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Natural Skin Care Newsletter: April Issue
Welcome to the April Issue of the Natural Skin Care Newsletter. In this issue we cover several topics directly related to your skin and body's health. We'll take a fresh look at allergies and what causes them, as well as how to moderate them if you already suffer from allergies.
In addition, we will also look at an interesting Essential oil that has an almost identical chemical structure to our skin's sebum and has many other amazing properties.
Kitty takes a look at Veterinary Acupuncture for cats and dogs.
(You can click on the topics below which will take you to the article of choice on this page, or simply scroll down and read each one)
Article: Ever Wondered How You Develop An Allergy?
(by Danny & Susan Siegenthaler)
About a herb of interest - Jojoba
(by Danny & Susan Siegenthaler)
Kitty's Corner - Veterinary Acupuncture
(by Kitty the Cat)
Newsletter - April 2008
It is easy to become confused with all the advertising and marketing hype we’re subjected to about skin care and anti-aging products. Which products should you buy? What are they actually going to do? And how do you know they’re not going to cause some problems? After all, on the one hand we are told how important it is to use such skin care products, but then we’re being warned about the potentially toxic ingredients in some of these very products.
At the end of the day, you may well ask, why bother with skin care in the first place, either we use these products and risk potentially poison ourselves, or we don’t use them and our skin will probably give away our true age... well you might ask, how bad is that anyway?
Skin care is much more than just buying expensive skin care products and hoping they’ll keep the skin looking healthy and young. It is a necessity.
The skin is a living, breathing organ that reflects the body’s general state of health, irrespective of what skin care products you choose to use. If you neglect to care for your skin, your body will suffer in the long run.
Today we will look at the type of skin care that should be used at different stages in our lives and other factors you need to include in your ‘health plan’ to maximize the long term health and beauty of your skin.
Why should a teenager, male or female, bother with skin care? After all their skin is young, supple, has no wrinkles, and has all the elasticity it requires.
Well, the reason that skin care is important at this stage is that a teenager's skin is undergoing considerable change. Hormones are going 'crazy' and the whole body of a teenager is developing into its adult form and functions - even the skin.
Acne is a probability during the teenage years and this is a very good reason to pay particular attention to the skin. Acne affects almost every teenager to some degree. In some cases acne can be so bad that it is necessary to seek professional medical advice and resort to having it specifically treated. However, in most cases, acne is more of a nuisance then a medical problem and by adopting a daily skin care regime using natural skin care products, the effects of the acne can be reduced if not entirely eliminated.
Young men have an additional issue with their skin - shaving. Not only do they get acne, but they start growing facial hair and begin shaving. Razor blades and acne pimples do not mix and cuts can lead to infections and spreading of acne.
This should be avoided at all costs. Using natural shaving products which contain antiseptic herbs and essential oils will help to minimize infection and spreading of acne pimples.
Following the tumultuous years of being a teenager, putting up with acne and if you're a male starting to shave, now is the time for giving your skin all that you can to maintain its health, youthful looks and build its resistance to prevent premature aging. By now, your skin will have developed its basic skin types and your choice of natural skin care system(s) should reflect your skin types. Yes, there are usually more then one skin type.
Often there is an oily T-zone while the cheeks, neck and eye regions are either normal or have a tendency to be dry. If this is the case, you literally need to treat the different areas with different products. That is, you need to use skin care products for oily skin on your oily T-zone and products suitable for normal or dry skin on the remaining area of your facial skin and neck.
Again you need to take care of your skin on a daily basis and should include an exfoliant and/or facial clay mask at least once every week.
As the body ages, skin cell renewal slows and elastin and collagen production also take a nose dive. This is when fine lines and wrinkles start to appear. The precise age at which this starts to happen depends on your genes and to a large extent on how well you've been caring for your skin; how much sun exposure your skin has been subjected to and how much exposure it has had to the elements and other environmental factors. Changing hormones also become a factor again during the 40's and 50's in most women.
