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Natural Sunscreen is top of my list of things to take in my bag whilst out and about or on holiday. I make 30 ml bottles so they are easily portable and I can have one in my handbag, nappy bag, beach bag and pool bag!

carrots

There has been a lot of information about carrier oil SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and Carrot seed oil comes out pretty high (source). Beta Carotene and Vitamin E are super at preventing your skin from burning in the sun. Taken orally and applied topically as a natural sunscreen. Carrot seed oil is a powerful antioxidant when cold pressed (source) especially in fat oxidisation- which is really useful when applied to skin because all cells are made of fat and protein. So protecting that is what we want our sunscreen to do. Add that with other Vitamin E oils like Wheat-Germ and Avocado you have a deeply nutritious blend

coconut

Coconuts have been described as the original sunscreen. With a lower SPF factor but many other nutritional benefits when applied topically it is an ideal addition. Over time the coconut oil has been replaced by chemicals. Basically a fat barrier is what the skin needs to protect it- coconut oils Medium chain fatty acids are a perfect fit for this. Plus the anti bacterial and microbial benefits all together you have a match made in heaven!

lavender

on its own I think you have a great product but if you like a smell and to double up as a skin protector/ bug repellent/after sun these essential oils are key.

Lavender is a natural pain reliever, calming, antimicrobial and antiseptic perfect to ease burns and inflammation and balance and cleanse the skin. Gives that comforting herby lavender smell.

Chamomile is also a pain reliever and calming. It is also soothing and relaxing. Gives a warm sweet note too the oil

Geranium is anti-inflammatory and regulating. It is a powerful smell that insects hate but blended with the above give a nice rosy-minty hint to the oil

in the past I have often also added Neroli (very restorative for skin), Frankincense (again to restore and heal skin), lemongrass (protects from bugs) and grapefruit (although not great in the sunscreen it awesome in a bug repellent and aftersun). Please consult a professional Naturopath or Aromatherapist if worried about using essential oils.

Recipe for Natural Sunscreen

In a 30 ml bottle mix the following;

10ml Carrot seed oil

10 ml Coconut oil

5ml Avocado oil

5ml Wheatgerm oil

5-10 drops Lavender essential oil (lesser amount for young children)

5 drops Chamomile (Roman) essential oil

1-2 drops Geranium essential oil

(add some rescue remedy too if you like)

Apply often, safe for all ages (for babies best to use plain oil blend) especially if feeling burning, stay in shade at hottest times of the day or covered. See 5 ways to Stay Sun Safe for more info. Eating foods rich in carotenes (sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin- yellow/orange foods, also spinach and collards) and Vitamin E (avocado, nuts and seeds) will help protect you from the inside. Enjoy the sun but NEVER EVER Burn. 

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We hear a lot about Vitamin D nowadays. It has been linked to greater immunity, curing cancer, better mood, stronger bones, enhanced digestive health and the list goes on. There are more indications that skin cancer and breast cancer may occur in Vitamin D deficient people. This is seen in countries that have a population used to wearing sunscreen and also milk drinking populations (Vitamin D is reported to be found in milk and dairy products- especially butter). Lets have a look at what it does, where you can get it from and why you may need it. As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I  look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.

What does it do?

Vitamin D plays a big role in bone growth and development (hence why Rickets may come from a Vitamin D deficiency- interestingly more cases are being seen because our kids are not outside as much and when they are they have sunscreen on so the skin is unable to produce vitamin from the UV rays) and in the absorption of calcium (why most calcium supplements will contain vitamin D). It also lays a vital role in healthy teeth and gum repair. Taking it alongside vitamin A has shown to boost the immune system and is used in cases with asthma and allergies. It is used in many autoimmune diseases, works by helping to maintain heart muscle action, blood-clotting and is very useful for those with Diabetes. It stops the over proliferation (over production) of cells so may be used by cancer patients. It also plays a role in helping muscle spasms to relax.

