Over the last ten years, I have frequently consulted African Americans on a number of skin related problems such as sensitive skin, excessive oiliness, acne, spotting and tonal unevenness, ashiness, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, boils and athlete's foot. Some people just wanted a "quick fix". Others, still having to see themselves in the mirror each morning, were not happy about what they saw.
Skin eruptions of any kind is nature's way of getting our attention when we're off wandering in the wilderness. According to African holistic principles, most skin eruptions are caused by eating poor food combinations, animal meat, denatured foods, bleached flours, dairy, white sugar and from chemicals contained in commercial cosmetics, to name a few. All of these things create congestion and toxins in the body.
The skin is not just a covering to hold bones and muscles together. The skin is actually the largest elimination system that the body has and it communicates to us. Almost everything that we see happening to us, on the surface level, is reflective of a condition going on inside.
Through holistic health science, we know that each cell in the body has intelligence and memory. If we stop putting the poisons in the body that are causing the problems and nutritionally-support the weakened system while it repairs itself, then most of the time we can reverse the damage that we've done. The same principle must be applied to the skin.
You have probably heard the age-old saying, "you are what you eat." But we are also what we wear, what we breathe, and what we think. The thoughts we think, etch themselves on our face because they affect our water soluble vitamins and many of our minerals very quickly. It's hard to think or feel negative emotions without affecting your B vitamins and your potassium levels. When potassium and sodium levels are out of balance, deep lines start to appear on the ears, cheeks and forehead.
There are basically two general types of skin diseases according to Yorubic medicine: Oshun imbalance and Ogun imbalance. Oshun imbalance is the result of a overload of the eliminative systems especially those affecting the kidneys, colon, and liver networks throughout the Orisha modes. This theory is also in agreement with the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizing Yin and Yang polarities in the body. If we consume too much animal protein, there will be a buildup of urea and other toxic wastes, which does not allow the kidneys to satisfactorily discharge the toxins. If white sugar is added to the diet, it will precipitate a too active discharge resulting in skin eruptions.
Melanin and Skin Health
Without a doubt, melanin, the substance responsible for producing dark skin pigment in people of color is one of the important aspects when considering skin care. Melanin is a gift from the Creator which serves to protect the body and makes communication with the environment possible. Melanin is responsible for manufacturing and sustaining life and it keeps the black human in constant contact with the natural energies of the universe. (Refer to Diagram 1.)
Diagram 1. Biochemistry of Black Skin
Dr Carol Barnes in his book, Melanin: The Chemical Key to Black Greatness, indicates that melanin is a biopolymer of undetermined size. A polymer is a linkage of small units which forms a chemical chain or a large, complex molecule. Therefore, melanin is a very large, complicated and complex living molecule. It has a very high molecular weight, meaning that one molecule of melanin is composed of a three-dimensional configuration of over 200 individual atoms. It is a living molecule, a life chemical, and it is charged like a battery. In fact, it operates like a battery or super-conductor, yet it is heat resistant and is characterized by a nice, sweet fragrance.
Melanin is found not only in the skin, hair and eyes, but it is also contained in many other vital parts of the body as well. It is in the nervous system, the glands, the brain, the genes, the muscles, intestines, heart and liver. It is through these melanized organs, or networks that the skin receives its healthy vibrations. So, it is important that we understand the significance of melanin in our efforts to maintain and enhance our skin complexion.
You and your skin is a product of what you eat, think and drink, and your body responds to all three. Dr. Jewel Pookrum states in her book, Melanin - The Basics, that there is also a relationship between the immune system and melanin, especially in black people. Dr. Pookrum describes in detail the chemistry behind melanin and how it becomes toxic when the body is exposed to various substances, such as chemicals, cosmetics, drugs and food. When some of these substances enter the body, they bind with melanin and confuses the body and its skin, so it cannot maintain the life functions the way pure melanin is suppose to. Melanin when toxic, loses its ability to function properly and this results in physical and spiritual diseases, and "skin disorientations".
Quite often I have treated black women who had skin problems around the mouth, or eye areas. Those are the weakest areas on the face, so toxins will erupt in those areas first. In most cases, these women were using make-up which contained artificial colors. Most women experience rashes, marks, and pimples. This is the body's way of communicating that it is under toxic load. The artificial colors in the eye make-up are basically the last straw. In most of the cases I have diagnosed, I found that those same ladies also consumed quite a bit of sugar. Because sugar is assimilated in the mouth, it will immediately weaken the immune system so there is nothing left to fight against the attack of artificial colors. The invading chemicals alter the chemical structure of melanin, alter its electrical charge and damage its electronic configuration. All commercially made cosmetics have a toxic effect on melanin.
The use of colors to make-up the face and body was derived from the ancient Egyptians. Europeans, however, misinterpreted this ancient African science, and distorted the original purpose of color science and called it make-up which is primarily used to cover and decorate the skin. In ancient Africa, colors were rubbed on the face to excite healing of disease. Colors were extracted from medicinal plants and metals. The ancient Egyptians discovered that colors derived from plants have a wholistic healing effect on the body and its organs.
Wound healing is a natural restorative response to tissue injury. Healing is the interaction of a complex cascade of cellular events that generates resurfacing, reconstitution, and restoration of the tensile strength of injured skin. Healing is a systematic process, traditionally explained in terms of 3 classic phases: inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. A clot forms and inflammatory cells debride injured tissue during the inflammatory phase. Epithelialization, fibroplasia, and angiogenesis occur during the proliferative phase. Meanwhile, granulation tissue forms and the wound begins to contract. Finally, during the maturation phase, collagen forms tight cross-links to other collagen and with protein molecules, increasing the tensile strength of the scar.
For the sake of discussion and understanding, the process of wound healing may be considered a series of separate events. In actuality, the entire process is much more complicated, as cellular events that lead to scar formation occur in tandem. Many aspects of wound healing have yet to be elucidated. Surgeons should have an understanding of the process of wound healing to help produce scars that are cosmetically pleasing and do not impair function.
An image depicting a hypertrophic scar can be seen below.Hypertrophic scarring and keloids. Hypertrophic scars on neck with raised features within scar margins.