WHAT IS DANDRUFF (i.e. DRY SCALP?)
Dandruff is a very common condition that can be cause for some embarrassment. By the age of 20, about 50 percent of Americans have suffered an outbreak. A small amount of flaking is normal as skin cells do die and flake off your scalp, but some people experience an unusually large amount of flaking, either chronically or as a result of certain triggers. Dandruff may also be accompanied by redness and irritation.
Dandruff is believed to be caused by a fungal infection, specifically a species called pityriasis capitis. Another yeast-like fungus, malassezia globosa, has also been implicated. The fungi live on your scalp, feeding on skin oils.
The malassezia globosa fungus uses enzymes called lipases to metabolize the oils, creating a by-product called oleic acid. The acid penetrates your skin and triggers skin cell shedding.
Grossed out yet? Me too.
The most commonly used treatments for dandruff and dry scalp are Selsun Blue or Head & Shoulders. In its basic formulation, these shampoos contain selenium sulfide as the active ingredient. Selenium sulfide is an anti-fungal agent which may be helpful in treating the skin yeast infection tinea versicolor, scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) and athlete's foot (tinea pedis).
Why would you look for a treatment besides Selsun Blue? While they can be affective at stopping dandruff, some of the harsh chemicals can cause more sensitive scalps to burn, itch more, and possibly result in chemical burn (some blog recommend overnight use of these shampoos which can definitely trigger an unwanted reaction).
AN EFFECTIVE, NATURAL SOLUTION
Here is a testimony where essential oils (Tea Tree & Lavender) were used to not only combat the symptoms of dandruff (dry itchy scalp and flakes), but attack the underlying issue as well. Results were immediate plus lasted longer in between shampoos than over the counter dandruff shampoos.
"Don’t let anyone tell you different, Dandruff is massively embarrassing. For about the last three years I’ve been struggling with a persistently dry and itchy scalp. You’ve probably detected I’m avoiding calling it what it is - DANDRUFF. It’s become both infuriating and highly embarrassing to constantly see specs of white on my shoulders or when I look in the mirror to see snowflakes in my hair.
The only treatment that worked for me was Selsun Blue, even Head & Shoulders regular shampoo wasn’t tackling it. The main problem I had with Selsun Blue was that it felt hot against my scalp to the point I felt a mild burning. And like crack cocaine, once you started you couldn’t use anything else, otherwise it would come back with a vengeance. Admittedly, the feeling on my scalp was quite nice, that cool burning sensation! That being said, one read of the ingredients in the treatment was frightening. We blindly put all kinds of crap onto our skin, or into our bodies especially when there doesn’t appear to be any alternative to it and I’m no different.
So when my wife came up with one of her “blends” I was excited if a little skeptical. I’m not sure why (I suppose a resignation that I would be using Selsun Blue for the remainder of my hair’s days) as I’ve born witness to the most amazing results with her blends, from anxiety to sleep disorder, and appetite suppressants. So unsurprisingly, it’s worked an absolute charm. I now use a combination of Tea-Tree oil and Lavender, with argan oil as a carrier oil and for additional moisturizing and rub into my scalp liberally after shampooing with a natural mild shampoo.
No oily mess or residue, and not so much as a flake has extracted itself from my head since. "
- Ward, age 39
Many people suffer from anxiety and headaches these days. I believe this to be a mixture of our lifestyles and many of the changes that are taking place in our world that are pushing people to question what we’ve been doing as a society repetitively for many years. You know what I mean… that feeling that there is something more than just going to work, making money, coming home, eating and repeating it all. It may sound cliche, but it’s evident.
Deep down we can feel it, that something isn’t quite “right” with our world anymore and there’s a certain sense of freedom from it all that is calling us from deep within ourselves. Not knowing what that feeling is exactly or what to do, we sometimes will feel anxiety or overwhelm as we look at our lives. How do we deal with these things? There are a number of actions we can take to address the core issue which you can explore here. But I also wanted to share something simple that can aid us while we are making the more long-term adjustments.
Lavender LemonadePure lavender essential oil is an incredible essential oil to use for your own health and wellness. It’s among the gentlest of essential oils, but also one of the most powerful, making it a favorite of households for the healing properties and uses of lavender essential oil. Lavender oil has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents, which explains its effectiveness at helping with a lot of health ailments. Lavender oil possesses amazing anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifier, hypotensive, and sedative properties.
