It seems the days are gone of our parents telling us to go play in the dirt to build our immunity. We have become so obsessed with disinfecting and sterilizing surfaces, that pathogens have now mutated to being the toughest superbugs in history. Our proper immune responses keep getting weaker, while epidemics of autoimmune diseases are growing at alarming rates. Exposure to different microorganisms make us stronger and healthier, while exposure to toxic chemicals and sterile environments weaken us. Just as human bones get stronger under stress, our immunity gets stronger as we come in contact with pathogens. Diversity is key to good health, and exposure is the only way to attain it.
What is a “microbiome”?
Being in gut health, you often hear me talk about your gut microbiome. But did you know that your skin has a microbiome as well? In fact, your entire body is made up of multiple microbiota, all living synergistically.
Microbiota are “ecological communities of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms found in and on all multicellular organisms studied to date from plants to animals.” All living things (animals, plants, humans, etc.) have millions of bacteria, fungi, and many other types of microorganisms all living around, on, and within their body that are crucial to their survival.
Your gut microbiome, for example, is made up of both good and bad bacteria, fungus, parasites, viruses, and other pathogens that are always constantly working together (or fighting each other) to either bring your body into or out of homeostasis. Any time that we eat, we are either putting “good” or “bad” food into our body, creating “good” and “bad” bacteria. When the good bacteria is winning, we have clearer skin, more energy, improved moods, healthier hair, and so on. When the good bacteria starts losing control over this delicate balance and bad bacteria proliferates, disease starts to set in.
The same concept applies to our skin’s microbiome. There is a delicate balance of microorganisms, all working synergistically to help keep you healthy. Our skin is our body’s largest organ and is highly absorbent. Virtually anything that touches your skin, the body absorbs. This is why it’s so important to not only be conscious of the toiletries and makeup you use, but also the water you bathe in.
Microbiota can generally be separated into two groups – resident and transient microbes. Resident microbes are “permanent residents” of the skin, providing benefits to their host (us!). These are the good guys that help fight off the bad guys. Transient microbes are the ones we come into contact through our environment and might stick around for a few hours or days, but never form a permanent home on our skin. Neither type of microbe would generally pose any danger, unless that gentle balance of the skin’s microbiome is perturbed.
I have had growing concerns over the last few months with the abuse and overuse of hand sanitizers, as well as other soaps and cleansers. Hand sanitizers contain ethyl alcohol, which kills “99.99% of all bacteria, viruses, etc”. This sounds like it would be a great thing, but it also means that it’s killing your precious good bacteria too, which is needed to keep the bad bacteria under control. It is well-known in the skin microbiology community that healthy skin creates an inhospitable environment for microbial growth.
So how do you kill the bad bacteria without killing the good? Using solutions such as colloidal silver, which are selective using an electrical charge/frequency. Through this mechanism, colloidal silver neutralizes single-celled pathogens without harming the good bacteria. Instead of reaching for a hand sanitizer that kills such populations, why not reach for a product that helps improve its ability to resist colonization by potentially pathogenic organisms?
Silver works on contact, so the longer it is physically touching the organism, the better it works. You can find my favorite liquid and gel colloidal silver products here.
Silver is not the only natural resource we have. There are also many essential oils, herbal washes, and other natural ways to protect yourself from exposure to bad pathogenic organisms without compromising the health of your skin’s microbiome. But more to come on those later.