sun

Where is it found?;

Vitamin D is stored in fat. This is one of the reasons that it may rise to toxic levels in your body. Unlike water soluble vitamins- fat stored vitamins do not get passed through your urine- they can be stored in the body and potentially clog up the liver. This is only really an issue if your body has a excess of fat, a insufficiency of nutrients necessary to break down and process the fat and also the mechanisms in place to utilise the fat for energy. Vitamin D also has several actions within the body which make storage necessary. It is made through the action of sunlight on your skin. It is also contained in eggs, oily fish (herring, tuna, cod, halibut), Fish liver oils (especially when fermented), butter and full fat milk (as it is stored in the fat- so skim milk doesn’t naturally contain it) and sprouted seeds.

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How do we Make it?-For the skin to produce Vitamin D from sunlight you need the following to be working together- the skin, bloodstream, liver and kidneys. The skin ‘catches the UV rays and converts then into a cholesterol which is then converted in the liver and kidneys. (5 ways to  be Safe in the Sun) The active form of Vitamin D is called D3 (which the kidneys will make) hence why we generally find this form in supplements. The darker your skin- the less Vitamin D you will produce. When Vitamin D is ingested, bile is needed to break down the fat it is stored in. A protein is then needed to carry it to the liver, where it is then stored till it is needed. The Vitamin D found in plant and meat sources is different because the fat they are in is different. Both plant and animal sources can be used – however the one contained in animal fat resembles our own more closely so requires a little less to convert it.

What should we take it with?- Vitamin D is best taken along side Magnesium and Calcium for bone and muscle health. However new studies suggest that Vitamin D must be taken with Vitamin K2 to maximise Vitamin D and Calcium’s roles and absorption.

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The sun is back here in Hong Kong, and I hear it is coming out where you are too. I love the sun and I rarely apply sun tan lotion as I have a healthy respect for it. I certainly do not use a product full of chemicals and petrochemicals (here) If I am going to be lying out in it- rare as i mostly prefer at least the top half of me to be in the shade- I will apply sunscreen (a natural one- naturally!) otherwise I abide to these 5 ways to keep myself and my kiddies burn free and Vit D rich.

1. Sunscreen– I like to use a mix of carrier oils with aromatherapy as my sun cream. Carrot and Raspberry seed oil having the highest SPF (sun protecting factor). I have quite olive skin that seems to soak up the sun, but my son is quite pale (and not 1 yet) so I am more vigilant with him. My daughter has the same skin as me. Our general rule is 10-20 mins in the sun without any barriers to soak up the vitamin D. Never Ever burn. If you feel yourself burning apply straight away (and you should seek the shade or wear a layer). The same mix of oils is also my after-sun  in the bath for the kids and slapped on for us. the oils I use are also anti-bug ones so it is an all in one product. Perfect for taking out with you and taking on holiday! This is a great link to what oils have what SPF (http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/carrier_oils_and_spf).

2. Cover up– hats long sleeves etc. But watch the sunglasses, Vitamin D is also produced through the Iris and by constantly wearing sunglasses you are missing that vital gateway to healthy Vitamin D levels. Limit your time in the sun– Its a no brainer that keeping out of the sun at the hottest points (recent studies are saying 10am-4pm) but then again that’s almost the whole day! So dipping in and out (and not just of the pool) for example go in for lunch and yes a siesta (another luxury that is far off in the future for me!) and then enjoy it again. There is nothing worse than a sun hangover- you can always have too much of a good thing!

3. Shade seeking– Its cooler in the shade but beware you can still burn so be aware of how you are feeling (and if you are going to go to sleep on your lounger- a luxury I will have to wait for a while to indulge in again- make sure you have applied or get someone to apply some cover for you ) NEVER EVER Burn! Be especially careful at the beach or where there is a lovely breeze as you may not feel that burn.

