Oprah Winfrey swears by the power of a bedtime bath as a way to de-stress and get ready for sleep. Well, if it’s good enough for Mother Oprah, the queen of daytime and Super Soul Sundays, one woman empire and potential future president of the United States, then it’s sure good enough for you and me. But what makes the perfect bath? Well read on below and I’ll tell you. But first…
Why is a bedtime bath good for sleep?
Before we get into how to have the perfect bedtime bath let’s just cover quickly exactly why a pre-bed soak is my favorite way to get ready for bed. It’s all about heat but not in the way you may imagine 😉
Researchers have found that your brain needs to drop its temperature slightly in order to sleep. That’s why it is easier to fall asleep in a room that’s too cold rather than one that’s too hot. Being cooler will not only help induce sleep quicker it will also promote better deep non-REM sleep.
What has this got to do with a bath, that’s typically hot, not cold? Well, when you have a soak in a nice hot bath, capillaries expand and your blood rushes to the skin, a process referred to as vasodilation. Hence the rosy cheeks!
(Special consideration: if you have rosacea, spider or varicose veins, or another circulatory or known health issue, be sure to use tepid water in your bath and/or consult with your licensed health practitioner!)
When you then step out of the warm water, this heat is rapidly transferred to the air around you, and you experience a massive thermal dump. Your core temperature drops, and it’s this rapid cooling effect that is so good at helping you get to sleep.
An ice cold shower would have much of the same impact. Let’s face it though, a soak in soothing bath salts with herbs and essential oils is more than slightly more appealing.
Ok, now that the science is out of the way let’s move onto what makes a perfect bedtime bath. I’m going to assume you know the basics of how to run a bath, so below I’m going to focus on the things around the edges that you might not have considered. It’s little details like these that will elevate a good bedtime bath to the perfect bedtime bath.
Here are my top 5 tips to create a perfect bedtime bath ritual:
Clear your post-bath schedule
Once bathtime is over, all you want to do is towel yourself off, wrap yourself up in that lovely soft rope and head straight to bed. The easiest way to ruin a pre-bed bath is for it not to be before bed.
If after your soak you still have a heap of chores to do then you are gonna instantly destroy all the good work your bath has done to relax you. So, before you even consider going near those taps, make sure absolutely everything is done for the next day.
Ask for, nay, demand privacy
Nothing will drain the relaxation quicker than assorted family members banging on the bathroom door. Before you head for your soak make sure every single member of the household knows you’re not to be disturbed unless something very important has occurred.
By very important I mean of the level of someone’s bleeding profusely, the dog is on fire, or the cat is stuck in a tree!
If you only have the one bathroom in the house then make sure everyone gets the opportunity to use the facilities before you lock them out. Then, if their tiny bladders still can’t cope, kindly direct them out to the garden.
Create the right ambience
What’s the main difference between your bathroom and a high-end spa? Ambience, that’s what. When you walk into a spa the whole atmosphere oozes relaxation.
If you break it down to the fundamentals however, all these fancy places do is dim the lights a touch, light a few candles and play a little bit of ambient background music. These are three things you are perfectly capable of replicating in your own bathroom, no matter the size!
Invest in few nice scented candles (I prefer either beeswax or soy candles, scented only with essential oils), or if you’re sensitive to candles, an essential oil diffuser and top quality essential oils. Download a nice chillaxing playlist to your phone. And voila! Now you’re in for an instant five star spa experience.
Diffuse some oils
essential oils for atomatherapy treatment with lavender and gemstones in white backround
Creating the perfect ambience isn’t just about music and lighting, it is about massaging all the senses, including your sense of smell.
Try diffusing some essential oils. Frankincense and lavender are well known for their relaxing and hypnotic qualities. As you soak deep into your bath let the scent wash over you and transport you to another level of calm.
Try not to fall asleep completely in the bath, however, as that could be a little dangerous! It might be helpful to set a timer for 20 minutes or so.
Remember your refreshment
What we eat can affect how well we sleep. Some foods are sleep blockers, others sleep promoters. I like to enhance my bath time experience with a nice cup of chamomile tea, a well known sleep aid. Or, if I’m in extra need of some comfort I make a cup of golden milk.
Golden milk might sound expensive but it earned its name for its colour not its cost. Made by mixing a heaped teaspoon of turmeric into warm milk, then seasoned with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon for taste.
