Functional Medicine Treatments For Skin Diseases
Functional medicine takes a different perspective on skin diseases by not viewing it as a “disease” in and of itself. Rather, many skin diseases are considered an external symptom of an internal problem - and solved at the root cause.
What is skin disease?
Do you find it hard to live in the skin that is manifested with rashes, itchiness, redness, bleb or infection? Living with chronic skin conditions can be hard affecting people's social, professional, and personal life. Skin is the largest and most visible part of our body and skin conditions like rash, irritation, skin infection, weird-looking bumps, blemishes, and inflammation can drive anyone crazy, in the most unpleasant ways.
There are many conventional treatments available in the market in the form of topical cream, tablets tonics, lotions, ointments, antibiotics, and antifungal agents, offering only temporary relief from the condition, and posing greater side effects. That’s why most of the people look for integrative therapies like functional medicine that can treat chronic skin conditions from the inside out.
How does Functional medicine view skin diseases?
As the biggest biological structure of the human body, the skin is a dynamic organ that reflects a patient's health and nutrition status. Tests of the skin are a primary line of defense against melanoma, but cancer is not the only disease revealed on the skin; nutrient deficiencies in omega-3s, protein, and vitamins A, B, C, and E may also appear. Dry skin may signify a vitamin deficiency; follicular hyperkeratosis, and can indicate a vitamin A deficiency.
A significant part of the skin, vitamin A plays an essential role in epidermal turnover; lack of vitamin A leads to hyperkeratinization with reduced variety of sebaceous glands and congestion of sweat glands. Hypovitaminosis A also affects the skin by inducing xerosis, generalized hyperpigmentation, and lean and brittle hair. Plugging of the follicular openings with spiny horns is one of the traditional signs of vitamin A deficiency as in phrynoderma, a sort of hyperkeratosis. Deficiency of other things, like vitamins B, C, and E, calories, and essential fatty acids, have also been associated with phrynoderma.
Within the past several decades, there has been an increase of new information about the pathophysiology of skin ailments. Researchers have started to analyze the complex interplay between the skin, the immune system, and the environment; nourishment as early as the prenatal period can influence the priming of other immune cells. Probiotics are showing promise as a therapeutic alternative for patients older than one year for atopic dermatitis and high glycemic foods could have a strong influence on the teenage acne inhabitants. Further, topical vitamin C was demonstrated to have a wide selection of clinical programs for your skin, from antiaging and antipigmentary into photoprotective.
Functional Medicine treatment for skin diseases
The functional medicine approach for chronic skin conditions helps maintain healthy skin without allowing an individual to spend much fortune on conventional approaches and it gives you an added bonus of negligible side effects. Some of the easy and important tips you can do to treat chronic skin conditions are mentioned below:
a) Curb stress levels- Emotional stress can aggravate skin conditions like Psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, hives, and other types of skin conditions. One who is already suffering from skin conditions should pay special attention to regulate their stress levels. Make yourself light and stress-free by exercising daily, going for a walk, spending quality time with friends and family, massage, eat healthily, organize your life, sleep for at least 8 hours a day, perform yoga and meditation or take breaks from your daily routine and go on a vacation.
b) Be careful with skin irritant products- Skin irritants can also aggravate a variety of skin conditions, it can be anything, like sunlight, dust, pollution, animal hair, pollen grains, environmental or industrial toxins, harsh soap, detergents, and washing powders that contain perfume and fragrance. In order to avoid such irritants switch to natural products, Dust frequently covers your face and exposed skin while going out, try making your own skin products through natural ingredients and apply it on the skin.
c) Exercise and detoxify your body- Sweating caused through exercise can help detoxify your body, open your skin pores, regulate blood flow, and nourish your skin making it look clean, glowing, and healthy.
d) One who desires a good looking skin should consider drinking plenty of water, accompanied by consuming herbal tea which is rich in antioxidants. These can help flush out toxins from the body and also keep your skin hydrated.
e) Optimize nutrient status. A variety of nutrients play an important role in contributing to the good, beautiful and healthy skin of an individual. So it's essential to maintain an optimum level of useful nutrients in your body in order to achieve good skin and health because it's ultimately what you eat reflects on your skin. It has been found through various researches that Zinc deficiencies can contribute to eczema, acne and other skin rashes, whereas, vitamin D can help treat skin problems like psoriasis and acne. All the nutrients can be found through natural sources which include Fruits and veggies that contain vitamins and minerals, oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil, rosehip oil, olive oil, and argan oil all can contribute to good skin health.
f) Where consuming nutrient-rich foods can promote good health and skin, it is also essential not to alter its effect by eating Sugary foods like fruit juice, cakes, sweets, chocolates, smoothie, or soda. Studies have also shown that consuming alcohol and smoking can also impact your skin health, so try to avoid it at any cost.
