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Taking care of your skin with foods, herbs and supplements


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The human skin serves as the outer covering for the body. It shields the delicate internal organs. The skin is the largest organ of the body and it reflects what goes inside.

Among many other functions of the skin, its role as an organ of elimination is of interest to natural health care providers. Some individuals erroneously are of the opinion that the skin could be treated solely from the external and they end up buying and stockpiling soap, ointments and creams for their skin problems all to no avail.

Natural healing emphasizes the prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals ’ inherent self- healing process . We look at various ways to promote skin health by supplying the skin with what it needs. Most importantly, we help it play its major role which is eliminating toxins as it should be .

When conditions such as skin irritations, boils and rashes begin to manifest periodically and consistently too, a diligent practitioner would immediately commence detoxification programme for his clients.

In nature cure, the three basic techniques of maintaining or preserving health include; detoxification (the elimination of morbid matter), improving macro/micro circulation and balancing the body system with required nutrients. These three approaches will enable the body dispose toxins that are hindering the body ’s sound health. Those procedures allow the body to rejuvenate and heal itself without drugs.

Skin diseases are many and varied, from fungal infection such as eczema and athletes foot to parasitic, bacterial and viral skin conditions such as scabies, impetigo and mouth sores to mention a few.

What most naturopaths do when confronted by serious skin conditions in their clients can be summarised as follow:

• Exhaustive health evaluation

• Colon cleansing protocols could immediately be undertaken. An individual is as healthy as his colon.

• The patient is asked to consume a measured quantity of water daily depending on his age , weight, nature of his activity and disease condition. This would ensure adequate body fluid for the elimination /flushing process.

• Alteration of the client ’s diet . His food will largely be composed of fruits and vegetables . This could last for few days or weeks during which acid-forming foods such as white bread and all forms of pastries, carbonated drinks, white sugar,, meat consumption, fried foods, alcohol, canned milk and foods etc must be avoided or drastically curtailed.

• Blood purification herbs /foods such as Vernonia amygdalina (bitterleaf), Garcinia kola (Bitter kola ), Fluerya aestuans (local stinging nettle), Gongronema latifolium (Utazi in Igbo) and Picralima nitida (Abere in Yoruba) may be administered.

• In some non-open skin conditions, the use of Epsom salt for skin brushing and bathing would help in promoting peripheral blood circulation in the skin area and eliminate toxins trapped underneath the skin.

• Antimicrobial herbs such as garlic , tumeric, Aloe vera, cloves , Xylopia aethiopica (Uda in Igbo , Eru in Yoruba) and Alchornea cordifolia (Ipa In Yoruba) may be recommended.

• Nutritional supplements, such as Vitamin A , C , B complex , Pantothenic acid (B 5), E and Omega 3 fatty acids are usually recommended as required by individuals.

• Only when the above conditions are fulfilled can we begin to think of topical applications of soap, ointments or creams . Remedies that are efficacious and that can be applied topically when the holistic treatment has been carried out on the skin include coconut oil, Aloe vera gel and Shea butter (just a few).

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Dr Gilbert Ezengige is a licensed natural medicine practitioner, lecturer and writer on health and social issues.

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