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Unlocking the secrets of skin health with functional medicine – and Dr. Will Cole
While skincare is about treating the symptoms, we are much more into solving the root causes. Like with neurocosmetics – slowing down accelerated aging in skin and increasing tissue regeneration – the Functional Medicine focuses on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of illness and disease, rather than simply treating symptoms. This holistic approach looks at the whole person and complex interactions between genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle choices. The goal is to empower you to take control of your own health and achieve optimal well-being by addressing the underlying causes of your chronic health issues. In the context of skin health, it’s about evaluating your diet and nutrition, as well as any potential underlying factors that may be contributing to skin concerns, like hormonal imbalances or gut issues.
Where to start? What to do in your 30s, 40s, 50s to make your skin keep up with your high spirit? Our founder, Katarzyna Janocha, talks to Dr. Will Cole, leading functional medicine expert, IFMCP, DC, DNM, and author of the NYT-bestsellers, Intuitive Fasting and Gut Feelings.
Katarzyna Janocha: Many skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, rashes, eczema or rosacea may be caused by imbalances in the functioning of the organism or its particular processes. How to distinguish if what you need is a visit to the dermatologist or a functional medicine doctor?
Dr Will Cole: Your skin is a window to what is going on underneath the surface, whether it is an inflammatory response or a hormone imbalance. While a dermatologist is able to help you find products that can help soothe current breakouts and fight acne on a surface level, a functional medicine doctor can help you prevent breakouts from ever forming by determining the root cause of why you are breaking out in the first place.
KJ: What does the diagnosis by a functional medicine doctor look like? What is the methodology behind tracking the root causes of symptoms we see on our skin?
WC: Your functional medicine doctor will look at your complete health history and run labs to look at all areas of your health – gut dysfunction, hormone imbalances, food intolerances, etc. This comprehensive look at your health will help determine the underlying dysfunctions that could be contributing to inflammation and skin problems.
KJ: What happens next? How do you approach relationships, emotional and stress background which are also an essential part of the functional medcine?
WC: Recommendations can vary depending on your level of stress and past emotional experiences. For someone who has a lot of trauma in their past or currently, I always advise working with a qualified counselor who can make referrals for additional types of therapy. On the functional medicine side, we work on lowering the stress response through wellness tools like meditation and breathwork as well as supplements and diet that help rebalance cortisol, your body’s stress hormone.
KJ: Cortisol has an immense influence on skin, causing chronic inflammation and accelerating aging processes on the cellular level. But there is so much more to add. While skin is a permeable barrier, how can we support our organism in detoxifying, so that our skin is free from inflammation? Is the healthy gut enough to keep the skin smooth and glowing? What is the role of skincare?
WC: A healthy gut is the ultimate foundation for glowing skin. Not only is it going to help support your detoxification system it is also going to help stabilize hormones that can contribute to hormonal acne. Everything from the personal care products you use to the food you eat can contain toxins and other ingredients that can lead to inflammation, gut dysfunction, imbalanced hormones, and poor detoxification. Clean skincare can help you maintain a healthy skin microbiome and proper moisture without contributing to further inflammation and toxin load. Skincare can also help you fight off current acne formation and soothe inflammation on a surface level.
KJ: What is the reason behind sudden problems with skin among menopausal women? Is hormone therapy the only way to support the smooth transition to the next period?
WC: Your hormones are the chemical messengers of your body. In women, imbalanced levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, can lead to the formation of acne. Since menopause can throw off the ideal balance of these hormones, working with a functional medicine practitioner can be a great option as they can help mitigate these hormone changes through natural supplements, diet, and lifestyle tools.
KJ: Could you give some practical tips – must follow guidelines – regarding the supplements, diet and lifestyle during menopause?
WC: Supporting your hormones is one of the biggest things you can do during menopause. Getting enough sleep is the easiest thing you can do as this is when your body restores itself and is necessary for hormone production. Also make sure to eat enough healthy fats as they are essential for hormone production as well. Some of my favorites include avocados, hemp seeds, and wild-caught salmon.
KJ: What is the best way to prepare your skin to go through the hormonal storm when you are still in your 30s, 40s, 50s?
WC: Switching your skincare products to brands that use clean ingredients is the first step, followed by cleaning up your diet. This will lay the foundation for healthier, balanced hormones and mitigate the need for extreme adjustments as time goes along because you are already doing the things necessary to keep your hormones healthy.
For more information on the differences between the two types of aging: intrinsic and extrinstc – the first one being a naturally occurring physiological process while the second being triggered by external environmental factors including the quality of air and water, the type of diet, smoking and unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, head to „All the faces of aging” in our Journal. To learn more about the inflammation in skin and possible ways to prevent it, „Skin, the burning problem” is a must-read. And for a check-up regarding your skin concerns vs. potential cortisol overload, start with „When the stress shows”.
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