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Holistic Beauty and Skin Health: How Whole is Holistic? Part 1

By: Jimm Harrison
Posted: June 2, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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page 2 of 8

Mind-body is the most commonly made holistic association. Emotional stress has an influential impact on, and can instigate, disease and skin damage. The impact stress has on the skin is evident in several conditions, such as hives, acne, psoriasis and eczema. These conditions are either directly caused or exacerbated by stress.

The body releases signaling molecules through thought and stress. These neurochemicals and hormones physically alter the activity and functions of the body. They may cause inflammatory responses, which can have profoundly negative effects on the skin. For example, the stress hormone cortisol, released during stressful situations and the fight-or-flight response, is known for its inflammatory effect and can cause premature aging of the body and skin.2

Stress-induced glucocorticoids also were found to be directly responsible for the breakdown of the cutaneous barrier function3 and transepidermal water loss,4 resulting in psoriasis5 and atopic dermatitis, and the emotional stress-induced neuropeptide Substance-P was found to play a role in acne.6, 7

The responsibility of the practitioner is to establish if stress is a potential cause of imbalance, though it’s not always obvious, and select a remedy or treatment that will address both the stress and the physical condition. Holistically, your business should be representative of the stress-free and relaxed mind-body, and you should offer tips or provide classes on reducing stress.

The environment and the skin

Living environment and conditions are another consideration in the holistic evaluation. The most obvious of environmental concerns are those familiar to your geographical environment, such as common allergens; sun exposure, which includes elevation; and atmospheric conditions of moist or dry air. Other concerns include: airborne toxins or pollutants from nearby industrial manufacturing, mills or farms; contaminated tap water; or environmentally unsound waste areas. A toxic environment may manifest as allergies or atopic dermatitis, but it also may just as easily result in a skin condition with a cause more difficult to identify.