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Natural Skin Care Newsletter: May 2007 Issue
(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)
Skin Rashes - What are They and How to Treat Them.
Aromatherapy: The Dangers of Essential Oils
Why Water is a Life Saver for Your Skin.
About a herb of interest: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Kitty's Corner - Ear Problems
May 2007 Issue of the Natural Skin Care Newsletter
Skin rashes come in all shapes and sizes and have many different causes, ranging from an allergic reactions to rashes caused from bites and stings.
Skin rashes are mostly temporary and self-limiting and with a little tender love and care, most skin rashes can be treated quickly and easily. However, there are some medical conditions that present as a rash on the skin and need professional health care advice.
Alternative names used to describe skin rashes
Skin redness or inflammation; Skin lesion; Rubor; Skin rash; Erythema
Rashes involve changes in the colour or texture of your skin and may or may not be itchy.
Often, the cause of a rash can be determined from its visible characteristics and other symptoms.
Common causes of skin rashes:
Exogenous Causes (causes that are due to some external/environmental factors)
Almost anything can cause a skin rash if an individual has an allergic reaction to it. Foods, grasses, perfumes and many other natural and/or synthetic chemicals/compounds may cause the skin to develop a rash.
These types of skin rashes however are relatively easily treated and eliminated, just by avoiding contact with the known allergen.
Endogenous Causes (causes that are due to some physiological response of the body due to a pathogen or other physiological reaction:
Most skin rashes will improve with gentle skin care and avoiding irritating substances.
For skin rashes that occur as a result of contact with an allergen, a good first aid treatment is the application of pure Lavender oil. Lavender generally alleviates pain, itching and burning sensations and is a great antiseptic.
In the case of Fever Rash, there is nothing other than rest and drinking plenty of fluids to help clean-out your body of the infection and reducing body temperature back to normal.
Alternative medical approach to treating endogenous disorders that result in a skin rash
Most disciplines of alternative medicine will view a skin rash as part of an overall imbalance of the body’s physiology. Rarely will alternative medical approaches focus exclusively on a skin rash without considering possible underlying causes.
Usually, a skin rash indicates that there are some internal factors that are out of balance and the focus of treatment is usually on these internal factors, rather than the symptom of a resulting skin rash.
Chinese medicine, for example, divides skin rashes into several categories and differentiates between concepts such as Yin/Yang, Hot/Cold, Damp-Heat, Cold-Damp, Heat in the blood, etc. and does not provide orthodox medical names. Shingles for example may well be diagnosed as Damp-Heat in the Liver or Spleen, depending on other accompanying symptoms. Regardless of the name, herbalists whether they practice western or Chinese herbal medicine will attempt to re-establish the internal harmony in the body and this usually results in the successful treatment of the skin rash.
It is also important to review the patient’s diet and establish whether improving, modifying or changing their diet would help to re-establish the internal harmony of their body. Any diet should be as high as possible in unprocessed food and include a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, fish and lean meats together with some dairy foods such as unprocessed cheese. The closer the food you eat is to the way it is found naturally in nature, the better.
Once an appropriate treatment regime including a review and possible modification of your diet is established, the skin rash may also be addressed separately. This is where following a good skin care regime, utilising natural skin care products to treat the rash specifically, can help to reduce the symptoms associated with the skin rash and promote healing of the skin.
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Essential oils, particularly in western cultures, are used in the beauty industry for their aromas and in the practice of massage for their mood altering properties. Lavender, Chamomile, and other essential oils are known for their relaxing and calming properties, while Jasmine, Rose and Geranium have beautiful aromatic properties.
Essential oils also have therapeutic properties which can have a dramatic effect on the physiology of the body. Peppermint Oil for example has a refreshing and uplifting aroma, however, according to Robert Tisserand, it may also be used in the treatment of Asthma, Bronchitis, Colds, Nausea, Migraine, Gall stones, etc.
Unfortunately, with the increasing interest in the therapeutic uses of essential oils people are beginning to self-diagnose and self-prescribe essential oils, based on articles they read in the general media. This has potentially serious consequences and has led to discussions as to whether or not essential oils should be treated like herbal medicines and be placed under some sort of control, similar to that of herbal medicine.
The argument whether essential oils are toxic, or more precisely, which essential oils are potentially toxic if used incorrectly, is gaining momentum and has created some debate over which, if any, of the essential oils should be restricted in some form for sale to the general public.
At the end of the day - everything is potentially toxic; it depends on the quantity and/or frequency at which a substance is administered. And the sensitivity of the individual who is having the substance administered.
Robert Tisserand (an eminent author and publisher of several books on topics related to Essential oils and Aromatherapy) published a series of articles in the International Journal of Aromatherapy, where he presents three articles dealing with the Safety of Essential Oils.
