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      News — natural skin care

      Acne

      Acne

      Look in a Merck medical manual 10 years ago and you could find the statement “diet does not affect acne”. It is hard to imagine a respected health resource stating this considering so much our health is tied into our food, diet and lifestyle – and acne, for the most part, is no different with a few caveats.

      Acne can have several causes and in this blog post, I will attempt to outline these with some guidelines for overcoming the condition (naturally). Much can be written on this topic, I will attempt to be as brief as possible and cover the main points in less than a 5-minute read.

      Acne can be a debilitating disorder especial during a severe outbreak. The social aspect of the disorder can be the hardest part of dealing with acne. Acne on the face makes one less likely to want to socialize leading to a loss of confidence and self-esteem. Acne, especially during the teen years, can be difficult to deal with when social activities are so important (and often awkward enough). Hang in there…..no condition lasts forever and with the right guidance it can be a thing of the past more quickly than you expect.

      First lets quickly look at the conventional drug store options as a way of indicating what not to use.

      Prescription drug
      • Accutane (Isotretinoin) and it's now other brand names is an outrageously dangerous drug for the treatment of severe acne. From the harmful side effect including birth defects, inflammatory bowel disease, abnormal bone growth and depression/suicide/psychosis to name a few (there are around 30).

      Over the counter
      • Benzoyl peroxide a drying (burning) petrochemical derivative that compromises the skin's eco-flora (immune system) and set the acne sufferer up for continued failure to treat acne effectively.
      Benzoyl peroxide does, however, dry out the acne nicely to give the appearance of reduced redness. This drying/burning is similar to a bleaching or a chemical peel where layers of the skin are removed. As mentioned above this impairs the integrity of the skin's eco flora (good bacteria) and hydro-lipid layer (moisturizing protecting layer of the skin) causing the acne to often come back with a vengeance.
      • Synthetic Salicylic Acid – has a similar drying action however less severe that BP. Thera Wise Ac+ Acne ointment uses salicylic acid from willow tree bark @ 0.5%, witch hazel extract and tamanu oil to assist in overcoming pathogenic bacteria.

      Causes
      Here are the considerations that in my opinion are the biggest causes of acne.
      • Pathogenic bacteria (bad bacteria) vs good bacteria (healthy skin eco-flora) in and around the skin's pores.
      • Hormonal changes (Stress, puberty, PMS, pregnancy, menopause, food choices).
      • Comedogenic (pore blocking) personal care and air pollution particulates.
      • Diet – deficiency in micronutrients, GLA EFA’s, high glycemic foods, hormone-injected meats and milk, allergies.
      • Internal health – immune system (gut health), imbalance in the constitution.
      • Genetics – some people are just more prone to skin challenges (not your fault!).
      • Allergies – mostly from food, however, could include personal care, pets pollen etc.

      What to do
      Proper skin regimen.
      For any inflammatory skin condition, less is more when it comes to personal care use especially in the affected areas. For women that use foundation, blush, mascara try to minimize, eliminate and remove when not working or going out until the acne is eliminated or reduced.  Gentle soaps and cleansing gels should be used sparingly (consider an olive oil soap) and avoid petrochemicals.

      As the first defence against acne use our Thera Wise Ac+ Bio Active Acne Ointment 
      It is a comprehensive approach that targets the factors that cause acne.
      No other anti-acne ointment on the market approaches acne-like Ac+.

      Here is why:
      • Anti-inflammatory plant extract reduces redness, swelling and itching.
      • Restorative and regenerative emollients protect and rejuvenate delicate compromised tissue.
      • Balance the skin's eco-flora (reduces pathogenic bacteria and promotes healthy skin bacteria).
      • Protect and rejuvenates the delicate hydro-lipid layer of the skin (natural barrier).
      • Gentle pore cleansing & naturally antibacterial activity to remove acne-causing bacteria.
      • Natural moisturizing base – has a bio affinity with the skin – the composition of olive wax is the most similar to human sebum.

      You can use our Ac+ as a moisturizer on areas that you are often experiencing acne before an outbreak occurs.  Works great as a spot treatment too.

