The sun has a bad reputation. For years we’ve been warned that being exposed to the sun will cause premature aging and skin cancer. And so to defend ourselves, we’ve diligently slathered on sunscreen. Sunscreen has enjoyed a shining reputation. We are reminded to use it constantly, not only when we go to the beach, but everyday…it has been added to our body lotions, our face creams and our cosmetics.
But are these reputations valid? Are the sun’s rays as dangerous as we’ve been told? Is the daily application of sunscreen a healthy alternative? Are all of us doomed to get skin cancer?
When we think of these options it’s important to consider the organ at stake…our skin, which is our body’s largest organ. About 60% of what put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream and is either excreted out via urine or it settles in our adipose (fat) cells, left to accumulate and pollute our body. So when we start slathering sunscreen on ourselves and loved ones, we should have a pretty good idea of what we’re putting on (and thus in) our bodies and how it’s going to affect us.
Recently the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that only 25% of the 800 sunscreens tested are effective in protecting your skin without the use of toxic ingredients. The two most potentially harmful ingredients, Oxybenzone and Retinyl palmitate, are in 40-60% of sunscreens and have been linked to skin tumors, skin cancer and endocrine disruption. Even more shocking is that the FDA has not changed labeling and safely guidelines for sunscreen since they were created in 1978. Presently, both Europe and Japan have made strides in approving natural ingredients for sunscreen, but these agents are not available in the US because the FDA won’t approve them.
The sun on the other hand, can be quite beneficial. The sun is actually required for our optimal health; it is responsible for some very necessary functions of our body such as:
- Vitamin D production (it has been found that 1 in 7 adults is Vitamin D deficient)
- Detoxification and enhancing our immune system
- Blood sugar regulation
- Stimulating our pineal gland which regulates several essential hormones
While the sun is linked to skin cancer, it is important to remember that moderation is key. The UVA rays of the sun do produce free radicals amongst the skin cells, and the number of free radicals increases when you are sunburned. If these free radicals are not neutralized they can damage skin cells and lead to more serious consequences. But, keep in mind that we are constantly exposed to free radicals! Our foods, our medications, the plastic that we drink our water from…we can’t escape free radicals. What we can do is ensure that our bodies are as healthy as possible so that they can neutralize free radicals and repair damaged cells.
This summer, don’t be afraid of getting some sun! Eat your fruits vegetables to make sure your body is getting the anti-oxidants it needs to fight free radicals. Cut back on sugar and processed foods that decrease the effectiveness of your immune system. Don’t sunbathe and avoid getting burned, if you do, apply aloe vera a soon as possible. Remember that the sun is most intense during 11:00-4:00 so if you’re going to be out during that time, cover up or purchase a high quality sunscreen. Enjoy your summer!
Some great sunscreens:
- Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen with Hydresia, SPF 40
- Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- 100% Pure Hydration Organic Pomegranate Antioxidant, SPF 20
- All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen Stick Skin Protectant, SPF 28
Supplements for Sunburned Skin
- Coenzyme Q10 increases oxygen to your cells to promote healing; it is also an anti-oxidant and a free-radical scavenger
- Vitamin C is essential for promoting tissue repair and healing
- Omega 3s found in salmon, flaxseed oil ,and coconut oil are important for tissue repair and skin health
- Vitamin A destroys free radicals and aids in tissue repair and rebuilding
- Green tea is a great antioxidant and inhibits the development of skin tumors by controlling inflammation and preventing cell damage.
What is Fibromyalgia, it is defined allopathically as a syndrome causing wide spread pain and tenderness in the soft tissues like joints, muscles and tendons. Allopathic medicine is yet to discover a cause to fibromyalgia, but theories suggest physical and emotional trauma, abnormality in the pain response, sleep disturbances, and infection are to blame. Treatment consists of a recommendation of physical therapy, exercise and fitness programs, stress relief and prescription of anti-depressants and muscle relaxants. The idea behind these treatments is to improve sleep and increase pain tolerance. Other treatments include cognitive therapy, lifestyle changes (diet, elimination of caffeine, sleep routine, and alternative therapies).
