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Basic body care has become a real trend in recent years. Numerous products are advertised with their basic properties, which have a positive effect on the skin and should detoxify the body in this way. It is often based on the idea of general acidification of the organism, which should be combated, among other things, by basic personal hygiene and other measures, such as excess alkaline nutrition.
But how useful is basic skin care from the perspective of naturopathy and from the perspective of conventional medicine? How is it used? Can it be made by myself or do care products have to be bought?
Tasks of the skin
With an area of approximately 1.7 square meters, a thickness of 1.5 to 4 millimeters and a weight of 3.5 to 10 kilograms, the skin is the largest and heaviest organ in the human body. It protects the body from influences such as heat, cold, harmful environmental influences and pathogens and separates the inside of the body from the outside world.
The skin is one of the sensory organs. It is equipped with tactile bodies and sensory cells. So she can feel pain and temperature changes. It releases fluid using its sweat glands. Due to the resulting evaporation cold and the narrowing or widening of the skin vessels, it is involved in regulating body temperature. The skin transports various substances to the outside via sweat, including potassium, calcium, sodium and chloride, as well as, for example, cholesterol, urea and butyric acid, as well as acid and a substance called dermicidin, and stores the preliminary stage of vitamin D3.
Viewed holistically, the skin is the “mirror of the soul”. This means that sensations, mental problems and stress on the skin can be read. The skin reflects the organic and emotional states. Everyone knows a person's blush with surprise, shame or shyness.
Sayings such as "defend yourself against your own skin" or "that gets under my skin" draw attention to the sensitive part of the skin. The skin is also a reflection of organic disorders. For example, itchiness occurs in liver diseases, a yellowing of the skin in the case of biliary congestion, red cheeks in heart valve defects and a pale gray complexion in the case of massive kidney diseases.
The skin's protective acid mantle
The so-called protective acid mantle has a pH between 5.2 and 5.9 - it is therefore in the acidic range. It fulfills an important immune function, because our skin comes into contact with various microorganisms every day. The main ones are bacteria that try to penetrate the body through the skin. This is protected, among other things, by the acid coat on the skin, whose pH is approximately between 5 and 6. Sweat also contains an antibiotic substance called dermicidin, which is able to ward off numerous bacteria.
Many naturopaths are of the opinion that this acidic value of the skin surface is not necessarily a protection, but rather a sign of acidification of the entire body. Accordingly, measurements from over 50 years ago showed that the average pH of the skin at that time was 6.2, which was less acidic than that of people living today. From the point of view of the representatives of this theory, this also increases the risk of allergies and skin diseases. However, these assumptions have so far not been proven by reliable studies.
The theory of overacidification of the body
When talking about overacidification of the body, one has to make a very precise distinction. Many naturopaths understand this as an increased acid concentration in the cells and cell spaces. In this context, there is also talk of so-called “slags”, which is not defined in more detail, but is often intended to describe acids, toxins and other undesirable residues of the metabolism. Overacidification of the body is associated with symptoms such as headaches, difficulty concentrating, skin problems, fatigue, listlessness and weight gain. Diseases such as hardening of the arteries, cancer, arthrosis and osteoporosis are also associated with it.
The theory of a possible acidity of the body goes back to the alternative medical direction of orthomolecular medicine. The cause of acidity understood in this way is often considered an unhealthy lifestyle with an unbalanced, sugar and protein-rich diet with many saturated fatty acids and preservatives, little exercise and a lot of stress. Acidification should be remedied with food supplements and basic applications (internally and externally), and, if possible, with a change in diet and general lifestyle. However, this form of acidification is very difficult to detect and has therefore not been sufficiently documented to date.
It is important to distinguish another form of acidification that is clearly demonstrable. This affects an increased acidity of the blood and is called acidosis. For example, it can be triggered by an asthma attack or impaired kidney function and is a medical emergency that must be treated immediately.
Skin care: prefer alkaline or acidic?
Over 50 years ago, it was completely normal to use basic care products. A well-known example is the core soap, the pH value of which is between 8.5 and 8.0, i.e. completely in the basic range. Later, the theory was put forward that pH-neutral care products should be used or those with a pH value similar to that of the skin, i.e. they should be classified in the acidic pH range.
