Skin health supplements - Natural care - role of diet and food by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 12, 2014

Skin problems are rarely serious enough to be fatal, however a facial skin problem such as acne can be psychologically quite distressing. This web page will discuss natural skin treatment with herbs and supplements.

Food, diet and skin
To have health skin, eat lots of fish and vegetables and reduce your sugar or simple carbohydrate intake. Some people break out in pimple if they eat too many nuts, especially roasted or cooked nuts. Small amounts of raw nuts are healthy. I also recommend you eat more fish or take fish oil supplements or flax seed or consume caviar or salmon roe. Higher intakes of antioxidant vitamin and fresh fruits and vegetables, and lower intakes of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates are associated with better skin-aging appearance. If you can find and regularly eat fish eggs such as salmon eggs, kaviar, or Ikura (Japanese name for roe), they can help give skin a nice healthy glow. Also consider pine bark extract to improve hydration and elasticity.

Intervention with flaxseed and borage oil supplements modulates skin condition in women.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2008. Institut für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie I, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.
In the present study, two groups of women ingested flaxseed or borage oil for 12 weeks. The control group received a placebo containing medium-chain fatty acids. Dose was 2g total fatty acids/d with -linolenic acid were predominant. In the flaxseed oil group, the contribution of -linolenic acid in the borage oil group. Transepidermal water loss was decreased in both oil groups by about 10<05). Except for hydration, none of the parameters was affected in the placebo group. The present data provide evidence that skin properties can be modulated by an intervention with dietary lipids.

Age spots
These typically occur as a result of exposure to the sun. Age spots most commonly occur on the face, arms, hands, feet and back and normally do not cause harm, but a dermatologist may be able to remove them if they bother you. Wearing sunscreen and gloves when exposed to sun can help prevent age spots from worsening. Using Retin-A is of help in diminishing the marks.

Dry skin
For many, dry skin is not a sign of a disease, but is simply caused by harsh soaps or soaping too often, itchy clothing, misusing moisturizer, and long, hot showers. But the medications you take  -- and even medical conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, low thyroid, and malnutrition -- can also cause severe dry skin. A reduction in hormone levels with age can cause or aggravate this condition. Living in climates where the air is dry is another cause, so is having dry heat on in your bedroom overnight during winter months. Use a humidifier in your room.

Treatment
Apply moisturizer when your skin is still damp.

Dry lips
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and use a humidifier at home. Apply beeswax or petroleum jelly to your lips. Put on lip balm or lipstick with sunscreen when you go outside. Avoid being in the sun and wind too much. Don't lick your lips -- it may feel better but it only makes chapped lips worse.

Cracked Heels
Painful, cracked heels are common, especially in winter. Having calluses around the rim of the heel can complicate the problem. In some cases, dry cracked feet can lead to infection or make walking painful. Keep feet healthy by marinating cracked heels in petroleum jelly, covering them with plastic wrap, and putting on a pair of socks overnight.

Skin disorder natural treatment information - alternative therapy - cure with natural supplements
This is a list of skin conditions and over time I will add additional ones when I come across research with natural and alternative therapies that treat or cure these conditions. The list includes acne vulgaris which is common in teen years, actinic keratosis treatment, Albinism - Alopecia - alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency - Blister - Boils - Cafe-au-Lait Spots - canker sores also known as aphthous ulcers - Cellulitis - Connective Tissue Diseases - Dermatitis - Dermatitis Herpetiformis - Dermatomyositis - Eczema - Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome - Epidermolysis Bullosa - Erysipelas - Erythema - Exanthema Subitum - Furunculosis - Granuloma Annulare is difficult to treat or find the cause of - Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a skin disorder in some ways similar to adult acne but oral zinc supplements may help - Hives - Hyperhidrosis -  Ichthyosis - Keloid - Keratosis pilaris, Seborrheic - Lentigo - Lichen Planus - Lichen sclerosus - Lipodystrophy - Mastocytosis - Melanosis - Melasma - Mixed Connective Tissue Disease - Panniculitis - Pemphigoid - Photosensitivity Disorders - Pigmentation Disorders - Pityriasis - Port-Wine Stain - Pruritus - Psoriasis - Pyoderma Gangrenosum - Rosacea - Scleroderma - Skin tag - Stevens-Johnson Syndrome - Sweat Gland Diseases - Sweet's Syndrome - Tinea Versicolor - Urticaria - Vitiligo - Xanthomatosis - Xeroderma Pigmentosum.

