Note from the editor: Each month, Annie Willow will answer your questions about holistic health. Always consult your health care professional before using natural remedies to avoid any potential issues with your existing medication. 

Q: My skin is sensitive and with the cooler temps, it feels so dry, scaly and chapped it hurts. The over-the-counter lotions burn and make it worse. Are there any natural remedies that can help?

A: Skin is the largest organ of the body; its job is to provide a natural shield of protection to our internal organs, muscles and bones. Skin stays hydrated and supple by producing oils from the sebaceous glands. External factors that lead to dry skin are lower humidity levels, heated air and exposure to wind and cold temperatures. The main internal factor is that many people do not feel as thirsty during winter and do not drink enough water or fruit juices. This produces a lower volume of circulating blood, causing dehydration.

You can combat the effects of dry skin by following these simple tips:

• Drink plenty of water to hydrate from within.

• Warm up with green tea — packed with antioxidants to reduce skin inflammation.

• Omega 3 supplements help increase the skin’s natural barrier to the elements.

• Exfoliate with a loofah sponge before showering.

• Use warm instead of hot water when bathing.

• Avoid products with sulfates, parabens and petroleum distillates.

• Moisturize with a few drops of olive oil after bathing.

• Use a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air.

Q: My goal for the new year is to be healthier, and I would like to try a cleansing detox, but I need to start slow so I can stay committed. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this?

A: Starting out slow is always a smart idea when making major diet changes. Following these simple steps will help you ease into a healthier, happier you in 2014:

• Drink eight glasses of lemon water daily (reduces acid while detoxifying).

• Eliminate sugar, flour, processed and fried foods that zap your energy.

• Eat organic foods.

• Replace one meal a day with a Green Smoothie (1 cup kale, 1 Granny Smith apple, 1 ripe banana, ½ cup fresh parsley). This smoothie is a great source of natural fiber and an energy booster.

• Replace coffee or soda with green tea, which is filled with antioxidants.

• Exercise will help you eliminate toxins and release energy boosting endorphins.

• Get seven to eight hours of sleep — your body heals at rest and you will have more energy during the day.

• Avoid environmental toxins (sulfates, parabens, ammonia) in your cleaning and body products -— our bodies absorb 60 percent of everything with which we come in contact.

• Get a relaxing reflexology treatment to reduce stress and toxins in your body.

Annie Willow owns Happy Pretty You! Reiki Salon & Spa (HappyPrettyYou.com) a holistic salon and spa while enjoying the natural wonders of life as an islander with Serenity Now, her Chihuahua-Italian Greyhound. Ask Annie your questions about holistic health at HappyPrettyYou@yahoo.com or 409-765-5502.

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