Not only does the concoction taste delicious, it’s also incredibly comforting. Like a great big bear hug for your insides. And on top of that both turmeric and milk have crazy sleep inducing qualities. Yay!
Golden milk is the perfect bath time treat if you ask me!
Well there you have it, my five step recipe to the perfect bedtime bath.
Clear your schedule, put up the Do Not Disturb sign, get the ambience spot on, get the aromascape right and take on some light, comforting refreshment.
For more great sleep nuggets like this, check out the Sleep Advisor blog.
Have I forgotten anything?
What’s your favorite bedtime bath ritual? Please share in the comments below!
*Do Not Disturb image By Arz [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
I love talking about skincare products, making skincare products, and different herbs, oils, and other natural skincare ingredients more than just about anything else. But the truth is that topical skincare wasn’t enough to help me clear my skin, and it’s not enough for most people. You’ve got to make positive changes in your diet, lifestyle, and mindset too, which I talk about in my bestselling book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself. That was my first book, and really has become my holistic skincare manifesto. Besides Create Your Skincare and the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, it’s also what I’m most known for.
But did you know I wrote another book just about a year after Love Your Skin, Love Yourself was published? I actually co-wrote it with my husband Joe, who’s an award winning chef (like serious award winning chef–he’s placed in the Culinary Olympics and Hotelympia international competitions, Societe Culinaire Philanthropique, in addition to others). It’s called The Sauce Code, and it has seven really versatile sauce recipes, but more importantly, it teaches busy families how to save time and money in the kitchen, and make just about any meal healthier by adding simple, delicious, plant-based sauces. It truly does teach you healthy, tasty food made easy.
It’s a great little book, but I don’t get asked to talk about it that often, since it’s not about skincare directly (even though adding more veggies to your meals and snacks can only benefit your skin). So when Brodie Welch invited me to talk about the connection between what we eat and how that impacts our skin, as well as strategies for getting out of a “food rut” and how to implement healthy eating in an easier way, I was so excited to talk about this great little book, in addition to Love Your Skin, Love Yourself and some of my other work.
In Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy, Brodie and I talked about:
- What does being a health coach have to do with skincare?
- The important role a health diet plays in having healthy skin.
- What is the “Skin Trigger Trifecta?”
- Once you have removed some of the trigger foods in your diet, what is the next step to having clear skin?
- What it was like to write a book with my chef-husband.
- How preparing sauces in advance can be beneficial for those with busy lifestyles.
- The benefits of looking at a home kitchen as a professional kitchen.
- What foods we should avoid buying on sale.
Give my episode, ‘Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy’ a listen below:
You can download this episode, and subscribe to A Healthy Curiosity on iTunes HERE!
A Healthy Curiosity’s mission is to explore what it takes to be well in a busy world, offer self-care strategies and support around what gets in the way, and demystify natural healing modalities. Host Brodie Welch, L.Ac., is an expert in Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, as well as a teacher and practitioner of qi gong, meditation, yoga, lifestyle and diet counseling who tries to walk her talk about health and mindfulness as a recovering Type-A, parent, and business owner. The podcast blends interviews with fellow experts in Chinese Medicine and natural health care about the conditions we treat and strategies we use clinically, with simple self-care tips to help you feel calm, centered, and energized; and personal chats where we explore what gets in the way of our best intentions: perfectionism, big goals, habits and routines, chronic pain, overwork and overwhelm, boundaries, limiting beliefs — and what it takes to overcome such obstacles mindfully.
Want to grab copies of my books?
They are both available on Amazon!
- Get Love Your Skin, Love Yourself HERE (available in paperback and Kindle)
- Get The Sauce Code HERE (available in Kindle only)
Oh and please leave a review after you’ve read them! I greatly appreciate it 🙂
What was your biggest takeaway from ‘Healthy, Tasty Food Made Easy?’
Please share in the comments below!
No skin condition is fun or easy to live with, but some tend to be tricker than others to overcome. Skin rashes–especially those associated with eczema or psoriasis–fall into that latter category. Part of the reason for this is that unlike acne, premature skin aging, and even rosacea, eczema and psoriasis are both autoimmune diseases.
Eczema and psoriasis are widespread, especially here in the United States. Did you know that 31.6% of Americans have some form of eczema? And while 3% of world’s population has psoriasis, 2% of the US population has been diagnosed.
