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Some of the most prevalent skin problems that we treat regularly are eczema, psoriasis and acne. Other skin diseases share a common underlying thread as well. Looking to the skin for the cause of these ailments is like looking at the tip of an iceberg and assuming it to be the entire structure. One can keep chipping away at the tip but the iceberg will never disappear. The main huge piece of the iceberg, the main hidden cause of the skin problem, will continue to exist. The outward skin manifestation is only a symptom, reflecting an inner weakness of the body. If one treats the outside with just a cream or lotion the disease will come back, and as many patients will testify, it will come back even worse.

At this time of the year, when we are outdoors more often, taking hikes in the woods or gardening, I would like to mention parenthetically the skin condition of poison ivy/oak. This is a prime example of an acute situation that unlike the aforementioned conditions was brought about by an external stimulus. It is of course true that even here we see that the stronger the host’s immune system the less severe reaction to poison ivy and the faster it will heal. I have found that in cases such as this medicine is a necessary blessing. Even though some patients respond and heal using only natural remedies such as rhus tox (homeopathic), most patients do not improve without steroids ie: cortisone. There is obviously a place for drugs when used appropriately. A complimentary doctor knows when to use drugs and what to do to balance the body afterwards. Cortisone use will almost inevitably cause a yeast infection. So we prescribe several weeks of a strong probiotic (acidophilus etc.) subsequently.

As mentioned earlier, to understand the reason for the outward manifestations of skin disease one must go inside the body to find the origin. It has been said that the skin is the third kidney. This refers to the skin’s ability to excrete waste and toxic material. The elimination organs are the kidney, liver and large intestine. If these organs are not doing their job then the skin has to compensate for the build up of toxins in the blood and tissue. This results in skin inflammation such as eczema and psoriasis. Acne too, is often caused by an excess of waste and oils in the system that comes out through the skin.

As stated by Dr. Pagamo in his book on psoriasis, several factors may lead to a weakening of the elimination systems. These include poor elimination, improper diet, misaligned vertebrae, insufficient daily intake of pure water, negative emotions and hereditary factors. In the next paragraph I will elaborate on the dietary issue, but I would like to stress the emotional factor now. As Dr. Pagamo states, and as those familiar with Dr. Sarno’s work will understand, negative emotions create acid in the body. It is very often acid that sets up the environment for eczema and psoriasis. Just as bad for us as is pineapple or tomato so are anger, anxiety, worry, resentment and feelings of inferiority.

In holistic practices, such as mine, helping patients with emotional/psychological issues is of great value.

Each individual has their own particular organic weaknesses. Generally though, the foods that most contribute and aggravate skin conditions are sugar, wrong fats ( trans/partially hydrogenated oils), processed meats, acid forming foods such as orange, pineapple, and the nightshade vegetables ( potato, tomato, eggplant, peppers ). Often cheese and milk are not good. Shellfish should also be avoided. White bread and processed flour should also be avoided. Soda should also be viewed as poison for the liver and skin.

Helping the elimination organs through nutrition is necessary. Using glutamine, aloe, marsmallow and other intestinal aids is essential. Liver cleanses and regular use of milk thistle to strengthen the liver is recommended. Kidney flushes and de-tox is very helpful. Adding essential fatty acids such as fish, flax or primrose oil is important for all skin conditions. Vitamin D is actually a hormone vital for healthy skin. The mineral zinc is also vital.

In my office I do testing for allergy/sensitivity to foods and other things. I check the function of the organ systems. I test which vitamins/supplements work and at what optimal dosages.