Spring is a time when our bodies begin to wake up from the rest and darkness of winter. The organs of elimination, which I spoke of in January, play an important role as we transition into spring, as they help our bodies to detoxify wastes and prepare for the needs of the following season. In order to prevent new or worsening symptoms from emerging, these organs can benefit from a little extra support during this time, such as botanical remedies and dietary adjustments.
The organs of elimination include the gut, kidneys, liver, lungs and skin, among others. The skin is the largest detox organ and is often the first recognizable sign that there is an imbalance in the rest of the body. Because the skin is visible to the outside world and influences our self-confidence, it is often the initial reason why a patient comes into my office. Perhaps they have persistent acne, scarring, rosacea, hives, rashes, dry skin, warts or discoloration.
Conventionally, skin imbalances are treated with topical or internal therapies such as steroids, antifungals, antibiotics, and emollient creams. These treatments can be suppressive without ever addressing the root cause, and sometimes make the issue worse. In Naturopathic Medicine, we understand skin complaints as a reflection of underlying imbalances that need to be addressed. If the lungs or liver or gut aren’t functioning properly, they can get backed up; toxins are then pushed out through the pores, creating issues seen on the skin.
When a patient complains of acne, for example, I begin by asking a series of questions to understand where the imbalance(s) lies. Do the skin issues stem from the gut? Does this person have food allergies, parasites, dysbiosis, or all of the above? Is there widespread inflammation in the body? Why? Do we need to support the liver, pancreas and gallbladder? Are there hormonal imbalances? What is taking place in the nervous system or immune system? Is their topical skin care routine too aggressive?
The answer is usually some combination of the above. Because of this, my patients with skin complaints benefit from optimization of diet, exercise, routine and hydration in addition to specific and targeted therapies. When approached in this comprehensive way, acne and other chronic skin complaints can resolve permanently, as the underlying imbalance has been addressed.
Wishing you health and balance as we transition into Spring!