4. Keep hydrated– Coconut water is brilliant for this- it replaces all your electrolytes and is so delicious in the sunshine. Of course beware of drinking alcohol (even in the coconut water!) and ensure you maintain your water intake. That groggy  feeling after a day in the sun is generally dehydration. A good soak in the bath is a good way to rehydrate (and with the oils of course)

5. Know what to do after a day in the sun– Don’t forget natures wonder product- Aloe Vera. It is not a coincidence that it thrives in hot desert like conditions! Break it open and apply the cooling gel straight away or after a shower. If you do burn a nice hot shower or bath is the way forward (not a cold one!), Aloe Vera and coconut oil with some Lavender and Calendula tincture will do wonders. Calendula and Camomile tea or essential oils and tinctures with lavender are also good at reducing the inflammation burns produce and calming and encouraging new skin growth. Re-hydrating and ensuring plenty of rest afterwards will allow you to enjoy the sun day after day (which is what we hopefully have to look forward to till December now!)

Enjoy!!! But be Safe!

PS Sunscreen recipe to follow (includes carrot seed oil, wheatgerm oil, avocado and coconut oil- Lavender, Camomile, Geranium and either Lemongrass, Neroli, Frankinsence or Grapefruit essential oils depending on my mood!)

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I have had many of you ask me about skin issues. What to use on the skin, how to soothe skin, protect skin, replenish skin and how to heal skin. So here are some insights into nutrients to nourish skin from the outside and some ways to keep it healthy on the outside. Of course everyone is different, this is generalised information. If you want a more personal plan please contact me. Also if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a chronic issue or a condition getting worse, please contact your professional.

The previous post (here) mentioned nutrients necessary to build and repair skin from the inside. This post is about nutrients that can soothe, nourish, moisturise and balance skin from the outside.

oats

DRY SKIN (If you are pregnant or breastfeeding please be aware that some of these recommendations may not be suitable for you- please check before using them)

Essential oils: Carrot seed, Jasmine, Frankincense, Neroli, Geranium, Sandalwood, Chamomile, Lavender and Rosemary.

These oils must be diluted in a carrier oil first before added to the bath or to the skin. Good oils for dry skin are Sweet Almond, Avocado, Wheatgerm, Rose Hip, Peach or Apricot Kernal and Coconut.

Coconut oil used externally can help to strengthen skin and can speed up healing whislt helping to repel germs and bacteria from entering the body. 1 tsp a day should be enough to cover the whole body. Massage into the skin, especially into the dry areas. Some areas may need a little more until they even out.

Cocoa butter; a rich nourishing moisturiser again used sparingly

Baking soda in the bath can help detox the body through the skin but can also help adjust the ph of the skin and makes it feel really soft afterwards.

Oats equally are very soothing when used as a scrub (dry oats mixed with some oil and essential oils mentioned above scrubbed on dry skin) or in the bath (add to the foot of a pair of tights or in a pop sock with a knot in the end. Use it like a sponge in the shower direct on the skin or hang over the taps when filling the bath). Oats are very mucilaginous so the gel will help calm and soothe any irritations and can form a protective layer on the skin making it feel soft and smooth afterwards. Both are good in dry red irritated skin .

Scrubs; As a scrub the oats help to stimulate oil production and help to gently ex foliate dead skin cells. You can also add ground sesame seeds or sunflower seeds, mixed with water, yoghurt or honey or puréed banana or avocado or egg yolks can be used on the (damp) face and body. You can also use salt/sugar scrubs. In dry skin conditions use equal part sugar to oil (see here for some ideas) and add a couple of drops of the above essential oils. Use extremely gentle, circular motions for ex-foliation and move towards the heart.

