Connecting the Spots

DSCN4969I went to my dermatologist recently complaining about several skin conditions. I have psoriasis on my elbows, eczema on my face, and vitiligo (Michael Jackson disease!) under my chin. “Isn’t it strange that I have all of these skin issues all at once?” I asked him. He just shrugged and said, “It happens.” He didn’t ask me about my diet, or what lotions or soaps I was using. He certainly didn’t want to discuss my brush with skin cancer and the possibility that dumping chemicals on your skin in the form of sunscreen could be a factor. The Environmental Working Group in the U.S. and the Suzuki Foundation here in Canada have quite a lot to say about the damaging role of cosmetics and other skin care products. But my skin doc didn’t even seem curious about possible connections. It’s a very different experience when I visit one of my complementary medicine practitioners; they are very aware of how everything connects.

As David Suzuki says, “science often focuses on a part of nature, isolating that part, then describing and probing it. This is called reductionism. Although the approach can provide powerful insights, it can also cause scientists to lose sight of the context or surroundings, which are intimately connected to the part being studied. A plant or animal in a flask or growth chamber is no longer subject to the light and temperature changes of day and night, the seasons, rain and wind, predation, or disease.”

Viewing things in isolation will not serve us well whether we’re facing a skin problem or climate change.

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