Introduction to the Skin Care Section

As part of our programs of health and wellness at the Wellness Store, we provide on-site skin care experts and estheticians, as well as nutritional counselors, to help our customers with their needs. We recognize that skin problems are an outward manifestation of problems inside the body and the skin is a good gauge of internal health. For this reason, we have developed a program of skin care, which we can "Beauty from Within."

Customers utilizing our "Beauty from Within" program will receive counseling regarding the nutritional approaches to healthy skin, as well as the guidance of our skin and facial care specialists, for a comprehensive approach to their life-long skin care goals. In turn, our customers feel better, have nicer skin and a more complete understanding of their health as it relates to their skin and particular health condition. You could compare it to a great car repair business that keeps the engine working well as it details and polishes the car exterior.

I have included some interesting letters related to skin care problems below. I would also like to introduce our online customers to our outstanding natural skin care products, as well as offer opportunities to online customers to receive counseling from the Wellness Store, to help them understand that skin care is much more than creams, lotions and cosmetics. We can take care of you, from the inside out! Contact me at the Wellness Store for more information about our complete approach to skin care and experience complete "Beauty from Within."

Skin Health Through Nutrition: Acne

Dear DT,

While there are many reasons to consider nutritional approaches to skin care, the most common is acne. We have found that taking good care of the inside of the body can really make a difference in the outside. The skin is a reflection of what is happening inside the body, as hormones, fats, sugars and waste elements all cause problems with the skin's appearance.

Therefore, the nutritional approach to skin care centers on the process of detoxification; in essence, a clean interior of the body will result in a cleaner exterior. When the liver and other detoxification channels function properly and the digestive function operates properly; the result will be cleaner blood and by extension, cleaner skin.

An unhealthy skin condition (such as acne) exists as oils, produced by sebaceous glands, are contained in a pore sac and not allowed to escape properly from the skin. The blocked pore(s) create an environment for bacteria to flourish and the skin pore can become inflamed as a result. Overactive glands producing excessive amounts of oil can produce acne, as more bacteria are caught in the pore by the oil.

Many conditions can contribute to the problem, including androgenic effect, stress, allergies, poor diet (or simply the wrong diet), nutritional deficiencies, excessive saturated or hydrogenated fats, airborne pollutants, menses cycles and hormonal swings, and certain medications (particularly hormonal medications). Further, topical applications can affect acne development, such as allergenic cosmetic use or excessive cleansing and abrasion of the skin.

Increased levels of hormones may cause acne in adults. Shifts in androgens can create this occurrence in males and adult women in hormone replacement therapy or menopause may be effected.

Two noticeable forms of acne are blackheads and whiteheads, caused as sebaceous oil build-up combines with pigment and clogs the pores. Whiteheads are only an extension of this process, as continued build-up, or sebum, forms in the sac under the pores. Should the sac puncture, the bacteria can spread topically and the process is repeated. Should the build-up accumulate and remain latent, there is a possibility that a cyst could form.

The largest organ in the body, the skin is an outward manifestation of the physical health within. The five layers of the organ each perform a different task for the body and skin cells are produced in the inward most layer and eventually die and are lost by abrasion on the outward layer.

The skin performs many functions. It insulates the body from the elements. It serves as an elimination organ by excising toxins that the kidneys and liver fail to eliminate. In doing so, the skin suffers from the toxin's effects. This could be a major contributor to several skin disorders, including acne.

Below, I have outlined some suggestions to consider in aiding your "skin from within".