Dry skin Brushing; use a skin brush or a dry towel/flannel on dry skin gently brush skin towards the heart. Again ex-foliating and promoting oil productions and the elimination of toxins

Raw apple cider vinegar applied topically diluted in the bath can relieve itchiness and flakiness of dry and irritated skin. 2 cups in your bath water will have great effect.

calendula flower

IRRITATED SKIN; (If you are pregnant or breastfeeding please be aware that some of these recommendations may not be suitable for you- please check before using them)

Calendula tincture and balm applied topically can be anti-bacterial, anti microbial, soothing and restorative, nourishing and strengthening. (see here to buy some ready made)

Chamomile; Both the tea and the essential oil (diluted) used topically can soothe and replenish. Use either with a little cotton wool to the area or in the bath. 2 cups of tea in bath water should be good.

Apple cider vinegar and oats as above

Try this hair tonic- brew some nettle tea mix with a teaspoon cider vinegar and a couple of drops of chamomile and add to a spray bottle. Spray or mix into scalp leave for 10 mins and then rinse out.

Lavender; in the bath or used directly on the skin, especially burns, cuts, scars, weeping eczema or psoriasis.

Comfry root cream

Olive oil can calm down and allergic skin rash

All of the above plus aloe vera gel are great on burns esp sun burn. My after sun consists of Sweet almond, avocado and wheatgerm oil, chamomile, lavender, geranium and neroli , Calendula tincture and Bach Rescue remedy.

bentonite clay mask

OILY SKIN; (If you are pregnant or breastfeeding please be aware that some of these recommendations may not be suitable for you- please check before using them)

Essential oils; Citrus oils, lemongrass, sage, basil, ylang ylang

Clay masks can draw out excess oil

Corn meal and oat meal scrubs (gentle as you do not want to over stimulate oil glands)

Aloe vera is very toning

Rose water.

Try not to think that oil produces oil. Using an oil as a moisturiser can allow the body to moderate oil production and help protect the outer layer. Coconut oil used in sparingly can help the skin balance oil production.

Some recipes;

  • Herbal Hair rinse;

3-5 drops of your choice of essential oil depending on skin condition

1 pint of herbal tea (calendula, calmomile, oat straw and peppermint for example)

4 tbs vinegar or lemon juice.

After shampooing mix in water bottle and pour through hair. Leave for 5 mins before rinsing.

  • For dark hair add 2 drops of rosemary essential oil to your hair brush and brush through for glossy look to your hair
  • Pregnancy stretch marks oil (for pre and post natal);

1/2 once of cocoa butter or coconut oil

4 ounces of sweet almond or olive oil

15 drops lavender

5 drops neroli

5 drops frankinscense

5 drops camomile essential oil

1600iu Vitamin E Capsules

Rescue remedy and Crab apple Bach Flower Remedies

Use daily

  • Massage Coconut oil onto moles, bruises and cuticles to protect and heal.

Let me know what works for you….

human skin cell

I have had many of you ask me about skin issues. What to use on the skin, how to soothe skin, protect skin, replenish skin and how to heal skin. So here are some insights into nutrients to nourish skin from the inside and some ways to keep it healthy on the outside. Of course everyone is different, this is generalised information. If you want a more personal plan please contact me. Also if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a chronic issue or a condition getting worse, please contact your professional.

Naturopath’s work with Herrings Law of Cure. This essentially means the following;

  • Symptoms of a chronic disease disappear in definite order, going in reverse and taking about one month for every year the symptoms have been present.
  • Symptoms move from the more vital organs to the less vital organs; from the interior of the body towards the skin.
  • Symptoms move from the top of the body downward.

This means that sometimes in order to ‘cure’ something the symptoms will sometimes come back, or it may need to get worse to get better. If it is a skin problem then you have to promote skin cell and oil production and reduce the external factors potentially affecting the skins environment. So I will be taking about supporting the digestive system in order to acquire the necessary nutrients and excrete toxins, the immune system to help support the skins barrier response to germs and bacteria. and finally the nervous system to help the body’s messages from the skin nerve cells get through to the brain.