It’s not just about the numbers for me though. In my work, I see how profoundly skin issues affect people on an emotional and spiritual level. Those with eczema have higher risks of developing asthma, depression, anxiety, and skin infections. (source) Psoriasis quality of life surveys have found that more than 50% of sufferers have had their physical activities affected, and experience social relationship disruptions. (source) As a mother, I’m also concerned about the fact that young people with skin disorders are often targeted by bullies.
For all these reasons and then some, I am really happy that my friend, clinical nutritionist and former eczema sufferer herself, Jennifer Fugo has organized the first ever Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week, which happens April 16-22, 2018. I was honored that she asked me to be a speaker for this event, and to help spread the word, we did a little broadcast together on Facebook.
Watch my interview with Jennifer Fugo to get a sneak peek at 2018 Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week!
Or read the highlights from our interview here:
Rachael: Welcome, Jennifer. It’s so great to have you here.
Jennifer: Thank you. I want to thank you first for being willing to do this, because one of the things that I love about you is that you’re very focused on helping people understand there’s a lot of complexity in skincare. The thing that I recognize and that I learned a lot from you, Rachael, was that there’s a lot of stuff in skincare products that actually makes chronic skin rashes worse. I find it so troubling when people go to the drugstore, for example, and see all these products that are marked for eczema or psoriasis or severe dry skin. They buy it, try it, it burns terribly or it doesn’t work or it makes it worse–and then they end up with this box of products that they can’t return, that were very expensive. Thousands of dollars of ointments, salves, all this other stuff.
Rachael: Yeah, I see it a lot. It always drives me so nuts when I see ingredients on the products that are intended to treat eczema or psoriasis or extremely dry skin that actually make it worse. Eczema and psoriasis are not the same as acne, in that they are considered autoimmune diseases now. Can you speak a bit about that?
Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting. We have to thank the drug companies, actually, funny enough, for that information. Big pharma has made it official that these are autoimmune processes. We’ve known for a long time that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. Eczema’s a lot more complicated, unfortunately, because it’s not just the immune system and gut health–there are a lot more triggers for eczema, and it’s more complicated. I think one lesson I’ve learned is that, with eczema especially, it’s really a two-pronged approach. It is outside in and inside out at the same time to simultaneously see resolution. Biologic treatments are also not always the best or most effective way to treat these conditions. In case you’re wondering, “What’s biologic?” biologic is involved in stopping these inflammatory processes. But one year’s worth of that biologic, Dupixent specifically, is like something around $35,000 a year. The other ones that they use, like Humira and such that are used off label for skin issues, are closer to $50,000 a year. I know because I pay for my own health insurance and other people do, the deductibles are going up, the co-insurances are going up. So if you’re on a medication like that, it is hard to oftentimes even get them approved because they’re so expensive. So you could look at it from a financial standpoint, but then you also have to be on them for life. It’s not like you do it, the skin resolves, and then you can just go off them. It’s a life-long halting of a process in your body that’s then triggering the skin.
Rachael: Right, and that’s what I want people to understand, is that these treatments, they’re treatments. They’re not cures. They’re not going to make it go away. They’re intended to help you live with the condition and manage the condition, but it’s not going to make it go away. I believe that there is a place for Western medicine in certain instances. But I have to say, when it comes to chronic situations, and when we’re talking about the skin, the skin usually shows us something when the rest of our body’s systems have tried and we haven’t listened. So by the time the skin is like, “Hello, you can’t ignore me anymore because I’m looking right at you and you’re going to see it,” we’ve already ignored other symptoms that have been going on on the inside that I think as chronically stressed, overworked, tired people we’ve kind of just come to accept those as normal.
Jennifer: One of the things I’ll share too is that I’ve been doing all this research over the past so many months and discovered that there are at least 15 different skin triggers for eczema. Eczema alone. That includes genetics, because you can’t ignore the genetic implications of certain proteins that are produced in the skin to keep the barrier healthy. So if you have a problem producing those proteins, then naturally, you may be more prone to eczema or psoriasis. There are genetic triggers, but also environmental triggers. It could be your cat, your dog, or maybe the carpeting that’s throughout your house, the chemicals in the paint, the fumes off gassing, mold, or food. We feel like we have some control over food allergies, but in looking deeper, you then have gut dysfunction, gut infections, gut dysbiosis. You can have allergies to things like nickel, which you’d go, “I don’t eat nickel. Why would that matter? I just won’t wear cheap jewelry.” But guess what, there’s an awful lot of nickel in some very healthy foods. So it becomes more complicated than just saying, “I’m going to throw some Vaseline or Crisco on my skin,” which you and I were laughing about.