* Probiotics will help nutrient absorption and aid in a cleaner colon. Many pathogens are corralled in the colon, and it is essential to keep it clean and free of plaque build-up. Probiotics will aid in the body's natural detoxification process, and will help the body deal with bacteria prior to its negative effects on sebum and blood. It is important in skin care that the gastrointestinal tract remains at an optimal functioning level. The use of Fiber and
Probiotics can aid in this function. For clean skin, it is crucial that nutrient absorption is fully optimized and these nutritional products may aid in doing so. Dietary enzymes may also be of benefit, helpful in breaking down fats and carbohydrates that may freely float in the system.
* To maintain healthy skin, it is necessary to maintain healthy blood. The role of
antioxidants is crucial to this process. Vitamins A, E, C, and the minerals Zinc and Selenium protect the body's immune system and prevent the growth of pathogens and free radicals. Selenium helps to keep the skin elastic and smooth. Antioxidants also play an invaluable role in protecting the skin from sun damage and pollution (metals) that may cause the formation of foam cells or sebum blocking.
* It may be necessary (in more extreme cases) for the body to utilize a process known as chelation, in which metals are pulled from the system using several key antioxidants and EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid). EDTA chelation is a therapy by which repeated administrations of the weak synthetic amino acid may gradually reduce atherosclerotic plaque and other mineral deposits throughout the cardiovascular system by literally dissolving them away. The side benefit of this circulatory procedure is the cleansing and detoxifying of metals and minerals that may manifest problems in the sebum canals and hence the skin.

* B vitamins are important for maintaining proper blood flow to the skin and supporting healthy skin tone. Pantothenic acid (B-5) is especially important, as it helps to support the adrenal gland and easing stress. Often, skin problems are the result of excess hormones and stress build-up, so it is important to maintain healthy adrenal functioning. Most B vitamins play a role in skin tone and also support the immune system in its efforts to recognize, attack and neutralize potential pathogenic influence.
* Essential Fatty Acids are important, as they supply gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which breaks down fats that might clog pores. EFA's also keep the skin supple and help to repair damaged cells of the skin. A side benefit of the use of supplemental essential fatty acids is their influence in the gastrointestinal tract.
* Natural antibiotics are beneficial. Garlic supplements, taken with meals, are especially effective at maintaining cleaner blood and destroying bacteria. Added garlic to the diet, perhaps the best method of utilizing the beneficial elements of the herb, will aid in circulation and cleansing.

* From an herbal standpoint, blood cleansers such as dandelion root, burdock root, red clover, and milk thistle are important. Milk thistle has a targeted function of supporting liver health and detoxification. Dandelion, burdock and red clover are all well known for their benefit in cleansing the blood. Echinacea and Goldenseal may also be used for a limited time, (4 days on, 3 days off) for heavier cases of acne.

* For topical help, try tea tree oil. Use this natural anti-bacterial sparingly, as it is potent. If using the essential oil, dilute with water, (3-4 drops w/1/4 cup water) and dab with clean cotton cloth. Switch to tea tree soap for cleansing. IMPORTANT: never vigorously rub the skin during cleaning. Scrubbing the body can actually make the condition worse.

Some other ideas to consider include:

* Maintain a high fiber diet to keep detoxification pathways cleaner. Fiber is perhaps the most important element to maintaining healthy skin, as it allows for proper elimination of excess fats and cholesterol. It is also important as a dietary measure to prevent varicose veins, which often are caused by ruptures in vessels due to constipation.
* Acne has been referred to as "diabetes of the skin." It is important that the diet be addressed, particularly regarding sugar and sugar-strong foods. Try eliminating sugar, dairy, chocolate, foods with hydrogenated oils, and soft drinks. Supporting proper glucose metabolism may reduce the incidence of free-floating sugars.
* Bathing, rather than showering, may provide for cleaner skin. Children experiencing acne may not have the necessary sanitation skills, and bathing with cleansing bath solutions will improve these habits.
* Drinking more water is important for those experiencing skin conditions. Water aids in the body's detoxification and transportation of nutrients.

We also provide you with some excellent skin care products as you work on your acne condition. For more information about these products, contact us at the Wellness Store.

Skin Health Through Nutrition: Dry Skin

We see a great many people in the Wellness Store with dry skin. While there are certainly many types of moisturizers and creams available to help replenish skin oils, you must ask yourself why the skin is dry in the first place. When the skin is dry, there must be a reason other than the elements. If you see dry skin around, let's say, your elbows, or perhaps you notice bumpy skin along the back of your upper arm, it could be that you are deficient in essential fatty acids.

