Topical Nutrition: Who’d Have Thunk It?
I hear a lot of people say they get tired of swallowing supplements all the time. Personally, I enjoy taking supplements. I know the distinct health benefits of everything I’m taking, so I get excited knowing that I improve my health in specific ways when I take them. Having said that, I don’t take handfuls of supplements, only a few targeted nutrients I know my body needs. But, I also have my favorite topicals that I’d never want to replace.
So, I get it when new clients hauling bags of supplements tell me, “I hate taking pills all day!” I would too. First I think you need to look at why you’re taking so many. Sometimes it’s necessary in the short-term but most commonly we have people taking a few things they heard about on a talk show, some supplements their friends swear by and a few that they read about in some health magazine. I’m all for taking control of your health but make sure you know what you’re doing. Now… I’ll get off my stump… back to taking too many pills. Aside from other methods like liquids, powders and drops, topical applications are a wonderful alternative and in some cases are more effective.
Exchange Through Skin.
We talk at length about the skin being the largest organ of detoxification. The skin acts as an incredibly capable barrier, primarily keeping the inside in and the outside out. But it quietly assists in detoxifying all day long. The pores of your skin open up and release toxins each and every day, more so when you sweat via exercise, sauna or with a fever. Sloughing of dead skin cells also serves as a method for discarding unwanted toxins.
But… we need to consider what we’re putting on our skin because this essential barrier is not as impermeable as we’d like to think. Passive absorption of whatever is on the skin occurs quite readily.
Bear with me, and for a moment, think of your skin as your second mouth. Regarding the ingredients in your favorite lotions, potions, creams and cosmetics, for the most part you wouldn’t want put them on your skin if you wouldn’t want to put them in your mouth. (Clearly, we’re overlooking taste and just considering ingesting the ingredients.) When you look at topicals from this perspective, if you’re like me, you might make some drastic changes to your skin care routine! As your second mouth, skin readily absorbs nutrients and chemical compounds, so consider what you’re feeding it. Of recent media fame is sun tan lotion. I’m no expert here but as a consumer I have great concerns about the poor regulation of the ingredients found in these topical products. I think we all should especially with our children.
Skin Nutrients We Like.
Magnesium is one of the most widespread mineral deficiencies (Studies suggest from 48-75% of Americans are deficient… good chance that means you and me). Magnesium deficiency is associated with muscle tension, anxiety, high blood pressure, restless leg syndrome, blood sugar issues and on. Magnesium is one of the most essential cofactors in the biochemical workings of every cell in your body. Epsom salt baths are a great and inexpensive way to absorb magnesium through the skin. There are also topical magnesium gels, lotions, cream and oils when you are not in the mood for a bath. These have great value as local applications like applying to relieve specific tight muscles and there’s no laxation effect common with poorly absorbed forms of magnesium. Sounds good to me.
Glutathione is a major antioxidant in the body. We can see from genetic panels (GSTM and GTP SNP’s) that many people do not produce enough of this potent antioxidant. One way to get glutathione into the body is with a topical cream. As an example there’s an epidemic of thyroid disorders and glutathione cream applied topically over the thyroid gland can help with quelling the inflammatory response. While more involved (therefore more for information) there are also nebulized forms which can be inhaled for a powerful local application to the lungs.
Topical anti-inflammatories for joint pain work really well by providing immediate relief with cooling herbs as well as delivering nutrients like glucosamine-chondroitin in the tissue. We really likeArthrosoothe Cream applied topically to relieve inflamed joints as it simultaneously cools inflammation and provides essential nutrients to the area for repair to the inflamed joint.
Castor oil is an “old school” anti-inflammatory which is under used in our modern times. Applied topically (not orally… totally different experience… not what we’re going for here.), castor oil delivers potent anti-inflammatories into the skin. This is helpful for acute or chronic injuries, premenstrual cramps or chronic muscle aches. Careful though, castor oil can be quite messy! (Do not apply to open wounds.)
There are also calming adrenal formulas and melatonin creams which can be applied before bed for restorative sleep. And there are energizing adrenal formulas and B12 creams which can give you a boost in the morning.
These are just the start. When you think of the skin as the second mouth, the options for taking nutrients gets exciting. Equally as important, my message today is that we also need to think a bit more about everything we’re feeding our skin.
About Vitamin D.
There is convincing evidence in my opinion that frequent bathing depletes Vitamin D stores. Our body synthesizes Vitamin D3 from cholesterol precursors found in skin oils. These precursors, when exposed to UV rays, convert to Vitamin D3 which absorbs through the skin to ultimately enter the blood stream. It can take up to 48 hours after sun exposure for all the Vitamin D3 to be absorbed. In that time period washing the skin with soapy water (or even just hot water) will send much of the D3 down the drain. In our culture Vitamin D status is often quite low and as a hormone, depleted levels have far reaching health consequences. While likely not the only cause, in my opinion frequent washing certainly plays a part in this issue. I expect that few people like to wait two days for a shower but consider that you likely don’t need to lather up your entire body everyday. Doing so is actually quite hard on the health of your skin on many levels. I advise all of my clients to have their Vitamin D levels measured. Although it’s called Vitamin D it’s a steroid hormone and target levels should be reached not by blind guessing but by measurement and a plan.
Replacing Your Lotions, Potions, Creams And Cosmetics.
Before I go… For many of us changing our cosmetics is deciding to throw out years of trial and error and it’s a scary proposition. If you need motivation you can check out Skin Deep and get the “down and dirty” on your favorite products. As well, we love to share the work of our good friend and fellow cleanser, Jessica Morse, at Bare Beauty for her true-to-life blog on better options in beauty care.
“Take care of your body inside and out. You’re going to need it someday.” ~Dr. Stockton Jacobs
**Thanks everyone for 2 great New Year’s Cleanse groups. We continue to grow and with the members from around the country, it was our largest event ever. We love your dedication and commitment to health and wellness. If you did not get a chance to join us in class (we missed you!), please join us online/anytime.