Itchy Skin - Sensitive Skin and Poor Liver Function
has many causes, some relatively short lived and benign, like itching
from contact with poison ivy, and some more serious, such as as cancer
or liver disease. If you have any itching conditions you should always
have them evaluated by a doctor.
Itching may be caused by
a variety of conditions including:
infections, such as vaginal infections and athlete's foot
- Candiasis / other types
of yeast overgrowth
- thought to be due to excess estrogen levels
- Chemical irritation
- Plant irritations like poison
ivy and poison oak
every known disease of the liver
- High blood sugar which often
exacerbates fungal infections
The one common link in many
of the conditions that cause itching is that a significant number all
seem to relate to functions of the liver. In
fact, prolonged itching of the skin is a major sign of liver disease.
Among its many functions, the
liver is responsible for:
- Cleansing the body of toxic
substances, parasites, fungi, yeast, mold and other unwanted microscopic
- Detoxifying and eliminating
chemicals, poisons and other toxins
- Metabolizing estrogen
- Controlling blood sugar
- Storage of nutrients, including
I suspect most itching from
liver disease is actually not due to the disease itself but by irritants
on the skin that the liver normally takes care of but can't handle in
a weakened state. Chemicals, toxins, fungus, parasites, and other substances
may not bother most people because their livers dispose of them. I think
people with a lot of itching problems and also those with highly sensitive
skin "feel" things more because their livers can't handle the
routine assaults from the outside world that most people with well functioning
livers don't even notice.
One other reason noted in my
alternative health books for itchy skin from poor liver function is that
when the liver is unable to properly neutralize chemicals, toxins and
parasites in the body, a back up method of elimination is that the body
may then try to get rid of these undesirable substances through the skin.
This can result in itchy rashes and brown spots on the outside of the
skin as the foreign substances are pushed out through the outer skin layers.
A lot of people think allergies
and chemical sensitivities are something you are born with and are unable
to control. I know from my personal experience and that of members of
my family that many allergies and itchy skin conditions are actually at
least somewhat modifiable with diet, especially diets that help support
the liver. In my family we have successfully used diet changes and environment
modification to eliminate or reduce mold
allergies, pollen allergies, latex allergies and chemical
sensitivities which in turn lessened symptoms of itchiness.
We have learned a lot about
mold allergies in the past few years, as we have three pet rodents who
have to be given large quantities of stored hay each day. From time to
time members of our family have developed runny noses, gotten itchy or
started sneezing around the little critters, either from the rodent themselves
(they are not the most hygienic pets) or from the hay they eat and also
like to toss around their cage and out onto the carpet. On each occasion
nutrition support for the "allergy" sufferer, less sugar and
other refined carbs and a reminder to the kids for more thorough with
their cage cleaning has resulted in a a positive outcome. I'm also trying
out putting an air purifier next to their cage so see if that cuts down
on dust from the hay from getting into the air.
recently diagnosed with anemia. It took about a month of taking
iron supplements for my hemoglobin values to become normal.
Once I was no longer anemic I noticed I had better circulation
and much less problems with itching.
anemia can cause a decreased
immune function, which increases susceptibility to infection.
If you think you might be iron deficient, talk to your doctor.
Anemia can be detected with a simple blood test.
In terms of chemical reactions,
if you are sensitive to caffeine, part of the problem may be that your
liver is unable to metabolize the caffeine properly, so it stays in your
system longer than it does for most people. For caffeine sensitive people
even one cup of coffee in the morning may be enough to interfere with
sleep later on at night because the caffeine is still in their systems,
instead of being eliminated by the liver hours earlier. (See my page on
insomnia treatments for more on this topic.)
One thing I have noticed is
that if I eat too much food with saturated fat, my itching will get worse.
I think this is because saturated fat clots the blood which cuts down
on the circulation. See my article on foods that thin the blood here.
I have also noticed that I
have less itching problems when my pH
levels are in the normal to slightly acid pH range. I suspect this
is because an acidic environment in the GI tract helps to kill off harmful
yeast and bacteria that can cause itching.
A low glycemic
diet may also be important for itching as well as general health. I have
noticed that I have more itchy skin when I eat a lot of sugar and refined
carbohydrates. The diet that works the best for me to prevent getting
itchy consists of cooked foods (cooking helps kill off any fungus or other
microbes) that are low on the glycemic index. I think I itch more with
the high blood sugar because that is what fungus and related organisms
that make you feel itchy may be feeding off of. The best diet for me seems
to be mostly cooked meat,
nut, vegetables, fruits, and some beans with low
glycemic values. For more information you can also read The Paleodiet
by Loren Cordain, or visit
his web site.
The good news is that the liver
is one organ that can actually regenerate itself. So if you can reduce
the number of assaults on the liver from the outside world and provide
the proper nutrients to help support the liver from the inside, you may
be able to improve the functioning of your liver, reduce your itching
and clear up some of your allergies in the process.
Related sections of interest:
Allergic to mold? Diet changes might help.
Diet Tips for Irritable Bowel
Read my Section on Sinus Infections
Itchy Skin / Sensitive Skin
MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities)
Therapies for Morgellons - The cause of this disorder is controversial
and not clearly understood. My family had some similar symptoms so I wrote
up what we found helpful.
Ways to Love Your Liver
warning for liver lovers - People should be careful about taking
vitamin A supplements, limit eating liver to once a week and
be careful about other sources of vitamin A, say food experts. (Since
many nutrients are stored in animal livers, you have to be careful
about eating liver to not get too much vitamin A.)
to the Digestive System - explains how the digestive systems works,
including the functions of the liver.
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