Since the early 1970's, when we were first introduced to "no fat" diets, skin problems have escalated. Cases of eczema, psoriasis and dry scalp conditions may all be tied to depletions of the body's stores of essential fatty acids. Now that we are more aware of "good" fats, it is important to consume these healthful foods, particularly if you are concerned about your skin. (For a complete understanding of fats, click here for an article on fat metabolism and the right types of fats to consume.)

Foods that are high in essential fatty acids are fish (cold water fish are best, such as salmon, albacore tuna, halibut and cod), nuts (almonds and walnuts are great sources) and some plant foods (like avocados). You might also consider an essential fatty acid supplement. You can click here for some excellent choices.

Nourish your dry skin from inside and outside the body. The foods that will help with dry skin are also great foods for your overall health. For more information, contact me or stop by the Wellness Store for suggestions.

Questions about Health?
Ask "Mike"
For Consultation with Jerry "Michael" Casso R.Ph.
Phone: (504) 888-3077


Age Spots

Dear Mike,

My mom has a number of dark spots on her skin and I do not want them. Are they hereditary? How can I naturally prevent them from happening to my skin?

EY, New Orleans

Dear EY,

Pigment in the skin often changes, causing dark spots to develop on the skin. These are called age spots. These flat brown spots appear on the skin as it ages. But rest easy; they do not appear to be hereditary. Age spots are also referred to as liver spots. Most age spots appear on the face or hands, and sometimes on the neck. While they are harmless, these spots may be signs of problems occurring under the surface of the skin.

Age spots are actually a buildup of wastes, known as lipofuscins. These pockets of waste are byproducts of free radical damage to the skin. The spots are signs that the cells are full of the very type of wastes that can destroy cells of the body, particularly the brain and liver. These spots appear as a result of a poor diet, lack of exercise, poor liver function, an over-accumulation of oils and…yes, you guessed it, TOO MUCH SUN! Exposure to the sun causes development of the toxins known as free radicals. Most people that develop age spots live or have lived in sunny climates or worked in the sun through their life.

If I tell you that you can prevent them by staying out of the sun, the chapter would end here, you would think I was crazy, and you would not have the benefit of knowing about the nutrition part. Besides, how many of you would really stay out of the sun, given the advice? The truth is; people with skin problems such as melanomas do not think staying out of the sun is silly advice. I will instead suggest that you use sunscreen, avoid high UV times of the day if possible, and use common sense when in the full sun.

If spots occur as a result of a poor diet, there is not enough room left in the chapter for advice and let's just say that there are so many reasons NOT to have a poor diet, well, it goes without saying. Eat well!

Exercise is also noted and we should exercise properly. Heck, you can take an hour out of your day to devote to your body, can't you? Sadly, sometimes we don't.

A slightly faster than normal walk for 20 minutes can effectively support the heart, aid in daily digestion and control weight. A 20-minute walk (with five more to get you going and five to slow you down) is a great form of exercise so enough said on that advice. When you walk, be careful of the sun!

From a nutritional standpoint, age spots should be addressed by supporting the systems that protect against free radical damage. The liver should also be nourished, and while we are at it, digestion in general should be considered. Antioxidants are the crucial defenders against free radicals in the body and on the skin. Vitamins A, E, C, zinc, selenium, CoQ10, and B vitamins all protect the body. Obviously a good multivitamin program should be considered, as well as making certain you are eating your fruits and vegetables.

Be careful with your seeds and nuts, and oils used in the kitchen. Exposure of these oils to heat or air can result in rancidity. Rancid oils have been linked with liver spots. Supporting the digestive system, which includes the liver, is key to good skin. Proper dietary fiber and good probiotic health can keep your body free of toxins and support the liver, as well as the skin. Probiotic supplements (containing beneficial bacteria) protects the digestive tract and the immune system, both of which are crucial to good skin health

Herbs have been used to cleanse the liver, and they include Milk thistle, Burdock root, and Red clover. These herbs have been shown to aid the liver in detoxifying the blood and liver tissue. Milk thistle, in particular, is a well-tested liver support product and is used by many Hepatitis C sufferers. It is also helpful after a night of fun involving alcohol. By the way, too much alcohol isn't great for the skin.