The Skin is your largest organ. If laid out flat it is about 1.5-2.0 square metres.. It has many jobs, from temperature regulation; it is sensory organ relaying information to the brain through its massive number of nerves in the dermis layer, synthesises Vitamin D, repels water and  forms an integral barrier between your body and the outside world. It’s health reflects your inner health and is also responsible for maintaining inner health. Environmental, behavioural, emotional and physical factors can largely benefit or disadvantage the Skin’s health. It has protective, absorbing and excretory functions. It excretes sweat and oils. It is very closely linked to the gut and the lungs, other excretory organs.

For Example; Suppression of symptoms in the case of Eczema may then become Asthma. It is a common following condition. Steroids and steroidal creams thin the skin and suppress the actions of the body’s immune system to create inflammation which is crucial to the healing process. Thus making the body more susceptible to further allergies and the skin less able to renew making the next bout of eczema worse and possibly spread to other areas (the body’s way of giving you a sign that the treatment is not working). It also creates a further toxic environment in the body disrupting the liver’s functions and thus creating a vicious circle within the body.

All the Body’s systems work simultaneously.  If something is not being excreted through the gut, it will try to excrete it through the skin. if the Skins functions are somewhat suppressed it then becomes the lungs turn. The body is excreting toxins and by products of the immune system as well as general waste products. If these products are not excreted  by the digestive system they continue to circulate in the body putting excess stress on the liver and immune system making the body’s environment more toxic. Fibre is essential, food such as legumes and fruit and vegetables help to cleanse the colon and prevent re-circulation of toxins therefore reducing tissue toxicity and clearer, brighter skin. A daily green juice can help to add fibre and nutrients such as b vitamins and anti-oxidants (here).

skin pic

Skin is made up of two layers. The surface Epidermis containing nerves, Melatin pigment for skin colour and is regularly replaced. The layer underneath is the Dermis containing closely woven connective tissue, nerve glands, blood vessels, lymph vessels and hair follicles. Health of both layers is paramount. The body needs to be able to excrete oil to keep the hairs (on your head and body) healthy and helps form a barrier to water, suns rays, bacteria, parasites and to protect the glands below. Sweat helps the body maintain body temperature as well as excreting waste. Hence why an anti-perspirant can contribute to the body’s toxic environment. As well as absorbing products from our environment to communicate messages to the body, for example sunlight to communicate the increase of pigment formation to help change the skin colour to protect from the sun’s rays. The Ph of skin is also very important, to help promote the life of the bacteria on the skin providing a service to the body and preventing the proliferation of the bacteria that is threatening the body’s health. Becoming a barrier to germs both physically and Chemically. Several thing can upset this balance.

Environmental such as chemicals in the air or products that we use both skin and cleaning to the addition of chemicals in our foods that can be avoided that then need to be processed and excreted (here to read about reducing chemical overload). Behavioural such as number of times we bathe (too much or too little), how we apply moisturiser (needs to be massaged in) to how hard we scrub out skin (making it too oily or too dry) to the products that we use. Lastly Emotional. We have seen in previous posts, the affect stress has on the digestive system and other systems to absorb and assimilate the nutrients necessary for skin production, oil production and even sweat production. Also those people who let things ‘get under their skin’ also can help remove physical issues by addressing those emotional ones. In particular; repressed anger creating a ‘hot’ environment thus potentially resulting in dry skin. Whatever the issue, you need to repair all of the factors from these areas. Reducing Environmental factors but not addressing the emotional ones may result in a reduction of symptoms, but never a real cure and indeed may push the problem deeper.

Nutrients essential for Skin cell production.

A diet dense in nutrients and water content is necessary for skin healthy. Good fats and Proteins are also integral to this.

Fats are essential for skin health. Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) help to naturally reduce inflammation and are necessary for cell production. They form the cell wall along with protein which gives each cell a strong protective layer. When producing skin cells in the case of eczema this is paramount. Fats also help form a barrier on the skin to stop outside stresses such as detergents, cosmetics, dust etc from crossing into the bloodstream adding further stress to the immune system. Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), Flax seed oil, borage oil and olive oil are key oils along with coconut oil for skin health. Dont forget sea vegetables.

