It took me three years to find out the underlying cause of my acne, and I learnt a lot along the way, also my passion for health and well being sparked. If your an acne sufferer just like me, I know how awful it feels, leading to anxiety, depression and social phobia; I call it “Skin Anxiety”. Let me tell you; you won’t have acne forever, one day your skin will be clear and glowing, and you will be happy again and comfortable in your own skin. If you are against taking the pill and want to clear your acne naturally and just like nature intended; congratulations, you aren’t one of the 150 million woman who do. If you want to learn why the pill isn’t so good for you and your hormones, read this article: http://bodyecology.com/articles/dangers_birth_control_pill.php
Before you read on, you must know that everybody is different and the reason why you suffer from acne may be completely different to my reason. I recommend that you see a naturopath who will get down to the deeper cause of your acne, as we all have individual lifestyles, diets and hormone regularities. Everything that I have researched on was because I was diagnosed with from a professional. This is a long post so please make yourself comfortable. If you missed Part 1, have a read of that first.
HOW YOUR ACNE DEVELOPS
When I was a teenager, I suffered from ‘pimples’, which at the time, felt horrible. I was never prepared for what adult acne would be like, let alone even think that it existed! If you suffer from adult acne, your symptoms will be blackheads, whiteheads, papules (small red bumps), pustules (pus filled bumps), redness, cysts and scarring. Acne (officially known as acne vulgaris) occurs when the sebaceous glands, which provide the skins naturally protective skin oil known as sebum, become blocked. The sebum then hardens and oxidizes, which then leads to infection.
THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF ACNE
- Dairy sensitivity
- Digestive disturbances/slow bowl transit time
LOCATION OF YOUR ACNE
Just where your pimples are located may point to the cause. For example, pimples on the cheeks may be caused from poor digestion, or pimples on your chin and jawline are most likely hormonal imbalances. Where is your acne located? This Chinese acne face map may help you determine your problem:
Image source: http://www.thefashionspot.com/beauty/494267-acne-face-mapping/
THE CAUSES OF MY ACNE
Also known as ”Hyper-permeable Intestines”, to explain it simply to you; the walls of your intestinal lining become damaged from stress, toxins, medications and foreign substances (in my case: the pill- which steals all the good bacteria in your stomach). This damage then causes larger holes in your stomach lining. Foods such as sugar, gluten, and dairy are then not broken down properly by your digestive enzymes, and are released through the ”open holes’ which then causes an ‘inflammation’ response. Here is a diagram of what is happening inside your body if your suffering from Leaky Gut:
Image source: www.leakygutcure.com
PCOS, short for ‘Poly-cystic Ovaries Syndrome’ is a condition in which a woman’s ovaries are generally bigger than average. Poly-cystic means the ovaries have many cysts or follicles that rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs capable of being fertilized. The symptoms of PCOS are:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Amenorrhoea (no periods)
- Excessive hair growth and acne
- Scalp hair loss
- Reduced fertility
- Mood changes
Image source: https://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/our-work/current-projects/pcos
I was diagnosed with PCOS from a doctor. I had to undergo an ultrasound for my ovaries which then determined that one of my ovaries was poly cystic. My symptoms were irregular periods and acne. At the time, I was desperate and had no knowledge and interest for health. The doctor put me on the pill to help clear my acne. Instead of my acne clearing, it got worse, and I then developed leaky gut.
Do you see the vicious cycle that happens from medications? Do you wonder why your always sick and tired? By going back to basics, as nature intended, I went off the pill and was determined to fight my acne naturally- by focusing on my leaky gut and PCOS. By doing this, I had to undergo many changes to my lifestyle and diet, as well as helping with supplementation.
Regardless of the cause, the general rules of skin care still apply- regular cleansing and moisturizing, drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet. Here are the changes I made to get to where I am today- minimal breakouts, glowing skin and a happy mind and body!