There has been a lot of buzz lately about the facial peels to cleanse the skin. Alpha Hydoxy Acid (AHA) peels are available, as well as antioxidant creams, to aid in the topical support for the skin. Seek out an expert in skin care, particularly a trained esthetician, to help you understand the proper use and safety of chemical skin exfoliants.

It is usually a good idea to have your skin examined, particularly if you live in a sunny area. I also suggest that a good aesthetician, a licensed facial expert, help you with the chemical and natural-based peels. Herbal wraps are also used to cleanse the skin and can be of great help to the skin.

Creams and lotions that contain antioxidants are also available. Vitamin E is zapped from the body under exposure to the sun. Vitamin C protects the sun from photo aging. Supplementing these nutrients in both nutritional and dermal applications just makes sense. Men and women can benefit from a day at the spa or facial parlor. It is relaxing and can really help your skin. Exposure to the spa experience is worth the time and money. Men not taking advantage of the spa or "spa-like" treatments available because some macho thing prevents it…well, they should reconsider.

Feeling vibrant as we age are the manliest things I can think of and looking good and healthy at 60 or 70, well that is what I call macho. We offer cutting-edge topical products to help you.

Questions about Health?
Ask "Mike"
For Consultation with Jerry "Michael" Casso R.Ph.
Phone: (504) 888-3077


Protect your Skin and Eyes from the Sun: Naturally

Dear Mike,

I understand you need to use sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun, but even when I use it, I get dry skin or blotches. Do you have any other suggestions how I can protect myself.

OL, Morgan City

Dear OL,

This is a great time of year for sharing some information about taking care of the body in the sun. Every year, there are new displays of sunscreens and skin care items, and yet we still see many cases of overexposure. According to many scientists worldwide, the sun is becoming more dangerous. It certainly shows in the rise of skin cancer.

As a result, we are much more exposed to dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays, and this is a grave concern. The associative damage to skin and eyes is increasing dramatically. Skin cancer is now the most prevalent of all malignant diseases, rising 10 to 20% annually. UV damage to the human skin has been studied increasingly, as well. Researchers have found that UV radiation not only has a carcinogenic effect on the skin and also suppresses the immune system, which reduces the defenses against cancer.

Skin cancer happens in stages. UV radiation causes skin damage, by upsetting the balance of free radicals to the antioxidant properties of the skin. This causes an alteration of the DNA and damage to the fats, proteins, enzymes and other cell tissue. As a result of this damage, there is a greater opportunity for cancerous formation. Inflammation, pigmentation changes and the resulting damage to the immune system are collateral damage, but as important.

UV Radiation Damages the Eyes

Damage to the eyes is another consideration of UV radiation. Prolonged exposure of the rays can damage the retina and can cause a marked change in visual acuity, leading to macular degeneration and glaucoma. UV exposure may also deplete the antioxidant capacity in the retina, causing yet more free radical activity.

Obviously, it is impossible for most people to stay out of the sun. Studies have shown that complete avoidance of the sun can also cause problems, including the deprivation of several nutrients, which the body absorbs from sunlight.

There are some obvious methods of protecting yourself from the harmful effects of the sun. Wearing protective clothing, covering the head and eyes with UV resistance materials just makes sense. Please ignore that old tale of getting a good burn once a year to start off the tanning season. When the skin has not been exposed to direct light, it is most vulnerable to damage. So, forget that old wife's tale.

Skin care companies have made great strides in protecting the skin in the sun and, if you have not been covering the skin with UV-protective sunscreen, now is the time to start. I also recommend creams and lotions that contain antioxidants. Vitamin A, E, and C come in topical form. You can contact us for more information about these topical products or click here to view them.

Studies are also showing that nutrition can play an important role in protecting the body from the sun. Keep the skin moist and hydrated. It must be lubricated to transport nutrients. When outside, drink plenty of water (bottled is better, you boaters!)

Sun Protection for the Skin and Eyes Can Come From your Foods!