Some people's skin looks 30 in their 70's and they did very little to make this happen - they are the very lucky and isolated few. Most people find that as they get older the skin reflects this by showing its age too. This is where your effort of the past few decades will start to pay off, if you've been using a good quality, daily skin care regime, stayed out of the sun as much as possible, ate a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and generally looked after your body's health, your skin will reflect this also - you are what you eat and this truth starts to show itself in later years.
Skin Care Is Like Health Insurance
Bothering to take care of your skin is not just for preserving a youthful, healthy skin, but your skin's health will have a marked effect on your body's health. The skin is a major organ that has many important functions to perform and if we do not look after the health of our skin, this can result in other, more serious health problems.
Similarly, if you have health problems, these can be reflected on your skin and no skin care product in the world is going to change that. For example, liver problems can cause skin discolorations, as can kidney problems. The skin around the eyes is often tinged brown or black if there is liver or kidney disease. Jaundice (yellow skin) is a well-known symptom of liver disease, such as hepatitis.
In addition, chronic dehydration will lead to dry wrinkly skin. Chronic inflammation or infection can cause hypersensitivity of the skin. Skin problems can result from a nutritional deficiency such as lack of vitamin A, niacin, vitamin C and many other nutrients, including several amino acids, dietary minerals, and so on.
All the skin care products in the world will not make your skin look healthier or younger in the long run, if you do not look after your body's health and treat your internal health problems. At the same time if you don't look after your skin, your body will let you know sooner or later...
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Skin Care is a Necessity, not a Luxury.
Menon (2002) says it best, when he states that: “…the human skin is not only the largest organ in the body, but also perhaps the most complex, with at least five different cell types contributing to its structure, and other cell types from circulatory and immune systems being transient residents of the skin. In terms of the number of functions performed, the skin simply outweighs any other organ: its primary function is of course protection, which covers physical, chemical, immune, pathogen, UV radiation and free radical defences. The skin is also a major participant in thermoregulation (regulates the body's temperature), it functions as a sensory organ, performs endocrine functions (Vitamin D synthesis, peripheral conversion of prohormones), is significant in reproduction (secondary sexual characteristics, pheromone production), and perpetuation of the species, human non-verbal communications (visual signaling, emotions expressed), as well as a factor in zenophobia and bias against fellow humans that has shaped the destiny of humanity”.
Okay, it's a little on the 'academic speak' side, but think about it - the skin effects areas of our lives ranging from reproduction to defending us from UV-rays, bacteria, viruses; keeps water both in and out of our bodies and reacts to touch, emotions, temperature, etc.
There are hundreds of skin conditions ranging from annoying to deadly
Whilst there is nothing wrong with our skin, we barely give it a second thought. It is only when something goes wrong that we suddenly start to pay attention and quickly realize that there are very few experts that can actually help us to overcome many of the problems our skin can develop. Most treatments of various skin problems target symptom control. The use of anti-inflammatory drugs, cortico-steroid creams, antibiotics, etc. None actually target the cause of a skin disorder such as dermatitis, eczema, and many other similarly common conditions.
Modern medicine is great at diagnosis what is wrong, but very poor at actually fixing the problem. In their defence, skin problems are notoriously difficult to treat and even natural medicine is not exactly great at it either, but at least it attempts to identify the underlying constitutional cause and its treatment does primarily target this cause rather then targeting the symptoms that result.
To illustrate the difficulty in treating skin conditions, it is useful to have a quick look at the many conditions that fall into the category of skin problems:
Below is an alphabetical list of skin problems as recognised by the National Skin Care Institute:
This list is not an exhaustive list of all known skin diseases or disorders, however it is quite comprehensive and illustrates the vast range of afflictions that may affect the health of our skin.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes are often responsible for skin problems. In order to treat skin diseases caused by such microbes, it is necessary to target the offending bug with appropriate herbs, essential oils, drugs or a combination of these therapies.
However, skin diseases are not solely caused by microbial infection. Some skin disorders are due to deficiencies in nutrients. A classic example is Scurvy, which is a vitamin C deficiency and can easily be treated by taking supplements of vitamin C or eating foods high in vitamin C.
