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Healthy Skin: Nature is the Best Doctor

by Klaus Ferlow(more info)

listed in skincare, originally published in issue 145 - March 2008

Words of Wisdom

It is from nature that the disease arises and from nature comes the cure, not from physicians.
Paracelsus
(Doctor and Philosopher 1493-1541)

We all want healthy skin, especially in the summertime, when we are exposed to harsh UV rays. According to the many advertisements we hear and see, healthy skin comes at a high price. In women’s magazines, radio, newspapers and TV, wrinkle-free and anti-ageing creams and lotions are promoted all the time and it seems that the ‘brainwashing’ advertising works since large multibillion dollar companies with famous names sell them in jars, tubes, bottles with gold-plated caps in pink coloured packages in huge quantities at premium prices. Did you also notice the models promoting the ‘miracle’ creams and lotions, are mostly very young women aged between 19 and maybe 25 years? Most women want young looking, soft, glowing, and wrinkle-free skin and will do almost anything to achieve it. But is that goal really achievable?

Advertising Hype

The Wellness and Beauty market in North America is big business. In 1995 it as worth $40 billion, 2001 – $60 billion and for 2010 an estimated $100 billion, and the trend in the EU, Asia and South America is very similar. Large corporations in the cosmetic and personal care industry are interested in the promotion and profit potential of their products, not your health! They are selling an image, not necessarily a safe and effective product, and you have to ask yourself what for example ‘New & Improved’ means on the label. Aren’t you overwhelmed by all the claims made promoting their ‘natural’ skincare products? Many of the so-called new and improved products are nothing other than old formulas in flashy new packaging, designed to appeal to today’s consumer. All this does is up the price, but not the quality. Manufacturers selling these products are hiding controversial or hazardous and dangerous ingredients under the label of ‘trade secrets’. Because of intense competition in the industry, if a company believes it uses an ingredient that is relatively new to the industry or makes their product unique, it can petition the authorities (in USA the FDA, in Canada Health Canada) to prevent disclosure of that ingredients(s) by granting trade secret status. This spells delight for the company and disaster for you!

Chemical Ingredients

Many people are very health and beauty conscious and are willing to spend large amounts of money on cosmetics promising to firm sagging skin, remove wrinkles, nourish starving skin and/or remove blemishes. Brand name cosmetic companies have developed a large profitable industry selling products that imply these, and other non-existing and impossible virtues and cures! Every cosmetic product on the market is formulated for a shelf life of over three years and more; therefore it contains a large amount of preservatives (usually up to four petroleum-derived synthetic parabens – benzyl, butyl, ethyl, methyl, propyl) to prevent spoilage, since they cannot afford a large recall of merchandise that would actually kill their product. Dr Dabbre from Reading University found out, in testing tissues of women with breast cancer, that deodorants they had been using contained a high percentage of parabens, and asked for them to be banned. These preservatives are cellular toxins; otherwise they could not kill microbes. They do penetrate the skin to a certain extent and many of them have been shown to cause allergic reactions and dermatitis.

How often have you seen words like ‘Natural’, ‘Hypo-allergenic’ or ‘pH balanced’ on advertising and labels on skincare products? Cosmetic companies use slick advertising to convince you that you are buying a safe and effective product. But are they really telling you the truth?

Are you aware that there are over 1000 (one thousand!) harsh chemicals – industrial waste by-products – available for use in cosmetics that have toxic substances and can be dangerous to your health and well-being? Source: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Read labels and learn to decipher some of the chemical jargon. My suggestion: “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it, it’s a chemical!” Understanding the long-term effects of these hazardous, dangerous chemicals and which products contain them is the first step in avoiding disastrous results for you and your loved ones.

