In This Section
The skin is classed as an organ because it consists of different tissues. Due to the large surface area and weight it is one of the largest organs of the body.
It serves many purposes which include:
- Temperature regulation
- Blood reservoir
- Vitamin D production
The epidermis forms the outer layer of the skin and is the part with which we are most familiar. About 90 percent of the epidermal cells produce a protein which waterproofs the skin. Less than 10 percent of cells produce melanin which contributes a brown-black colour to the skin to absorb ultraviolet light and protect underlying DNA from damage. Some types of cell in the epidermis contribute to immunity while others are involved with the sensation of touch. We touch and feel emotionally and physically. Skin touching powerfully enables us to share our feelings, thoughts and love without words. It is another language. This emotional connection is evident in the development of the foetus as skin is developed from nervous tissue. Touching and being touched can be a truly sensuous experience; there's nothing more gorgeous, for instance, than a baby's skin.
The epidermis is thin and is constantly being worn away from the surface as new cells are produced from the deeper levels and migrate to the surface. The correct rate of replacement and destruction is a function of homeostasis. Some diseases such as psoriasis reflect an imbalance in this homeostatic mechanism; this condition requires careful treatment from specialists but exposure to natural light is often beneficial. Dermatitis is a typical epidermal reaction that can be resolved more easily.
Directly under the visible layer of skin lies the dermis, connective tissue that is embedded with collagen and elastic fibres giving smoothness and suppleness to the skin. Touch receptors here are sensitive to stronger levels of touch. Nerve endings, blood vessels and other structures are found in the dermis which is attached to underlying bone, muscles and organs.
All races have equal numbers of melanin-producing cells. What differs across skin colours is the amount of melanin produced and dispersed. Disorders of production of melanin include albinism and vitiligo. Damage to the skin may produce a malignant and virulent form of cancer called melanoma.
Other pigments involved in skin colour are carotene and haemoglobin. Carotene – a yellow-orange pigment – adds yellow to skin tones, and haemoglobin adds pink.
Body and head hair provide protection for the body against the harmful effects of the sun and extremes of temperature. The colour of hair is determined genetically and is due to levels of melanin. Specialised oil-producing glands are usually connected to hair follicles. They pass oil to the epidermis either on a hair or directly to the skin (as is the case of sebaceous glands in the lips, eyelids and sex organs). This oil is composed of fats, cholesterol, protein, and inorganic salts and prevents the hair from drying out. It also keeps the skin soft and supple and inhibits bacterial growth. Hair is living and absorbs products that you use on it. Natural shampoos will be gentle on the hair especially with a tonic conditioning treatment.
Nails are formed of hard keratinised cells produced from the nail root buried in a fold of skin. Nails assist in grasping and holding and manipulation and offer protection to the touch-sensitive fingertips. Some health disorders are easily visible on the nails. Blue can indicate respiratory congestion. White blotches may indicate mineral deficiency. Ridges may indicate problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients. The persistent use of acrylic nails and paints means that the capacity of nails to breathe is compromised.
Sweat is a mixture of water, chemicals and salts and helps to eliminate waste products from the body. Sweat also helps to regulate body temperature. Other types of sweat glands are activated at puberty and are stimulated by both stress and sexual arousal. These glands are found in armpits, breasts and pubic areas and release pheromones or sex hormones as well as hormones relating to fear and stress. Affecting us below the level of consciousness, sexual attraction, bonding and mating as well as fight or flight responses have powerful effects on our behaviour and the behaviour of others.
The skin forms a waterproof and physical barrier against an environment filled with danger. Wounds to the skin are repaired by the body as quickly as possible to prevent undesirable bacteria gaining a foothold and entry into deeper structures. Cuts, abrasions and minor burns mainly affect the epidermis, with the dermis involved to a minor extent. In this scenario epidermal cells respond to trauma by breaking contact with their basement membrane, enlarging and moving across the wound. They advance from all sides of the wound in order to seal the injury. Remarkably when cells meet they are stopped from advancing further due to inhibitory mechanisms (all cells in the body have this inhibiting mechanism). A phenomenon of malignancy is that affected cells lose contact inhibition and are able to reproduce beyond their normal boundaries and thus invade adjacent tissue.
Deep wound healing involves more complex mechanisms and scar tissue forms as a result of the trauma. There is usually local inflammation and a blood clot is formed to prevent excess bleeding. As a protective scab is formed, the gentle process of wound healing takes place from deep dermal cells. Nerves and blood vessels will be regenerated and the immune system is activated to allow complete healing. Finally the scab will drop off leaving a fresh scar. Some loss of function may occur when there has been extensive scarring e.g. the fingers after burns.
