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Health Conditions

General Description

Many individuals develop unsightly, perfectly flat dark spots on sun-exposed areas, especially the face and hands. Called “liver spots” by some, they have nothing to do with the liver. The spots are medically benign but cosmetically unsightly. Additional darkening may be prevented by sun avoidance and, when this is impractical, by use of broad-spectrum sunscreens. The lesions often respond quite adequately to liquid nitrogen cryosurgery and laser treatment. Besides the topical bleaching agents described above a number of skin “brightening” products are being marketed with ingredients such as niacinamide, bearberries, soy, licorice extract, vitamin C, kojic acid, and oligopeptide-34. Many are quite pricey—and of questionable efficacy—but appear safer than hydroquinone for long-term use.

Causes

A combination of chronic sun exposure, skin type, and hereditary predisposition.  Liver spots are the yellowish-brown flat spots that look like large freckles and are thought to be caused by aging, too much sun, impaired liver function, and a dietary or nutritional deficiency. (NB: if you have irregular, dark spots that increase in size or change color or texture, have them checked immediately by a doctor. They could be a serious form of skin cancer). As we age our metabolism changes and the liver may become so overwhelmed with toxins that it cannot rid the body of them. Oxidation within the body and the lack of antioxidants also plays an important role in this process. Age spots are one of the results. They take years to form and eliminating them will take time, too, so don't give up. Try a remedy for a few months, and if the condition hasn't improved, try another one. As a preventative measure, always use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 after using one of the remedies, and thereafter.

Medical Treatments

Additional darkening may be prevented by sun avoidance and, when this is impractical, by use of broad-spectrum sunscreens. The lesions often respond quite adequately to liquid nitrogen cryosurgery and laser treatment. Besides the topical bleaching agents described above a number of skin “brightening” products are being marketed with ingredients such as niacinamide, bearberries, soy, licorice extract, vitamin C, kojic acid, and oligopeptide-34. Many are quite pricey—and of questionable efficacy—but appear safer than hydroquinone for long-term use.

Wellness Programs

In addition to using the remedies mentioned below, some lifestyle and dietary changes will be beneficial in developing a general wellness program and may speed the elimination of these liver spots.

  • Begin an exercise program
  • Make some dietary changes mentioned below
  • Avoid exposure to the sun without proper sun protection
  • Cleanse your liver
  • Take supplements that will help slow the aging process and aid in tissue repair

Dietary Changes

Dietary changes are necessary to get some of the metabolic wastes out of your system and cleanse your tissues. Some of these factors cause damage to your skin.

  • Begin a detoxification program to clean your tissues and organs.
  • Improve your diet to include fruits and vegetables, especially in raw form. Drink 8 eight ounce glasses of water daily.
  • Avoid sweets, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and junk foods. This is a main foundation of our over-all Wellness Program.
  • Avoid rancid oils. Refrigerate all oils after opening; store nuts and seeds in the freezer or refrigerator; store grains in a cool place; avoid all fried foods as the hot cooking oils contain substances that damage the skin.

Supplements

Beta-carotene Take beta-carotene, an antioxidant that slows the aging process.

Bioflavonoids Working with vitamin C, bioflavonoids assist in tissue repair.

Potassium A deficiency in potassium may be one of the causes of liver spots. Eat potassium-rich foods or take a supplement.

Selenium You may have a selenium deficiency. If your daily vitamins don't have selenium, take a selenium supplement for a few months. In many areas of the country the selenium content of the soils has been depleted so that we don't get enough in our regular diet.

Vitamin C An antioxidant, vitamin C helps tissue repair.

Vitamin E Take 1 vitamin E capsule (400 I.U.) daily; at night puncture another capsule and rub the oil on the spots and leave it on overnight. You may use castor oil at night instead. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that slows aging and aids in tissue repair.

Zinc Another mineral supplement to take is zinc. Take 15 mg a day for one to two months. Don't take more than 15 mg without a doctor's supervision, as it may hinder the body's absorption of other minerals, especially copper.

Remedies

Folk

Aloe Rubbing fresh aloe vera juice or gel on the spots will help fade them. Use the gel twice a day for a month or two. Juice from the aloe plant is excellent for healing burns and is also beneficial as a general healing agent.

Apple cider vinegar Combine two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with one teaspoon of orange juice and apply to the spots, preferably on a cloth or cotton pad that is secured to the area.

Bilberry This herb slows some of the aging processes and acts as an antioxidant. Take 4-8 oz. of fresh berries, 80-160 mg of bilberry extract (25% anthocyanidin), or 20-40 mg anthocyanosides daily.

Buttermilk Dab buttermilk on the spots. The lactic acid and other ingredients in the milk are beneficial to the skin. Buttermilk has been used for generations as a skin cleanser and as a beauty aid.

Castor oil Apply castor oil on the spots in the morning and in the evening, and rub well into the skin. The spots should disappear within a month.

Chick peas Take fresh or canned chick peas (garbanzo beans), mash about 1/3 cupful and add a little water. Smear this paste on the spots and leave it there until it dries. Then wash off completely. Do this every evening.

Dandelion Break open a dandelion stem and rub the sap on the spots 2-3x per day. Good for warts, too. Will Greer (Grandpa Walton) used this method successfully.

Gotu kola Try using the ancient Chinese herb gotu kola. Mix 1/8 teaspoon of powdered herb into a cup of herbal tea or add it to plain hot water along with 1/8 teaspoon of ginseng and a pinch of cayenne. This remedy should clear the spots in a few days.

Horseradish Mix one teaspoon grated horseradish root, 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, and 3 drops rosemary essential oil. Dab onto your age spots with a cotton ball once or twice a day (less if you have sensitive skin); it will exfoliate the top layer of skin and your spot should lighten. Jeanette Jacknin, M.D. in Smart Medicine for Your Skin.

Lemon juice Dab some fresh lemon juice on the spots twice daily. If you are going outdoors, wait for the juice to dry as it increases the skin's sensitivity to sunlight. It may take a few months, but the acidity in the juice will cause the spots to fade away.

Onion Grate an onion and squeeze it through cheesecloth so that you have 1 teaspoonful of juice. Mix with 2 teaspoonsful of vinegar and rub into the spots. Do this two times a day until the spots disappear.

  • Cut a fresh onion, dip it in apple cider vinegar and rub across the spots. This will fade the spots in a few weeks.

Walnuts, black Take some green (not fully ripe) black walnuts and make a few incisions in the outer shell; rub the juice on the spots. There may be a slight stinging sensation or the area may turn brown, but this is only temporary. Very effective.

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