Why are chronic skin conditions rarely skin deep? It might surprise you to know that most skin conditions have little to do with the skin per se. In fact, reaching for skin products will do little more than provide temporary relief at best, and can even worsen the problem.

What do Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea, Vitilago, Lichen Planus and other chronic skin conditions have in common? In all of the aforementioned cases the skin is a reflection of an internal problem. Think of the skin as a detoxification organ. When we sweat and/or shed skin we are excreting excess amounts of natural and/or toxic substances from our bodies. However, the skin is only meant to be a secondary or minor detoxification organ. The brunt of the work should go to the primary detoxification organs: the liver, the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys.

What happens if our primary detoxification organs are overwhelmed? If the liver, intestines, kidneys and/or lungs are overburdened, the skin can become an outlet. Ancient Chinese medicine recognizes that a burden on the liver is often reflected in the skin. A vivid example of this is jaundiced skin that accompanies severe liver disease.

Why do skin diseases run through families? Just like one can inherit the tendency to develop a particular disease such as diabetes, similarly one can inherit a pattern of detoxification. In homeopathy, we call this a MIASM. For example, a tendency to develop benign tumors may be a genetically determined way of dealing with toxicity for a particular family. Eczema and psoriasis have particularly strong miasmatic underpinnings. The important point is that a miasm must be treated in order to cure the skin diseases.

What are the most common internal issues linked to chronic skin diseases? The three most prominent underlying issues where chronic skin diseases are concerned are: 1. Toxic Overload, 2. Immune Dysfunction, and 3. Infectious Organisms. In reality, there are no obvious distinctions among these categories; they often overlap and are interrelated. For example, eczema is often associated with a disruption of function in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, a primary organ of elimination. GI tissue plays a surprisingly large role in our immune functioning and explains the common link between food sensitivities (allergies) and eczema. It is not uncommon, furthermore, to have an overgrowth of opportunistic organisms (for example, Candida) in the GI tracts of those with eczema. And to top this all off a miasm is often involved.

Is a diagnosis helpful? Skin conditions can be extremely challenging to diagnose, with an accuracy rate of only about 50%. The relevance of a diagnosis in mainstream medicine is questionable since the overwhelming majority of cases are treated with corticosteroid creams. Why are these seemingly effective topical creams problematic? Firstly, with long term use, steroids can contribute to osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, weight gain, cataracts and increased risk of serious infection. More importantly, while the skin condition may disappear in some cases, the underlying disease process will resurface at a deeper level. A common example of this is the correlation between eczema in children and the development of childhood asthma. Suppress the skin and the disease goes deeper to the lungs.

How can one best treat skin conditions? A diagnosis is not nearly as important as a clear understanding of a person’s detoxification pathways, immune health, relative toxic load and possible miasm. For this reason, I rarely prescribe specific remedies to treat the skin until months into the treatment. The treatment must start from the inside out. In addition to a thorough health history, specialized screening tests for food sensitivities, heavy metal loads and bowel functioning can provide invaluable information. In my opinion, despite what mainstream medicine says about conditions such as psoriasis, skin conditions can be cured.

Written by Dr. Thalia Charney, ND

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