I refer to Dr Fukaya’s latest blog post titled “The skin produces steroids by itself“. Do read to understand the context for my following notes, especially the cortisol effects on skin.
My thoughts are that if Dr Fukaya’s hypothesis is true (which is based on a very logical medical explanation), here are some implications that his hypothesis may result.
Personally, I believe that our goal during our TSW is not to achieve perfect looking skin immediately, but rather, to achieve a normal baseline physical and biological chemistry within our bodies (our baseline blood constituents levels – IgE, white blood counts, platelet counts, skin cortisol, hormone levels etc). Our skin is a reflection of our internal biochemistry. Dr Fukaya’s post on cortisol levels within our skin provides the prime example of why understanding our internal biochemistry is so important in our healing process. The implications are as follows:
1) Get more natural sunlight to produce natural cortisol
Given that UV rays are proved to induce production of steroids in the skin, it makes sense to get more sunlight and do our best to recover our baseline cortisol level during our TSW.
The opposite is also harmful. As TSW sufferers, sometimes we stay indoors too often and avoid going out in the bright sunshine, for fear of heat, sweat and discomfort.
Many people have reported better healing in the presence of sunlight. Dr Fukaya’s hypothesis on skin cortisol effects could be a very logical explanation for this phenomenon.
2) Stay off moisturizers to produce natural cortisol
In his post, he mentioned that the epidermis is proved to produce more cortisol in dry atmosphere. By staying off moisturizers, you may be facilitating recovery of production of inner steroids.
Again, the opposite is harmful. If you have been moisturizing constantly and providing an artificial humid environment, you may be starving off your skin natural cortisol production. This also applies not just to TSW patients, but also normal people who are dependent on moisturizers. There are a couple of veterans who took more than 2-3 years before their skin get a break, many of them used moisturizers liberally during their course of recovery. Who knows how much of the healing time could be shortened if they had done moisturizer withdrawal instead.
Again, the empirical data shows how useful MW is. Many have seen gains and improvement in very short amount of time. Even in my personal case, doing MW has allowed me to exercise and do sports in as early as month 3 of my withdrawal, something that I could not have envisioned myself doing when I was constantly on moisturizers.
I love it when information like this gets posted. It provided a new angle and insight on looking at things differently. Having this information, coupled with many other people’s (as well as mine) experiences, we could potentially develop certain “natural heuristics” to manage TSW. From his post, we can derive certain heuristics: get more sunlight, stop moisturizing etc so as to recover our baseline cortisol level.
Again, we have to read critically. There are also plenty of assumptions on his cortisol hypothesis. Those heuristics that I have pointed out will be naught if his hypothesis is wrong. His hypothesis is also wrong if his assumption of how the way cortisol affects the skin layer is wrong.
But in all aspects, what I have highlighted about being critical are just argumentative semantics.
At a personal level, the best way to test this is to “experiment” yourself to know if Dr Fukaya is bullshitting or not. Go get more sunlight. Stop applying moisturizers. Determine it yourself.
At an academic/scientific level, the best way is to isolate cortisol levels in skin as a variable and test the cortisol effects on skin.
My own personal opinion is that it makes plenty of sense on a logical basis. However, I learnt to not even listen or pay attention to my own personal opinions that much they remain as “personal opinions”.
I like to see hard data. The current hard data I have is that MW works, and having more sunlight always helped me in my TSW personally. This “hard” data may appear soft to you, but it is very real to myself and to many others, as I am the only one who can quantify the positive effects of MW and sunlight personally.
Getting more sunlight soon!