Other natural therapies for chronic skin condition include:
- Essential oils like - Tea Tree Oil, garlic oil and oregano oil for Skin Health are known to possess potent anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. These oils, when applied to the skin either alone or in combination with another oil, can heal a variety of skin conditions like rashes, warts, acne and other infections. Whereas oils like Lavender, geranium, and chamomile oil can be beneficial for treating chronic inflammatory skin conditions.
- Chamomile tea- Consuming a cup of chamomile tea can help relieve skin irritations that arise from conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Chamomile exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can speed up the healing process of scars by supporting the immune system and minimize wrinkles and breakouts on the skin.
- Aloe Vera- The benefits of aloe vera is not hidden and is considered to be a great natural remedy for itchy and dry skin. Its beneficial components help soothe and moisturize the skin.
- Home-made Oatmeal baths. One cup of Oatmeal in a lukewarm water bath can help alleviate the dryness and itch caused on your skin by maintaining dampness. Oatmeal components have anti-inflammatory properties that moisturize the skin and can be a good natural remedy for eczema and psoriasis.
Studies in Functional Medicine for skn diseases
1. Effect of synbiotic supplementation on children with atopic dermatitis: an observational prospective study..
A total of 320 children with atopic dermatitis skin conditions were included in the study to understand the effect of a synbiotic supplementation in Atopic dermatitis conditions. The supplement contained strains of Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, fructooligosaccharide, Lactobacillus Plantarum, galactooligosaccharide, and biotin. The duration of the treatment was for 8 weeks. The effect of synbiotic supplementation on Atopic dermatitis was assessed at baseline and after 8 weeks of treatment with the help of Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) index.
The results showed that the effect of the multistrain synbiotic product (probiotics) administration in children suffering from Atopic Dermatitis can help decrease pruritus conditions, reduce (SCORAD) index and maintain a good sleep cycle.
2. The Clinical Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial..
A total of 192 participants with acne vulgaris, were recruited in the study to evaluate the efficacy of essential oils in the management of acne. The participants were divided into three groups with two treatment arm groups and one wait-list group.
• Treatment arm 1 will receive a ‘‘standardized blend’’ of essential oils prepared from a list of 19 oils, diluted to 5% concentration in a base of jojoba wax.
• Treatment arm 2 will participate in a comprehensive health and well-being consultation delivered by a trained aromatherapist, along with receiving an individualized essential oil blend. Both the groups will be delivered essential oil blends via an airless pump bottle which needs to be applied to the affected area twice daily for 12 weeks after cleansing the face.
• In the third group, the wait-list control group will continue with usual care. At the end of the 3-month trial period, ‘‘standardized’’ essential oil blend, will be delivered to the control group for another 3 months as used in treatment arm 1.
Data like changes in the physical and psychosocial symptoms of acne will be assessed by using the Leeds Acne Grading System, Quality of Life and Costs of treatment will also be collected from each participant at three-time points: baseline, week 6, and week 12. Results have shown that plant-derived essential oils may be a biologically active treatment for acne.
Functional medicine for skin problems may be an effective option to treat your skin naturally and with a lower risk of adverse effects. However, it's also important to keep a note that dietary changes alone cannot help you get rid of inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and even acne. So, in order to achieve better results, one must combine complementary treatments for chronic skin conditions in order to find relief from symptoms and effectively reach the root cause of skin conditions.
1. Ibáñez MD, Rodríguez Del Río P, González-Segura Alsina D, Villegas Iglesias V.Effect of synbiotic supplementation on children with atopic dermatitis: an observational prospective study.Eur J Pediatr. 2018 Dec;177(12):1851-1858. Epub 2018 Sep 26.
2. Agnew T, Leach M, Segal L.The Clinical Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial.J Altern Complement Med. 2014 May;20(5):399-405.Epub 2013 Jul 5.
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