Keratosis pilaris
This is a very common skin condition seen in many people of all ages. It is not serious. It shows as numerous small, rough, red, or tan bumps primarily around hair follicles on the upper arms, legs, buttocks, and sometimes cheeks. KP creates a "goose bumps," "gooseflesh," appearance on the skin. Sometimes it is called chicken skin. The cause is not well understood and genetics has a lot to do with it.
   A natural treatment some people have mentioned is aloe vera juice applied topically but I do not have experience with it and do not know if it works. Over-the-counter moisturizers could be of benefit such as Cetaphil or Lubriderm lotions. Additional remedies for more difficult cases include lactic-acid lotions (AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin), alpha-hydroxy-acid lotions (Glytone, glycolic body lotions), urea cream (Carmol 10, Carmol 40, Urix 40), salicylic acid (Salex lotion), and topical steroid creams, retinoic-acid products like Retin-A and Tazorac.

Clinical trial of a topical preparation containing urea, sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, wheat germ oil and sodium pyruvate, in several hyperkeratotic skin conditions. A topical clinical trial with preparations containing urea and sodium pyruvate has been made. It was used for diverse hyperkeratotic skin conditions (psoriasis, xerosis, pityriasis rubra pilaris, stuccokeratosis, seborrheic dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, pityriasis lichenoides chronica). A month later a clinical improvement was evident in all cases except in pityriasis lichenoides. Med Cutan Ibero Lat Am. 1986.

Best skin care product
See DMAE skin cream has been promoted as an anti aging skin care product although there are no studies that prove this. Retinoic acid is a prescription cream that could be a best skin care product. Retinoic acid is available by prescription only and can be used for fine wrinkles.
    Camellia oil may be a good skin moisturizer.

I read an article "Skin Care comes of Age" and was wondering if you know if there is a supplement on the market that contains Lumistor + Resilen + Vitamin C? I am aware of Northstar's "Lumivella" but their label does not list the full complement of ingredients recommended by the manufacturer of the key ingredients.
   I have not studied these products so I don't know at this time.

Skin cream caution
Eczema creams sold by Novartis AG and Astellas Pharma Inc. will come with a "black-box" warning about a possible risk of cancer from the prescription treatments. A black-box warning is the strongest type used in the United States for prescription drugs. The new warnings apply to Novartis AG's drug Elidel and Astellas Pharma's Protopic.

Skin rash cause
A skin rash refers to skin redness or inflammation. It involves changes in the color or texture of skin. Generally, the cause can be determined from its visible characteristics and other symptoms. It is also called dermatitis, meaning inflammation of the skin. Natural herbs or supplements that could cause a skin rash include: Hyaluronic acid, red yeast rice, kava, and St. John's wort. It is quite likely that many more do, but these are the ones we have had feedback on thus far.

Skin infection
A skin infection can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus. In the case of a skin fungus, athlete's foot is a classic and common example of a skin infection. Human skin is populated by a veritable menagerie of bacteria -- more than 200 species -- some apparently living there permanently and others just dropping by for a visit. Almost all of these bacteria are harmless. Some bacteria seem to be permanent residents of the skin, with four genera -- Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Propionibacteria and Corynebacteria -- accounting for a bit more than half the population.

Skin zinc
Zinc oxide is used as a sunscreen. It is a white cream that can be placed particularly on the nose and back of hands to prevent skin damage from excessive sun exposure.

Skin allergy
An allergic reaction to a medicine, herb, drug, food, cream, gel, lotion or other substance can cause skin allergy. Common presentations of skin allergy include atopic dermatitis, eczema, and urticaria. Skin irritation is not the same as skin allergy.
   Adverse skin reactions to drugs are frequent, affecting 2% to 3% of all hospitalized patients. Fortunately, only about 2% of adverse skin reactions are severe and very few are fatal. Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis are severe life-threatening diseases with a mortality rate reaching 30%, and only prompt recognition and diagnosis, withdrawal of the offensive drug, and referral to an intensive care unit or burn care unit might improve the prognosis and save the patient's life. Drug eruption with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms syndrome, formerly termed drug hypersensitivity syndrome, is a rather distinct severe adverse drug reaction characterized by skin eruption, fever, lymph node enlargement, and single or multiple organ involvement, with a high morbidity and a mortality rate of 10%.