Our natural cover, which we wear quite casually, is without doubt the largest organ of our body, and possible the most versatile. Actually, none of its properties should be concealed from modern medicine, as the skin is easily accessible, it’s clearly visible and reflects the condition of a person. The skin has a variety of important functions, is a highly sensitive antenna for signals from outside, like heat, cold, touch, pain, a filter for light, rays and foreign substances, a cushion against blows, pressure and frication, storage for fat, water, and various nutrients, a mirror of physical/spiritual balance or unhealthy living, a protective shield against viruses and bacteria due to the natural layer of fat and acidity, a thermostat maintaining a constant body temperature through perspiration and the contraction and dilation of pores. If your skin is pale, loose, dry, spotty, or tired looking, a change in lifestyle is likely the solution. Such changes may need to involve improving nutrition, staying away from processed junk food and pop drinks with artificial sweetener, sufficient exercise and sleep, quitting smoking, reducing stress, cutting down on alcohol consumption, finding a balanced lifestyle through time management, yoga, or meditation; or all of the above. If your detoxification organs, such as your liver and gallbladder are overloaded, your skin has to pick up the extra work. Rashes, acne, eczema, rosacea, dry or greasy skin, spots or the like may result as your skin tries to eliminate toxins from your body. The three layered miracle holds, in each sq cm, delicate blood vessels totalling approx. 90 cm in length. Under normal circumstance, 25% of our body’s total blood supply circulates in our skin, which acts as an outpost of our immune system. Our skin needs careful cleaning and cleansing on a regular basis. When we get older, the skin gets thinner and dryer since our oil glands produce half the oil compared when we were young and needs fat, oxygen, to be nourished, moisturized and thorough purification. Making lifestyle changes, replacing poor habits with good ones, will change your skin from the inside out. The hoped-for miracle smooth, healthy, silky soft skin remains a dream, though if, inside the layers of the skin, the fuel of all life, oxygen, as well as essential nutrients are not present in sufficient quantities.

Pamper your Skin Naturally

Don’t use any commercial make-up, hair dye or products based on petroleum-derived Vaseline that clogs up your pores so they can’t breathe. Externally applied organic, toxin-free, medicinal, herbal and personal care products give your skin protection against cold, sunlight, dryness, and dust particles. They assist the skin’s bodyguard in fighting off the multitude of influences, or attacks from the environment. There is a rough classification of probable skin types, which considers the appearance as a whole and which may be useful. These are the three types:

Slim, athletic and stocky or dry, most of us have a dry skin, normal or oily. Therefore you should only use botanical, plant-derived herbal creams and lotions without any artificial colour, fragrance, synthetics or petrochemicals (used as humectant, moisture retainer, mineral oil, petrolatum, petroleum, propylene glycol, lauramide DEA, cocamide DEA or parabens as preservatives).

You probably would like to know why manufacturers are using chemicals, and especially parabens, as preservatives in their products. The answer for that is that the chemicals they are buying are very cheap and the parabens protect the products from bacterial contamination. When you put your fingers directly into a jar of cream to scoop out a dollop, you are potentially introducing bacteria, fungi, yeast and other micro organism into the container. The bacteria multiply and break down the product, making it less effective and a haven for more bacteria, fungi etc. It is therefore suggested that you use a spatula or always wash your hands before you go into the jar since bacteria is growing on your hands all the time! Quality creams and lotions are using certified organic grapefruit seed extract as a natural preservative to keep the number of bacterial microbes under control, and their antioxidant activity prevents the oil and fats from becoming rancid. Most importantly: always carefully read the ingredients on the labels! Try to educate yourself because there are enough toxins in the air, water, food and household goods and you don’t want to put more chemicals in your body.

Try to avoid stress, which is the cause of cellular breakdown of your skin and causes wrinkles and sagging of the skin. Meditation, massage, infrared sauna treatments for detoxifying, yoga and acupuncture are very helpful for relaxation. Overexposure to the sun creates damaging UV rays and can lead to melanoma (skin cancer). Don’t use commercial sun block brands that are loaded with chemicals that actually can create skin cancer, but only botanical, plant-derived, chemical-free products such as Aloe Vera cream, Rosa Mosqueta oil and cream or Neem Tree cream. Have enough sleep which recharges your immune system. In case you have insomnia (statistic say that in Germany for example 70% of the population have sleeping disorders and it might be similar in the United Kingdom), try acupuncture, herbal Valerian or St. John’s Wort tea or tinctures or hypnotherapy. Avoid dehydration (most elderly people don’t drink enough), drink one to two litres of chlorine-free water and supplement with Evening Primrose, Flaxseed or Hemp oil with omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids.