Then there are the other skin problems, the ones that just don't want to respond to any type of treatment. Different forms of dermatitis or eczema and other often chronic skin problems that just don't want to get better.
Insure your health - look after your skin
The key to healthy skin is to start caring for your skin before anything goes wrong. It is much easier to keep the skin healthy than it is to treat skin diseases.
In order to care for your skin however, you also need to take care of your body. You see, many of the more serious and stubborn skin diseases have their origin much deeper inside the body. This is why it is so important to look after the general health of the body if you want to have healthy skin.
For example, diseases of the liver, lung, kidneys, gastro-intestinal tract and even heart disease may show themselves on the skin. Discolorations, lines and wrinkles on certain parts of the face are used in Chinese medicine as a diagnostic tool for revealing internal disease.
So you can see how the skin can act as a window to the general health of our bodies. Now we need to identify how to keep the body and the skin healthy and fit.
External Factors To Maintain The Health Of the Skin & Body
Daily skin care routine using natural skin and personal care products. - This is a key factor. It is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Eliminate all potentially toxic chemicals from your skin and personal care products. This is a must do, because many of these chemicals do accumulate in the body and have a real potential to cause disease.
Adequate water intake - Two liters of water per day, every day is the minimum. No, tea, coffee and alcohol don't count, because these beverages actually drive water out of your body and cause you to become de-hydrated. If you do drink tea, coffee and/or alcohol you need to additionally drink that volume in water to counter-act the dehydrating actions of these drinks.
Be Sun Smart - By now, we should all be aware of the potential harm UV-rays can have on our skin and therefore our general health. Follow the advice given in the media about covering up your skin when going out into the sun. A little sun is good for you, but should be limited to about 15-20 minutes per day before the hours of 10 am and after 4 pm. Not between these hours.
Be careful of the type of sunscreen you choose. Scientific research has shown some of the ingredients in sunscreens to have potentially more harmful effects than the UV-rays!!! So be smart, cover up instead.
Internal Factors To Maintain The Health of the Skin & Body
Diet - The keyword here is UNPROCESSED. Use simple foods, fresh fruits and vegetables; the more human input into the food you're eating the more processed it will be. Processed food equals artificial preservatives, colours, flavours, etc. Stuff your system does not want or need and is definitely not good for your health.
Exercise - Yes, exercise can be a pain, but the only way to implement an exercise regime you will stick with is to find a physical activity that you actually enjoy doing. Riding a bike, dancing, swimming; simply any physical activity you enjoy doing and consider as being a hobby rather than exercise. Tai Chi and Yoga for example are highly effective forms of exercise that can be a lot of fun as well as good for you.
Stress management - Stress is bad. It's as simple as that. The less stress you have in your life the better you'll feel. Stress is a cause listed for just about every disease from cardiovascular disease, nervous disorders such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, to headaches, and the list goes on. Meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga and other forms of exercise can help to reduce the effects of stress in our lives. We need to regularly take time out and engage in activity or non-activity that we enjoy and provides us with a sense of peace and an opportunity to re-balance our nervous systems.
Stress management is therefore another key factor that we must be engaged in to maintain and/or regain our health.
Sleep - Quality sleep that is. The best way to repair and restore the body's health is to get regular good quality sleep. Around eight (8) hours per night is said to be the ideal and experts have shown that less than 7 hours of sleep per night has negative health effects. To see this graphically illustrated, just have a look at your own face after a great night's sleep and compare that to how your face looks when you slept badly or only for a few short hours. The difference is remarkable and all you see is the visible external signs - just imagine the effect this has on your internal organs...
Follow the above guidelines and you will soon feel more energetic and your skin as well as the rest of your body will look and feel younger and healthier.
Menon, G. K. (2002) New insights into skin structure scratching the surface. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. Vol. 54, 1, Pages S3-S17.
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Ever Wondered How You Develop An Allergy?
Allergies are becoming more and more common. In fact about thirty percent of people suffer from one or more allergies. Why? What exactly is an allergy anyway? And how do allergies develop?
