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      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)

      Anatomy of a Diaper Ointment

      Anatomy of a Diaper Ointment

      Oh no! you have noticed your precious little one has an angry red rash around the diaper area.

      Usually called diaper rash or diaper dermatitis it is inflammation of the skin surrounding the diaper area. As common as it is there seems to be very little progressive thought and consideration to properly treating this. Here is the problem, water strips the hydro-lipid (sebum) layer of the skin, the very needed fatty acid composition that keeps your skin soft and supple and protects the outer layer (epidermis) from the environment. To compound, this urine and feces are irritants to the skin especially if left on for any length of time.
      Leave a wet diaper for part of the night or an hour during the day and you have the perfect recipe for irritation and discomfort.

      What is the best solution? let your child go diaper free especially in the Spring/Summer, get some sunshine (moderate amount) and fresh air on that bottom.

      What not to do? Gloop on an occlusive (heavy barrier forming and or pore-clogging) ointments containing petrolatum, paraffin, beeswax, zinc oxide, mineral oil, propylene glycol, etc.

      Why you ask? This area needs to dry and rejuvenate, using the above only traps wetness and like water strips the hydro-lipid layer of the skin further compromising it.

      “But it feels so smooth after I put it on (mineral oil, propylene glycol dimethicone (fine particle silicone), etc).”

      Yes it does feel smooth, but you are only compounding the problem further, the same situation would apply for face creams with petrochemical bases – it feels good looks smooth but ages you more than you know and requires you to apply more and more to keep up the facade.

      I mentioned this previously in my post on baby oil and thought it good to repeat it again.

      “A baby’s skin is very porous because it has not developed to the same extent the hard outer keratinized thorny layer of the skin called the epidermis (this accounts for that amazing soft skin that babies have). The epidermis is the part of the skin that helps prevent materials from entering through to the dermis (deep layer of the skin) and into the bloodstream. Babies actually have the same number of pores as adults, just condensed to a much smaller surface area.”

      So what is the solution apart from having a full-time nudist baby? Ointments that moisturize but that do not trap moisture on the surface of the skin, ointments that do not clog the skin's pores leaving a greasy feeling and ointments that use soothing plant-based extracts and emollients that soothe and protect delicate skin and reduce inflammation.

      What to look for in an ointment?

      • Calendula
      • Olive oil and olive wax – Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate – they are bio-compatible with the skin (being the most similar to the fatty acid composition of the skin).
      • Chamomile
      • Almond Oil (caution with nut allergies)
      • Tamanu Oil (caution with nut allergies)
      • Argan oil (possible caution with nut allergies)
      • Aloe vera
      • Burdock root
      • Small amounts of Tea Tree and Lavender essential oil
      • Plantain leaf extract
      • Chickweed extract
      • Seabuckthorn berry oil

      I would really recommend you to try our Thera Wise Natural Baby Diaper Ointment. You will see noticeable results overnight.
      It is very soothing and is a quick-dry, non-greasy, alcohol, petrochemical and paraben-free formulation.

      A simplified Hemorrhoidal ointment comparison

      A simplified Hemorrhoidal ointment comparison

      At a recent trade show, I was asked a few times the same question.
      “Because your product is natural or plant-based how do I know if it works”?
      (In reference to our best seller HmR Natural Bio-Active Hemorrhoidal Ointment)

      I love questions about our products and was very grateful that someone took the time to stop by and ask. I first explained that HmR has a Natural Health Product Number (NPN) to which Health Canada requires us to prove safety and efficacy before a license can be issued.

      As I begin to explain the benefits of HmR Hemorrhoidal Ointment over the conventional brands I would then notice that their eyes begin to become glassy and they start looking for an escape from my passionate oration.  I know the topic is not the most fascinating for someone who just wants relief from an uncomfortable situation however I like to think that it would more informative than watching mindless TV ads that tell you nothing about how their product works? Maybe some expensive TV ads provide some level of assurance that the product works however I decided that when I had a few free minutes I would try to explain this in an easier to understand method. Here goes…

      Conventional hemorrhoidal brands consist of two main types of ingredients which are petroleum jelly/ mineral oil and a decongestant (also called a vasoconstrictor).
      • Petroleum jelly and mineral oil make up 86% of the total formulation! These ingredients are used as the base of the ointment and act as a lubricant to make bowel movements less uncomfortable. My thoughts on mineral oil here.
      • Phenylephrine, a decongestant with in my opinion some shaky research on its efficacy and safety (recommend to research this on your own if interested).

      In addition, this 50-year-old formula also gives you non-medicinal ingredients such as benzoic acid, BHA, corn oil, glycerin, lanolin, methylparaben, mineral oil, paraffin, propylparaben, thyme oil, vitamin E and lastly a pet peeve ingredient shark liver oil (from endangered deepwater marine sharks).

      Anyone who follows this blog or the Environmental Defense or EWG’s Skin Deep Database might have concerns about efficacy or safety at this point.

      So how does HmR Hemorrhoidal Ointment work, why is it a better, healthier choice?

