by Mishelle Knuteson M.H.

In level 100 of The School of Natural Healing's Master Herbalist program (the Family Herbalist course) a student learns that the four eliminative channels of the body are bowels, kidneys, lungs and skin. The skin often is over looked as a channel of elimination. It is the largest organ of the body so it would pay for us to become more aware of our skin.

The four major functions of the skin are:

Protection against infection
Protection against dehydration (drying)
Regulation of body temperature
Collection of sensory information

Dr Christopher states, "The skin is a very important part of the body, it is an extra kidney, an extra set of lungs for breathing and has many other functions. We should keep it in good condition, important as it is, but we usually treat it shamefully."

The most important factors in caring for the skin are those that ensure good general heath. Things to be aware of in caring for your skin are:

Regular cleansing - Bathe daily. You don't need to use soap each time you bathe. When you do use soap use a biodegradable liquid soap. Nearly all bar soaps do more damage than good to the skin because they leave a residue that clogs pores. "The pores are the doors and windows of the temple and must be kept open to let oxygen (the breath of life) and to excrete toxins and waste" said Dr Christopher. To help remove any build up on the skin refer back to June 17, 2009 Herbal Legacy Newsletter on "The Dry Brushing Technique."
Take a bath - Bathing with mineral sea salts is great for the skin. It draws out impurities, softens, smoothes and restores moisture balance, heals irritations and scars and encourages the skin to renew itself. Plus it is soooo relaxing!
Sun exposure - In the book Curing the Incurables Dr Christopher states, "The sun is the world's greatest doctor but must be used by building up the exposed time in the sun gradually so as not to burn. Do not be alarmed by articles in national publications each spring, warning people to avoid sunbathing, saying it is cancer-forming. The sun cannot cause cancer. When you do not gradually increase the use of it but lie in the sun for long lengths of time and burn (weekend warrior), certainly it is dangerous for it will cause severe toxic burn."
Nutrition - Bad skin is almost always related back to a bad diet and lack of exercise. Following the Mucusless Diet will ensure that body is getting the nutrition it needs to have glowing skin. Foods rich in the essential fatty acids found in walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil can help skin cells stay hydrated. Drinking at least 1 ounce of pure water (distilled) per pound of body weight will also help to hydrate the body from the inside out.
Barrier- Your skin acts as a barrier to the world, yet it is not impenetrable. That is why many of the healing practices we use are fomentations, oils, ointments etc. The skin will absorb much of what is placed on it. "Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream, causing toxic effects" (EXTOXNET). Some say absorption through the skin is more dangerous than through the mouth. What is absorbed through the skin doesn't go through the digestive system where enzymes break them down and detoxify them. What is absorbed through the skin goes directly to the bloodstream without being filtered through the liver. So it is very wise to be aware of what you are placing on your skin so that it will bring healing and life.

For recipes on creating you own healthy and natural body care products Christopher Publications carries a great book, "Natural Beauty Basics" by Dorie Byers, R.N.