Coconut or Medium chain fatty acids also help by providing a protective layer (coconut oil used frequently on the skin may help protect from the sun’s harmful rays- but also stay in the shade and use layers for protection so to never get burnt). They also strengthen skin cells and can help speed up healing. It also has an antibacterial and anti microbial effect to help the skin protect from germs. 1 tsp massaged in from top to bottom every day should suffice. 1tbs Taken internally will also have an effect on skin cell production. It can also be massaged into moles, bruises and dry parts including cuticles.

Proteins. Having a diet rich in protein will help provide a strong cell wall. Protein provides the body’s building blocks.    

Probiotics are essential to balance gut health and to promote the colonisation of good bacteria to help with digestion and to kill off the over proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria. This will boost the immune system. Kefir is a great source of beneficial bacteria. Also adding prebiotic’s into the diet daily

Vit A and Betacarotene:  Absolutely necessary for skin production and a powerful antioxidant necessary for skin cell health.apricots, barley grass, butter, carrots, fish liver oils, green leafy veg, egg yolk and liver (soak the apricots and either add to porridge or give as a finger food- also add liver to mince and make burgers. Use organic lambs liver if possible (most nutrient dense as sheep are still able to graze and eat grass)

Vit D:  Also helps the immune system to differentiate cells. Sources include synthesis through sunlight on skin (10 mins of 40% of body naturally exposed to sunlight without burn-before applying sunscreen). Good sources are fish liver oils, butter, egg yolk and sprouted seeds- good finger foods look into sprouting chickpeas, lentils and can use alfalfa also

Vit E: stops cell proliferation by stabilising normal growth maintenance. Also improves blood flow. Sources include almonds, apricot oil, beef, egg yolk, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.. Otherwise you can also use almond oil either topically or in porridge. Vit E can be absorbed through the skin and can be bought in capsules.

Zinc: Absolutely necessary for skin health. In cell production to enzyme production in the digestive system to the immune system.Found in beef, egg yolk, ginger, lamb, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, seafood, whole grains.

Mag: Sources include: Almonds, cashews, cocoa, cod, eggs, seeds, parsnips, molasses, kelp and figs .

Bioflavenoids: Build connective tissues Sources; apricots, apples, blue, red and black berries, cherries, citrus fruits, green growing shoots of veg, onions, garlic, rosehips.

Cabbage, cabbage juice and the pith from oranges and grapefruit are really good for maintaining skin structure and elasticity.

Watermelon is great for added vitamins and essential water content.

Herbal teas work well both as nourishing and soothing tonics but also boost hydration levels. Oat Straw teaHigh in Silicon which is essential for skin tone. Comfrey tea is also very soothing and nourishing for skin, particularly during outbreaks. Nettle tea good for irritated conditions especially children’s eczema (breastfeeding mothers can drink it or children over 6 months can have a little diluted in some water or milk), Alfalfa tea, Burdook root is excellent for dry scaly eruptions, Chamomile tea, Tulsi tea both for soothing emotions in stressful times and Rosehip tea. Calendula is one of my top 5 healing, calming and nourishing teas.

Some Skin conditions and their potential origins:

Dry Skin; may result from dehydration, poor nourishment (diet low in efa’s or the ability to digest and absorb them), change in weather/humidity, soap or chemical exposure, hormonal unbalance.

Dandruff; can be bacterial or a form of dermatitis. Diet high in saturated fats and low in efa’s, dehydration, food allergies, bacterial imbalance in the gut and chemical irritant from shampoos etc.

Acne; Various reasons for acne include poor nutrient profile, hormonal disruptions, allergies, bacterial dysbiosis, dehydration, poor fat intake.

Eczema and psoriasis; allergies, poor nutrient intake and absorption, hormone disruption (particularly in stressful situations) bacteria dysbiosis

see here for what to use on the outside…

skin