Acne seems to go hand-in-hand with being a teenager, although some are afflicted more than others. Traditional treatments focus on using topical creams and drying agents such as Isotretinoin (Accutane) and corticosteroids or powerful antibiotics such as tetracycline. These pharmaceuticals may clear the skin, but at what cost?
Accutane is not safe for use while pregnant and is linked to birth defects, depression, suicidal tendancies and IBS. (1) The majority of side effects are related to gut health. And while antibiotics may destroy harmful bacteria, they also destroy beneficial bacteria which affect total body health because the gut is the source of all health. Think about it, autoimmune disorders begin in the gut, if you cannot assimilate the foods you eat, you become malnourished and eventually die. Additionally, the gut is called “the second brain” due to neuron density being even greater than in the spinal cord and where the production of over 95% of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that influence mood takes place in the gut. So tampering with the delicate balance of bacteria, which composes over 50% of our fecal mass (2) can wreak havoc on our overall health! Is it any wonder that there are so many allergies and autoimmune disorders these days when they were unheard of during our grandparents’ generation?
Some anti-acne regimens involve down-regulating androgen production. Because androgens are more abundant in males, acne is much more likely in boys than in girls. Testosterone encourages the production of oils in the skin, and these oils or sebum are what combine with dead, sticky cells to form comedones, hard plugs that block pores. We commonly refer to these comedones as whiteheads which contain non-oxidized sebum, and blackheads which contain oils that have been exposed to oxygen causing the dark color. These types of comedones are classified as noninflammatory acne, while more severe types of acne involve a bacterial invasion of the underlying hair follicle. When these follicles burst under the skin a pimple, papule, pustule, or cyst is formed. Cystic acne is the most serious and often results in permanent scarring. Treatments for these scars include dermabrasion, acid peels, skin grafting, punching (removing scars and inserting new plugs of skin, cryotherapy, and laser treatments.(3)
Traditional medicine has a measure of truth in its treatment of acne-- it CAN be related to oils, hormones, and bacteria. But the approach taken to address these root causes is superficial at best, focusing only on the external skin. You see, what is often forgotten is that healthy skin starts on the inside, and the skin is the largest organ of the body responsible for detoxification of the body in addition to the liver, lungs, colon, lymph and kidneys. So drying out the skin by reducing sebum production with testosterone regulators or Accutane is not really the answer. Healthy skin needs oils, and healthy skin detoxifies through this oil production as well. Additionally, killing all bacteria in the body through indiscriminate antibiotic use sets up the body for other more serious health issues.
So, if the traditional medical approach is NOT the answer, then what is? I recommend 8 Keys to Acne-Free Skin to all of my clients with these issues.
1. Drink plenty of pure water every day-- The standard holistic recommendation is one-half your body weight in ounces of water per day. You can also count clear liquids such as herbal teas and broths in this daily recommendation, however you MUST cut the sugary drinks which proliferate the growth of harmful pathogens that contribute to acne.
2. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables every day (5+ servings daily)--These foods contain fiber which cleanse the body naturally plus vitamins and minerals which are necessary for healthy organs that detoxify the body, balance hormones, and combat harmful pathogens-- all of which contribute to healthy skin! Mineral deficiencies from a nutrient-deficient diet contribute to acne. Your skin needs the building blocks for health, and establishing a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is the first step.
3. Consume plenty of “good fats”-- Good fats push bad fats out from the skin, making fats and oils detoxifying agents! They are also satisfying and help to curb hunger, balance blood sugar and encourage weight loss when in eaten in proper proportions and in the proper combination with other foods. Examples of good fats include: coconut oil, olive oil, grass fed butter, raw milk, avocado, fish oil/ fish (salmon), eggs, cocoa butter, red palm oil, nuts, etc.
Cut the "bad fats" out of your diet: hydrogenated oils, which include fried foods (even if they claim NO TRANS FATS, high temperatures convert these oils into trans fats), processed foods, baked goods, etc. Without good oils and fats, a healthy body and healthy skin are not possible. Your brain is composed of 60% fat. Fats are essential for the formation of the nerve sheath. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary for heart and endocrine health. Hormones are formed using the fat-soluble vitamins F, A, K, E & D, which are available from fish and leafy greens. Interestingly, sun-dried tomatoes are very high in Vitamin K, and fat-soluble chlorophyll contains all 5 fat-soluble vitamins. Additionally, supplements that assist with fat and oil absorption may be beneficial. I recommend Betafood and Cholacol II by Standard Process.
4. Detoxify the liver--The skin is the final detox pathway for the body, so if the other five pathways (liver, lungs, colon, lymph and kidneys) are not functioning properly, then the skin will show it. It is like not taking out the trash-- eventually odors will come from the house so that those on the outside begin to notice. Likewise, acne begins on the inside, which means that diet and detox are crucial. In addition to Keys 1-3, supplementation and a cleansing or detoxification protocol can assist with purification of the skin. Additionally, the liver is responsible for clearing excess hormones from the body, which leads us to the next key.