In one of these articles, he writes about the potential toxicity of Hyssop oil. "Hyssop oil is a powerfully neurotoxic, and there are several cases of ingestion of the oil by humans resulting in seizures." He continues: "Hyssop is convulsant because of its pinocamphone (40%) and iso-piocamphone (30%) content. The convulsant effects of hyssop oil were first researched in 1891. Doses of 2.5 mg/kg were injected into dogs, producing almost immediate epileptiform seizures." When used correctly, hyssop oil can be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension, hypotension, dermatitis, eczema, and other health conditions.
In Part I of this series of articles, Tisserand outlined the importance of understanding essential oil composition; how the chemical degradation of essential oils could have safety implications, and compared data on human and animal toxicity.
The problem is not the essential oils, but the concept that if something is natural it does not cause any harm. This is of course completely wrong, as the most powerful toxins/drugs are natural; Morphine, Arsenic, and the list goes on.
Similarly, if 2 drops will be good for my cold, or what ever, than 10 drops must be better... This type of thinking and resulting over-dose of herbs, essential oils and even prescription drugs is the dangerous component.
Personally I wouldn’t like to see herbs, essential oils, etc., become totally restricted and placed under government control, however, with growing interest in and use of essential oils, I do think some sort of protection should be put in place which is similar to that currently applicable to herbal medicine in Australia.
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Did you know your skin is approximately 70% water? Every living cell in our bodies require water and the signs and symptoms of dehydration are not as obvious as just being thirsty.
How much is enough?
Water is key to the health of your skin. The fact that the skin contains 70% water speaks for itself, however, dehydration of the skin happens very quickly and can have disastrous effects, not just on your skin, but also on your Kidneys and your general health. The skin has many very important functions and one of these is the elimination of toxins from the body. However, it cannot do this unless the skin is well hydrated and its pores are free and not blocked with dead cells, dirt or stale oil.
The skin has to have water to function properly; in fact the human body requires in the order of 2 to 3 litres of water per day - every day. More if you do physical work or exercise.
Almost everyone knows that you should drink eight to ten glasses of water each and every day. But is it absolutely necessary?
YES! Every cell in your body needs water to function properly. In our natural therapies clinic, we see many patients and most are chronically dehydrated and don't even know it. They are simply not drinking as much water as they should.
The human body, which is made up of between 55 and 75 percent water (depending on age, percentage of fat, sex and other factors), is in need of constant rehydration.
Consider these facts : Your lungs expel between 2 - 4 cups of water daily just through normal breathing (more if you exercise) and even more on a cold day. If your feet sweat, add another cup of water. If you make half a dozen trips to the bathroom during the day, that's six cups of water. If you perspire, you expel about two cups of water (which doesn’t include exercise-induced perspiration). So, that's more than11 cups of water each and every day...
How do you know if you are drinking enough water? A good test is to look at your urine. If it’s clear or pale yellow, you are probably drinking enough to keep your body hydrated. But if it’s intense yellow or gold, you probably need to drink more water. (Note: Taking Vitamin B-Complex can turn your urine yellow - this is normal and not a sign of dehydration, however, make sure you do drink at least 8 - 10 glasses of water a day.) The darker the urine the more concentrated and there is usually an unpleasant smell associated with it - this definitely indicates you are very dehydrated!
Many of our patients say - I don't like water can I drink soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, coffee and other drinks instead? All these drinks can help quench your body’s thirst for fluids, but they typically contain 100 calories or more per serving. In addition, tea and coffee will take out more water from your body than is added by drinking tea or coffee - these drinks are diuretic, just like alcohol - they literally dry you out.
Diluted fruit juices, milk and vegetable juices will rehydrate your body and are good for you. If you have trouble drinking water because you don’t like the taste, try adding a twist of lemon or lime or a splash of fruit juice. You may also wish to consider purifying your water, because pure water actually has no taste at all.
The most common signs and symptoms of dehydration include: Persistent fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness or cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, forgetfulness, confusion, deep rapid breathing, or an increased heart rate.
Other less common signs and symptoms of dehydration can include: Excessive loss of fluid through vomiting, urinating, stools or sweating, poor intake of fluids, "can't keep anything down", sunken eyes, dry or sticky mucous membranes in the mouth, skin that lacks its normal elasticity and sags back into position slowly when pinched up into a fold, decreased or absent urine output and decreased tears
Water and your skin
The skin plays a very important part in the health of the human body and water plays a key role in the maintenance of healthy skin. The epidermis, especially the stratum corneum, protects against water loss, serves as a barrier preventing entrance of microorganisms, and has an acidic pH ranging from 4 to 6.5.
The skin is also of prime importance for topical preparation permeability. Many skin care products as well as topically applied pharmaceutical preparations are applied at night, based on clinical and experimental data, showing that permeability is greater at night than in the morning.
Naturally moist, smooth and supple skin results from sufficient amounts of water, oils, skin pH, and other factors. Under ordinary circumstances 95 percent of each of our cell is made up of water. It is the water content of your skin cells that determines how moist or supple your skin is. Avoiding dry skin is therefore one of the key elements in good basic skin care. Dry skin can also make you more prone to scaling, cracking, irritation, eczema and infections. Factors that cause or aggravate dry skin include harsh soaps, excessive bathing, low humidity and hereditary factors.
