Natural Remedies for Dry Skin

By: Pam Salvadore

Traditional Chinese Medicine remedy of poached pear and honey

Skin is the largest organ in our bodies. It’s what holds our muscles, bones, and tissue intact and also provides a barrier, keeping the bad organisms out and absorbing the good. Skin helps regulate our body temperature by absorbing and releasing heat and helps flush out toxins. Amazingly, skin also regenerates and heals itself. So, it’s no surprise that the first signs of difficulty within the body appear on the skin in the form of dry skin, rashes, hives, and eczema. 

Desert dryness can lead to itchy skin.

Perhaps the most common skin problem is the tight, itchy feeling of dry skin. It sounds innocuous, but dry skin can drive you to distraction and, in some cases, become a serious problem. From chapped lips to cracks on your heels, here are a few things you can do to heal skin irritations of all kinds.

Every climate has an impact on our skin and our dry, hot environment contributes significantly to skin irritation. First, there is little moisture in the air for the skin to absorb. Secondly, as a cooling mechanism, hot weather causes us to sweat out any moisture we do have. Lastly, the moisture we imbibe gets distributed internally to our organs, intestines, and muscles first, leaving little left over to nourish our skin. Dry skin can be a sign of dehydration. Drinking more water, staying cool, and perhaps adding a humidifier to your indoor environment are all good ways to combat the environmental impact the desert has on your skin.

Hormones can also cause dry skin. Estrogen stimulates the formation of skin-smoothing collagen and oils. As we age and estrogen levels decline, dry, itchy skin becomes quite common. Unfortunately, skin changes caused by hormone depletion are permanent. It is up to us to treat this form of dry skin if we want to keep it healthy. Lotions and body oils are a great place to start. There are many formulas available, but those that contain only a small number of ingredients that are all natural are best.

Skin is a great medium for discovery when something doesn’t agree with you. If you’re allergic/intolerant to something, it often manifests on your skin in the form of an itchy, red rash or hives. Pay attention to these reactions and try to pinpoint their causes. If you can’t find the source, consult an allergist to have a skin test. If allergy skin tests appear negative, you may consider consulting a naturopathic doctor or nutritionist for food intolerance testing. Once you know the cause, avoidance can control or eliminate the breakouts.

Last but not least, our skin helps flush our system of toxins. This is most evident with acne, but can also manifest as little hives or bumps. According to Dr. Diane Sheppard of AcQpoint Wellness in La Quinta, such outbreaks are deemed “weeping” in traditional Chinese medicine, meaning that the skin is purging toxins from your system. These outbreaks are of little concern, but are a good sign that you’re on the right track to eliminating internal stressors. 

Of course, there are more serious skin problems, such as psoriasis and eczema. The jury is still out, but more and more researchers are looking to see if there’s a connection between these more pronounced skin reactions and allergies/intolerances. Then there’s the most concerning skin problem of all in the form of cancer. Most skin cancers are treatable with early intervention, so make sure you get in to see your doctor as soon as possible if you see something abnormal.

Indie Lee’s lavender and chamomile body oil contains natural ingredients that can help relieve problem skin.

It’s important that you take steps to heal irritated skin. Otherwise, your protective layer will only become more inflamed and fail to protect you when you need it most. The most simple cures often work the best. Apply moisturizing lotions or natural soothing oils (I found a good one with chamomile and lavender by Indie Lee), dial down the hot water when you bathe, use a gentle soap, and moisturize immediately after showering or washing your hands to help trap and retain any water on your skin. Limit your exposure to chlorine and use a humidifier to increase the moisture in your home. You can even try the traditional Chinese medicine cure of eating pears poached in water, with ginger and honey. Dr. Sheppard recommended this fix for me which works like a charm! Finally, if none of these home remedies is working, see your doctor to rule out any internal or autoimmune causes and inquire about prescription remedies. 