      Diet, supplements and herbals suggestions

      • Probiotics – important for overcoming any skin condition – fermented vegetables are my first choice, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles etc. If you have been taking antibiotics then possibly consider a quality store-bought probiotic initially.
      • Quality filtered water.
      • Essential Fatty acids can really help overcome inflammatory skin conditions. – Flaxseed oil, krill oil, hemp seed oil, Olive oil salmon, sardines, mackerel etc.
      • Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) mostly found in the foods – hemp seeds, oats and barley and in oils – evening primrose oil, blackcurrant seed oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil and flax oil can be helpful overcoming acne.
      • Detoxifying leafy green vegetables – kale, collard greens, salad greens should already be part of everyone's diet, this is especially important for acne sufferers. I like whole food choices over processed green products that come in a bottle. Consider green smoothies to increase your greens intake quickly. For some inspiration and fun in this category, there is no-one more likely to get you motivated than Canada’s ambassador to healthy food fun Megan Telpner – search green smoothie on her site.
      • Quality protein for cellular regeneration – use only organic (grass feed for beef, lamb bison etc) pasture-raised animal proteins. Avoid hormone injected raised conventional meats
      Vegetarians/Vegans look for beans, hemp seeds, avocados, nuts, kale etc
      Look also at green tea, my favourite cannot live without morning vice is Tsuen tea organic sencha from Kyoto (the oldest tea manufacturer, merchant in Japan from 1160)…heavenly!
      • Locally grown (organic if possible) cooling in nature vegetables cucumber, radish, snow peas, beets, turnips, zucchini, bok choy, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower.
      • Avoid or minimize dairy and high glycemic foods (sugars) both have studies indicating they can exacerbate acne.

      Herbals
      Internal herbals to treat acne (tincture or decoction/tea).
      Chastetree berry (hormonal normalizer)
      Burdock (cleansing detoxifying and all-around good for the skin)
      Yellow Dock (similar to burdock – cleanses the blood and lymphatic system)

      Gratitude

      Gratitude

      As a mindfulness practice each day, I like to stop and think about things that I am grateful for. I would sincerely recommend this as a great way to cultivate a positive state of mind or as I hear the term used “abundance thinking”.
      The quote from my fav guru says it all,

      “When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
      – Lao Tzu

      I often feel grateful for the work that I do, to make healthy, effective environmentally responsible products that really help people is what I have always wanted to do with my life, really I could think of nothing better.  All sounds peachy right? So here is the truth… there are often parts of running a business that isn’t so much fun like paying bills/accounting and the myriad of forms/documents and decisions that need attention.

      One rainy Spring afternoon I found myself particularly consumed with a larger than usual amount of these tasks, looking for a diversion I went to get the mail. Lo and behold we received a handwritten letter from someone that had used our SHO Natural Bio-Active Skin Healing Ointment. It completely made my day, so much so I wrote a letter back with the free sample of the SHO Skin Healing Ointment.

      We often receive emails from customers with praise for our products for which we are extremely appreciative, this one I received back in May I wanted to share.

      “Dear Sir/Madam

      From an article in the Toronto Star, I obtained SHO Skin Healing               Ointment - Thera Wise.
      I have never found as good a cream in 90+ years or trying.
      This was a gift and I would appreciate knowing where I can purchase
      more in Markham Ontario.

      Congrats and Thanks.

      Truly,” 

      Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide and Safe Sun Exposure

      Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide and Safe Sun Exposure

      We would like to discuss a bit about the safety of “Zinc Oxide” and “Titanium Dioxide” in sunscreen.

      Tips for sun safety – to wear light clothing, hats, make or use of shade and to plan your day around the sun.”

      We feel it is really important to mention the importance of increasing vitamin D levels through safe (gradual) sun expose. Sunshine is good for you!  More and more research is being presented on the benefits of vitamin D and in fact, it is estimated that you can prevent as many as 16 types of cancers by having sufficient vitamin D in your body (i.e. pancreatic, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers). Interesting to note that receptors that respond to vitamin D have been found in almost every cell in the body.

      I am concerned when I see mothers apply sunscreen/sunblock if they see that their child is going to be out in the sun for any length of time, I truly believe this practice is doing much more harm than good. At the beginning of the season limit sun exposure to 5-10minutes a day and gradually increase the time so that in a few weeks an individual can experience normal sun exposure without concern of burning or doing damage to the skin.

      If you have to use a sunscreen, “non-nano” or “non-micronized” zinc oxide seems to be the next best option available although not without some risk.

      Most of the zinc oxide in sunscreens have been micronized or developed into nanoparticles with a width of 7-15 nano which poses a serious problem to your health and the environment.  At this size especially the zinc oxide can cross to the blood-brain barrier leaving plaques in the brain/body that will never metabolize. Even worse are the zinc oxide nanoparticles can enter any part of the body, including the lungs and nervous system, which can cause not only irritation and rashes but worse consequences such as DNA damage to the cells.

      My other concerns with zinc oxide is that does not allow the skin to breathe (blocks pores) or eliminate toxins etc (especially non-nano/micronized).  It is sticky and cakes on like a geisha’s makeup albeit protecting you from the sun but is ultimately unhealthy to have this substance on your skin all the time, all day.

      Even though it is wise to avoid the chemical sunscreens (methoxycinnamate, padimate o, oxybenzone, avobenzone, etc.), mineral physical sunscreens have been found to generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations (skin cancer) just like the chemical sunscreens.