In short, Water is the blood of life and its value cannot be underestimated - you can die of thirst after all and that in itself should tell us just how important it is to stay hydrated. Keeping your skin well hydrated is a two part process - external application of high quality, natural skin skin care products such as moisturising creams and - internally, drinking plenty of water each and every day.
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Dandelion: A herb with punch
The Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Weber, T. Densleonis, Desf; Leontodon taraxacum, Linn.) is native to Europe and Asia, but can be found in pastures, meadows, gardens and on waste grounds elsewhere in the world where it has been introduced.
T. officinale (Dandelion) is closely related to chicory, and is a perennial plant. Dandelion grows to a height of about 30 cm, and has oblong or spatulate, irregularly dentate or pinnatified leaves grow in a rosette from the milky taproot. It grows one or more naked flower stems, each terminating in a single yellow flower. The familiar puffball that succeeds the flower is a globular cluster of achenes, each of which is fitted with a parachute-like tuft, to maximise wind dispersal of its seed.
Biological Name: Taraxacum officinale, Taraxaci mongolici
Other Names: Blowball, cankerwort, lion's tooth, priest's crown, puffball, swine snout, white endive, wild endive, dandelion, Pu gong ying
Parts Used: leaves and root
Taraxacum officinale contains the following constituents:
The potassium present in the leaves provides Dandelion with its diuretic action. Unlike pharmaceutical diuretics, which promote kidney function, Dandelion does not leach potassium from the body which can result in aggravation of existing cardio-vascular problems. This makes Dandelion balanced diuretic that may be safely used wherever such an action is needed including water retention due to heart problems (Hoffmann1983).
The bitter compounds in the leaves and root help stimulate digestion and are mild laxatives. These bitter principles also increase bile production in the gallbladder and bile flow from the liver, which aid the digestion.
Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:
Western Herbal Applications:
Chinese Herbal Applications:
In general, Dandelion is a herb of choice to treat water retention, especially where at the same time there are cardio-vascular problems present. It is also of primary use in liver and gallbladder disorders such as jaundice and other related disorders of the hepatic system.
Other indications include:
The dosage will vary according to the type of prescription and the disorder being treated.
Dandelion is considered a safe herbal medicine, however, no herbal medicine should be used without consulting a health professional first.
The milky latex in the stem and leaves of fresh dandelion may cause an allergic rash in some individuals.
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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 endeavour to cover the topics you would like to know more about - so don't be shy, drop us a line or two!
Also there are some great new posts in the forum and we look forward to 'seeing' you there.
To all you Mothers out there - Happy Mother's Day !
In good health
Danny & Susan Siegenthaler
© Copyright: Wildcrafted Herbal Products, 2007
Hello to you all, and a hearty Miau.
I hope you found last month's article on Ear Problems interesting and informative.
While this article focuses on Cats, Dogs too can benefit from the treatment described in the article if they have similar problems with their ears.
A cat's ears are not only important for hearing, but are also vital for
* Ear infections are most often caused by ear mites such as Otodectes cynotis, fungi or bacteria. Bacteria and yeast can occur together in an outer ear
* Microscopic mites commonly live in the ear canal and spread easily between
* Blue-eyed white cats typically suffer congenital deafness because of
* Occasionally, turnouts occur in
* In cases in which there has been
* Swelling of the external ear flap
* Scratching the ears
What Your Vet Can Do
* In the case of an infection, the vet will examine the cat's ear with an otoscope. Mites will be clearly visible. The aural discharge can be cultured to ascertain the bacteria or fungi responsible so the necessary treatment can be prescribed for the mites and the infection.
* To treat mites, fungal or bacterial infestation, the vet will recommend a solution that can be squirted into the ear to clear the debris. The ear canal is then massaged for a few seconds and wiped out with a cotton ball. Two or three drops of medicine will then need to be applied to each car daily for 7-10 days and massaged in.
* Nothing can be done for congenital deafness. Deaf cats should be kept indoors, well away from traffic. Tumours will require surgery. In the case of a haematoma, the swelling in the ear flap may have to be removed surgically by draining out the blood. The problem may recur. This type of fight injury is most commonly seen in unneutered tomcats, so neutering my also be advisable.
Calendula, 5 ml (1 tsp) in 250 ml (8 fl oz) of water, plus 2.5 ml (half tsp. of sea salt, can be used as an ear cleanser. Calendula oil can also be used to soothe red inflamed ears. Use 2 drops once a day and leave in ears.
To kill ear mites:
Yellow dock (Rumex crispus),
2 drops every third day for 3-6 weeks.
For now, Miau from me, until next month.
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This is a Must Have if you are interested in Aromatherapy
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Some Gift Ideas
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