Rachael: Yeah. We’re not advising you do that. Spoiler alert.
Jennifer: No, but there’s an awful lot of triggers that people are not … We’re not given that information, and it’s buried and scattered. I, in no way, shape, or form want to be all conspiracy theory, but when you look at it purely from a financial standpoint, what impetus does the drug company, for example, even have to want anybody to stop getting rashes? Because then you don’t buy their products anymore, and they have spent millions and millions of dollars not only paying physicians, by the way. There’s some really disturbing research out there about how much money dermatologists are getting from drug companies and also how much they spend on developing these drugs in the first place. So if the customer base goes away, if the drugs work too well, what happens to your bottom line?
Rachael: Right, and never mind the cost of those expensive TV commercials that they’re now marketing to everyone and their children. My kids are even like, “Why on Earth would somebody risk cancer to get rid of a rash?”
Jennifer: That is a side effect, by the way, of biologics and those that suppress the autoimmune system. It’s important to understand that we all, to some degree, have cancer cells at any given moment, but it’s more about the state, the amount of cells that have been produced that are not healthy, and your body’s ability to maintain that. When your immune system is suppressed, that army, or force, that’s meant to be there to protect you by getting rid of those cells that your body accidentally produces that are not as healthy or appropriate as they should be goes away. So there’s no check and balance, and that’s why there’s a side effect of cancer for those drugs. I had eczema, so I understand very well how awful of an experience this is. I got sick and tired of dealing with, “Here’s a cream, here’s an ointment. Try this.” And it was frustrating from an integrative approach, because I’m already gluten free, I’m already dairy free, I’m already egg free.
Rachael: I find that eczema and psoriasis, as you said, there are more triggers, there are more combinations of things going on, and when you’ve done what you’re supposed to do but you’re still having symptoms that’s when people get really frustrated and they give up, and that’s when they feel like they have no other choice but to go on these biologics and risk these horrible side effects. I think that that’s a big difference we see with eczema and psoriasis versus some of the other skin conditions that occur on a chronic basis.
Jennifer: I think that’s also a good heads up for people who are listening to this that are like, “My doctor told me to go on a gluten-free diet and maybe that’ll stop the rashes.” Sometimes it does, but when I developed my own hand eczema, I was already gluten free, like seriously 100% gluten free, for six years. I was gluten, dairy, and egg free, and it still developed. So you can’t assume that it’s just always tied to food. Food is one piece, but there’s also the complicated matter of what caused the food sensitivities in the first place, and you need to look underneath those. For me, it was like, “Okay, number one, is my skin getting enough of the nutrients?” We need raw nutrients to come in and make sure that we’re not depleted anywhere else, because the skin is the least important … Isn’t it so funny? We spend so much money on making our skin look beautiful, but it is the lowest priority on the totem pole of organs.
Rachael: I know, which is crazy, because it’s the biggest one and it’s our first line of defense against the outside world. The nutrients and hydration that come in all go to nourish and hydrate the internal vital organs first, and then the skin gets the leftovers.
Jennifer: I had to figure out what my unique combo of triggers was and address that because my solution is not necessarily somebody else’s solution. Part of it was food, part of it was nutrients, part of it was stress. There was a big stress component to it. I want to give people hope because there are so many facets to this, whether it’s hormonal, environmental, food, or gut-related. I want to give people the tools that I was blessed to have available to me, so that they can find actual resolution, not just management.
Rachael: Right. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Let’s find your unique bio-individualized solution by doing a little bit of self-detective work here, because that is required. There’s some trial and error required, but really, we’re here to give you hope that this can resolve. You don’t have to live like this, for real. Jen, you’re proof of that.
