Skin complaints are among the commonest conditions to find their way to me for treatment.
Although skin conditions present themselves in many ways with many different labels, it is always important to treat the person with the complaint rather than the complaint itself. In this way it is possible to avoid artificially restricting the search for the cause and the subsequent solution.
In many cases there will be an internal toxic element to the overall condition. Even in some cases of contact dermatitis, where a caustic factor is not involved, extreme toxicity can lead to a heightened sensitivity in the skin as well as the mucous membranes.
The skin often takes on a detoxifying role when the other means of expulsion have been overloaded. In such an instance it is vital to review the health of these systems and to gently tone them into action before any serious detoxification gets under-way.
Essentially there are four main means for ridding the body of toxins and metabolic waste; the bowels, the kidneys, the lungs and the skin. Moreover, a healthy liver is needed to breakdown toxins and other substances in the body.
In women there is the fifth possibility of the menstruation as a means of cleansing the body. However, this is only fully active, mostly being signified by a variety of symptoms just before or around the onset of bleeding, when the other means of expulsion are under par.
It is in fact the bowels and the kidneys that take on the lions share of this process. When these means are overloaded or under-functioning they will look elsewhere to other means to burden some of the load. For example, a bout of constipation may precipitate the onset of a catarrhal state. Overloaded kidneys may lead to an increase in persperation, without activity, that is offensive in its smell.
Emotional considerations play a significant role in the outbreak of skin conditions and in the treating of them.
Although emotional disturbances can influence the general state of the systems resulting in poor metabolic function, they also have a significant impact on sympathetic/parasympathetic balance. It is well documented that both acute and chronic states of stress can act as a catalyst for the onset of a skin manifestation. In such instances of stress the autonomic nervous system switches into Sympathetic mode, which controls the Fight of Flight mechanism. The body gears up for maximum function and in the process any redundant substances are expelled, quite radically in some cases, from the body. In many cases this takes the form of skin manifestations, but in extreme acute cases it can express itself through deification, urination or vomiting. In simple terms it is a process similar to that seen in the old suspense films. To gain advantage in a chase the crew of some vehicle or vessel begin to throw all non-essential items overboard, thus maximising performance.
On another level it is important to consider the emotional impact that the healing process of skin conditions can have on the patient.
Skin is our first point of interface with the world, the quality of which plays a large role in our society with respect to how we are perceived and judged. This is especially poinient when the condition appears on the face.
We are conditioned to believe, by the teachings of modern medicine, that the condition should simply go away. This is usually achieved by the use of powerful drugs that suppress the body's attempt to detoxify itself. In the short term this seems favourable in contrast to the natural rhythms of healing that dictate the condition will get worse before it gets better. However, these pharmaceuticals do not address the underlying problem and cannot offer a cure. The individual is ever dependant on them to manage the condition. The long term use of such remedies as steroid cream can come at a cost. One such side effect is the thinning of the skin.
As a holistic practitioner, it is my experience that when you take on a case you are seldom treating the patient alone. Consideration must be given for the other people in the patient's life and what impact they will have on treatment. This is particularly evident in skin cases as the condition, finally freeing itself of the suppressive effects of the orthodox treatments, begins to express itself fully. Patients need all of their energy to deal with this development. However, they sometimes find themselves expending much of it defending the natural pattern of healing before family members and friends.
I remember the case of a woman in her mid- thirties who came to me with a small skin condition across the knuckles of one hand. She had been living with the condition since she was about 8 years old. Apart from a slight nervous disposition, the cause of the problem was not immediately obvious until I did some deeper investigating. Subsequently, it became clear that past generations had been involved in the tanning industry and later in some other form of industry involving chemicals. The patient was exhibiting a taint that was being carried down through the family.
We started commencement of treatment and true to form the condition got “worse”, progressing up the hand to the writs and, at the height of its expression, across to the other hand. It was at about this point that her husband decried me as a quack....and suggested that she go to a “proper” doctor for some treatment. The woman herself understood what was to be expected however under the barrage of pressure at home, and to regain some peace, she gave in to these demands.
I arrived at work on a Monday morning only to receive a message from the patient saying that she was sorry, but she would no longer be coming for treatment. I was about to let it go....except that I knew she was right at the point when things were about to turn around.
I picked up the phone and called her. I said, because I knew the condition was about to turn....and because I believed in what I did, I would treat her for free. Oddly enough, now that the treatment was not costing anything, the husband who was so concerned for her welfare seemed easily satisfied to give me a couple more months.
Right on queue, the condition began to improve. New expressions were intense but short lived, so there was finally a chance for the skin to begin to heal.
In time we resolved the condition. The woman insisted on paying me for all the outstanding treatments and brought along two children, the next generation to carry this taint, with skin conditions to resolve. Which we did.
It is possible to lessen the impact on the skin, to some degree, by restoring the main means of expulsion to full function. However, some of the process will have to be worked out through the skin itself. This can be quite frightening to witness, especially if it is a parent watching their child go through it. All that can be offered is the reassurance that comes of experience. When you are in the middle of this process it can seem quite a burden to bear....but like giving birth, so I am told, the toil of the event is far overshadowed by the great joy of the end result.
(The images on these pages represent a scald I sustained and treated with herbal medicine. The last picture is recent, however this stage of healing was already achieved a few months into the process )