Florida researchers have found that lavender oil benefits include reducing anxiety and lowering pulse rates in nursing students taking stressful tests. And in hospital settings, lavender aromatherapy has been demonstrated to decrease pre-surgery distress and to be more relaxing than massage or merely resting.(1)
Lavender essential oil has medicinal properties as well. It has been shown to reduce depression, improve insomnia and ease labor pains. And anecdotal evidence suggests that lavender oil benefits those with headaches, hangovers, sinus congestion and pain relief.
“Much prior research on lavender has focused on the administration of lavender via an olfactory route. The anxiolytic activity of lavender olfaction has been demonstrated in several small and medium-sized clinical trials.46-53 The efficacy of aromatherapy of lavender is thought to be due to the psychological effects of the fragrance combined with physiological effects of volatile oils in the limbic system.54 These calming effects of lavender oil and single constituents may be the origin of the traditional use of lavender. Lavender oil olfaction has been shown to decrease anxiety, as measured by the Hamilton rating scale,51 and can increase mood scores.
The following are selected examples of clinical trials on lavender aromatherapy:
[Reprinted from Collective Evolution.]
1. Wittchen HU, Hoyer J. Generalized anxiety disorder: nature and course. J Clin Psychiatry. 2001;62 Suppl 11:15-19; discussion 20-21.
2. Ohayon MM, Shapiro CM, Kennedy SH. Differentiating DSM-IV anxiety and depressive disorders in the general population: comorbidity and treatment consequences. Can J Psychiatry 2000;45:166-172.
3. Lawrence AE, Brown TA. Differentiating generalized anxiety disorder from anxiety disorder not otherwise specified. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2009;197:879-886.
4. Bandelow B, Zohar J, Hollander E, et al. World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) guidelines for the pharmacological treatment of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and posttraumatic stress disorders-first revision. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2008;9:248-312.
5. Longo LP, Johnson B. Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines—side effects, abuse risk and alternatives. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61:2121-2128.
6. Preskorn SH . Comparison of the tolerability of bupropion, fluoxetine, imipramine, nefazodone, paroxetine, sertraline, and venlafaxine. J Clin Psychiatry. 5;56 (Suppl 6):12-21.
7. Trindade E, Menon D, Topfer LA, Coloma C. Adverse effects associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants: a meta-analysis. CMAJ. 1998;159:1245-1252.
8. Andrews G, Carter GL. What people say about their general practitioners’ treatment of anxiety and depression. Med J Aust. 2001;175 (Suppl):S48-S51.
"What in the hell did I get myself into?" That is the thought running over and over in my mind the first time I dry brushed my skin. It stings. Only momentarily, but it stings something awful. Why on earth would I be naked as a jay bird dry rubbing a stiff bristle natural fiber brush over every inch of my skin before hoping in my steamy lavender magnesium bath? Well, here's why I delved deeper into my adventures of being a posh crunchy mama and started skin brushing...
One third of your body's toxins are excreted through the skin and dry brushing helps to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin.
A very good friend of mine sent me an article about skin brushing (also known as dry brushing), knowing how interested I am in all methods of naturally improving health, wellness, and natural immune boosting. I read the article and did a little additional research (c'mon, its me we're talking about). Skin brushing sounded pretty awesome.
Most of us know that your skin is the largest organ of absorption and elimination. That's the reason why what you put on your skin in the way of beauty products (lotions, deodorant, perfumes, etc.) is so very important. What you put on you, goes IN YOU. Aluminum, parabens, and all manner of hormone disruptors and carcinogens are present in our medicine cabinets, and it would serve you well to go read those labels carefully. But what about what comes out of our skin? Many people exfoliate the skin on their faces regularly (hello apricot scrub, I love you), an entire spa industry is focused on facial exfoliation. But the truth is that your whole body could do with thorough and regular scrub-a-dub. Skin that is clogged with toxins and dead cells cannot function properly because the toxins are not being eliminated.
Out of all the numerous benefits (and believe me their were tons), here are what I think are the top benefits of skin brushing:
Reduces Cellulite Um WHAT?! Awesome.The first major benefit that many proponents of skin brushing claim is that it eliminates–or drastically reduces–the appearance of cellulite (example of a before and after below). This is an important element of detoxifying the body. Cellulite is actually composed of toxic fat buildup that results in the wrinkling of the skin. Brushing dry skin is believed to tighten the epidermis and contribute to the breakup of this toxic material. This is much more economical and convenient than liposuction therapy. The detoxification process can be further enhanced by taking colon cleansing, liver cleansing, and chemical and heavy metal cleansing supplements and exercising regularly.
