Unsightly acne pimples can leave you searching everywhere for a solution.
Acne is more than a skin-deep problem and requires more than facial cream as a treatment plan.
Naturopathic medicine works from the inside out, resulting in radiant skin.
Acne lesions are typically found on the face, chest, and back. They It can range from mild small pustules to much larger abscess-like pimples. Acne lesions often come in crops grouped around one skin area. They It can leave scars as they it heals, and both the acne itself and the scars can be disfiguring and severely affect a person’s body image.
Acne affects predominantly affects teenagers, but it can also come on in the adult years and persist well into middle age. Individuals with acne often search for topical solutions. However, most acne will only resolve with significant lifestyle changes or medications. This is because acne is the external manifestation of a number of imbalances in the body, which can range from digestive dysfunctions to hormonal issues.
Naturopathic medicine offers a comprehensive approach to acne treatment by improving digestion, gently balancing hormones, and assisting with weight loss, if necessary. Naturopathic medicine can help cure acne using safe, effective therapies that work from the inside out.
Causes of Acne
Acne is a hormonal condition, which is why it often begins in puberty. It can also wax and wane with a woman’s menstrual cycle, often aggravating in the days prior to the onset of a woman’s period.
For some women, acne lesions are actually caused by a broader hormonal disruption referred to as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Certain supplements (vitamins B2, B6, B12, iodine) and medications, such as those containing male hormones (androgens), corticosteroids, progesterone and lithium, can favor the development of acne.
Diet is known to play a role in the development of acne. Diets with a high glycemic loads are associated with acne. A high glycemic diet causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels and therefore encourages an erratic production of insulin. Such diets include a large selection amount of the following:
– Refined sugars, including: sweets sweets, chocolate, sodas, high-fructose corn syrup, and glucose syrup.
– Refined starches, including : white bread and /other baked goods, white pastas, white rice.
– Dairy products, including cheese and milk. Dairy : they contribute to a diet with a high-glycemic load and products also are known to contain a number of testosterone precursors, which may aggravate acne.
This explains why the incidence of acne has increased in parallel with that of obesity in most Western countries. High-glycemic diets induce a state of chronic high insulin levels in the blood, which in turns contributes to obesity. There is some evidence suggesting that while oral glucose tolerance stays normal after eating foods with a high glycemic load, skin glucose tolerance is impaired in patients with acne. This is how the term “diabetes of the skin” was coined when referring to acne. Insulin can also then stimulate both the ovaries and the testes to produce more male hormones, leading to more sebum production and the development of acne. This is not to say that obesity causes acne but rather that a high GI diet is associated with both acne and obesity.
There is some evidence that patients people with acne are likely to have low amounts of stomach acid, which can compromise digestion. Low stomach acid allows bacteria to grow in the small intestine and produce toxins, which then damage the intestinal, lining, leading to a condition commonly referred to as “leaky gut”. Certain specialized lab tests can be helpful to assess the integrity of the gut (link to lab test). It is not unusual for people with acne to be constipated and their stool samples reveal more bacterial toxins than those that of individuals without acne. It is hypothesized that the gastrointestinal damage then leads to skin inflammation and acne.
In order to improve one’s acne, one it may need be necessary to change to a lower-glycemic diet, eliminate certain foods that they are intolerant to and work on hormonal balance. Every factor that is addressed will improve the symptoms by a given increment, and the additive effect of every intervention is what the naturopathic doctor counts on to see improvements. This works because most diseases manifest through a number of biochemical different mechanisms.
Strict avoidance of refined carbohydrates such as white starches and sweet food items is key. Studies have indeed showed that low-glycemic diets improve insulin sensitivity and decrease circulating androgen levels. This can be challenging for most many people and takes a great deal of commitment. Low-glycemic diets also help women with PCOS lose weight and achieve greater better hormonal balance, with lower levels of acne-contributing androgens. Your naturopath will help you develop an eating plan that works for you, to help speed acne healing.Supplements commonly known to help with glycemic control (i.e. chromium picolinate) may also be helpful.
Being overweight contributes to high insulin and therefore to the presence of high androgen levels, and the worsening of acne. Weight loss through dietary modifications and exercise will help normalize androgens and improve acne lesions in women with PCOS.
Various interventions are also used to improve digestion, as low levels of stomach acid and gastrointestinal flora imbalances are thought to contribute to acne. Some examples of such interventions are:
– Bitter herbs such as gentian to stimulate the production of gastric secretions for better nutrient absorption. .
– Digestive enzymes to ensure complete digestion of food items and prevent growth of pathological harmful microorganisms in the intestines.
– Probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus may help normalize bowel flora and improve acne. A study showed that up to 54% of patients with acne had sub-optimal bowel flora. In addition, if a patient person has been on antibiotics such as erythromycin for the acne, probiotics replenish the bowel flora that may have been affected during the treatment.
– Glutamine, slippery elm or aloe vera to nourish intestinal cells and establish intestinal permeability.
– Fiber supplements such as apple pectin or psyllium to counter the constipation commonly found in acne patients.
Other commonly prescribed natural supplements treatments for the treatment of acne include:
– Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): according to small study conducted with Asian patients, acne improved steadily with a 3-6 months treatment of high doses of pantothenic acid.
– Zinc: This mineral is known for its important functions in skin healing and is often recommended to improve most many skin ailments.
– Vitamin A: A number of studies in the 1950s have shown that vitamin A can be effective in the treatment of acne. High doses are necessary such that an important side effect of this therapy is the risk of fetal malformation if taken by pregnant women. The dosages needed to see results, however, are very high and carry the risk of toxicity. Pregnant women should not take vitamin A supplements unless advised by a physician. Similarly to its synthetic derivatives, a side-effect of high-dose vitamin A is dry skin and mucous membranes.
Your naturopathic doctor will tailor the acne treatment plan based on each person’s unique history. For example, if a person presents with acne and PCOS, and has just discontinued the birth control pill, we will suggest a detoxification program to help rid the body of excess synthetic hormones. The purpose is to customize the naturopathic treatment to the lifestyle and chief complaints of the patient – for instance, one acne patient may wish to keep using Accutane but wants to use naturopathic therapies to help support the body while they take the medication. Another may want support while discontinuing oral contraceptives. A third may want to avoid taking medications at all cost and will try the full spectrum of naturopathic modalities to improve the acne. The various naturopathic modalities allow for great flexibility so that the treatment strategy can be highly personalized to the each person’s needs.
Patients suffering from acne may wish to consult with medical professionals to establish the root cause of the skin lesions – is it mainly hormonal as in PCOS? Is it mostly related to the patient’s diet? Do digestive processes need to be supported? Once this has been established, a number of treatment options exist, using both conventional and naturopathic interventions. It is important to be aware of the side-effects of each treatment and to have the right expectations. For example, most topical preparations will not make a significant difference when it comes to severe or cystic acne. Similarly, patients with acne who suffer from PCOS will most likely benefit most from an approach that addresses insulin levels and hormonal processes.