Every year, one in four of us will seek treatment for a chronic skin complaint such as eczema, psoriasis, acne or rosacea, but many holistic health experts believe that addressing common symptoms such as inflammation, redness and scaly skin won’t solve the problem.
A good integrative practitioner will look at everything from kidney and liver health to gut function when treating skin complaints. This is only a brief overview. See our articles on specific conditions published separately.
Eczema can be caused by your stomach’s inability to process foods such as dairy products. To strengthen your gut, avoid stress, which has a direct effect on digestion, eat slowly and avoid dairy products. Stock up on anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger and liquorice, along with Aloe vera for gut soothing. Supplement with evening primrose oil (3 g daily), along with a B-complex and magnesium to promote skin healing, good digestion and stress relief.
Apply skin products containing Aloe vera, apricot oil and calendula extract to relieve itchiness and irritation along with rosehip and evening primrose oil to stimulate cell regeneration.
Read my article on eczema: Stop the itch – tips for eczema sufferers
Acne can be caused by the mishandling of sugars and starches which causes insulin spikes, leading to over-secretion of male hormones and therefore more sebum production by the skin. Give your pancreas a break from refined sugars and restock your gut with prebiotics and probiotics. Keep clear of dairy produce too, as it often promotes breakouts. In addition take chromium and cinnamon to balance blood sugar levels.
The bane of most teenagers, acne, is often triggered by hormonal imbalances combined with a high carbohydrate diet. Opt for natural products containing pure essential oils.
Read my article on acne: Natural Solutions for Acne
Eliminate spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and hot drinks from your diet and take the herb Ginkgo biloba to help strengthen blood vessels. Make sure you stimulate your blood-stream and lymphatic system with gentle regular exercise, while protecting your skin from harsh weather and extreme temperature.
Certain triggers such as stress, caffeine and heat can make the condition worse. German chamomile is great for reducing redness and inflammation and carrot oil may help to revitalise the skin. The condition can often be a reaction to high levels of metal or mineral particles in make-up and sunscreens, so keep your skincare routine simple and natural.
Psoriasis can be caused by the liver’s inability to process animal fats and proteins. Keep meat and dairy to a minimum and avoid fatty, fried foods and alcohol. Go for fresh fruit rather than refined sugar. Make sure your bowel moves at least once a day, and use liver-supportive herbs like milk thistle and choline/inositol with zinc and B-vitamins to promote good digestion and skin healing.