Jennifer: I have to be more aware of my skin than a normal person, but my level of awareness around my skin now is not nearly as hyper-focused as it was when it felt like my hands had a thousand paper cuts. It’s just so painful. For me, it’s like if I just have to be a little aware, like, “Oh, I’m starting to get a little bit of dryness. Oh, I got to get back on. I just got to do a little bit extra,” and it goes right away. Right now I have zero eczema, and it’s amazing. It changes your life in so many ways. That’s why, Rachael, I’m so excited too because your presentation is just so fantastic and you offer this completely unique view of why skincare products don’t work that are out there on the market and why they’re so bad. You talk about it in a way that’s so relatable, so I’m really excited to have you as one of our presenters, because there’s never been another event like this, ever.
Rachael: No, it’s really unique. I want to talk about that, because it’s not just … this is not a webinar or a course. This is an awareness week that you’ve created. This is the 2018 Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week. We’ve talked about some of what’s not working, but as you’ve said, what is going to work is so dependent on each person, so you have put together this entire event with speakers, but with resources that people get as soon as they sign up. Let’s talk about that.
Jennifer: Register (USE THIS LINK) and you’ll get a free seat to this event. It happens between April 16th and April 22nd. What we’ll have every day is presentations that will be shown. I really tried my darnedest to keep the presentations consistent and concise, because I also know that you’re busy. You have a life, especially if you’re a parent and this is for a kid or just even for yourself. You want the good stuff. You don’t want fluff. So we tried to keep everything to about 30 minutes for each presentation, focusing on what works and why it works and what the next steps are for you from a functional and integrative approach, as opposed to just slapping more medication on and giving it a try. There are 25 different presenters. Rachael is one of them, and I’m so, so excited to be able to share what has worked for me and for other people. It’s not just, though, the how to and why. There is some mindset to this, because I recognize that this makes you feel really alone. We want to address that emotional component, the emotional wellbeing, and the impact that these issues can have, because you’re walking around, essentially, with a red scarlet letter on you making you look different, and people do treat you differently when they see that your skin is not clear. They’ll say you’re infected or diseased or whatever, so we want to address this from all pieces, all facets of how it affects us, people who suffer with this. When you sign up, you’re also going to get immediately a copy of the Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week Skin Supporting Cookbook. It has 34 recipes that I’ve conglomerated from all the different presenters of things that they recommend to their clients. These are practical, great recipes to try, and there’s a lot of different flavors and all sorts of stuff, so you’re not going to feel like you’re eating weird diet food or anything. We want people to be happy. Something for everyone. We also have over $2,000 in giveaways from natural skincare companies and food product companies of things that I use in my kitchen and things that have helped me and my clients.
Rachael: I want to thank you for coming on today to share about 2018 Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week. Jenn, before I let you go, what is one bit of a preview, like your favorite thing, that you gleaned as you went through all of these materials that you want to give people as a little sneak peek?
Jennifer: One thing that’s been really interesting and fascinating is the piece on mold, because we’ve had these huge natural disasters in the U.S. specifically, but people have had hurricanes and typhoons and things all over the world. We don’t realize that when our home is exposed to water, the mold that can grow behind the walls where we don’t see it can actually cause a really big problem. One way you know if mold is a potential trigger is if when you go on vacation and everything seems to start clearing up, and then you come back home and, you get another flare. That’s usually a sign that it’s something in your home, and it may be mold, because actually is a suppressor of the immune system. We’re going to talk about that and what the implications are and how you can test and whatnot. That’s one little preview.
2018 Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week happens from April 16-22.
Click HERE to secure your free ticket to the presentations (including mine!), your complimentary recipe book, and entries to all the amazing giveaways Jennifer mentioned.
And on a personal note, I really do hope you share this event with anyone you know who might be struggling with skin rashes, extreme chronic dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis. This is information that is going to help a LOT of people!
*This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!
This post is not about holistic skincare. And honestly I didn’t intend to write a blog post today. But something really cool just happened to me on the grocery line at Whole Foods Market that I wanted to share. And by the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve had good things happen at Whole Foods Market, which is the biggest reason I choose to shop there, despite the fact that they are certainly not the lowest priced store. Oh and if anyone from Amazon happens to read this…I truly hope you strive to keep the culture and ethos of Whole Foods that allows for cool things like this to keep happening.
But on this busy evening, I was so affected by this experience, that I put my groceries in my car, grabbed my laptop, and went back inside to write this.
It’s a simple story about small gestures, and I hope it makes you smile.
