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  • John Hance, Herbalist

Healthy Skin for a Healthy Body

There is a subject that is far too often overlooked, ignored, or possibly just forgotten that is absolutely critical to your overall health. The Integumentary System.

The integumentary system is the largest organ in the human body. It is comprised of your hair, skin, and nails. It helps the body retain necessary moisture and protects the body from damage from contact with this rough world we live in. What most people don't know is that it is also one of the ways the body excretes waste and toxins.

In the layer of skin called the dermis (which is just under the epidermis - the part you can see) are nerves, capillaries, sweat glands and ducts, hair follicles, oil ducts (for the hairs), and tiny lymph vessels (or ducts).

The lymph ducts and sweat glands are the skin's eliminatory organs, though they're not directly linked. The sweat glands excrete toxins derived from the blood via small capillaries. The lymph ducts pick up toxins found in the dermis as well as lymph from the interstitial fluids (fluids found around the cells of the body). Lymph is created in the interstices of all the tissues of the body, so its composition is always different, but essentially it contains concentrated lymphocytes, proteins, fat-soluble vitamins, and toxins like bacteria, etc. These toxins are carried by the lymph ducts to lymphatic organs like the lymph nodes and the spleen (which is the largest lymphatic organ in the body). In the nodes, etc., the toxins are attacked and destroyed by white blood cells (a.k.a lymphocytes) which are concentrated in these organs. There are between 600 and 700 of these nodes throughout the body (see illustration below), and when infected they swell and can become tender (several in the throat, arm pits, and groin can often be felt through the skin during this time). The lymph continues through the ducts upward toward the left and right subclavian veins where it is introduced back into the bloodstream.

Here's an illustration of the distribution of lymph nodes in the body, borrowed from visible body (an excellent online biology resource):

Now, why did I take all that space and time to discuss the lymphatic and integumetary systems? Simple. Elimination of toxins! If you get sick, your body has natural processes of eliminating those toxins and foreign bodies from the system. The symptoms you experience while you're sick are the AFTER EFFECTS of these processes. Treating the symptoms isn't helping cure the illness, though it sometimes makes you FEEL better, and that's fine. But doesn't it make more sense to support the body's natural defenses? Doing this allows us to actually GET better sooner. One of the ways to do this - perhaps the best way in many cases! - is to support the lymphatic system.

The Lymphatic System has long been underestimated for its direct, immediate impact on overall health. Flushing out the toxins that are making you sick will very, very quickly make you ...well, no longer sick! There are several herbs which have an effect on the lymphatic system, but none of them is more highly regarded than Cleavers (Galium aperine, in the Latin). Cleavers has a long-standing use as a blood purifier, going back many centuries...even as far back as Roman times. In fact, the third century Roman physician, Claudius Galen, stated that Cleavers, "makes fat folk lean." This is probably a reference to Cleavers' ability to remove undigested fat from the body and eliminate it via natural processes, though to my knowledge there isn't any significant modern research to support this claim. I might be wrong on that.

What we do know about cleavers is that it helps lymph fluid move through the system, even when the patient is not moving. See, the lymphatic system isn't under pressure from a pump like the circulatory system is via the heart. The only way to get lymph to move through the body is by movement. The more the body moves, the more lymph gets circulated. The natural squeezing of muscles helps get it going, but so does the pull of gravity as we "bounce" in our natural stride while walking. It's also been found that actual bouncing (like on a trampoline) is very good for eliminating toxins via the lymphatic system (with added benefits like increased concentration, etc.). But when you're sick, you're not likely moving around very much. Cleavers benefits the convalescent patient in this way.

Also, more specifically, Cleavers have been shown to help people who suffer from psoriasis and eczema. It is truly an underestimated, overlooked, powerhouse of an herb!

Eshdet Herbs carries a stock of Cleavers in tincture. I use this every time I get a little under the weather to boost my immune system and help flush out toxins; in fact I just got over being sick, and I credit my VERY QUICK recovery to the use of my Cleavers tincture and heavy dosing on my Herbal Antibiotic (Bidens aristosa). Normally, I'd still be sick and in bed, but I'm almost over it now. It lasted less than 30 hours, I believe, from the time I decided I was probably coming down with something until now.

I also take Cleavers tincture to flush my system every 3 months or so for about 2 or 3 weeks at a time, twice a day. This ensures that my immune system is running at its optimum level. A good Lymph Cleanse always feels great, and it's a simple way to stay in premium health!

If you'd like to try Cleavers for yourself, click the image below. I always keep it in stock, and I have a lot of it right now. Just for reading this far, I'm going to give you a special deal, too. For readers of this blog post only, you can use the coupon code CLEANSE10. This will give the first 10 of you to use it 50% off my normal price!!! Instead of $20 for 2 oz of tincture, your price will be just ten bucks! And as always, shipping is on me in the contiguous USA. Once y'all use up the 10 coupon codes, this goes away; it's just my way of rewarding those of you who actually read my posts.

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