Before we go much further, we need to define what an allergy is. A simple definition is: An allergic reaction (hypersensitivity reaction) is an inappropriate immune responses to a normally harmless substance.
This can be almost any substance natural or otherwise, for example pollens in the air may cause sneezing, runny eyes and/or nose and in severe cases an allergic response can actually result in a medical emergency and be potentially fatal.
So why do we get these allergies?
Normally, the immune system, which includes antibodies, white blood cells, mast cells, complement proteins, and other substances, defends the body against foreign substances known as antigens (substances that are antagonistic). However, in susceptible people, the immune system can overreact to certain antigens (called allergens), which are harmless in most people. The result is an allergic reaction (Merck, 2008).
Simply put, an allergic reaction is basically an over-reaction by your immune system to an otherwise benign substance.
Some people are allergic to only one substance, whilst others are allergic to many. So how do we become allergic to a substance that in the past we have not been allergic to?
The Mechanism of an Allergic Reaction
That's a good question worth pondering, because almost nobody will be able to give you a concrete answer. However, the medical profession sees this in the following way:
Histamines are also responsible for skin reactions to allergens such as poison ivy and many chemicals commonly found in make-up and off-the-self skin and personal care products.
The Alternative Medical View Point
In natural medicine, we also believe that diet, lack of exercise (general fitness) and stress can lead to a weakness in our body generally and as a result the immune system may 'over-react' to various allergens.
Life changes such as moving from one continent to another, for example coming to Australia from Europe, can trigger allergies because the immune system may be used to the pollens, grasses, etc. (allergens) in Europe, but is unfamiliar with allergens here in Australia.
Many pollens and grasses for instance are foreign to our immune systems and as we have no immunity to them, our systems may well over-react and result in us developing allergies to one or more of these allergens.
Other factors that put our immune system to the test when relocating from one continent to another is that the food, drinking water, heck even the air is different and these differences have to be assimilated by our body and the immune system has to re-adjust to the new conditions.
We all know that from time to time we overexert ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, etc., and if this overexertion continues, there are likely to be more serious consequences.
Sustained stress for example will cause us to get run down, feel tired and undertaking any activity is a chore. Heck, even to get up and get started can be a major effort.
If this continues for an extended period of time, there is a price to pay. Your health will slowly start to fail - it might not be obvious at the beginning but this is the stage at which we can develop allergies, are more susceptible to 'catching' colds and feel generally run down and tired.
The body is weakened, there's a distinct lack of energy and bingo, the immune system, being weak also, will over-react to an allergen. Once this pattern is established it is much more difficult to rectify it.
Natural medicine recognises allergies as a weakness of the immune system and will advise patients as to their lifestyle and the possible changes that need to be made in order to bring some balance back to their lives.
In addition, herbs and diet will play a major role in the re-strengthening of the immune system and the general health of the body.
What You Can Do to Take the Pressure Off the Immune System
Firstly, remove as many non-natural chemicals from your life - this includes washing powders, soaps, and try to identify as many known allergens and other toxic substances in your daily life. Remove as many of them as possible and replace them by using natural products. Why?
Because our bodies are not designed to deal with synthetic, man-made chemicals, rather it is designed to handle natural substances.
Secondly, make sure you keep you foods simple. That is, use unprocessed foods wherever possible. Pre-made foods will contain preservatives, possibly artificial colouring, flavouring and other frequently used chemicals. Whilst these chemicals may not of them selves cause allergies, they do demand extra work from your immune system and thus potentially weakening it.
Drink more than 2 liters of water a day. I cannot stress this enough. Our body requires at least 2 liters of water each and every day just to maintain normal metabolic processes. By depriving our bodies from sufficient water, we are stressing it and slowly but surely causing our body to become dehydrated. This is not what you want.
Last but by no means least - relax. You must make time in your day to let your body re-charge and repair itself. This means getting enough sleep, doing regular physical exercise and find a hobby that you can't wait to get to. This is not just a good idea, fad or what ever, but there are powerful physical and chemical reasons for doing this. Why?
