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As you get older, it is natural to expect changes in your body. One clear example is what are known as ‘age spots,’ or ‘liver spots’ – flat, darkened spots that tend to show most on UV-light exposed areas of the body. Typically it affects your face, arms, hands and the tops of your feet. They commonly show up in your 40s and 50s but can appear earlier in parts of the world that are sunnier and warmer or for those who are out in the sun for longer periods. As a naturopathic doctor, these spots represent your body’s natural response to years of ultraviolet sun exposure. There are a few natural ways to reduce and prevent the appearance of these spots and my best seven suggestions are below.

1. Exfoliate.

These spots form on the superficial layer of the skin called the epidermis. One way to help reduce the appearance of these spots is by removing a few layers of your skin, a process called exfoliation. A simple exfoliant is a combination of honey and sugar applied with a gentle scrubbing motion on your skin. The sugar helps to gently scrape the top layer of your skin. Most people feel invigorated by the process, ‘waking up’ your skin. Deeper exfoliation techniques are known as chemical peels which are typically performed with a dermatologist.

2. Antioxidants.

If oxidation (free-radical damage from the sun’s UV-rays) is causing the problem, then anti-oxidation is what you want to do to prevent it. These antioxidant compounds are naturally found in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Make sure to include a variety of plant-based foods in your diet to optimize the range of antioxidants they contain. Typical examples are vitamin C and vitamin E, however, there are hundreds of different naturally-occurring antioxidants in foods. Multiple studies have shown that supplementing vitamin E with vitamin C increases the threshold before redness appears with sun exposure, essentially preventing the signs of sun damaged skin.

3. Polyphenols.

This is a large group of plant based antioxidants that have been shown to do more than just reduce the appearance of age spots. A 2012 study appearing in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology found that giving polyphenol extracts as an oral nutritional supplement improved a number of parameters on the skin after two months: improved skin moisture and elasticity, reduced wrinkle depth and reduced intensity of age spot appearance.

4. Vitamin A.

This is a common skin treatment to help reduce the skin aging process commonly used by dermatologists. They commonly use vitamin A like compounds called retinoids. These treatments have proven benefits and are used therapeutically to reduce and prevent hyperpigmentation, crow’s feet, wrinkles, dull skin and inelasticity.

5. Olive Oil.

You use it in your food, try it on your skin. French researchers found that those who consumed the most olive oil had the least facial sun-damaged skin. I often recommend it directly on the skin for skin irritations since olive oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that promotes skin healing.

6. Detoxify.

Besides sun exposure, other sources of free-radical damage to the skin include environmental pollution. Part of the preventative approach is to regularly cleanse your body. A skin-focused cleanse would include using saunas and steam baths combined with consumption of adequate water, juices and teas. A seasonal cleanse is a good idea, with comprehensive cleanses every two years.

7. Folk Remedies.

There are many folk remedies that may be helpful. Some common ones include applying aloe vera gel, castor oil, or apple cider vinegar directly on the spots. I recommend rinsing the area after about 20 minutes. Over the course of a number of weeks, you may see some improvement.

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.