In the end, your skin is your friend. It will defend you when needed and can tell you if you have a more serious problem lurking beneath it. Take care of your skin and it will take care of you.

Click here to read this article in Desert Health News

Smart Fat

SmartFatEDIT-1000x496

By Pam Salvadore

What do you get when you bring together a medical doctor and a Ph.D. in nutrition? You get a breakthrough diet based on the consumption of smart fats. That’s right, a diet based on eating fats that are actually good for you.

Originally, Steven Masley, M.D., and Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. disagreed on the most beneficial diet for the human body. However, after years of research and practice, often times using themselves as the guinea pigs, doctors Masley and Bowden have come to the same conclusion that eating a clean diet, based on the consistent inclusion of smart fats, is the most beneficial nutritional approach to overall health and longevity.

Let’s put this in perspective. Since the 1970s the standard American diet has recommended that we eliminate fat and rely primarily on protein and carbohydrates for the bulk of our nutritional intake. Unfortunately, this prescription is riddled with misinformation. Masley and Bowden propose that it is this government recommended “SAD” diet that has led Americans to forego clean, natural meats, fruits, and vegetables for the highly processed foods many of us grew up on. The doctors further posit that this is how the American public became increasingly subject to a myriad of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These problems all have one thing in common: they begin with high levels of inflammation in the body. Masley and Bowden propose that to eliminate this detrimental inflammation, we return to the clean, smart eating of earlier generations…a plan that includes a good portion of “smart fats.”

Mixed nuts are a perfect smart fat snack

Smart fats are the good fats that occur naturally in foods like avocados, nuts, and fatty fish. The authors believe that increasing these fats in the diet results in an increase in the intake of Omega 3 fatty acids. Research shows that Omega 3 fatty acids alter our hormonal balance (the key players in our metabolism) and lower inflammation, thus making our bodies better able to draw nutrients from our food and handle – or avoid – disease. Smart Fat explains this topic in depth with both scientific research and common sense analogies.

Determining the difference between smart and “dumb” fats is a key factor, and the authors go to great lengths to discern the differences and identify smart and dumb foods. Of particular importance, dumb fats are the trans fats found in processed foods, the fats from factory-farmed animal meat, poultry and fish, and the fats found in highly processed cooking oils, such as vegetable oil. Subsequently, while Masley and Bowden’s Smart Fat diet requires including an impressive amount of smart fat in your diet, they strictly prohibit any form of dumb fat and/or dumb food.

So what should you eat? Smart Fat recommends that you include four components in your daily intake: smart fat, clean protein, fiber, and flavor. Since this “diet” is actually a new approach to eating in general, they want to be sure that it is nutritious, enjoyable, and maintainable. After all, there’s no joy if there’s no flavor. The doctors set the goal of 5 servings of smart fat, 5 servings of clean protein, and 10 servings of fiber per day. It sounds like a lot, but they give you the tools to convert to this way of eating via meal plans and quite a few recipes.

Other smart fat foods include avocados, salmon, and olive oil

Smart Fat also includes a section discussing supplementation. The doctors do not outright say that you should be taking any one specific supplement, rather they outline the supplements that they take and the reasons why. Most importantly, they urge the reader to pursue only the highest quality supplements and point us to resources and screening tools to be sure we are getting the best. While the doctors do sell their own products, they do not push them on the reader in any way.

Finally, Masley and Bowden further agree that no diet or way of eating stands alone as the picture of perfect health. In order to attain optimal health, the pair recommends completing the picture by including reasonable amounts of exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and close relationships with key people in your life. Addressing the big picture, not just short-term weight loss, is their key to success and maintaining a healthy body, mind and soul for life.

In the end, we are what we eat. Like any performance automobile we need to put the best fuel in the tank in order to get the best performance on the track. Masley and Bowden have written an informed, approachable, and sustainable plan that will benefit most people. Smart Fat is a good resource for anyone looking to clean up, get healthy, and live their best life.

Click here to read this article in Desert Health News.