Wheatgerm Oil is rich in vitamin E and supports skin that has been recently scarred or damaged. St. John’s Wort Oil is rich in plant pigments and we like this for repairing skin that has been sun damaged.
Body temperature is maintained in a range of 36.8°C - 37°C and is regulated through centres in the brain. A high temperature or fever is the response to infection or inflammation. It stimulates the body to rapidly increase the rate at which it creates new immune cells. Unless it is life-threatening, a natural healer will rarely lower a raised temperature and even then would only do so slowly. This achieves a level of comfort without removing the body’s ability to speed up immune responses.
- Some foods are not digested efficiently or you may have a sensitivity or allergy to certain foods such as pork, dairy and wheat products. Reactions to foods can be reflected through the health of your skin, hair and nails so observe your unique reactions.
- Skin needs essential fatty acids and water in order to maintain its good health, visually and otherwise; so include plenty of each in your diet. Water allows the skin to excrete and function correctly. Good sources of essential fatty acids are Superfood Plus, most dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, nut butters and cold-pressed oils such as olive oil and flax seed oil.
- Sugar, alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks can all dehydrate the skin and may exacerbate skin conditions.
- High amounts of processed foods can also be detrimental; base your diet on fresh foods, and include a variety of vegetables and fruits in rich colours.
- Avoid chemical deodorants for daily use because the aluminium will clog the skin and destroy natural bacteria. Use essential oil-based products or a drop of Lavender essential oil directly to armpits. Try crystal deodorant stones, available in health food stores.
- Make sure all the eliminative organs are working, so that the skin is not burdened. Explore colon, liver and kidney cleanses. You can find more information on our Detox & Cleansing pages or download the free books from Dr Schulze available on our website, such as his "5-Day Bowel Detox" book.
- Avoid conventional washing powders, cleaning equipment, washing-up liquid and so on. Instead, research eco-friendly and body-friendly products. Propyl alcohol, PCB and other toxic ingredients should not be in your household and bathroom cleaners as they can irritate the skin, contribute to other illness such as multiple chemical allergies and they damage the environment. Cleaners based on essential oils are kinder to your skin and the planet.
- The skin needs to breathe. Nylon and synthetic fibres create temperature extremes and place undue strain on the skin’s ability to sweat and eliminate. Prefer clothes made from cotton, silk or wool, including in bed – or sleep naked if it is warm enough. Use cotton sheets and preferably an all-cotton mattress such as a futon. Air the futon and natural-fibre duvet by hanging over windowsills on sunny days, and leave the futon rolled up one day a week, to re-fluff and aerate.
- Feed your skin directly with quick-absorbing healthy oils and creams massaged in on a daily basis after bathing. Plant-based formulas will be more supportive and nurturing than mineral oil products.
- A little sun exposure is highly desirable because it enables the skin to start the process that creates vitamin D. Paler skin, which does not contain sufficient pigment for long exposure to the summer sun will require more protection. Jojoba oil is naturally sun protective, with a sun protection factor of 16 making it ideal for many adults with medium to darker pigment skin. Those with very pale skin, children and babies, will need more strongly protective sunscreens. Go up to a factor 50 or 60 depending on the strength of the sun and your proximity to the equator. Follow government advice bulletins.
- Stay connected to your wonderful skin through massage and barefoot walking on the earth and sand.
- Low body temperature can affect skin problems so create more body heat via exercise – although shower immediately after intense exercise to remove toxins excreted in the sweat. Take care of your adrenals and thyroid in case your low body temperature is a result of imbalance there.
- Swim in clean lakes, streams or clean sea. Avoid chlorinated pools, if possible; if not, clean off the chlorine by bathing afterwards with lavender essential oil. Balance the drying effects of central heating by placing bowls of water containing essential oils next to hot spots in the room.
- Exercise to promote good circulation and to ensure that lymph and lungs are moving.
- Dog hairs, cat hairs, fleas, ticks, household dust and pollen are irritants and can start skin irritations. If affected, remember to support the immune system, cleanse the colon, liver and kidneys and get the lungs to work better. It is easy to lose sight of internal processes, even when there are external causes or outcomes.
- If dandruff is an issue use our link to explore ways that this problem can be addressed simply and effectively.
Acne is a skin condition that causes great distress and although hormones are at its origins, there is much that can be done naturally to minimise the impact. Similarly boils erupt onto the skin and indicate the need to improve immunity in general. Click on the links to explore these conditions further.
Our herbal formulae are strong flavoured and effective. Our herbs enjoy a long history of use. A large proportion of them are grown in English soils, harvested using bio-chemistry analysis and many of them are processed fresh, which heightens their remedial properties. The majority are grown organically and are sustainable and wild-crafted. All manufacturing is carried out using licensed good manufacturing practice.