If you are one of 60 million American's suffering from Acne, you have probably been told that it is a result of clogged pores and that you produce too much oil and/or have bad bacteria on your skin. That may be the standard medical opinion but what would a Naturopathic doctor say?
We focus on identifying the ROOT cause of acne, so lets take a closer look. Acne, like any inflammatory skin condition, is usually linked to poor digestive health. After all, our internal milieu is directly related to our external milieu. What I mean by this is that the health of our internal environment is directly related to the health of our external environment or our SKIN. Other factors may include improper diet, hormonal imbalance, and blood sugar irregularities.
Now, lets focus on what we can do to resolve acne.
Step 1: Dietary Correction: Identify any food allergies or intolerances and remove them from your diet. Foods that cannot properly be digested or create inflammation in the bowels, can cause inflammation on your skin. Highly refined carbohydrates, sugars, and diary products are usually problematic foods for most people. You may also need to take supplements like L glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes, or fiber to help optimize your digestive health. When we speak of digestion, we think GI tract but don't forget your LIVER. The liver plays a very important role in digestive health (and in hormone balancing) so don't forget to add in herbals like milk thistle or dandelion root.
Step 2: Correct Nutritional Deficiencies: Research has shown that individuals with acne are usually low in several key nutrients. These include Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Selenium. You can either supplement with these nutrients or eat foods that contain these nutrients. Once your digestion is working better, and you are supplementing with these nutrients, your levels should return to normal within 3-6 months. If you would like to know more about your levels, Spectracell micronutrient testing is a good option.
Step 3: Balance your Blood Sugar: Acne is definitely exacerbated by blood sugar issues and many acne suffers have been shown to be deficient in chromium, a nutrient that helps with proper blood sugar balance. Avoid sugary foods and refined carbohydrates as these foods definitely cause blood sugar spikes. Pair protein rich foods with sugar fruits like eating raw almond butter with your apple. Consider adding chromium to your regime if you feel blood sugar is an issue for you.
Step 4: Balance your Hormones: Hormones pay a significant role in you acne. But most issues are not due to your body making improper amounts or ratios, but due to the fact that your liver is overwhelmed and unable to put together or break down hormones in a proper fashion. Your liver is like your "filter", when clogged more inflammation will be pushed through your skin. As I mentioned above, consider adding a liver tonic to your regime. Flax oil can be very helpful at normalizing testosterone levels, as can fiber. Make sure your thyroid is functioning well also, as the thyroid is important for proper hormonal balance.
These are the 4 main steps to our approach for acne. We do usually recommend a good topical regime like washing with calendula soap and using a toner of witch hazel or tea tree, but we find these things are not curative alone. We have to optimize the health of the being, and then the bacterial balance on the skin or the oil production will normalize.
Any lasting changes do take a bit of time and are largely dependent upon your commitment to health, but we see great results with resolving acne. If you need help with your skin, please contact us or a Naturopathic Physician in your area so you can get a individualized plan that will work best for you. We do offer phone and skype consultations for your convenience. If you are an existing client and have comments, please share.