It was about 5 pm on a Monday evening, on the seventh day of Hanukkah and just days before Christmas. The store was crowded, and every single line was long. I got on what seemed to be the shortest of the long lines, and it was soon made clear that I had not chosen the fastest of the long lines. You know when you seem to get behind the person that has a TON of groceries, and then there are questions, or coupons, and conversation…and it just seems to take forever? Yup, that was the line I chose tonight. But as I looked around, I really had no idea if changing lines would have gotten me out of the store any sooner. So I decided to wait.
My makeshift Whole Foods Market “office” where I wrote this blog post after this event transpired.
I noticed that the cashier was very friendly, and was very chatty with each customer. That might annoy some customers–and I’ll admit, if I was in a rush, it would have annoyed me. But clearly I wasn’t in a rush because I’m literally sitting in the store, writing this now. The customers ahead of me had smiles on their faces as well, so clearly they were enjoying the conversation.
It was finally my turn–and I had a full cart full of groceries unloaded on the belt–when a gentleman came up behind me with only two things. I told him he should go ahead of me. He declined, saying I was there first, and that he didn’t mind waiting. I said, “no–you only have two things, please go ahead.” He thanked me, and as the cashier was finishing up with the customer ahead of me, the gentleman said to me “you know, I never mind waiting for her. She’s a kind and wonderful person.” Still, he went ahead, and the cashier recognized him immediately, came out from around the register to give him his receipt, bag, and a Happy Holidays hug.
I was finally up, and the cashier and I exchanged hellos. I asked how she was, and she said she was grateful to have woken up today, because not everyone got to. The rest of my checkout experience was pleasant–the cashier commented on how yummy this was, and what a great price on shampoo that was, and then complimented me for my fairly low bill, having chosen all organic foods, AND stocking up on shampoo (it was about $160 for a week’s worth of groceries and four bottles of haircare products for my family of four).
She then told me how much the store appreciated kind gestures like mine, and that my organic grape tomatoes were on the house.
I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons.
1. We don’t always have to be in such a rush. It’s OK to wait on line sometimes, and it’s OK to be patient while others enjoy a nice conversation.
2. Have conversations. In this digital world, we all have a deficiency of human connection and actual conversation using spoken words. Take the time. Use your words. Make eye contact. Smile.
3. Do something nice just because. I didn’t let the gentleman go ahead of me to get free tomatoes. I simply didn’t see why he should have to wait for my big order. But it made him feel good, the cashier feel good, and me feel good. So one small thing positively affected three people.
4. Be kind to people in retail, restaurants, and at the checkout in the grocery store. Be kind to delivery people, sanitation workers, and customer service representatives. Always, yes, but especially during the holidays. They are working ridiculously long hours. Mostly on their feet. I know because I worked retail for a good 16 years of my life. I was yelled at, had things thrown at me, got cursed at, and witnessed extreme selfishness and pettiness–all for what? A few saved minutes? A couple of saved dollars? Come on.
The commercialization of the holidays has turned me into quite a grinch. But small moments like these–people slowing down, having kind conversations, and just being polite and decent, gave me faith that there are still good people out there.
Be one of them. Often.
Got any random acts of kindness or stories of humans being good humans to share?
I’d love to read about it in the comments below 🙂
*Image credit: Kate Ter Haar
In Part 1 of the Lung-Skin Connection, we talked about how lung health often influences skin health. We also discussed the importance of air quality–both indoor and outdoor–and shared a few tips on how to freshen up your indoor air and protect yourself outside–especially if you live in a city, or an area with compromised air quality as a result of environmental disasters such as smoke from wildfires, or mold from hurricanes. So what are some other ways we can help protect and rejuvenate our lungs, and therefore, our skin?
Herbs, of course. While there are too many herbs to list here that benefit the herbs and skin, I figured I’d start you off with five of my favorites. Here are…
5 herbs to support a healthy lung-skin connection
This herb has dozens of benefits. For the lungs, it encourages the clearing of mucus and reduces your mucus production, helping to keep you free and clear. It is helpful to take at the tail end of illness, as it soothes dry coughs and sore throats, and acts as a recuperative tonic.
Remember, the lungs are associated with air–and too much dryness in the lungs and body often lead to chronically dry skin on the outside. Because this demulcent herb helps to keep the body moisturized from the inside out, I recommend drinking it as a tea regularly. The more moisturized your body is, the better it is at warding off infections and getting rid of toxins from the body.
