularly, when conventional pharmaceutical methods of healing fail. Natural therapy holds a pleasing additional benefit for women; many herbs act as beauty elixir for skin, hair, and nails.
Words of Wisdom:
Health is a consummation of a love affair of all the organs in the
Plato (Greek Philosopher 427 - 347 BC)
Black's Medica Dictionary, William R.A. Thomson
Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, alive books
The GreenPharmacy, James A. Duke, Ph.D.
Praktischer Hausschatz der Heilkunde (German), Dr. med. Paul Bergman
Future Youth - How To Reverse the Aging Process, Editors of Prevention Magazine
This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnose, treatment, or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.