Dry skin through the functional medicine lens

There can be an obvious reason for dry skin such as weather shift. But there can be also internal triggers. So let’s discuss what else can be at play with dry skin through a functional medicine lens.

Dry skin, hair loss and brittle hair can be indicative of a low thyroid function. Especially when coincident with difficulty losing weight. As the matter of fact hair, skin and nails are notable external features that provide helpful insight into systemic issues internal to the body. Often times, hypothyroidism causes or worsens symptoms related to estrogen and progesterone problems. Now you might be questioning how thyroid, that seems so distant from the skin can impact skin’s hydration.

Thyroid hormone promotes lipolysis or breakdown of fats. When thyroid function is suboptimal, it promotes lipogenesis or formation of fat which contributes to sluggish bile formation. One of the functions of bile is to emulsify and absorb fats and fat soluble vitamins. Therefore when that cascade is impaired, it directly affects skin’s hydration leading to dry skin and brittle nails.

Balance across all hormones is particularly important for skin’s health.

Low estrogen levels as women age can contribute to dryness of skin and mucosal membranes, thinning of the skin, an increase in wrinkles and decrease in elasticity.

In humans, structural and functional changes attributable to aging are more evident in the skin than in any other organ, according to the study. Estrogens modulate pre-dominant skin cells (keratinocytes), dermal fibroblasts (cells that produce collagen and elastin) and melanocytes (pigment producing cells).

Estrogens accelerate wound healing. While a significant number of women notice an improvement in inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis during pregnancy. Estrogens also provide some degree of protection against photo aging.

Menopause is a natural cause of low estrogen. During menopause ovarian production of sex hormones shifts to adrenal. Therefore stress management becomes even more important to ensure that this production of sex hormones is not wasted.

Men can also suffer from dry skin due to hormonal imbalance. Low testosterone and increased estradiol can be one of the causes of psoriasis in men, according to this research.

Soda, soda, soda and its consequences….

There are myriad of studies about soda’s negative effects on health. It particularly affects kidneys and skin via so called Advance Glycation End products (AGEs). They have been etiologically implicated in numerous diabetes and age-related diseases. Because of their inflammatory action on the body, they also exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, especially cystic acne, rosacea, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. Click here to read about my recent client’s success story and how soda was a contributing factor to her rosacea.

AGEs cause cross-linking of proteins such as collagen and elastin which accelerates aging processes. These are quite distinct fine lines and wrinkles that don’t have one pattern of running just down or across but they literally form a cross-linking. This pattern is noticeable first around the eyes, especially on the eye lids and around the mouth. And if it is notable on the skin, then the same destruction is happening to internal organs as well!

AGEs lead to insulin resistance. But this can be reversed through a functional medicine approach. Topically I recommend to use Environ’s Revival Masque. One of the ingredients, such as Asiatic acid stimulates growth factors that help to reduce cross-linking in the skin caused by AGEs. If you would like to learn more about it, click here.

Tannins contribute to dry skin

Dry Skin Through a Functional Medicine Lens

Tannins are phytonutrients found in tea, coffee and red wine. They act as anti-oxidants that they have wonderful benefits to reduce free radical damage. However they can certainly contribute to dryness in those individuals who are sensitive to them. And this is totally separate from the notion of caffeine being a diuretic. Tannins also interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron.

The dominant reason for dry skin is an imbalance in essential fats.


If you are sensitive to tannins, switch at least afternoon coffee, black or green tea to herbal tea that contains low or no levels of tannins. Some of my favorites are ginger, hibiscus, reship and peppermint.

Take Omega 3 supplements. Omega 3 supplements are not equally made and often times can contain mercury or other fillers like soybean oil. Omega 3s oxidize fast. So make sure that the source you are buying from assures temperature and humidity regulation during manufacturing and storage thereafter.

Please click here for Omega 3 supplements that are IFOS 5 star certified to ensure the world’s highest standards for purity, potency and freshness. This fish oil is GMO free, certified sustainable from Scandinavia and antibiotic free.

The functional medicine considers more fully Who is the Person Who has this challenge versus What is the Dis-ease they have and what is a standard protocol for this specific symptom.

If you’re not menopausal or andropausal (I’m sorry guys but yes, there is such a thing) but have noticed a quite drastic shift in your skin’s hydration and elasticity, then there are internal drivers that are causing decrease in sex hormone and thyroid hormone.

One of the triggers can be inflammation. This dynamic is reversible through a functional medicine lens. I utilize functional medicine science to optimize body’s and skin’s function from the inside out while providing a personalized wellness approach. By addressing the root causes of a problem I help clients put their skin and health problems into remission without the use of drugs. To schedule a Comprehensive Health History Consultation, click here.

I am not acting in the capacity of a doctor, licensed dietitian-nutritionist, therapist, or psychologist and will not diagnose, treat or cure any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.


Functional Medicine services are designed for educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your healthcare professional.

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