It’s great to be able to recommend an herb that people are already familiar with using. It’s sometimes easier to add herbs into meals you already eat, than worry about making teas or tinctures. Truly, some of the herbs many of us use regularly in cooking have amazing benefits that we might not realize.
Thyme is definitely one of them! Its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties make it helpful in supporting a healthy respiratory system. Plus, it has expectorant qualities, making it helpful to relieve dry, unproductive coughs.
Oregano is another example of a common culinary herb that packs serious medicinal punch! Oregano is perhaps more known in the world of herbalism for its antibacterial qualities. They are strong! And many people enjoy using oil of oregano or oregano essential oil to reap these benefits. Take caution when using oregano essential oil, though. It is powerful, and should not be taken internally or used undiluted.
Another way to get the benefits of oregano, besides cooking with it, is to take the powdered herb in capsule form. Doing so regularly can help keep your lungs clean.
This invigorating herb already has a reputation as an ally of the lungs. Especially pleasant when used in a diffuser, eucalyptus has a palpable effect on the lungs and sinuses when inhaled. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can add a couple drops of the essential oil in a pot of boiling water and let the steam wash over your home, or use it in a hot shower. If you don’t have the essential oil, you can tie a bunch of fresh eucalyptus to your showered and the hot, steamy shower will act as a diffuser.
Eucalyptus is a great example of an herb that supports a healthy lung-skin connection, quite literally in fact, since you can benefit from it both by inhaling it and by applying it topically. You can also dilute eucalyptus essential oil or in a carrier oil or infuse a carrier oil with the herb itself to use as a massage oil, or in a salve.
This special herb increases oxygenation of the lungs, soothes sore throats and inflammation, and is highly effective against viral respiratory infections. Quite the resume!
Osha is not to be used lightly, but can be very effective. A tea or tincture induces sweating, which can help in the elimination of toxins. This is a great herb to use under the guidance of a trained herbalist if you’re noticing clear signs of respiratory distress.
There is a lot to take in regarding lung health, air quality, and the skin. Recognizing the lung-skin connection is important, and it’s a good idea to keep air quality on your radar and pay attention to any signs of lung distress. But don’t let the stress transfer over to you. Do your best to get out into nature when you can, reduce your environmental impact, and nourish your body with lung-nurturing herbs! Your skin will thank you.
Have you tried any of these herbal remedies for healthy lungs?
And if so, have you noticed a change in your skin? Please share in the comments below!
Fenugreek seed by Bhaskaranaidu ,Thymus vulgaris by Kurt Stuber, Oregano by Thomas Then, Eucalyptus by Toby Hudson, Osha by Jerry Friedman via Wikimedia Commons
Ah, the great outdoors! I wouldn’t be a true holistic health advocate if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in the power of getting outside and experiencing nature. But in our current climate of car-clogged highways and pollution-exuding factories that never sleep, sometimes outdoor air isn’t exactly fresh. Does that mean we should spend more time indoors? Hardly. Indoor quality is often just as polluted, if not moreso, than outdoor air. When we breathe in polluted air, day in and day out, our bodies must work overtime to remove them. Out of the five main detoxifying organs of the body (kidneys, lungs, colon, liver, and skin), the lungs and the skin tend to become most taxed in the presence of constant air pollution. While all of our organs and systems are interdependent on each other for optimal functioning, the lung-skin connection often gets ignored.
You hear a lot about associations between skin health and heart, liver, gut, and endocrine health. But when our lung health is compromised, we our skin reacts too, often with chronic dryness, eczema flare-ups, and premature signs of aging such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. While our organs all perform multiple tasks to keep us healthy, the lungs and the skin have those of respiration and detoxification in common.
The lung-skin connection is well known in Eastern healing modalities.
Both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine share the school of thought that says that skin eruptions and flare-ups that occur on certain areas on the face are linked with certain health issues. Sometimes called face mapping, it tells us that we see pimples popping up on a certain area of our face, it’s a signal that we need to be examining different areas of our health.
