Liver spots are medically termed "Lentigos" and also known as age spots. They are sharply defined light brown to black flat patches of skin that appear on the face and backs of the hands, looking somewhat like a large freckle. They may measure up to 1 inch in size.
Who is most at risk of developing Liver Spots?
The spots most commonly develop in people of middle age and older. They are more common in people who have spent a lot of time in the sun.
What causes Liver Spots?
The spots are brought out by exposure to the sun. The color is due to pigments within the cells of the epidermis (top skin layer). Many people have a hereditary predisposition to develop liver spots. Free radicals are unstable atoms in the body that start a domino type effect leading to damage of cellular components such as DNA. Over time this can lead to many conditions attributable to cellular damage such as skin conditions including liver spots.
What can be done about Liver Spots?
As sun exposure plays a role in the development of liver spots it is advisable to stay out of the sun. Cover up when outside and use a good quality sunscreen (minimum spf 15) as part of your daily skin care regime. Improving the liver function is important to prevent and manage skin conditions of any description including liver spots, as the liver is the major filter of the blood, clearing it of toxins that can build up in the system and create free radicals which promote cell damage in the skin. The key to keeping free radical production to a minimum is to consume foods and supplements rich in "antioxidants" These are molecules that in effect put a halt on the destructive 'domino' effect of the free radicals.
Are Liver Spots Dangerous?
These lesions are classed as 'benign" or non cancerous. They are generally harmless and painless. The main effect is cosmetic - this may cause some distress. Occasionally a person may develop 'keratosis' which look very similar to a liver spot. Keratosis are a pre-cancerous scaly red lesion. It is recommended that all people with dark freckles, moles or liver spots should have a skin examination yearly.
Recommended Dr Cabot books:
The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book
The Liver Cleansing Diet
Raw Juices Can Save Your Life
As stated above consumption of foods high in natural antioxidants is the best insurance policy against free radical production. Follow the vital principles of eating outlined on p 20 - 27 of The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book by Dr. Cabot and make these principles a way of life. Aim to eat at least 5 servings of fruit or vegetables per day. To improve your liver function you must avoid ALL dairy foods including milk, cheese, cream, butter, ice cream, yogurt, chocolate etc. the fat content of milk is actually quite negligible in terms of weight loss - dairy foods contain high levels of antibiotics, steroids and artificial growth hormones as this is what the herds are treated with in today's high tech dairies to prevent disease and boost milk production. As with humans where substances go through into breast milk it is the same for cattle - only they neglect to tell you this in the advertisements when they are telling you how great milk is. If you need further info on this please visit www.notmilk.com Try some different brands and varieties of soy as they vary greatly. The fresh soy products in the dairy cabinet are much lighter and not as strong in taste as the long life products. There are also rice milks and almond milks to try.
- Avoid ALL margarines and similar type spreads
- Avoid deep fried and fatty foods.
- Avoid sugary processed foods and drinks
- Limit chicken and turkey that is not free range (contains artificial growth hormones, antibiotics and steroids)
- Drink 2 liters of water each day
- Avoid artificial sweeteners see www.dorway.com
Healthy Sweetener Use Guide
Sweeteners to Avoid:
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Acesulfame-K (Sunette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One)
Sweeteners to Use:
- Stevia *
- Barley Malt
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Fruit Juice
- Rice Syrup
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) *
- *= Safe for Diabetics
Dr. Cabot has known about the incredible healing power of raw juices from a very young age. Her grandmother's life was saved by raw juicing back in the 1930s. Raw juices are an incredible powerful healing tool and can improve the function of the liver, bowels and kidneys. This increases the elimination of toxins and waste products from the skin. Carrot juice in particular is recommended as a good source of betacarotene - a precursor to vitamin A which is an important protector of the skin.
The recommended juices from Dr. Cabot's Raw Juices Can Save Your Life book are:
- "Skin Problems Juice" on p 131
- "Liver Cleansing" or Liver tonic" juices on p 116
Traditionally treatments used in medical practices have been quite destructive - and generally entailed burning with mild acid solutions or freezing the lesion - this would cause some damage to the surrounding skin. Modern use of lasers can effectively remove the spots without damaging the surrounding skin. Lasers work to selectively remove the pigment containing cells of each lesion. They require no anesthesia.
Dear Dr. Cabot,
I am 56 years old and went through menopause 4 years ago. My biggest problem is that I am developing brown blotches on my face and hands, which is disappointing as I have always used a sun block and good quality creams. I am also a little fat around my middle and feel nauseated in the mornings or if I eat rich foods. My doctor told me that these symptoms were due to menopause and getting older. Indeed he called my brown spots and blotches "cemetery flowers" which horrified me. Please help me as I am losing my self-esteem and I did not think menopause caused these problems. I certainly do not feel like an old lady!
Well perhaps you should suggest to you doctor that he should take a course in how to improve his bedside manner! You are correct in saying that menopause does not cause these problems and indeed you are complaining of symptoms of a dysfunctional liver. Laser therapy can reduce them, as can special creams containing fruit acids and/or retinoic acid. You should consult a top plastic surgeon about the best brands of these creams. Most importantly you should concentrate on preventing more of these spots/blotches from coming which means we will need to improve your liver function. Once we cleanse and heal the liver, one could say rejuvenate the liver, then your skin will be rejuvenated and the brown spots will gradually fade and will stop developing. Vitamin E and selenium in a dose of 1,000 I.U. and 200 micrograms respectively can be taken everyday to fade the brown spots.