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Interview with Dr. Lüder Jachens
Lüder, a German dermatologist and anthroposophic physician, speaks about
sensitive skin and how it connects with the well-being of your soul.
Dr. Lüder Jachens: Sensitive skin has an impaired barrier
function due to an unstable and easily irritated protecting hydrolipid film,
which often means it is dry as well. Through evaporation dry skin loses more
moisture and quickly becomes overstrained by environmental influences. Even
exposure to water for too long can make a difference – after a shower the skin
might feel tight or itchy. Sensitive skin needs gentle care to respect its
LJ: Numbers of people with sensitive skin have risen
significantly in recent decades. The main reason, in my opinion, is the western
lifestyle with its pressure of competition, constant hurry and the overall
impression that we never have enough time. Too much sensory input, when it is
not processed, strains the nervous system and can literally get under your skin.
Some people are “thick-skinned”, but not those with sensitive skin, they react
with redness, burning, flaking or other irritations in these situations.
LJ: Skin and soul are linked by the nervous system, and
nervous tension immediately influences the cutaneous nerves. Under stress some
people break out in a rash, perhaps near the eye or on the back of their hand.
Others might have problems with their metabolism and the skin’s condition often
reflects this. As a dermatologist you learn how to uncover the relationship
between skin and emotional disposition, particularly when conventional medicine
is combined with the anthroposophic view of the human being.
LJ: It starts from the premise that we are all made of body,
mind and spirit. Mainstream dermatology, with its analytic approach, focuses on
the physical skin and its symptoms – separating it from the being to whom it
belongs. Conversely, an anthroposophic physician aims to engage the human being
as a whole in the healing process.
The skin is certainly sensory and our largest organ, but beyond this obvious
fact it’s possible to see reflected in the skin the whole person – the
nerve-sense system, metabolism and limb system and the rhythmic system which
connects with the heart and lungs. Each is visible in the skin and being able to
perceive the connection allows diagnosis.
LJ: People with sensitive skin are often alert, intelligent
and from an early age can quickly pick up what’s going on in their environment.
They are sensitive and respond immediately to outer stimuli. Promotion at work
can come easily to these people, but it adds to further stress as those people
are not confidently grounded self-centered in themselves – like those with
‚thicker skin’. They tend to have a nervous constitution, like life to be
planned and are mainly driven by their head. They think a lot, especially when
daily life challenges them with unexpected or complex situations.
From an anthrosophical point of view they are mainly centred in their
nerve-sense system. To find balance they need to get more in contact with their
own feelings and try to express their will.
LJ: People who match this description need to look for an activity which encourages them to explore their feelings. They might sign up for a painting class, for instance. Perception of colour leads to sensory activity, which normally happens automatically. While painting people allow feelings to arise – they turn inward and learn to answer a colour impression with a sensation.
A perfect metaphor for this is the almond: As part of the rose’s family the almond tree belongs to the most noble creatures in the plant kingdom. It directs light and warmth from outside entirely into its deeply hidden core, where the tender kernel ripens under a firm shell. Extracted from the ripe kernel, the almond’s essence, precious almond oil, envelopes the skin and offers it protection. Making the link between the physical self and the deep-centred essence of being, the soul, is an invitation to do yourself good and to remain calm and focussed in the midst of sometimes overwhelming daily demands.
Bathing to support healthy skin development
Our midwife Christina Hinderlich provides some answers to the most important questions about caring for babies’ skin.
Natural Fragrances are the Scent of Life
Dr. Leo Zängerle, Head of the Weleda Fragrance Competence Centre, explains how we use our senses to perceive the world.