Herbs for healthy skin
Chickweed for eczema
Seabuckthorn has been used for dermatological conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and burns.
See nail fungus for a natural treatment for this difficult infection, or see tinea unguium. There is a natural cure for toe nail fungus that involves soaking in Epsom salts.

Sun exposure and aging skin
Exposure to solar UV radiation is the main environmental factor that causes premature aging of the skin (photoaging). Human skin aging resulting from UV irradiation is a cumulative process that occurs based on the degree of sun exposure and the level of skin pigment. UV irradiation induces matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) responsible for alterations in the collagenous extracellular matrix of connective tissue, resulting in impaired integrity. On a molecular level, UV radiation from the sun attacks keratinocytes and fibroblasts, resulting in the activation of cell surface receptors, which initiate signal transduction cascades. This in turn leads to a variety of molecular changes, which causes a breakdown of collagen in the extracellular matrix and a shutdown of new collagen synthesis.

The following are some signs of skin aging:
Lines and wrinkles, clogged pores and bumps under the skin, dark discolorations such as ages spots and sun spots, redness around the nose and cheeks (dilated capillaries), sagging around the jaw line and under the chin, thin, dry skin.

Skin cancer treatment
For information on skin cancer natural treatment or melanoma.

Lawsuits filed in March, 2006 accuse sunscreen makers of exposing millions of people to skin cancer and other dangers through false and misleading claims about the effectiveness of their sunscreen skin care products. The nine suits - involving some of the most popular brands, including Coppertone, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, Bullfrog and Neutrogena - charge that manufacturers dangerously inflate claims about the protective qualities of sunscreens, lulling consumers into believing they are safe from the dangers of prolonged skin exposure to sun. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. The suits, filed in California, name as defendants Johnson & Johnson Inc., Schering-Plough Corp., Playtex Products Inc., Tanning Research Laboratories Inc. and Chattem Inc. The suits focus on labels that claim the sunscreens protect equally against the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays, and also claims of how long supposed waterproof sunscreen remains effective in water. "In truth and in fact ... as defendants knew or should have known, their skin protection products, at best, only protect the skin against harmful UVA rays with shorter wavelengths, while the skin remains exposed to harmful UVA rays with longer wavelengths that penetrate deep within the skin," according to the suits.

Skin Conditions associated with diabetes mellitus
Diabetes may be associated with skin lesions affecting the skin and mucous membranes. In some cases they may even provide the physician with a first indication that the patient may be suffering from diabetes. Typical examples of skin conditions include necrobiosis lipoidica, granuloma annulare, acanthosis nigricans and vitiligo.

Sensitive skin
A sensitive skin is a thin that reacts quickly to both heat and cold; therefore, it sunburns and windburns easily. Sensitive skin can be dry, delicate and prone to allergic reactions. Temperature changes, some detergents, cosmetics and alcohol (used on the skin) can all cause irritation, leaving the skin red and blotchy, with visible surface veins.

Skin tag removal
Skin tags are small growths of skin that individuals develop around the eyelids, neck, armpits, and the groin areas. Typically they look like small little balls of skin attached to the body by a thin stalk. The medical name is acrochordon or fibroepithelial polyp. They are largely harmless. The tendency to develop skin tags is inherited but being overweight also is a contributing factor. The exact cause is unknown but frictional pressure of skin rubbing skin may be an influence. Skin tags may need treatment if they become inflamed or necrotic but generally they are considered a cosmetic problem.

Facial skin stimulators
Electrical devices sold as over-the-counter alternatives to a face-lift fall far short of their claims. Ads for the devices, known as facial stimulators, say they offer a sort of non-surgical face-lift. The concept is that electrical stimulation of the facial muscles firms up the face and leads to a more youthful appearance -- similar to what's gained from surgery. But there is no biological basis for that claim.

Skin cosmetic ingredients
There are countless ingredients in cosmetic products. I will add to this list in the future.

Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
Beta hydroxy acid (BHA)
Carmine substance
Parabens are often used in skin care products.

Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013 Nov 11. Glycolic acid peel therapy - a current review. Chemical peels have been time-tested and are here to stay. Alpha-hydroxy peels are highly popular in the dermatologist's arsenal of procedures. Glycolic acid peel is the most common alpha-hydroxy acid peel, also known as fruit peel. It is simple, inexpensive, and has no downtime. This review talks about various studies of glycolic acid peels for various indications, such as acne, acne scars, melasma, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, photoaging, and seborrhea. Combination therapies and treatment procedure are also discussed. Careful review of medical history, examination of the skin, and pre-peel priming of skin are important before every peel. Proper patient selection, peel timing, and neutralization on-time will ensure good results, with no side effects. Depth of the glycolic acid peel depends on the concentration of the acid used, the number of coats applied, and the time for which it is applied. Hence, it can be used as a very superficial peel, or even a medium depth peel

Stretch marks
I am not aware of any topical agent that has been proven to prevent or reduce stretch marks. Testing shows that cocoa butter doesn't prevent stretch marks ; nor does olive oil or vitamin E oil.

I attended the natural products expo in Anaheim in March, 2013 and was impressed how many booths there were promoting natural skin care products for a man and woman. The natural skin care industry is growing at a fast pace.

Organic skin care
All natural organic skin care products are produced by several companies who claim to make chemical free products based on organic botanical oils and organic herbal extracts. Organic skin care products may be helpful for those who use them on a daily basis. For those who use skin care products infrequently, the use of organic products may not provide any noticeable health benefits.

Wart on Skin
May products are used to treat a wart on skin including imiquimod.

Questions
Q. I took the skin medication Accutane over six months ago and have had the side effects of extremely dry skin and hair, I have noticed a complete lack of skin oil production. Would taking DHEA remedy this problem or is it likely to have no real effect?
   A. It's hard to say, DHEA may produce more oily skin, but it is quite likely to aggravate your acne skin condition.

Q.  what oral supplement is good for skin. I heard about glutathione that after a couple of months taking it , it can make your skin whiteir and healthy. is this true?
   A. We have not come across any research that says glutathione supplements taken orally improve skin. Fish oil supplements may help in some people, but the most important is to eat fish and vegetables.

Q. As a male person over 78, I am in reasonably good health but for one thing. The skin on the back of my hands is very thin, no apparent subcutaneous fat and is easily damaged in general gardening work, especially if pierced when I experience significant under skin bleeding. In my years I have always painted around the house and it recently occurred to me that, apart from any natural tendency to actually have dry skin on my hands, might the fact that I
have always cleaned my hands with spirit, methylated or otherwise. Since that sort of spirit is also used to remove grease from ones hands, could it, over many years, have contributed in some way to the emulsification and dispersal of the fat under the skin on the back of my hands and is there some way to encourage collagen to to build up, hand cream.
   A. I doubt the use of the spirits had anything to do with the thin skin. See below of another question on thin skin.

Q. My father is 73 years old and in general good health taking no meds with the exception of a baby aspirin every day. Heart disease and stroke are in his family and he periodically will have an elevated high blood pressure. He deals severely with what he calls " thin skin ." The slightest bump will tear the skin and leave a horrible bruising or the skin will break. Thin skin has been a family trait. He takes no supplements. Can you tell me what would be good supplements or herbal formulas for thin skin.
   A. This is a good question. Thin skin is very common as we age and many people suffer from it. Thin skin is due to loss of protein and fat in the skin due to the aging process. Excessive sun exposure can be one cause. Steroid use can cause thin skin. At this time I have not studied the causes and treatment of age related thin skin but will mention any new findings I come across in the newsletter.

Q. I have had a problem with very dry skin especially on my legs. I have tried products like Aveeno and over the counter products. I had a girlfriend who suggested taking a tablespoon of olive oil everyday as she felt it would help from within not what you put on the skin.
   A. I have not studied the role of oils in dry skin treatment, but one option is to increase intake of fish oils, flax seed oil, coconut oil and olive oil. There are many over the counter dry skin moiturizers, and I have not looked into this field in any detail.

Q. I am a 48 year old woman. I stopped eating meat a year ago and eat veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, yogurt, cheeses and other such foods. I take B-12, flaxseed capsules, biotin supplement. I have noticed the skin on my arms are very creepy and wrinkly. It seems like it happen in the past 5 months. I work out everyday and do weight training 2 to 3 days a week and have since I was 18 years old. I am sick over this. I was always so proud to show off my arms for my muscle tone. Could this thin skin problem be a result from not eating meat? I have lost weight all over. I was always very petite never weighing more than 110 and am now at just around 100 to 103. I feel great internally. I feel younger and my workout routine is much easier. If were to start eating meat again would that help my skin or is it to me like this for good. I can't stand to see myself in short sleeves and it is very depressing. I live in the South so I can't avoid it. Yes, I do wear sunscreen.
   A. It's difficult to say whether not eating meat had a role to play in your skin health. One option is to resume eating meat to see if there are any changes in skin health after a few months.