Exfoliates Another benefit one can expect is the removal of dead skin cells. Advantages that this brings extend beyond the obvious one of removing dry, dead skin that looks dull. When dead cells are exfoliated, new cells form more quickly. The added benefit of exfoliating the skin, is clearing excess sebum oil, dirt and residue from the pores. Though it isn’t recommended to dry brush the face unless you have a special, more delicate brush, dry brushing helps improve pores on the rest of the body. Skin not only looks healthier, it actually becomes healthier as dead skin is removed from clogged pores. If you are a lover of therapeutic essential oils (like I am, uh hem), you can expect better and more thorough absorption of your oils if there isn't layers of dead skin cells to pass though.
Promotes Circulation Blood flow increases to the skin following dry brushing, and the normal process of releasing toxins through perspiration is improved. Proper exercise, spicy foods, and breathing techniques also help promote normal circulation.
Supports Muscle Tone Another advantage offered by skin brushing is the stimulation of the nervous system. Stimulated nerves activate muscle fibers and improve muscle tone. This is particularly beneficial to people who have lost weight and are looking to tighten up sagging skin.
Immune System Health One of the most important benefits of skin brushing is the supposed effect it has on the lymphatic system. This is of profound significance to the immune system. The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It is made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body. Many of these lymph vessels run just below the skin and proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and help the body detoxify itself naturally. White blood cells, or lymphocytes, are actually named after this major body system. Lymph circulates to our cells through channels independent of our circulatory system. However, after it has done its work, it returns to the bloodstream through valves leading into the heart. Here, the white blood cells can fight the toxic agents that threaten our health. Massaging the skin with a brush, combined with exercise, speeds up the flow of lymph and directly contributes to a stronger immune system and healthier body.
Skin Appearance A huge benefit of skin brushing is a drastic improvement in the appearance of the skin itself! Eliminating dead skin and unclogging pores results in a very noticeable improvement. For people who exercise or sit in Far Infrared Saunas, this is an excellent follow up to detoxification by sweating. The appearance of the skin also improves as new cells form more quickly, and the skin takes on a smooth luster that is noticeably brighter than the dull appearance of old, dry, and often wrinkled skin.
HOW TO DRY BRUSH YOUR SKIN
The brush used should be a long-handled bath type brush. It should contain only natural vegetable bristles. Synthetic bristles should be avoided as they may scratch or irritate the skin. The brush should be kept dry and never used for bathing. When one performs skin brushing, the body should be dry for proper effect. Wet skin may allow sliding while dry skin brushing gently stretches the skin promoting lymph flow and the sloughing off of dead skin cells.
The brush should pass over every part of the body, always toward the heart.
Standing in my bathroom, as gently as I could, using this brush against my bare skin and over my bum (Hello?! Reduces cellulite!), I seriously started to doubt the wisdom of this experiment. Ouch! But the scratchy feeling subsides very quickly. And do you know what I started to see floating in the air? MY SKIN! Flakes of skin were everywhere. Okay, so it works in removing dead cells. That's pretty cool. Gross, but pretty cool. I then continued with my regular hot epsom salt and essential oils bath, natural lotion application and called it a night.
The next morning my skin is noticeably smoother and more vibrant. My body seemed to absorb my lotion and essential oils SO MUCH BETTER. Being in the endless winter here in New England and nursing a very hungry 6 month old - my skin seems perpetually dry. This was the first morning after my soak and smear (Hot bath followed with full body oils and lotion, meant to keep your skin in better health than constant showers that strip your body of moisture. I didn't make that name up, I hate the word smear too. gross) that my skin felt as moisturized and soft as it did when I went to bed. Looking forward also to the additional benefits this will have in increasing the effectiveness of my skin absorbing my daily use of my essential oils. Wondering how many of those precious drops in the past were wasted on my dead-skin laden body. Hmm, best not to think about it.
I'm sold. Not bad for a tool that cost $5.99! I'll keep you updated on any other benefits as I see them.
Would you try skin brushing? What was your experience?