Herbs to Heal the Skin

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You are certainly more than skin deep, but it is your epidermis that people see first. That's one reason why the condition and appearance of your skin is important, and why your skin substantially affects how you feel about yourself. And three of the most common skin disorders have unpleasant names, like acne vulgaris, acne rosacea and psoriasis.

Acne vulgaris is a disorder in which the oil glands of the skin are overactive. It is seen mostly in adolescents and young adults and is characterized by any combination of comedones (blackheads), pustules, cysts and scarring of varying severity. The lesions appear on the face and frequently on the chest and back, since these areas are the richest in oil glands.

Predisposing causes of acne vulgaris include hereditary or familial tendencies, hormonal disturbances, cleanliness, general health and diet. Foods that can aggravate acne include chocolate, nuts, whole milk and its products, refined carbohydrates, fatty meats and spicy foods.

Acne rosacea, or rosacea, is another form of acne which usually appears after the age of 30. It occurs three times as often in females as it does in males. In contrast with acne vulgaris, there are no blackheads involved in rosacea. The skin eruption starts as a redness and flushing of the nose and cheeks, manifesting itself particularly after hot meals or drinks.

Factors influencing rosacea include an inherited tendency to oily skin, usually in brunettes. In some individuals there is a history of dyspepsia (difficult digestion). In others, an excessive intake of alcoholic beverages, hot drinks such as strong tea, and the acne-producing foods mentioned earlier are contributing causes.

Psoriasis usually starts about age 10 and recurs over a period of many years at irregular intervals. A strong familial factor is suspected.

This non-contagious skin disorder is characterized by varying sized whitish scaly patches seen most commonly on the elbows, knees, trunk and scalp; rarely on the face. The diseased patches may merge, producing a ringed outline. Itching is not a feature. Although notoriously chronic and recurrent, psoriasis has been known to clear up and not recur.

Skin is on the outside of the body but its care is not only an external affair. It is an internal matter also. Like other body tissues, skin requires nourishment from within to stay healthy and heal itself when damaged. All nutrients taken in through a wholesome diet work together to this end. The nutrients are delivered to the skin by means of the blood via the liver. Blood that has circulated through the stomach and intestines is collected by the portal vein and carried to the liver. The liver is thus the first organ to receive from the intestines the blood that has absorbed the final products of digestion and decomposition. Thus the liver is important in the bio-transformation, or detoxification, of substances that may be absorbed from the intestine. Maintaining the health of the liver is consequently of vital importance to the health of the skin.

Outstanding among herbs to help maintain satisfactory liver function is milk thistle (Silybum marianum), otherwise known as Mary's thistle. It contains an ingredient called flavonol silymarin, which neutralizes poisonous elements in such substances as alcohol and drugs and promotes the regeneration of damaged liver cells. Milk thistle may thus be considered excellent for helping protect, heal and rejuvenate the liver.

The therapeutic ingredients of this marvellous herb have been captured in two products which are available at health food stores. And unlike pharmaceutical preparations, these herbal remedies produce no adverse effects.

One is Hubaton Mariendistel, an extract that is particularly useful for people who drink, smoke and eat fatty foods. This restorative tonic has an alcohol-free base of sea buckthorn berries which gives it a natural, pleasant fruity flavor. The fruit sugar it contains is easily utilized by the liver to provide a natural source of energy.

The other product is called Thisilyn the original standardized milk thistle extract. Steve Schechter, ND has stated that he considers Thisilyn one of the universally necessary herbal products for the 90s, and very beneficial for detoxification.

Skin is an indicator of our general health, and of all the organs, the liver alone can protect the entire body as well as itself from the thousands of toxic substances to which we are continuously exposed. Fortunately, nature has blessed us richly with detoxifying herbs which are often easily accessible: no farther away than the local health food store.

Recommended reading:

Silica-The Forgotten Nutrient by Klaus Kaufmann (sc) $11.95

Silky, Smooth and Strong by Stella Weller, RN (sc) $7.95

Joy of Juice Fasting by Klaus Kaufmann (sc) $12.95 Arthritis, Rheumatism and Psoriasis by Jan De Vries (sc) $9.95

Acne, by Kurt Donsbach (bklt) $1.99

Available from your local health food store or from alive Books, Post Office Box 80055, Burnaby, BC V5H 3X1. Enclose $1.50 postage and handling plus 7% GST when ordering from alive Books.

Your Skin Loves Camomile

Those of you who saw Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, The Birds, will likely remember Tippi Hendren, the movie's star actress. What I remember most about Tippi is her flawless complexion.

The years have not diminished Tippi's attractiveness. Despite the intense California sun and its potential for ravaging the skin, she has managed to retain a youthful loveliness. Nowadays, she spends much of her time on a preserve she has founded for tigers and lions abandoned by failing zoos and circuses. It is called Shambala, and is located about 40 miles north of Hollywood. Tippi finds fulfillment through saving the lives of these beautiful creatures and providing them with land on which to roam freely. She says it helps keep her young and vital.

She also has praise for a range of skin care products called CamoCare and remarks that they do wonders for nasty little lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage, environmental pollutants and other stressors, especially since they are natural and "cruelty free." This means they have not been tested on animals, a fact understandably important to Tippi and other animal lovers.

The active ingredient in CamoCare is levomenol, extracted from the wild Spanish camomile flower. It is what gives the products their skin-smoothing, protecting and healing properties. Studies have shown that regular use of the creams helps smooth fine skin lines and wrinkles. Camomile also contains volatile oils which make the herb a useful anti-inflammatory agent for soothing minor skin eruptions. No wonder that CamoCare has been called the Cadillac of Camomile!

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By Stella Weller

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