Q. I also experienced what this woman did regarding meat and thin skin. I stopped eating meat and also developed thinning skin. This is without a large weight loss. I would say my entire body is less stocky than it was before. I also work out regularly. Eating meat is not an option for me since I cannot taste it or enjoy it anymore due to an accident I had (which caused anosmia). Please update the newsletter if you come across any new treatments for thinning skin.

Q. I have the following problem. Pale and impure complexion ("teint" in french), oily skin, paleness. i want to ask, if there are supplements, that improve skin bloodstream and help minimize pores and sebum. i want to look more "healthy". i look like a strong smoker, though i am sporty and slim.
-vitamin A -no result, more sebum (isotretinoin would help perhaps, but it VERY strong stuff)
-vitamin E, trying seems more sebum
-zinc : makes more pale! reduces sebum a bit, yes.. but for the price of dry and grey skin.
-copper : may it help reduce pimples ?!
-l-phenylalanine: though one does not read anything about improving acne, it helps a bit.
   A. Eating cold water fish and taking fish oil capsules are helpful for healthy skin. See the link for acne on this page for a discussion of foods that help with skin health.

Q. I was diagnosed with a skin disorder about 5 years ago called sebaceous hyperplasia. My entire life I had no problems with skin lesions or acne or pimples of any kind and actually was told how beautiful my skin was. It was oily but I did not break out. this disorder is not acne / pimples and was told acne treatments will not help this but they are skin tone or yellowish bumps on my face that will apparently continue to appear more and more as I age. Going from clear skin to getting this at the same time or close to menopause and all its adverse symptoms has seriously effected my self esteem and my ability to enjoy life or even like myself very much I have done so much searching on my own thru the internet and local doctors- the maca seems to be helping in some of the menopausal symptoms, which is good but not all including this skin disorder which is greatly effecting my emotional and social well-being. No one seems to know what causes it, although I've read alot about androgen effects and that it happens mostly in elderly men, however some women have it also, was told there is no cure and that I just have to live with it and that they feel it runs in families however no one in my family had or has this skin disorder, except me. I can't imagine living with sebaceous hyperplasia as it progressively gets worse or perhaps become deformed looking, the rest of my life.
   A. Sebaceous hyperplasia is a common, benign skin condition of sebaceous glands in adults of middle age or older. Lesions can be single or multiple and appear as yellowish, soft, small papules on the face (particularly nose, cheeks, and forehead).

What are some oral pill herbal suggestions for callusus on hands?
    I am not aware of any taken orally that would help calluses.

I stumbled upon your website by chance while surfing the net and i must say that i found it to be extremely informative. I desperately need your advice. I awoke one morning and discovered that my skin was completely void of all moisture (oil and water). My skin was extremely dehydrated with the texture of sandpaper with wrinkles and sagging which was not there the night before. The doctors still cannot explain why this happened other than it could have been due to a shock or stress or exhaustion. 18 months later, my skin has recovered some of the firmness but the oils never returned. Areas such as my back is still dry with rough patches and pigmentation. I did a blood test and it showed that although i am not premenopausal, my estrogen and progesterone is low. I was then advised by my doctor to take for 6 months the contraceptive pill known as YASMINE. I have been doing some research on this and i am not happy with the reviews of this product. Around the time i first experienced the symptoms and changes to the skin, I wrote to Dr Loren Picart and asked his advice. He told me to take for a short time MSM with 1000 mg of Vitamin C and 25 gms of DHEA to stop the cortisol level. I am now thinking to take the DHEA instead of the contraceptive pill. What would you advice me to do? I am so depressed about the dry itchy skin and i would love for the oils on my skin to return. Currently i take imedeen along with vitamin B complex, MSM, Vit C and Q10.
    I am not able to provide individual advice but perhaps some of the suggestions on this page could help you.

The subject is Morgellons - those ugly body lesions. Is their any natural treatment for this condition.
    I am not aware of a natural treatment for Morgellons disease at this time.

One question about Eyesight Rx. Many of the ingredients look like they would be good for skin too. Would the product help with natural sun protection (as astazanthin is sometimes promoted to do) or benefit the skin in any way?
    There are a lot of antioxidants in this formula that could help the skin but we don't have any specific research or feedback that has indicated any such benefit.