5. Balance hormones-- Rather than forcing the body to suppress hormone production, hormone balance is needed for healthy skin and body. Symplex F (for females) or M (for males) and Chaste Tree are two key supplements that aid in this delicate balance. And as mentioned previously, fat-soluble cholorophyll is important for hormone production and balance. Avoiding processed foods also plays into optimal hormone balance.
6. Control bacteria-- Typically our first thought is, “Kill the bacteria,” but for the body to do this naturally, a strong immune system is necessary. While modern antibiotics are certainly necessary in dire, life-threatening conditions, they are thrown at infections far too quickly these days, thus creating antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria or “super bugs.” And the use of these antibiotics is not without a cost to our bodies as well, as we discussed earlier with regard to gut health, mental health, and overall health of our body. Dr. Royal Lee said it best: “We are poisoning people trying to correct the reactions of starvation.”
Nutrition is the basis for virulent immune function, but eating enough foods from mineral-depleted soils is a challenge to today’s American. So, supplementation can be beneficial. The Immune Triad from Standard Process is a first step. Dr. Royal Lee rightfully attributed all immune deficiencies to a lack of ionized calcium, which is verified by these scientific studies. Thymex stimulates the phagocyte and lymph function. Zinc is critical for immune function and hormone production. Probiotics are important for healthy immune function, but the gut environment must be hospitable for these healthy flora to take root. Zymex will help establish a suitable home for these welcome guests by altering your gut pH while putting out an “unwelcome” mat for malicious flora such as candida. Interestingly, lactobacillus acidophilus need lactose to thrive, and if you don’t consume dairy, then there is not an adequate food source for these beneficial bacteria to grow, then they quickly exit the body, meaning that you are wasting your money on probiotics alone!
Antibiotic herbs can also be used as well. Internally I recommend Pau d’Arco, Olive Leaf, and Golden Seal. Nature’s Sunshine has a Pau d’Arco lotion for external use, and don’t forget powerful essential oils such as Melaleuca, Lavender, or Clear Skin (roll-on or foaming face wash) by doTERRA. Recently, I learned about hydrosols from Ethical Aromatherapy Facebook group. Several people recommend these hydrosols for acne: Green Myrtle, Rosalina, and German Chamomile. SilverSol is also an amazing product for the control of a broad spectrum of pathogens including Propionibacterium acnes, and it is available in liquid or gel form for both internal and external use.
Another exciting natural treatment for acne is light therapy. Just as ultraviolet light from the sun is healing and good for acne, other colors and wavelengths of light will reverse and prevent acne, among a host of other things. Click here to view a short excerpt about the benefits of light from my eBook “Let There Be Light!” The Light Beam Generator mentioned in this excerpt is one therapy I offer in my clinic. Contact me to schedule an appointment today!
7. Cleanse skin sensibly-- Pertaining to cleansing with acne, we think, “Cut the grease!” resulting in very dry skin that is still acne-prone. This was the case with me as a teenager-- I naturally have very dry skin, so drying it out even further in spite of acne made my face red and painful. As I mentioned before when discussing “good fats,” our skin needs oils to be healthy! In fact, there is an Oil Cleansing Method for the skin that works on the principle of good fats being used to PULL out bad fats from the skin. Oil dissolves oil, so this method works by loosening comedones in the pores so they can be washed away WITHOUT DRYING OUT YOUR SKIN! Almost Exactly and Purified Skin Care. Read Molly’s testimony about oil cleansing here. A few other sound suggestions for cleansing include:
- gentle washing of affected areas once or twice every day
- avoid abrasive cleansers
- use noncomedogenic makeup and moisturizers
- shampoo often and wear hair off face
8. Don’t touch-- Oils and bacteria from your hands will only exacerbate acne, and popping zits can push infected oils deeper into the skin vs. pushing them to the surface, resulting in deeper infections and possible cystic scarring. Bacteria from one pimple or cyst can be spread through squeezing or popping as well. Also excess oils from your face can be transferred to your pillowcase at night, and the bacteria there can continue to proliferate, leading to a vicious cycle. Try covering your pillowcase with a fresh hand towel or handkerchief each night.
So, as you can see, acne starts on the inside, and taking care of the surface of the skin is only part of the solution. Give these methods a try and let me know how they work for you. Questions? I offer a FREE 30-minute phone consultation to anyone who is ready to make serious lifestyle changes in order to clear up their skin and restore their health. I consult with local and remote clients, and I would love to get you started on The Road to Your New Vitality! You can also contact me to order any of the products mentioned here. SAVE 20% of retail during the month of October when you order The Standard Process Immune Triad &/ or SilverSol liquid or gel.
L'chaim-- To Life!