Because the endorphins and other chemicals that are released and come into play when we relax and de-stress are very important to maintaining good health for the long term.
Relaxation, for example, provides the following positive health benefits:
As a result, many people experience:
That's just for starters. The positive health impact that relaxation alone has on the body is priceless and cannot be underestimated.
Sufferers from allergies will positively benefit from the above suggestions. It won't be immediate, but over time, your body will become more resilient to allergens; the immune system will become stronger and react more appropriately and yes, your overall health will also improve.
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Biological Name: (Simmodsia chinensis (Link) Schneider)
Other Names: Jojoba, Goat Nut, Coffeeberry
Parts Used: Dried Seeds
Native Americans extracted the oil from jojoba seeds to treat sores and wounds centuries ago. Collection and processing of seed from naturally occurring stands in the early 1970s marked the beginning of jojoba domestication. In addition, the ban on the importation of sperm whale products in 1971 led to the discovery that jojoba is in many regards superior to sperm oil for applications in the cosmetics and other industries(1).
Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:
Western Herbal Applications:
Jojoba oil is a well known anti-inflammatory, moisturizer and restorer and is extracted from the nuts of this native Mexican shrub. It is beneficial in conditioning the skin, nails and hair and can be used in psoriasis and eczema, dandruff and warts with good results. Jojoba is often used as a base for conditioning oil preparations for the hair and nails.
Jojoba Oil can be found in the following Wildcrafted Herbal Products:
We have included Jojoba in many of our products, because it spreads well, does not shine, is moist to touch; makes the skin softer, smoother and reduces fine-line wrinkles.
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We hope you enjoyed these articles and invite you to send us suggestions of topics you would like to see us cover in the coming months.
Your suggestions are always welcome and we endeavor to cover the topics you would like to know more about - so don't be shy, drop us a line or two!
In good health
Danny & Susan Siegenthaler
© Copyright: Wildcrafted Herbal Products, 2008
Hello to you all, and a hearty Miau.
I hope you found last month's article interesting and helpful.
This month we'll look at Acupuncture as an alternative form of treatment for your cats and dogs.
Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine, which has its origins thousands of years ago. While previously Acupuncture was viewed as hocus pocus in the west, these days Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine have been well accepted by Modern Medicine.
Despite the fact that the exact mechanisms of how Acupuncture actually works is still uncertain, there is no doubt as to its effectiveness and benefits.
Just as in humans, animals also have Acupuncture points all over their body. In dogs there are over 150 of which 50-100 are most commonly used. Most animals respond particularly well to Acupuncture, and according to the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture in Hygiene, Colorado, Acupuncture can treat ailments ranging from hip dysplasia and chronic degenerative joint disease to respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological and urinary tract disorders.
The principles of treating animals is the same as for humans. The aim of Acupuncture is to re-establish an overall balance of the body's vital energy (this is referred to as Qi). By restoring the balance of Qi, the disease afflicting the body will be weakened or even eliminated entirely.
Veterinarians in the United States and Australia have practiced Acupuncture since the 1970s. The demand for Acupuncture services has increased over the decades, and it is raising fewer eyebrows from the skeptics. In fact, more and more orthodox trained physicians are making the effort to retrain (particularly in Australia) and get full qualifications in Acupuncture - not just a tree week course, but full training which can takes several years. Or they are employing fully qualified Acupuncturists who have specialized in Veterinary health care.
Unlike orthodox medical treatment, Acupuncture has far fewer risks associated with it. There are no drugs that may cause other disorders or side-effects, the treatment is virtually painless and there is little or no chance of side-effects from Acupuncture.
Veterinary Acupuncture is available, but you will need to do a little digging to find a properly qualified practitioner. You should start by getting in touch with your National Acupuncturists Association and ask them to refer you to a physician who focuses on Veterinary care
Despite the amazing scientific advances in veterinary medicine, one of the most exciting new treatments may be thousands of years old.
For now, Miau from me, until next month.
Source: Washington state University
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