Acute flare-ups and sudden skin changes are more often associated with the liver, however more chronic skin issues are associated with the lungs. The lungs are associated with air, metal, and movement. When toxicants enter into the lungs, they must be expelled, otherwise they can build up and cause stagnation, mucus build-up, and inflammation. The skin, too, acts as a semipermeable barrier between outside pollutants and our inner organs. If the skin can’t “breathe” due to overexposure to toxicants or improper usage of skincare products, then similar stagnation-related problems also occur.
Lung health and wrinkles
It’s widely known that smoking has a powerful negative affect on the appearance and health of the skin.
Click HERE to read about how smoking affects the skin.
But toxicants in the air also take a huge toll on the way we age, and there have been a couple studies that have demonstrated this.
The Journal of Investigative Dermatology published a study that examined 400 women between 70 and 80 years old for signs of skin aging. They also took into consideration where these women lived and took measurements of general traffic emissions as well as ambient particles from fixed monitoring sites.
Here’s the one I thought was hilarious. They also tested dust in the women’s homes and analyzed it for pollutants. Imagine having your home scientifically analyzed for how clean or dirty it was. What a nightmare!
But I digress. Using what they measured about these women’s environments and how much their skin had aged, they found that air pollution was significantly linked to visible signs of skin aging, including hyperpigmentation, age spots, and wrinkles.
Traffic pollution was associated with twenty percent more age spots on the forehead and cheeks, and all types of pollution were found to be linked with more pronounced smile lines.
Now, women are beautiful no matter how we age, and our worth is certainly not correlated with how deep our wrinkles are. I am, however, realistic in knowing that for many women, this is a concern. If knowing these statistics motivates you to take care of your lungs, I’m happy.
Another study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science reviewed pollution and skin. They looked at research that had been done so far, collaborating with experts on environmental health, clinical research in dermatology and cosmetic dermatology. They looked only at studies that examined the effects of pollution on skin.
Their findings confirmed that air pollution damages skin, ozone depletes skin antioxidants, and that pollution-induced skin damage is a global problem.
The air, your lungs, and your skin
The EPA has a grim list of potential risks associated with breathing bad air. It’s not pretty.
Ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide are among some of the airborne materials that can irritate or damage lung tissue, putting you at greater risk for infections. Repeated or high levels of exposure to some of these can cause permanent damage, cancer, or even premature death.
Many of these symptoms aren’t observed right away. During fire events it’s more obvious that air quality is low, but on a normal day you may not be aware that what you’re breathing isn’t totally healthy.
Air quality isn’t something we have much control over, but we can benefit from being aware of our local air quality, its fluctuations, and knowing what we can do to help our lungs stay healthy.
Where’s the good air?
Different factors affect the air quality in the place you live, such as topography (valleys tend collect smog), amount of cars on the road, density of trees, number of factories and other high-emission buildings, and incidents of fires.
My friend Dr. Trevor Cates wrote an article on air quality and health and in it she shared this awesome resource for checking the air quality in your city. Don’t worry– if your city doesn’t score well, you’re not completely doomed. I share this because it’s always better to know what you’re dealing with, so you can put some attention on nurturing and protecting your lungs.
Depending on where you live, the air quality inside your house and can actually be worse! In fact, the EPA ranks indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health. Off-gassing of chemicals from carpet and furniture, household cleaning supplies, as well as toxins brought into the house on clothing and shoes can accumulate and wreak havoc on your home air quality.
Here are some solutions for dealing with poor air quality both inside and outside the home:
Outdoor air pollution:
- Avoid exercising on high pollution days or near heavy traffic areas.
- Spend time in your local forests or highly vegetated areas.
- Do your part to improve the air quality in your region! Reduce your use of wood burning stoves, drive as little as possible and don’t idle your vehicle, and support local efforts to reduce pollution.
Indoor air pollution:
- Open your windows whenever possible to circulate fresh air throughout your space.
- Invest in an air purifier, especially if your outdoor air quality is poor and thus opening the windows isn’t always the ideal solution.
- Fill your house with plants that clean the air such as Spider Plant and Dracaena
- Vacuum often if you have carpet.
- Diffuse essential oils, especially those that support the lungs (keep reading to find out which herbs I recommend!)
In next week’s post, we’ll continue this discussion, and I’ll share some herbs with you that you can use to support healthy lung and skin health inside and out.
I’d love to hear from you!
Have you noticed a lung-skin connection in your own health? Please share in the comments below.
Image credits: Air-pollution.JPG: Zakysant at the German, designmilk