Soil has been likened to the skin covering our bodies. Both suffer serious erosion from wind, water and sun damage if left unchecked. Sandthorn is one of those rare plants which have proven to be very useful in landscape restoration and cosmetic care of the skin.
The Dust Bowl of the l930’s was the most tragic land calamity ever to strike the North American continent. Cattle overgrazing by ranchers and over farming by sodbusters removed virtually all of the grasslands from America’s prairies, leaving the unprotected soil to periodic rain washouts and frequent driving winds.
A story circulating in those days told of an old Nebraska farmer sitting on his front porch during a horrendous dust storm. When asked what he was watching so intently, he drolly replied, “Oh, I’m just counting them Kansas farms as they go flying by.”
Such are the ways of erosion when the land isn’t properly cared for as it should be. Similar examples have been found in northern China, Pakistan and portions of the Indian subcontinent, where the systematic removal of old growth forests and the continuous under plowing of surface ground have caused serious soil
erosions and landslides.
But agronomists soon discovered that the sandthorn shrub was extremely useful in helping bind earth and for good soil conservation measures; hence, millions of acres were eventually replanted with it.
The Living Barrier
Just as soil covers much of the ground we walk in, so does another type of material protect the delicate inner parts of our bodies against wear and tear, knocks and physical damage, and extremes of temperature. Skin is the body’s largest and heaviest organ. It covers almost 21½-square feet (2 square meters) on an adult around 9 to 15 pounds (4 to 7 kilograms), representing about one-twelfth of the body’s total weight. If you’ve ever worn an overcoat that heavy, then you would begin to appreciate how heavy your skin is.
Like a shower proof raincoat skin keeps out most of the water and other fluids to which it is exposed, although it is not fully waterproof. Water is repelled by the natural oils and waxes made in the tiny sebaceous glands just under the surface of the skin. These sebaceous products also keep the skin flexible arid supple.
Skin insulates the body too. Underneath is a soft, yellowish layer called subcutaneous fat. It works like the padding in a quilted coat to keep the body warm and also absorbs knocks and bumps.
The world is full of microscopic germs. They float in the air and lie on the things we touch. Even objects that are apparently clean have germs on or in them.
Skin prevents germs from entering the body. Under a microscope, the skin’s surface shows many dead, flattened cells that interlock and overlap tightly, like tiles on a roof. Few germs can penetrate this barrier, which completely covers healthy skin. But they can enter the body through cuts or breaks in the skin.
The natural waxes and oils on the skin’s surface contain germ-killing chemicals. These are the body’s own disinfectants, giving added protection against bacteria, yeasts, and other potentially harmful microscopic organisms.
The landscape of the skin, much like that of the earth1 undergoes numerous transformations over a lifetime. It experiences different types of erosions brought on by the elements of weather, poor diet, emotional upset, overuse of chemical cosmetics, and gradual aging.
Two types common to many older people are rosacea and eczema. The first condition is characterized by dilation of the facial capillaries, acne like pimples, and sometimes thickened skin on the nose. Certain foods – such as tea, coffee, alcohol, and those that are spicy – are associated with worsening of rosacea. A recent study indicates that the heat in coffee or tea may be responsible.
Eczema is an all-encompassing term, sometimes used synonymously with dermatitis, to describe inflamed, scaly, itching skin that may be due to any number of causes. Recent reports suggest a possible connection between this problem and impairment in the skin’s metabolism of the essential fatty acid linolenic acid. Patients with this condition improved when given supplements containing a natural source of gamma-linolenic acid.
A woman somewhere in her sixties, Lisa J. of Taylorsville, Utah suffered with rosacea of the face and eczema of the scalp for many years. But when she started drinking an exotic fruit blend containing 42 percent sandthorn berry extract, she began noticing improvements in her appearance. In just two weeks most of the dry, rosy red patches on her nose and face had disappeared. And within a month her scalp had healed as well. The dermatologist she had been seeing for some twenty years was surprised by the outcome of things on her next visit to him. She attributed this to her daily two-ounce intake of AlpineV with the sandthorn drink. He told her to stay with whatever she was doing.
The Beauty in Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are common denominators for all life forms. Not only the amount but also the type of dietary fat plays major roles in maintaining health. The human body absolutely requires certain essential fatty acids in the forms of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6). That is why they are termed “essential” fatty acids (EFP’s).
But most people are deficient in them and don’t even know it. Data from the 2006 Health & Wellness Trends Database, created by the Natural Marketing Institute of Harleysville, PA, show that almost one-third of the general population were deficient in omega-3’s. An even higher percentage were considered deficient in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) (another omega-6 EFA).6 Yet all three of these EFA’s are vital to the health of the skin. A few placebo-controlled studies over the past 15 years have demonstrated that they improve the symptoms of rosacea, eczema (sometimes called atopic dermatitis) and similar inflammatory skin problems.
It so happens that sandthorn berries are high in all three of these essential fatty acids,8 including others to be mentioned in the next chapter. Sandthorn yields 20-36 percent alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3) and 35-43 per cent linoleic acid (an omega-6).9 Patients with eczema were given sandthorn berry extracts for four months; during follow up they showed substantial improvement in their condition. The results were attributed to the high content of EFAs.10
Nature’s Own Cosmetic
“A man of forty-five looks distinguished, but a woman of the same age is over the hill.” So wrote feminist author Nancy Friday in her mind-jarring book, The Power of Beauty. “We live in a culture, she continues, “that trades in the currency of seeing and being seen. We want beauty not just for others; we want to look the way we feel, which is quite young, quite strong, and quite beautiful, although we are maturing.”
Nature has provided the “natural cosmetic” for women to achieve this. It lies within the beautifying elements of the sandthorn berry. Palmitoleic acid is a principal constituent of skin fat and helps to maintain skin softness while minimizing wrinkles. Sandthorn has a very “high content” of this important omega-7 fatty acid, “which is uncommon in the plant kingdom,” says one noted authority.
Conditions of skin inflammation also fare well with this particular berry. Japanese and Russian studies have shown extracts of sandthorn will reduce inflammation and promote the regeneration of new skin in many instances. My own father Jacob Heinerman took daily intakes of a certain beverage containing 42 percent sandthorn berry for the last six months of his life (he passed away in his sleep at age 93 in early Feb. 2007). His skin before this was as thin and delicate as parchment paper. But when he went on the berry juice the skin on his hands and forearms began getting back some of their natural tone and elasticity. To me, this was the greatest testament of all to sandthorn berry being nature’s own cosmetic miracle for recreating skin deep beauty lost years before.