      There is a book available called “Sunscreen Photobiology: Molecular, Cellular and Physiological Aspects” which describes;

      “Illumination of titanium dioxide suspensions with sunlight can degrade organic materials and purify drinking water, while illumination with short wave UV kills human cells. This work shows that the distinction between ‘chemical’ sunscreens and ‘physical’ sunscreens, attractive though it may be to those who market them, is not based on any significant difference. Both varieties have the potential to produce reactive species that can attack biological materials (human skin cells) when they are exposed to normal sunlight… What is established is that particles of titanium dioxide as large as 220 nm can enter human cells in culture, and so it seems entirely plausible that if titanium dioxide does pass through the skin it could enter cells under the skin (carrying with it the absorbed UVA and UVB radiation and hydroxyl radicals).”

      Another source from “Cosmetics Trade Journal” states,

      “Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are commonly used in drug and cosmetic products. Contrary to belief, Sayre and co-workers (Cosmetics & Toiletries Oct. 2000, 75) have shown that these physical sunscreens are not photochemically inactive. Although adequate coating can reduce the risk, an increase in the destruction of photolabile skin lipids is not desirable. The photo-peroxidation of unsaturated skin lipids may result in perturbation of the lipid environment of viable cell layers and degrade skin surface lipids. “

      Zinc Oxide is also widely used in mineral makeup and baby diaper creams, really everyone needs to investigate this further.

      What makes this even more concerning is that there is no law requiring companies to disclose the use of nanoparticles in personal care making it use at your own risk proposition.  Canada is still looking to catch up on the technology while the EU has already implemented strict rules for its use in personal care (coming 2013) – As usual, the US FDA is the wild West of regulatory safely catering to corporate requests. In the US Nanoparticles are prohibited in Soil Association certified products, but are yet to be prohibited by the USDA National Organic Program.

      Currently, non-nano/micronized zinc oxide with the plant-based base formulation is the safest option in sunscreens. However, I would strongly recommend using only a moderate amount if really needed especially considering some of the risk factors.

      Another interesting option is the oral supplement astaxanthin which is a potent antioxidant that when taken can allow you to stay in the sun longer without burning.

      Yikes! Temporary Tattoos

      Yikes! Temporary Tattoos

      Our daughter used to love face painting and temporary tattoos.
      As the opportunities to have either of these are infrequent, I would turn a blind eye as I sometimes do with candy or other unhealthy snacks that she manages to acquire while playing with friends.
       
      It wasn’t until we were celebrating Canada Day in Vancouver when we received a small Canadian flag temporary tattoo (from McDonald). I am actually very grateful that McDonald’s chose to list the ingredients in the temporary tattoo as most do not.  Well needless to say I am not ‘lovin it’ as the slogan goes.  I should have known better but here goes the list of ingredients:
      Vinyl Acetate, Butyl Acrylate, Methacrylic Acid Polymer, Propylene Glycol, Petrolatum, Linseed Oil Soybean Oil, Mineral Oil, Iron Oxides (CL77499), Blue #1, Aluminium Lake ( CL42090-2) Yellow #5, Aluminium Lake (19140:1) Yellow #6,  Aluminium Lake ( 15985:1), Red #7 Calcium Lake (CL 15850:1) , Titanium Dioxide.
       
      As we now know, just because it says ‘non-toxic’ or ‘FDA approved’ does not mean that these materials are safe to place on the skin especially as is the case with colourants.  For reference, the lake pigments are colours bound to an insoluble metallic salt, in this case, aluminium oxide. Many colourants are suspected of being carcinogens, teratogens (pass through the placenta into an unborn child) or toxins. The colourant with the highest level of concern is the D&C listed ones meaning they can be used in drugs and cosmetics but not food. It is especially recommended to avoid Blue Aluminium Lake 1 and 2, Red No. 19, Aluminium Lake dies in general, Zirconium Lake and Yellow No. 8.
       
      Lastly The Environmental Working Groups (EWG) Cosmetic Data Base has done a nice job of outlining the hazards and toxicity concerns of the most concentrated ingredient in the temporary tattoo – vinyl acetate

      Strange tastes after brushing your teeth

      Strange tastes after brushing your teeth

      Why do some food and drink taste bad after brushing your teeth?  

      The main culprit here is a foaming and wetting agent found in most conventional toothpaste called Sodium Laureth Sulfate, also known as Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES), or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS has the ability to inhibit the receptors that detect sweet-tasting compounds.

      Additionally SLS can break up the phospholipids of fatty substances on the tongue that keep bitter tastes from being too overpowering. When these phospholipids are broken down by the SLS, bitter tastes become enhanced. This is why when drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth you are likely only tasting the bitter citric acid or citrus bioflavonoids until the SLS can be fully removed from the oral cavity, either by ingesting it with saliva or rinsing with water.

      SLS is an ingredient that would be best to avoid, especially putting in your mouth. (The bucal membrane is one of the most highly absorbable areas of the body). SLS is the esters of Sulphuric acid – also known as “Sulfuric acid monododecyl ester sodium salt”, the result of the ethoxylation process as previously discussed here