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Combating Cultural Stress

By: Howard Murad, MD
Posted: June 13, 2008

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The good news is that cultural stress can be counteracted, and health can be improved both physically and emotionally by understanding what I have dubbed “the water principle.” Cultural stress contributes to damaged cell walls, allowing the precious water that keeps them functioning to escape. This water loss has a myriad of effects. It causes the cells and connective tissues to break down, preventing your heart, lungs, brain and other organs from functioning at optimal levels—all of which become apparent when you look at the skin. You can encourage more water in the cells and reduce cultural stress by teaching these three simple steps to your clients.

  1. Topical care. As the largest organ of the body, the skin is extremely responsive to topically applied products. By using the appropriate skin care regimen, along with professional spa treatments, you can address skin care concerns that range from acne to wrinkles, while also preventing future damage.


  2. Internal care. With topical skin care, you can treat approximately 20% of the skin—the epidermis. The remaining 80%—the dermis—responds by feeding the skin from the inside. Encourage your clients to adopt a diet that is rich in raw fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats—such as those found in raw nuts and olive oil—to promote healthy, hydrated cells. Recommend a dietary supplement to provide the body with a constant supply of essential nutrients.


  3. Emotional care. Maintain connections with others. Discover a passion, such as painting or dancing. Reducing isolation promotes a healthy sense of self. In your treatment room, you are providing one of the most powerful tools for emotional care—that of the healing power of touch. Research from the renowned Touch Research Institute shows that it is as beneficial to touch as it is to be touched. Massage is shown to increase weight gain in premature infants, alleviate depression and positively alter the immune system.


Whether caused by fear, overwork or too many options that result in conflicted decision making, cultural stress ultimately leads to isolation, which is one of the most prevalent diseases in today’s world. Reports, such as those documented in the article “Social Isolation Growing in the U.S.,” by Washington Post staff writer Shankar Vedantam, have shown that, in order to reduce isolation, people need to have regular physical and social contact. This decreases cultural stress, leading to happier, healthier lives.

The esthetician’s role