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Help Your Skin Assist Your Liver

Your skin’s absorption of toxic chemicals is not the only way it can make your liver’s job even harder. By clogging the pores, products commonly advertised to moisturize the skin may actually increase the toxic load on your liver.

As the primary way your body cleanses itself of toxins, your liver’s health is integral for keeping poisons out of the bloodstream. For those living with chronic liver disease, minimizing the poisons that have to be filtered out is essential for blood purification and liver damage prevention. Feeding the cycle of liver disease, a person with liver damage has fewer healthy hepatic cells, rendering them even less capable of filtering out toxins.

Fortunately, the outermost layer covering your entire body helps your liver eliminate toxins. The skin is an important detoxification ally and, thus, its ability to breathe can support the monster job of removing unwanted poisons.

The inflammatory state of a liver with chronic liver disease can be perceived as a bin full of smoldering coals, where everyday choices either keep those coals cool or spark a raging fire. Liver health advocates place a great deal of emphasis on avoiding food or drink that, when taken internally, contribute to liver inflammation. However, many people don’t realize that substances placed externally on the skin also impact the liver’s coals.

Waste Removal Partners
Although every cell of the body assists in waste removal, certain organs specialize in waste management. The liver can be viewed as the recycling center of the body, where one of its responsibilities includes sorting out toxins and directing them to the appropriate organ for elimination. If the liver is inflamed or damaged, toxins remain to circulate throughout the body. When functioning optimally, the skin can actually help or hinder the liver’s detoxification process. The skin and liver detoxification relationship has two facets:

1. the skin can absorb poisonous chemicals, increasing the liver’s detoxification load
2. the skin can expel toxins, relieving the liver’s detoxification load

Unfortunately, people regularly slather their skin with a coating that prevents toxin elimination through the pores – a surefire way to contain poisons earmarked for elimination. With this exit blocked, more toxins remain in the body’s circulation to fan the flames of hepatic inflammation.

The skin is the elimination organ with the largest surface area. In addition to regulating temperature and body moisture content, the skin also functions as a backup or waste removal. If the liver is unable to process toxins, the skin provides an alternate escape route. However, the pores must be open and clear for this process to occur without event. Skin rashes, acne or other skin disorders are often indicators of a toxic build-up beneath the skin’s surface caused by clogged pores.

Common Clogging Culprit
Also known in the fossil fuel industry as crude oil, most of us come into contact with petroleum every day. Products containing petroleum include gasoline, Styrofoam, lubricating oils and many cosmetics. Claiming to moisturize our hair, skin and lips, mineral oil and petroleum are the primary ingredients in many beauty products. By covering the skin to form a protective barrier, petroleum and mineral oil effectively lock moisture against the skin.

Unfortunately, this supposedly beneficial barrier blocks more than is desired. Because it prevents the skin from breathing and expelling toxins, petroleum-based products can obstruct the skin from eliminating waste, thus increasing the liver’s detoxification load. Check the ingredients on your skin care products to see if any of these petroleum derivatives are present:

· Mineral Oil
· Petroleum or Petrolatum
· Propylene Glycol
· Isopropyl Alcohol
· Ceresin
· Toluene
· Benzene
· Paraffin

If you find these ingredients lurking in your home, consider replacing them with products that support your skin’s elimination function. For a person living with chronic liver disease, passing on petroleum may not only improve a dermatological condition, but it may also help your liver’s coals stay cool.

Hampton, Aubrey. “Ten Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid.” Organic Consumers Association. June 28, 2008 <>, Herbs for Health, Dennis Leppanen, retrieved June 30, 2008,, November 2005., Petroleum and Mineral Oil: Bad News for Your Skin, FitSugar, retrieved July 1, 2008, Sugar Inc., 2008.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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