Beware of Products Claiming to be:

Natural – this suggests that the ingredients are derived from natural sources rather than being produced synthetically. However, there are no standards for what ‘Natural’ means;
Hypoallergenic – the manufacturer believes the product is less likely to cause allergic reactions, but again there are no standards classifying a product and the manufacturer is not required to prove the claim. The terms ‘dermatologist tested’, ‘sensitivity tested’, ‘allergy tested’, or ‘non-irritating’ do not guarantee they won’t cause allergic reactions;
Fragrance free – the product has no detectable odour and fragrance ingredients may still be added to mask offensive odours from the materials used to make the product;
Alcohol free – it generally means that the product does not contain ethyl or grain alcohol, may contain fatty alcohol like cetyl (trade name for an emulsifier), cetearyl, stearyl, or lanolin;
Shelf life – expiring date, gives the length of the time a product is good if handled and stored properly;
Safety tips – if you cannot pronounce the name of the ingredient(s), it’s a chemical, don’t buy it.
  • Stop using a product if you have had an allergic reaction;
  • Throw away products in which there has been a change in colour or odour;
  • Never share make-up or lipsticks (many of them have a high content of lead which could cause cancer);
  • Be wary of testers at cosmetic counters; they may be contaminated;
  • Do not use make-up if you have an eye infection, since the skin around the eyes is the thinnest and very sensitive;
  • Keep containers of creams and lotions without parabens refrigerated;
  • Close-up containers tightly when not in use to prevent drying up;
  • Do not use aerosol flammable products on hair or while smoking;
  • Do not inhale hairspray and powders, they may cause lung damage.
Understanding the long-term effects of hazardous, dangerous chemicals and knowing which products contain them is the first step in protecting your health and your loved ones and remember: “For every disease we know, MOTHER EARTH provides a herb to grow!”

Traditional medicine based on Ayurvedic medicine from India, from China and Aboriginal medicine is gaining more and more significance in our domestic health care, as a growing number of people are now using botanical, plant-derived, organic, toxin-free, medicinal, herbal, personal care products and cosmetics that do no harm as well as nourishing and moisturizing the skin and preventing or healing an illness. Women especially recognize herbal medicine as an effective natural method of treatment, particularly, when conventional pharmaceutical methods fail since they are treating only the symptoms, and not the cause of the problem. Natural therapy holds a pleasant additional benefit for women, many herbs act as beauty elixir for skin, hair and nails.

Books

Judy Vance. Beauty To Die For.
Christine Hoza Farlow. Dying To Look Good.
Kim Erickson. Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. Alive Books.
Dr Lauri Aesoph. Your Natural Makeover.

Note

This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used as diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease, contact your health care practitioner.

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About Klaus Ferlow

Klaus Ferlow HMH (Honorary Master Herbalist, Dominion Herbal College, Burnaby, B.C., est. 1926), HA (professional Herbal Advocate Canadian Herbalist's Association B.C., Victoria, is a traditional herbalist, innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder of Ferlow Botanicals, Vancouver, B.C., www.ferlowbotanicals.com now retired. Peter Ferlow is acting President, manufacturing/distributing herbal medicinal and personal care products with no harmful chemical ingredients to holistic practitioners and selected stores in traditional medicine in Canada and parts of USA since 1993; the company was founded in 1975. His educational articles about health, healing, herbs, nutrition have been published in health & women's magazines, newspapers, newsletter in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa in print and online and on the internet.
Klaus founded in 2013 NEEM RESEARCH, Mission, B.C. to protect and promote the precious healing gift of the Neem tree from India to humanity and with over 23 years experience working with Neem he published in 2016 the book Neem: Nature's Healing Gift to Humanitywww.neemresearch.ca and is also a co-author of the book 7stepsdentalhealth.com. He is a member of the National Health Federation, Monrovia, Ca., International Herb Association, Jacksonville, Fl, United Plant Savers, Rutland, OH, Neem Foundation, Bombay (Mumbai), India and may be contacted via neemresearch1@gmail.com

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