Acne (acne vulgaris) is due to a hormone imbalance causing the sebaceous glands to produce too much sebum. This blocks the pores and causes a bacterial infection - the bacteria involved are called Propionibacterium acne (P. acne).
Factors that can contribute to acne are oily skin, heredity, menstruation and some contraceptives (both increase levels of progesterone in the body), and an overgrowth of candida (a yeast) in the gut that causes hormonal changes. Other possible contributing factors are stress, allergies and certain drugs including steroids. Nutritional deficiencies and, or a diet high in saturated fats, hydrogenated fats and animal products can also be involved. The pH of the body is also important - an imbalance can influence the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
Antibiotics and certain oral contraceptives are conventional treatments however both have side-effects and neither solves the underlying problem. The acne bacteria are also becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics prescribed to treat it. Using just topical creams and treatments is unfortunately not the answer either because again these just attempt to eliminate the external symptoms. Acne needs to be dealt with from within the body which is where the causes of the condition lie.
The correct and long-term approach for acne is the use of specific supplements and herbs and making any necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle. It is important to understand that improvements are not immediate but should be long-term and far more effective.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and one of its functions is to eliminate some of the body's toxic waste through sweating. However if the levels of toxins in the body are too high for the kidneys and liver to deal with then the skin takes over, and this affects the health of the skin - this is key to many skin disorders.
DIET & LIFESTYLE:
It is important to ensure that you are drinking at least two litres of bottled or filtered water at room temperature each day to flush out toxins.
Eat a healthy diet with fresh, preferably organic food.
Fibre - increasing your intake of dietary fibre can also improve colon health - a healthy digestion leads to healthy skin. Eat plenty of whole grain foods and cereals and at least five pieces of fruits and vegetables each day. Try adding ground flaxseeds to your cereal or salads to give you extra fibre plus a comprehensive source of organic and naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega 3 fatty acids and Lignan - plant nutrients, which speed up the Omega 3 absorption and conversion in the body.
Saturated fat - some people with acne have been found to have problems digesting saturated fat (animal fat and dairy products), which along with fried foods increase the likelihood of blocked pores. It may be beneficial to cut out dairy products for 6-8 weeks to see if there is any improvement. To ensure the nutritional balance of your diet consume alternative non-dairy products such as those detailed below. Either way if you are consuming dairy products ensure that they are organic, because non-organic dairy produce is likely to contain hormones and steroids.
A low-salt, calcium-rich diet can help control outbreaks. Non-dairy sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tofu, apricots and shellfish. Both tofu and soy are also rich sources of phytoestrogens - substances that can naturally help rebalance the hormones in both sexes, so eating organic sources of these foods at least three times a week will also help.
Sulphur-rich foods such as organic eggs, onions and garlic can also be helpful. People with acne are often found to be deficient in potassium so aim to increase your intake of potassium-rich foods such as watercress, cabbage, celery, parsley, courgettes, cauliflower, pumpkin, molasses and bananas.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates (white flour, white bread, white rice etc) stimulate your body to produce more insulin, therefore more hormones and more sebum (oil). Therefore try to avoid all sugar, animal fats, yeast, caffeine and alcohol - this includes butter, biscuits, cakes, cheese, chocolate, cocoa, cream, eggs, fat, meat, fried and processed foods, hot and spicy foods, wheat, margarine, and soft drinks.
Liver Detox - the liver is the organ in your body that helps to get rid of excess hormones and toxins, so a 'liver detox' can be very helpful. Have a hot drink of water (or herbal tea) with fresh lemon every morning as you rise, and consume plenty of raw foods and fresh fruit and vegetables. Include fresh juices in your daily diet, particularly ginger and garlic juiced with carrot and beetroot, celery, apple, lemon or lime. You may like to consider looking for books with recipes designed specifically to cleanse the liver. See below for liver detox supplements.
Antibiotics - if you have taken antibiotics for a prolonged period of time, in fact if you have taken them at all, it would be very advisable to take a good probiotic (see below) to replace the friendly bacteria in the gut, which antibiotics destroy. Probiotics also help to rid the body of toxins.
Age - if you are suffering from acne, are female and in your late 20's or 30's it is possible that the cause may be Polycystic Ovaries. Other symptoms of this common condition are excess facial or body hair, weight gain and the inability to lose weight normally. If you suspect this might be the case then see your doctor and ask for a blood test to check your hormone levels. Ensure that your doctor asks when your last period was to validate the test. Again conventional 'treatment' for this is the contraceptive pill, but this merely blocks the symptoms so before agreeing to this consider seeing a qualified naturopath or nutritionist to help you address the problem naturally. Acupuncture is also very beneficial for this condition to help get your body back into balance.
SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT HEALTHY SKIN:
NEW 'Acne Serum' and 'Acne Soap' - see Silver Skin Care for all these items
Also NEW to the UK is the acclaimed Alba Botanica ACNEdote range of natural products
It is important to use natural skin care products that are specifically for acne and blemish-prone skin. Each skin care product in this category is 100% natural, and is uniquely and gently formulated to help unclog pores, reduce shine, minimize scarring, discourage the progression of spots, reduce redness, improve skin tone and texture, and improve overall skin health. If your acne has cleared but your skin is marked try 'Rosa Mosqueta oil'. 'Aloe Vera Gel' is also very beneficial for healing scars and can be used as an oil-free moisturiser - see Blemished & Oily Skin for all these products.
Make-up, and in particular foundation, often contains petrochemicals such as mineral oil or other heavy, greasy oils which can block the pores and worsen acne. The make-up ranges at 100% Nature are natural and allow the skin to breathe - see Make-Up.
Please contact us for personal advice
NB. This information is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are unsure as to the suitability of any of the products or recommendations with regard to your condition please consult your doctor. If your doctor does not approve of complementary medicine it may be helpful to find one who does.