products-imagePlease pinch me now! It’s hard to believe that I had the FANTASTIC good fortune to do an email interview with a woman who embodies so much of what I’m about!! It’s going to be hard not to gush here, so allow me the liberty….

Sarah VillafrancoSarah Villafranco, M.D., is a doctor with a holistic bend, a mom, a nature aficionado, and an organic product lover—OMG! Need I say more?!  Yes I do! She’s also totally funny, beautiful, approachable, no-nonsense, and as real as you’ll ever find. And she seems to have a wickedly goofy personality to boot (just check out some of her hilarious photos)!

Sarah created Osmia Organics, an artisanal line of natural skin care products in 2010, soon after making her first soap and loving the result and the process.
I am SO BLOWN AWAY by her carefully created skin care products (more on that after the interview) and her philosophy that I asked her to answer TEN questions here.
I hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I do.  And then hop on over to the Osmia Organics website to nab some of her outstanding products.
Q: What troubled you about modern day medicine that triggered your evolution to a more holistic approach?

(Courtesy of So...Let's Hang Out Blog)

Overall, I think what troubled me most was a lack of investment on the part of the patients, which, in large part, was caused by western medicine itself.

With an ever-growing ego, western medicine over the last 50 years has swooped in and convinced people that they need doctors and pills to help themselves.  This is certainly the truth in some instances, and doctors and pills have saved millions of lives.  However, the bulk of our health problems as a society stem from not taking responsibility for our own basic health.
WE must choose health, recognize our own potential to heal, and maximize that power within us. Only once we are eating well, exercising, caring for ourselves, our communities, and our planet can large scale change occur.
Western physicians are so overrun by managing problems like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes—all largely preventable illnesses—that they run out of time to see the forest instead of the trees.  Even those physicians with the very best intentions can get beaten by the system, ultimately conforming to the requirements and persuasions of insurance and drug companies. In fact, sometimes that is the only way to get the patients the care they need within our current system.  It’s totally complicated and really, really scary.
Q: Was it challenging to break free of the mindset that doctors have all the answers and that modern medicine is the only solution? (Honestly, I can’t believe how many people that I know who still believe that.)

It wasn’t challenging for me to break free of that mindset personally, because I have always been a believer in self-healing.  However, working within the system while upholding that philosophy was definitely a challenge.

As a physician who believes in alternative modalities, I got a lot of grief from other docs and nurses.  There was definitely some eye-rolling by other providers who overheard me recommending a nightly bath with lavender oil for insomnia, instead of just prescribing Ambien.
And, patients have been conditioned to expect prescriptions, which is also a big challenge.  I’m sorry, folks, but antibiotics just don’t help a common cold.  Never have, never will.
Q: What can you teach people who still believe that symptom-based treatments are the ultimate answer?
many-religions-believe-plants-possess-soulsIt’s just like looking at a plant.  If it is flourishing and vibrant, that is an indication that the soil and root system are healthy.
If it has pests, or is wilting, or leaves are falling off, there is a problem at a deeper level, and no amount of pesticide or pruning will help until the deeper problem is addressed.
Really, every person needs to sit down and ask him/herself this question: am I doing all I can to promote my own health?  If the answer is no, things need to change.
Q: Is there a happy medium between modern medicine and alternative approaches to health?  If so, what have you discovered?

Image courtesy of 123RF

Of course!  There is room for all of it.  The most important aspect of either approach is starting from the bottom and working up.