Acupuncturists views pain very differently than that of allopathic medicine. Oriental medicine understands pain as being the result of obstructions, constraints, and deficiency of qi and blood. Thus, fibromyalgia is a systematic disease involving the flow of qi and blood. Furthermore, oriental medicine views the liver as the organ, which controls the flow of qi, making the liver a primary focus by practitioners.
Some key symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are fatigue, stress, muscle weakness, sleep issues and of course pain. Fatigue tells the practitioner that there is a deficiency or either blood or qi. From there based on each individual case the practitioner will decide if it is a blood or qi deficiency and whether they deficiencies of yang or yin. Stress tells the practitioner that there is constraint of blood or qi. Muscle weakness and digestive issues are commonly associated with spleen deficiency. Lastly sleep issues suggest heart blood deficiency. Each case varies on an individual basis and your practitioner will take this into consideration for your specific situation.
Common treatments for fibromyalgia include acupuncture and herbal treatment. Acupuncture invigorates the flow of qi and blood by stimulating specific points in or around the region where pain is experienced. On the contrary, depending on each individual, points distal to the region of pain will be used to lead blood and qi away from area or congestion, as in the case of a serve blockage. Acupuncture for pain of fibromyalgia is very effective.
Natural treatments of fibromyalgia include Some basic Chinese herbs used to treat fibromyalgia in combination with one another are bai shao, qin jiao, du huo, yan hu sou, yu jin, tao ren, hong hua, mu dan pi, da zao, and gan cao. The objectives to using these herbs are to increase establish a strong flow of qi and blood reducing pain, alliviate stress and anxiety and tonify the liver and spleen.
For more information check our our Denver Acupuncture Clinic, and download your Free Easy Guide to Living Healthy with Chinese Medicine.
How Does Acupuncture Works
The most common definition for how does acupuncture works in the west is described in regards to qi and the flow or lack there of through the body. Qi is often referred to as the invisible energy that flows through channels of the body referred to as meridians. Disease is thus the blockages of qi flow either localized or systematically. Qi may also be weak or too strong resulting in disease. Acupuncture, the insertion of small needles into the channels, unblocks and preserves a continuous strong flow of qi. Beyond the mystical description of acupuncture, there is a scientific evidence based explanation for how acupuncture works.
Taking the terminology of acupuncture and translating the concepts into a understandable and practical ideas is essential to gaining a firm understanding of how acupuncture works. First, take the idea of the energy qi and transform the mysterious energy into what is absorbed on each inhale, oxygen. Second take the idea of meridians, the channels in which the mysterious qi flows, and assume they are real, anatomical vessels filled with blood, which is the primary transport of oxygen to the whole body. Lastly the points where acupuncture needles are inserted have been found to be anatomically, bundles of nerves ending, which are stimulated by the needles.
Chinese Acupuncture has three primarily actions, which counter disease: pain relief, reduction of inflammation and homeostasis restoration. Acupuncture succeeds at achieving these effects through a variety of basic mechanisms caused by stimulation of the nerve bundles located at acupuncture points. The first mechanism of how needles create an effect is vasodilatation to the area of disease. The next mechanism is the needles stimulate the bodies healing potential to the area of disease. In addition to stimulating healing, the needles also cause a release of the bodies natural pain killing chemicals like endorphins. Lastly, as anyone who has been to an acupuncturist knows, the sessions creates an environment of total relaxation which can allow patients to let go of any tension being stored in the muscles and take a break from the stress of living life.
To sum it up, qi is oxygen, being inhaled into the body sustaining life. Blood carries oxygen throughout the body through vessels. When oxygen decreases to certain parts of the body disease occurs causing pain, inflammation, and lack of homeostasis. An insertion of a acupuncture needle stimulates the nervous system causing vasodilatation, healing mechanisms, pain killer release, and muscle relaxation, in a proper environment where healing can occur to its full potential.
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