Supporters of the acidification theory, including many naturopaths, believe that the use of basic products is better for the skin. Basic personal care therefore try to dissolve acid and remove it with osmosis agents. In addition, the skin is to be stimulated to release slags and to initiate natural lipid replenishment. Apart from the release of acid, the effect is not adequately proven, nor is the presence of "slag" in the body. There is also the question of whether the change in the acidic pH of the skin through the use of basic care products does not also impair the protective function of the skin barrier and thus impair its contribution to the immune system.
Most school doctors believe that care products with an acidic pH value make more sense because they should not interfere with the natural pH value of the skin. When it comes to the effectiveness of basic baths for detoxification, however, they also differ in their opinions: some consider the use of the baths to be ineffective, others recommend it.
Since everyone is individual and there are different skin types and thus different care needs, general recommendations are difficult at this point - also due to the fact that there is no solid evidence of the beneficial effects of basic care products. If in doubt, you could try both variants and find out for yourself what your skin responds best to. Basic skin care products are said to have a moisturizing effect and would therefore be worth trying if you tend to have dry skin. In the case of special skin problems such as neurodermatitis, psoriasis or acne, it is advisable to ask a dermatologist for advice before using basic products.
It is also difficult to give a general recommendation as to whether bought or self-made products are better. Both commercially purchased and homemade products can contain good or bad ingredients and can be suitable and unsuitable for your skin type.
In general, it can be said that both when buying and when producing care products, care should be taken that they do not contain any petroleum-based ingredients. In addition, products that are made from organically grown ingredients should be preferred for plant-based ingredients, as this means that no chemical spray residues are found in them. Microplastics should also be avoided to protect people and the environment. Certainly there are a number of other criteria to watch out for; Because what is well tolerated often depends on your own skin type, any skin problems or allergies. If in doubt, please seek individual advice.
In principle, you should not wash your skin too often, otherwise the natural protective film will be attacked again and again. This is especially true for cleaning sensitive baby skin - less is more here.
Alkaline baths: instructions and effects
Alkaline baths are said to have a moisturizing and calming effect on the skin and have been proven to help prevent and relieve sore muscles. Some also say they have a detoxifying effect. If you want to try basic baths yourself, you can take a full bath with a basic additive once or twice a week. You can get the base powder in most well-stocked drugstores, in health food stores or in the pharmacy, or you can make it yourself (see below).
A base bath has a pH of at least 8.4 before starting. This can be measured using an indicator paper. The base powder is added to the bath at a temperature of around 38 degrees Celsius, so much that a pH of at least 8.4 is reached. The exact dosage is also stated on the package for purchased products, but may vary due to the degree of water hardness. The bathing time should be at least 45 minutes and a maximum of two hours. As the bathing time increases, the pH value drops to around 7.5. This happens through acids, which are released from the body via the base bath's osmotic effect and then get into the bath water. A basic bath has been shown to remove acids from the body. So far, however, it has not been possible to prove whether this is useful or necessary.
If you have no time or no way to take a full bath, you can also take a foot bath with a basic additive. This takes between 30 and 60 minutes at a temperature of around 38 degrees Celsius. You can use the alkaline foot bath several times a week.
Note: In general, for full baths and foot baths, in the case of diseases of the cardiovascular system such as high blood pressure, a doctor should be asked in advance whether baths are advisable in your case and, if so, at what temperature. This also applies to varicose veins; here it is usually enough not to bathe too hot. Especially with base baths, diabetics should also consult their doctor beforehand.
Please make sure to drink enough liquid before, during and after bathing and carefully leave the tub if you notice that you are having circulatory problems.
Recipe for a basic bath additive
You can easily use baking soda for a self-made base powder. Depending on the degree of water hardness, about 80 to 100 grams of soda are required for a full bath. For a foot bath you take less depending on the amount of water. Depending on your taste and needs, you can add a few drops of an essential oil to the bathing water. Please ask for advice on the use of essential oils when purchasing. (sw, kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Michael Worlitschek: "Practice acid-base household: basics and therapy", Karl F. Haug, 2015
- Kurt Tepperwein: "fountain of youth deacidification: well-being through a harmonious acid-base ratio", Goldmann, 2001
- Sabine Wacker, Andreas Wacker: "300 questions about acid-base balance", Graefe and Unzer, 2012