Graceful Aging 101: Anti-Aging Treatments and the Nervous System

As a holistic skin therapist who focuses on skin health using Germanic Healing Knowledge and a whole body approach, I get asked about about my thoughts on Botox, Micro-needling, Chemical Peels and other invasive anti-aging treatments a lot, so I want to take this opportunity to explain HOW aging occurs from an internal perspective, and how these treatments can interrupt that process and even accelerate aging in the long term.

I am completely aware that many women have these treatments done regularly, so please understand that this blog post is strictly for educational purposes only, and that this space will always remain judgement free, whether you choose to have these services done or not.

The skin is our largest organ, enveloping our entire body, protecting it from the external world, while also helping to regulate our body temperature. Because it is our shield from the external world, the beauty industry misleads us by making us believe that healthy skin comes solely from topical products, but this way of marketing couldn’t be further from the truth.

When you look at the diagram below of the skin, you can see how intricate the skin is. Far beyond this diagram, every single system in the body communicates with this delicate organ and vice versa. The lymphatic system, circulatory system, nervous system, muscular system… they each play a vital role in skin health (and our overall whole body health).

The Nervous System and Aging

When it comes to aging, your nervous system plays one of the biggest roles in skin health and how well (or not well) we age.

The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling our bodily functions that are not consciously directed, such as breathing, digestion and our heartbeat. This nervous system is made up of two parts:

  • Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight)
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System (Rest or Digest)

We’re always told that stress is horrible for our body, but do you fully understand why?

Most people in our hectic, busy, modern world live in a constant state of stress, deep in fight or flight mode, which is when the sympathetic nervous system is activated. When our sympathetic nervous system is activated:

  • collagen and elastin break down and cannot work efficiently
  • heart beat and blood pressure increase
  • digestion and digestive enzyme production slows
  • lack of ability to absorb sufficient nutrients
  • liver health and enzyme production decrease
  • adrenaline, cortisol and blood pressure rise
  • poor sleeping habits or insomnia
  • immune system is suppressed

A Look at Conventional Anti-Aging Treatments

Your sympathetic system is activated every time you experience pain. Think that about that for a minute… because each time you experience one of the above mentioned treatments, your sympathetic nervous system is activated creating all of the above bodily functions to occur. If you’re someone who already experiences a constant state stress, then you’re only increasing the negative effects of the sympathetic nervous system.

The theory of some of these treatments, is that by creating an inflammatory response in the skin, the skin will go into healing mode and collagen and elastin production will be stimulated. Yet when the body experiences pain and is in the sympathetic system, collagen and elastin actually breakdown.

When the skin experiences injury and inflammation, it will be forced into healing mode. During healing mode, elastin and collagen production will begin to be stimulated, but is this really how we want the collagen and elastin to be produced… by injuring the skin? Instead, there are ways that we can actually work WITH the body to make it stimulate this production in a healthy way.

It is also important to understand that creating inflammation in the skin will cause a domino effect, creating inflammation to spread to other areas of the body, too. When your body and skin experience inflammation frequently or for prolonged periods of time, it will cause damage to your tissues. This is the very reason why inflammation within the body eventually leads to disease.

Lastly, healthy, glowing, gracefully aging skin NEEDS flow beneath it… flow of circulation, nutrients, lymph fluid and all of the other activity that goes on under the skin’s surface. Botox, which is the trade name for “botulinum toxin”, which is one of the most powerful neurotoxins known today, temporarily paralyzes the muscles, preventing the very vital flow that is necessary for healthy skin aging.

Aging Can be Scary

My fortieth birthday has come and gone and I have had two children, so I fully understand how the signs of aging creeping in can make some women feel a little insecure. About two years ago, I woke up one day and noticed some very distinct laugh lines on my face that I had never noticed before. For the first few months, that’s ALL I could see when I look in the mirror. Yet, when I look back at baby photos of my son, those lines were faintly beginning back then. Somehow, it took me a long time to notice them.

Conventional anti-aging treatments make you look younger over night, so it makes these treatments seem pretty enticing when you wake up one day and suddenly see yourself quickly aging. But very few people are taught about the internal effects of these treatments have. Most of the people performing these treatments aren’t even fully aware of what they’re causing nor does any of us fully understand the long term effects of these treatments (these treatments are still too new).

To age in the best way possible in the long term, we want to avoid inflammation and lack of flow within the skin as much as possible. The healthiest skin comes from healthy flow beneath it and the most beautifully aged women are the ones who have taken optimal care of themselves, both physically and mentally.

“True rejuvenation is not one where pain is involved. Instead, it should be achieved by resetting the nervous system, while bringing about a deep sense of relaxation.”

Because of this, skin healing treatments and “anti-aging” treatments should only ever be performed with absolute intentional focus on calming the nervous system, putting you into a deep, meditative state, allowing your parasympathetic system to take over. Opposite to the above bodily functions that occur when you’re in pain or under stress, when you experience deep relaxation, you active your parasympathetic.

When you activate the parasympathetic system:

  • collagen and elastin production are stimulated and are able to work optimally
  • tissue and cells regenerate
  • salivary glands and digestive fluids are released
  • liver health dramatically improves
  • restful sleep occurs, enabling tissues to repair and rebuild
  • adrenaline, cortisol and blood pressure all drop to healthy levels
  • the body begins to heal and age gracefully
  • immune system is uploaded and white blood cells move nicely

Because we live in a high-stress society, you can probably now understand why meditation, optimal self care, holistic eating and relaxation treatments are so vital to our health.

To age gracefully, we need to remove inflammation, pain and stress from our lives as much as possible and openly embrace a truly holistic life style.

It is this exact reason why I have spent the past few years of my career completely submerged in more holistic education and advanced massage techniques. Not only should a facial be an extremely relaxing, meditative experience, but it should also be performed to work with what’s occurring underneath what we visibly see as the skin. Circulation, lymphatic movement, connective tissue, fascia…. all of the layers of the skin and all of the systems of the body have to be harmoniously working together in order to have healthy skin and age gracefully. Unfortunately, conventional anti-aging treatments actually prevent all of this from happening in the long term. The advanced massage courses that I have been taking have taught me how to make all of this happen through face massage. The head is the main control centre of our body, and every single part of our body is connected to the face through the nervous system. While a facial massage is simply performed on the face and neck, it will have positive effects on the entire body as a whole, when performed properly.

Summary

Now that you understand aging on a more physiological level, you can see and understand why conventional and trendy “anti-aging” treatments that create pain within the body, such as injections and strong peels, would not be ideal treatments for long-term aging because they all activate the sympathetic system – the part of the nervous system that, when overstimulated, will actually accelerate the aging process over time.

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About Rachel Devine

I’m a Holistic Skin Therapist, Germanic Healing Knowledge Practitioner, Somatic Healing Therapist and a Breathwork Coach. I am here to help you deeply understand and nurture your skin, discover the biological root causes of your skin symptoms, and then guide you to ignite your inner-healing. I’ve been through my own deep healing journey for the past decade. I am now certified in many of the holistic healing modalities that I’ve used to heal my own skin and body. By working with me, I’ll help you deeply connect to your body, so that you can better understand your skin and then heal it for good, naturally.