Now that we know about the free radical damage in the skin and eyes, we can offer the skin (and the rest of the body) antioxidant protection, which can come from both foods and nutritional supplements. UV rays deplete vitamin E from the skin. Replacing the nutrient in both a nutritional and a topical manner may help protect the skin. Vitamin E oil should be considered after a time in the sun, to aid in replenishing the nutrient at the skin and sub-dermal levels.

Another antioxidant to consider both in a dietary and topical manner is vitamin C. Studies have shown that vitamin C provides protection because it absorbs neither UVA nor UVB. It is also important for photo-aging of the skin, which is a warning of cancerous activity. Beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A, also protects the skin, the eyes and the immune system, from radiation-based damage.

The eyes can also benefit from consuming antioxidants. Additionally, the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin have shown to be quite protective of the retina. These are a form of vitamin A, known as alpha-carotenoids. How can you get these nutrients into the body? I would start by EATING YOUR VEGETABLES! It is the best way to insure you are getting enough antioxidant protection. You can also take a quality antioxidant nutritional formula, containing both the vitamins and minerals.

Whether you are in the garden, on the beach, on the river, at the ballpark, or anywhere you enjoy the outdoors, take some precautions. Stay away from the burn, keep your body hydrated and nourished, and wear the proper protective lotions and clothing.

For more information about supporting your body with nutrition and topical lotions and creams, contact us or stop by the Wellness Store today!

What you put on your Skin…You also Eat!!!
Make Smart Skin Care Choices

Did you know –

…the skin is the largest organ in the body?

…the body will absorb what is put on the skin and must be in perfect working order to completely neutralize its effects?

…the skin is an important part of the immune system?

…the skin's appearance is dependent on drinking adequate amounts of water?

…the key to clear, blemish-free skin lies in consuming proper vitamins and minerals from foods and nutritional supplements?

Skin care is a very important part of your total Wellness program. The skin is the largest organ in the body and depends on nutrition just as any other organ does. The skin is a series of protective layers that grow from the inside out and must be nourished by important nutrients, such as antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. The flow through the skin is like a two-way street. The skin may absorb pollutants, particles of chemicals and other objects, which can block the pores or worse, find their way into the bloodstream. Conversely, the skin may be subjected to particles from the bloodstream, which can also block pores, causing problems with outbreaks, dry skin, rashes, etc.

The skin is an important part of the body's defense systems. It is a valuable part of the immune system's efforts of protecting the important organs or systems. As the articles above mention, the skin needs protection from antioxidants, both on the skin and through its food sources, to keep radiation and free radical damage from prematurely killing cells and causing dangerous problems. It also needs essential fatty acids to maintain its suppleness.

Disorders of the skin are among the most common complaints found in the pharmacy today. From acne to eczema, people are finding that taking care of the skin means much more than attention to the body's exterior. Simply understanding the importance of drinking water and eating proper foods can make a difference in the skin's appearance and health. Taking care of your skin means taking care of your health.

Just as what you eat, the body uses or tries to eliminate, so does what you put on your skin cause positive and negative effects. What you put on your skin, in essence, you eat. This is an important consideration, given the contaminants in the water and the chemicals in skin care products and the constant barrage of environmental toxins. Making smart choices in skin care is just as important as food choices.

I have recognized in my practice that health, wellness and beauty are more than skin deep. Recognizing the importance of skin care in the overall Wellness picture, I have stocked the Wellness Store with some of the most nutritious, natural and effective skin care on the market. I have also included estheticians as valuable members of the Wellness Store staff, to offer the most professional skin care consultations and products I can offer.

The Wellness Store skin care professionals work with me in consultations to assure our customers that they will receive important information about how to maintain their skin, from within and without. We provide both nutritional and topical solutions in support of the skin and we feel this approach is the most comprehensive available today. You can contact me or my staff with questions, by e-mail, telephone or simply stopping by one of our locations, in Metairie and Mandeville. We also have some of our most outstanding products available online, by clicking here.

Stop by the Wellness Store today, for skin-enhancing treatments, and important nutritional advice for the skin. Our most important contribution to our beauty comes from within! Call or e-mail us today!

Mike Casso, R.Ph.