Skin is the body’s largest organ. The skin has multiple functions – one being that it is an important organ of elimination. The Chinese medical system refers to the skin as the third kidney – meaning that it functions to rid the body of excess moisture and toxins.
The health of our skin is reflected by its appearance and texture. Most of the time, issues with our skin are symptoms of internal issues. Many will try to remedy a skin condition with external treatments such as salves or lotions; however, unless the cause of the skin problem is external such as a cut or insect bite, an external remedy will almost never correct an internal problem.
Many odd rashes are caused by problems with other organs of elimination such as problems with the liver, kidneys or colon. When any of these organs get overwhelmed, they all become overwhelmed and can affect the skin.
Many times rashes and odd itching spots, particularly lower legs are a sign of congested liver. The best remedies for these are gentle liver cleansers – with emphasis on the gentle. Sometimes what is cleaned out of the liver causes the kidneys to become compromised, making the skin reactions worse.
Another internal problem causes that bumpy chicken skin on the back of the arms. This is generally two problems in one. The first being a liver that is not metabolizing fat properly and the second being lack of the right kind of fat such as omega 3 oils from fish or flax.
Thick sandpaper textured skin on the back of the heels and the elbows is a reflection of poor carbohydrate metabolism and/or low thyroid function.
The Chinese look at the color of the skin around the eyes to determine health of various organs. Greenish colors reflect liver and gallbladder problems, blues reflect kidney problems and yellows reflect spleen and stomach problems.
Since our skin is an organ of elimination, one of the best things to do to make it healthier is to take an internal cleanser. Cleansing the liver, kidneys, colon, lymph and skin periodically tends to help everything work better including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, better digestion, more energy and clearer, more vibrant skin.
Supplements that help the skin include vitamin C and silica which are precursors to collagen. Alpha lipoic acid is a great antioxidant that helps keep collagen from breaking down. Good levels of collagen help keep the skin from sagging. DMAE helps retain muscle tone underneath the skin. Hyaluronic acid is a newer supplement that helps the skin retain moisture so that it can repair itself.
Also important for skin health is the right kind of oil. Omega 3 oils add the right kind of moisture especially when combined with GLA from borage or evening primrose oil. Zinc and vitamin A are essential supplements for the skin especially when healing any rash or injury.
The skin also needs water. Remember to drink at least 2 quarts per day.
Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.