Our skin is our largest organ, covering the exterior of the body and keeping organs, muscles, blood vessels and other parts inside, safe and away from disease-causing microbes. A lot can happen to your skin – from bites and cuts to rashes and burns. For four common skin problems – dark circles under the eyes, stretch marks, wrinkles and acne scars – natural remedies can help you to keep your skin healthy.
Dark circles under the eyes
According to the Mayo Clinic, dark circles under the eyes are sometimes hereditary, in which case no remedy is going to do much. But other causes include allergies, emotional stress, smoking, chronic alcohol use, nasal congestion, irregular pigmentation, rubbing the eyes and sun exposure. Dark circles make a person look gloomy, and cosmetic companies make hundreds of millions of dollars supplying makeup that covers up the darkness. But what if you actually want to reduce or eliminate dark circles?
High on the list is to get enough rest. Lack of sleep especially contributes to darkness under the eyes. On average, we need about seven hours of sleep nightly. Smoking cigarettes also causes darkness under the eyes in many cases, as well as too much alcohol. Reduce smoking and alcohol consumption, and that will help your entire body. Allergies are related to dark circles too. Drinking nettle tea every day can reduce or eliminate allergies and will also provide your skin with silica, which makes it look healthy and tight.
The National Institutes of Health says that stretch marks occur when there is rapid stretching of the skin, most notably in cases of pregnancy. Stretch marks also happen when people gain weight rapidly or as the result of overuse of cortisone creams. These marks are ribbon-like bands or stripes that form on the stomach, buttocks, hips, thighs and breasts.
While stretch marks often disappear over time, they do not necessarily go away completely. But they can be greatly reduced or eliminated with the use of several natural topical aids. Tamanu oil, which originates from the Pacific islands, is probably the single most effective agent for reducing stretch marks. Daily massage of stretch marks with tamanu oil can enhance the formation of new, healthy collagen and renew skin.
Two other topical agents – shea butter from the African shea nut and virgin coconut oil – will help with stretch marks. Daily massage with these help to renew skin and reduce marks. Massage either or both of these on stretch marks every day.
Additionally, OPCs, a special kind of antioxidant supplement, can help when taken orally. OPCs are typically derived from grape seed skins and demonstrate powerful anti-scarring activity. Approximately 150 milligrams of OPCs daily are sufficient to reduce stretch marks and boost the production of new, healthy collagen.
Researchers at Cornell University say that wrinkles occur in skin because skin does not repair itself completely as we age. As we age, the amount of collagen in skin declines. Both collagen and elastin – which keeps skin flexible and young – become loose, thick and clumped. As a result, skin becomes brittle and less elastic, resulting in wrinkles.
Three natural approaches can help to reduce wrinkles, though nothing will stop them entirely. The first is to use a loofa when you bathe. A loofa is a tough, fibrous squash that stimulates circulation in skin and removes the outer layer, known as the epidermis. Regular use of a loofa will help to keep skin shiny, healthy and less wrinkled.
Cosmetics based on chamomile can help to reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles, due to a compound in chamomile known as alpha bisobolol. Other botanicals – including comfrey, calendula and lavender – also contain compounds that protect skin cells and minimize wrinkling. A company called Lily Organics makes certified organic skin care products with these botanicals.
Lastly, maca demonstrates the ability to keep skin healthy by enhancing the strength of fibers that connect the layers of the skin. Powdered maca, used in a scrub, can strengthen skin, keep it more youthful, and reduce wrinkling. Navitas makes a good maca powder.
While acne may be common among teens, some people scar more easily when they get pimples. Tamanu oil (described previously) has potent anti-microbial and skin-healing properties, and when applied directly to pimples, can greatly reduce scarring. On older acne scars, tamanu can help to reduce, if not completely eliminate, skin damage when applied regularly.
Using either a skin scrub or a loofa on a regular basis will remove old, dead skin cells and enhance circulation, reducing scarring in cases of acne. This is the same process used in spas and skin care centers, but you can do it at home.
The Amazonian tree latex, dragon’s blood, acts like a skin-repairing spot remover, healing acne quickly and repairing damaged skin. Raintree Nutrition has dragon’s blood. Use it nightly directly on acne pimples and scars.
Lastly the Amazonian oil copaiba shows skin-enhancing benefits. Applied directly to acne pimples and scars, copaiba reduces inflammation and speeds up skin healing. You can get copaiba oil from Young Living Essential Oils.
Remember, your skin is your body’s sheath and protective cover. Using natural ingredients and methods will keep skin become healthier and better-looking, and that just feels good.
Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com.