      HmR Hemorrhoidal provides the following properties all in one 28g tube;
      (1)  Anti-inflammatory – to reduce swelling and pain
      (2)  Veno-tonic – to promote vein blood circulation and strengthen the vein cell wall
      (3)  Anti-itch – the olive wax base and natural emollients like argan oil, aloe, and seabuckthorn provide healing and protective properties for delicate and compromise skin tissue

      What kind of ingredient extracts do all of this?
      The well-established phytotherapy research on Witch Hazel, Butchers Broom, Organic Chamomile Flower Oil, Aloe Vera, Olive Wax, Argan Oil, Grapeseed Extract, Beta-Glucan (from Oats). 

      From this, you can understand why our product costs more especially as petroleum and its derivatives are so cheap to manufacture. I say who wouldn’t spend a few extra dollars to buy a more efficacious healthier product.

      Concerns about conventional Baby Oil

      Concerns about conventional Baby Oil

      In our opinion, traditional baby oil is one of the most ill-conceived personal products ever produced.

      Baby oil is simply mineral oil or liquid petroleum derived from black crude oil with an added synthetic fragrance. It is a by-product of petroleum in the process to make gasoline.

      Proponents of mineral oil or baby oil will tell you that it helps to prevent moisture loss by providing an occlusive barrier to the skin. There is no doubt it provides an occlusive barrier to the extent of completely blocking pores. As science tells us the main functions of the skin is respiration and elimination (toxins). The skin needs to breathe to heal, actually, our skin needs to breathe for us to survive. Mineral oil does not moisturize as many would believe, in fact despite the initial silky feeling on the skin, it will strip away the hydro-lipid layer of this skin requiring the use of more product due to continued dryness.

      A baby’s skin is very porous because it has not developed to the same extent the hard outer keratinized thorny layer of the skin called the epidermis (this accounts for that amazing soft skin that babies have). The epidermis is the part of the skin that helps prevent materials from entering through to the dermis (deep layer of the skin) and into the bloodstream. Babies actually have the same number of pores as adults, just condensed to a much smaller surface area.

      I would recommend if possible not using any product on a newborn, at least for the first couple of months. When dealing with diaper rash or other types of rash, first try a spot test of a plant-based butter or oil. We would suggest olive oil, rosehip seed oil or argan oil and let the area air dry. Plant-based ingredients will soak into the skin, moisturize and allow the skin to breathe and heal. Plant-based moisturizers have a bio-affinity with human skin and act in a way that our cells respond to.

      We know that mineral oil/baby oil is not a healthy choice for the human body or the environment (unsustainable and not biodegradable) so why is it still being sold, and why do companies insist on using it? The answer is cheap-cheap-cheap. Yes… it is almost the cheapest raw material in personal care.

      Is Beeswax a Healthy Choice in Personal Care?

      Is Beeswax a Healthy Choice in Personal Care?

      While ago, I was sent this column http://ecosalon.com/behind-the-label-burts-bees/ by an agent provocateur (for good), eco-branding genius and all around one of the coolest people I know, Lisa Borden.

      Lisa gamingly asked for my opinion on the content, I was critical of this article suggesting it was myopic and missing the most important point that few seem to touch on. I thought I would share my concerns especially as I see now this article was actually meant to promote Burt’s Bees and Clorox under the guise of balanced reporting.

      First of all commercial beekeeping is neither natural nor healthy, and if you care about critter welfare or even give it a thought, you will be sad to learn that these gentle and amazing creatures are quite possibly treated worse than factory farmed cattle (if that is even possible). A fundamental flaw in the conventional beekeeping practice is that the very sustenance (honey) that is required to keep bees healthy is entirely ripped out of their ecosystem and replaced with GMO corn syrup or white (sometime GMO) sugar-water. You may have heard about the antibacterial properties in honey, this store is what the bees need to eat during the long winter months to protect them from the disease. Honey also contains micro-nutrients and important enzymes that allow bees to flourish naturally.

      The next big issue is the management of apiary disease, again in my opinion what takes place is another agri-biz solution to another man-made problem. Bees have become increasingly weakened and endangered due to pesticide residues with special mentions to Monsanto and Bayer CropScience (1) with other speculated contributing factors such as pollution, EMF’s and poor commercial hive management. Sulfa compounds and antibiotics are the most notable unnecessary drugs used on the bees namely Sulfathiazole, streptomycin, dihydrostreptomycin, terramycin, fumagillin.

      Another commonly encouraged commercial beekeeping practice was (and still is to a lesser extent) to let the hive die i.e fumigate with calcium cyanide every winter as it was more profitable to take their honey ($300-$400) and buy a new artificially reared hive in the spring ($100-$200). This is the general mindset of industrialized farming. Get as much out of whatever they are farming for the highest profit regardless of the human and environmental health costs.

      Lastly, bees are moved around 100’s of KM bi-weekly depending on the flowering crop.

      Add up all these factors and scientists and beekeepers wonder why their immune systems are weak and they are stress and malnourished.

      Honeybees are considered an indicator species and they are certainly right now reflecting human health and the health of our planet. Skip the urge to buy Burts Bees, if you really like the feel of beeswax on your skin and go to the local farmers market and buy organically and ethically harvested beeswax. You will certainly notice the difference.

      If you are like me and are fond of bees in your backyard, plant a few of these and you will be sure to make new furry friends this Spring – fennel, calendula, lemon balm, echinacea, dandelion, sunflower, borage, and lavender.