If you are not eating well, or are smoking cigarettes, or are not exercising, those things just have to change first.  And they change when you take responsibility for yourself, and stop expecting someone else to fix you.
Then, once you have started to change those things, you and your physician can decide together which treatment modalities, from acupuncture to medication, will help support you and keep you healthy while you continue forward in that commitment to yourself.
Q: How does the health of your skin reflect internal balance or imbalance?
body-oils__31158In the plant analogy above, your skin is one of your leaves.  It is an indicator of health.  As the body’s largest organ, the skin will often manifest symptoms if something is not healthy at a deeper level.
From acne, to perioral dermatitis, to eczema, to more concerning conditions like acanthosis nigricans, your skin may be telling you something about your internal environment.  A great example of this is how dietary changes in certain people can have such a huge effect on their skin condition – by tending the roots, you change the leaves.
Q: Does using chemical-free products really make a difference?
moisturizepic__87675Yes, in practically innumerable ways.  A rapidly increasing body of evidence is forming to show that chemicals used for years in the personal care industry may be causing a long list of problems, both health-related and in our environment.
It’s a controversial issue, and, while the evidence is not entirely conclusive, I think we are starting to see proof of how things like phthalates, parabens, ethoxylated compounds, and petrochemicals are way more harmful to us and our ecosystem than beneficial.
Q: What is an effective way for people to determine if a product is good for them?  How soon should they see results?
_mg_3462__83406First, consider the source.
Look for a company with a strong philosophy based in progressive thinking.
Look at their ingredients (do they use parabens and phthalates?), their packaging (have they considered the environmental impact?), the information available on their site (full ingredient lists?), and, importantly, what information is NOT available (are they hiding something?).
Then, read product descriptions to determine which products seem right for you.
If you still have questions, contact the company to request guidance and possibly samples.  If you are using natural products, results can take a little more time, especially if you are treating a particular skin concern.
A steroid cream may work quickly, but is a very temporary solution.  Using natural skin care is part of a long-term solution.  After 4-6 weeks of use, you should be able to tell whether a product is working well for your skin.  And, remember, there are other elements of the experience besides what you see in the mirror.  Does it feel good when you use it?  Does the smell soothe you?  Those are important, too!
Q: Is it true that sometimes a new product will cause the skin to purge and may look worse before it gets better?
exfoliatepic2__54476Absolutely.   There is almost always a bump or two (literally) in the transition from one skin care product or routine to another.  It is due to the skin adjusting its own sebum production in response to what is being applied, and can take a week or two.
If you have a rash or hives, however, you may be allergic to an ingredient (even an all-natural one) and you should stop using the product until you have figured out which ingredient is disagreeing with you.
Q: Are there certain skin issues that your customers have resolved thanks to your products? If so, what do they report to you? Which ingredients did you choose for that purpose?
faceWe have had some great reports for acne sufferers with our Black Clay Facial Soap and Spot Treatment.  The Dead Sea mud in the soap has an excellent balancing effect, and the potent essential oils in our Spot Treatment quiet inflammation while helping blemishes heal, rather than mercilessly drying them out.
Our Restoration Serum has been praised for irritated skin after starting Retin-A or having a peel; with a high concentration of lavender essential oil and other healing botanicals, it’s really soothing for damaged skin.
Our greatest success stories, though, have come from our perioral dermatitis (PD) customers. This is a condition that affects a large number of people (mostly women) and can be very frustrating to manage.  I developed symptoms of PD about 4 years ago, and it was part of the reason I started Osmia.  I created some products to help improve my own skin, and learned a lot about what helped and what didn’t.
I have an article and a video on my site in which I share some of my experience, and make some recommendations for minimizing perioral dermatitis symptoms.  While we don’t make any claims about treating or curing PD, we have heard some pretty wonderful stories from customers who are able to go out on dates again or leave the house without makeup after months of misery – it’s such a privilege to be able to help someone that way.
Q: Going forward, what developments would you like to see happen in the holistic wellness/skincare fields?

The world depends on our kindness towards each other and the planet. (Image courtesy of Ecofriend.com)

Oh my.  Where do I begin?

  • I’d love to see each person on this beautiful planet understand how blessed we are to be here for a short time, and make the absolute most of the gift of health.
  • I hope that more physicians will dig deeper into people’s habits and lifestyles, and get back to basics, while lovingly encouraging their patients to participate in their own wellbeing.
  • I’d like to invite every person I know and every person I don’t know to help care for the earth and its species in every way possible.
  • I would like us to stop hurting this habitat we all share, and join forces to make change.
  • And, while we are doing all of these big and wonderful and lofty things, I’d like to get as many people hooked on Osmia products and Osmia moments as possible—taking those few seconds to nurture yourself using these luxurious products from nature can only leave you more inspired to protect the source!
AMEN, SISTA!!
face-cal-serum-frontno-cap__96872.1332176956.1280.1280So far, I’ve enjoyed and recommend trying the Black Clay Facial Soap (cleansing but non-drying), the Spot Treatment (therapeutic blend of blemish-blasting oils), any of the body oils (heavenly!), the Facial Calibration Serum (replenishes and balances without oily residue), and the Active Gel Nutrient Serum (love the unique pump and light texture, perfect for my summer uber-reactive skin). The scents alone transport me to winding forest trails and allow me to fully immerse in the enjoyment of each product. (Full disclosure: I bought many of these products and Sarah generously sent samples along with my order.)
The package arrived wrapped beautifully with a lovely hand-written note. How special is that? If you ask me, it’s those extra touches that mark a truly unique and effective line. Osmia stands out from the bunch!

You can connect with Sarah on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and of course, the Osmia Organics website.

Photo Credits

  • Osmia Organics
  • Veggies: Courtesy of So…Let’s Hang Out blog
  • An apple a day: Courtesy of cause-and-effect.com
  • Plant: Courtesy of theweek.com
  • Doctor with tray: Courtesy of 123RF
  • Globe in hand: Courtesy of Ecofriend.com
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