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Your skin reflects your liver

Your skin reflects your liver health

Not many of us relate the outer glow of our complexion to our liver health. Over many years I have come to understand the tremendous importance of our liver function to our appearance. Your liver is the metabolic factory of your body producing energy to sustain the thousands of functions performed every minute by all of your body’s cells. Your hair follicles need energy to grow strong shiny hair and your skin cells require energy to eliminate toxins and repair and regenerate themselves. Your heart requires energy to pump blood efficiently to your skin to maintain collagen production and oxygenate the cells to protect them from aging.

If your liver is not doing its job of breaking down toxins efficiently they must be eliminated from your body by other means – in many cases they come out through your skin! When excessive toxins build up in the deeper layers of the skin this causes inflammation to occur and this can manifest as:

  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Premature aging and wrinkling of the skin
  • Brown liver spots which make you look older
  • Red itchy rashes anywhere in your body
  • Deep painful rashes which may lead to ulcers
  • Hives
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne rosacea on the face – this causes small red pimples which affect the cheeks, the chin and area around the nose and small yellow heads may occur on the top of the pimples

I have often found that worsening skin problems are a sign of liver dysfunction or of future liver problems on the horizon. There are thousands of different types of skin problems and an accurate diagnosis often requires a consultation with a skin specialist or dermatologist. Sometimes it is very difficult to pinpoint why a patient has chronic skin problems and for this reason these problems can be difficult to treat effectively. Most conventional treatments for skin problems use creams and/or drugs to suppress the rash or the underlying problem with the immune system; but in the long term these strong medications have side effects and that is why I prefer to look deeper and treat the cause (usually the liver and the immune system) with nutritional medicine. It’s more logical and scientific to treat the deeper causes of these skin problems than it is to suppress the symptoms – don’t you agree?

If the skin is treated with strong steroid creams or antihistamine drugs to stop the rash, the toxins are suppressed deeper into the body and cannot escape through the skin; this may cause health problems to appear on a deeper level in the future. Steroid creams should only be used intermittently for short periods of time. Long term use of steroid creams causes loss of collagen in the skin resulting in thinning and wrinkling of the skin.

Generally acne rosacea is treated with antibiotic drugs, which do not work very well and if used long term will make your liver unhealthy and possibly damage your liver seriously. 

The vast majority of skin problems can be helped with a natural approach
A good liver tonic is vital to support the liver’s ability to detoxify and eliminate.

  • Omega 3 supplements – either fish oil, flaxseed oil or hemp oil. Capsules can be used but when it comes to fish oil I recommend good quality liquid fish oil stored in a glass bottle in the refrigerator. Some chronic skin problems, such as very dry skin, dermatitis or psoriasis require large doses of fish oil – doses vary from  one teaspoon daily to one tablespoon three times daily just before food
  • Selenium 100 to 200mcg daily
  • Vitamin D 1000 I U daily
  • Iodine 160mcg daily

These nutritional supplements can reduce inflammation in the skin and support the detoxification pathways in the liver.

Raw juices are another tool to clear the skin and I recommend you juice citrus, pear, carrot, kale, mint, basil, apple and cabbage. You can make a whole week’s supply of juice at one time and freeze it in glass jars with a lid on top immediately after making it. Don’t forget to leave space at the top of the jar as the juice will expand when it freezes! You need approximately 200mls or 7 ounces daily.

Other factors which may cause skin rashes and inflammation are food intolerances particularly gluten intolerance. Gluten can worsen or trigger autoimmune diseases such as lupus which will then attack your skin. I have cured many skin problems just by putting my patients of a gluten free diet! To see if gluten is causing health problems for you ask your doctor for a blood test – “Test genotype for gluten intolerant genes”. If you have these genes which predispose you to gluten intolerance, try avoiding gluten in your diet and you may find a huge improvement!

The other cause of skin rashes is imbalances in your nervous system and this is not surprising as during development of the human embryo, the skin is formed from the same stem cells as the nervous system. Thus you can expect that factors which upset your nervous system will manifest as skin problems. Stress, unresolved emotional conflicts, suppression of emotions, lack of sleep or excess alcohol intake will overload your nervous system and may manifest as recurrent skin problems. Try to get more sleep and talk to friends and family to ease your burden. Magnesium supplements can help you to cope with stress and that’s why I call magnesium The Great Relaxer!