by Linda Sechrist
Holistic skin care practices are simple, healthy and sustainably good for people and the planet because they follow nature’s example.
Medical Doctor Alan M. Dattner, a 35-year pioneer in the field of holistic dermatology, faithfully follows nature’s principles in supporting skin health. His book, Radiant Skin from the Inside Out: The Holistic Dermatologist’s Guide to Healing Your Skin Naturally, maps out how skin reflects the body’s healthy or unhealthy organs and systems.
Finding the internal root cause of problems on the skin, the body’s largest organ, takes time to investigate. Dattner, who practices in New York City and considers himself a “skin detective”, says that although his forensic work continues to expand, he still begins his sleuthing by having patients complete a comprehensive questionnaire that yields clues for solving health puzzles and points him in the direction of what’s causing problems.
Some patients with acne also have symptoms of bloating, gastrointestinal issues or chronic bowel disease. Others may have traveled to another country where they contracted diarrhea from a parasite or foreign bacteria that upset their intestinal microbiome.
Skin outbreaks can also be the result of food sensitivities or food allergies. “I make patients aware of the issues underlying their skin problems so that they understand the connection between internal health and skin. Then they can make conscious food choices,” says Dattner.
Diet is a critical aspect of healthy skin. “Gluten sensitivity is often an issue to some degree. Typically, it’s the zonulin in gluten that opens up the spaces between cells of the intestinal lining, causing inflammation and creating favorable conditions for leaky gut; which opens another door for other substances to cause food sensitivities that show up on the skin,” he explains.
Dattner incorporates several diagnostic techniques and remedies from other medical traditions, including herbal, homeopathic, and ayurvedic. A tongue diagnosis he uses is taken from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). He uses Applied Kinesiology to refine his therapeutic choices as the results align with his knowledge of dermatology, immunology and integrative medicine.
Janice MacKenzie, acupuncture practitioner, teacher and author of Discovering the Five Elements: One Day at a Time, views the skin as a third lung, because it breathes. “If the organs of elimination aren’t working well—large intestine, liver and kidney—then toxins leave through skin, another organ of elimination,” says MacKenzie, who practices in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
“When constipation leaves toxins to be reabsorbed into the blood and recirculated through the liver, the body, out of desperation, seeks ways to get rid of toxins through the skin. This can result in eczema, psoriasis, rashes, boils and acne,” notes MacKenzie.
In TCM, the facial redness of rosacea originates in a heating of the blood caused by toxicity. An inflammatory condition of excess energy and toxicity in the stomach travels upward through the stomach energy meridian that runs from the eye to the second toe. It’s supposed to flow downward through the mouth, throat and intestines and out.
Elina Fedatova, cosmetic chemist, aesthetician, owner of spas in Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and formulator of Elina Organics, addresses skin as an aspect of a whole healthy body. Her product line is created wholly from organic plant extracts and essential oils, made in batches every two weeks. These purely natural products can be ingested without harmful effects. “Formulas are made using holistic principles and adjusted for each season,” says Fedatova.
She agrees with Dattner, “Protecting skin from the inside with a nutritious diet that benefits the entire body is vital, as important as keeping the skin’s surface clean.” In caring for skin from the outside, a gentle exfoliation that can be done at home three times a week using a honey mask is the first step. Skin cells produced in the deepest layer gradually push their way to the epidermis every 30 days and die. Dead cells pile up unevenly and give the skin’s surface a dry, dull appearance. Treatment serums, moisturizing lotions and eye and neck creams are necessary elements of a complete facial skin care regimen, as is a natural sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
“Using skincare practices and products that follow nature’s example are the perfect external complement to good internal health,” says Fedatova.
Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings. Connect at ItsAllAboutWe.com.