Stress can wreak havoc to your body, as well as influencing you to make poor diet choices, which then doesn’t help with how your body copes with stress; the better nourished you are, the better you are able to cope with stress when you are in ‘fight or flight’ mode. Whenever I feel stressed or have had a stressful day, I participate in: going on walks around nature, meditation or deep breathing, listening to the sounds of nature (waterfalls, birds, rain etc), using aromatherapy (lavender is great for stress), going to bed early or having a good workout.
Not only do I exercise for its benefits for your heart, lungs and mental outlook, exercising is also great for your skin. When your are exercising you are increasing blood flow, which helps nourish skin cells. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including your skin. Increased blood flow also helps to fight free radical damage that may be trying to wreak havoc on your skin cells. Just make sure that you do not overdo your exercise; which may make your acne worse. Try and mix it up and include light exercising such as nature walks or yoga.
Forget the skin care products that claim they will help clear your acne, although you may see a little difference, the cause of adult acne is always an internal factor, and not how hygienic your skin is. The many products that claim to help your acne is only drying out your skin and exposing you to more chemicals. Think of your skin layer as a sponge; soaking up everything we lather on it, from toxins to chemicals that is causing harm to your body. An average woman uses up to 10 products on their body daily; that’s a lot of chemicals! By using natural or organic products in your skincare regimen, you can help fight the infection. Here are a few things that I have used on my skin that has helped tremendously:
- Tea tree essential oil: As tea tree is antibacterial and anti-fungal, using the oil or ointment on your spots is great for reducing redness and fighting the infection. I still use tea tree oil on my skin care today whenever I get the odd breakout.
- Lavender essential oil: As lavender is antimicrobial and has antioxidant properties; it is great for your acne and skin in general. Lavender is great for fighting the acne infection, soothing dry skin and helping the appearance of redness and scarring.
- Rose hip oil: High in Vitamin C and essential fatty acids, using rose hip oil on the skin appears to stimulate the production of new and healthy cells. Its antioxidant and anti-microbial properties can reduce the growth of bacteria and when applied on scars, can repair tissues and skin regeneration.
- Raw honey: Not only known for it’s immune system benefits, raw honey is great applied on your skin as well. Raw honey acts as natural antibiotic which kills acne causing bacteria, as well as reducing redness and excess oil. Raw honey is best used on the skin as a face mask. It is also great for people who suffer from dry skin conditions.
- Bentonite clay: This highly absorbent mineral, once mixed with liquid is like an electrical charge and can draw out impurities, toxins and heavy metals. It also shrinks and tightens enlarged pores. Mostly used with water as a face mask, it is great for an active acne infection. Do not leave on skin for more than 15 minutes, as it can irritate people with dry skin.
Tip: Never pick or scratch your face; it can make the infection worse and increase the severity of scarring. Leave it up to a professional! I am blessed to found such a wonderful beauty therapist ‘The Skin Goddess’, Martine Renwick, I see her on a weekly/monthly basis and she helps with active spots and scarring. At a time I almost had given up clearing my acne naturally; Martine’s love and dedication influenced me to keep going.
One of the biggest changes I made was changing my diet. Years ago, my diet consisted of take out, processed foods, alcohol, minimal water and lots of sugar. I did not take care of my body at all, and my body cried out to me; through my symptoms, that I needed to make a change. It was one of the best changes I’ve made in my life to this day, these are some of the changes I made:
- Cutting out/reducing processed foods, particularly on processed dairy, gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
- Loading up on fresh fruit, vegetables, fatty acids and whole grains. Eat the rainbow!
- Including plenty of anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, lemon, garlic, ginger, green tea, leafy greens, flax seeds, avocados and berries.
- Drinking plenty of water. I drink up to 2-3 litres of water a day, this keeps skin hydrated and flushes out toxins. Upon awakening, the first thing I do is drink 1 litre of water.
- Upping my fiber intake. Every day, I try to include fiber-rich foods such as brown rice, oats, beans, kale, whole grains and raspberries.
- Drinking herbal teas daily. Great acne-fighting herbs include: holy basil, echinacea, licorice root, red clover, burdock, nettle, calendula, dong quai, spearmint and many more!
- Including at least one of these leaky gut repairing foods a day: bone broth, kefir, fermented vegetables (kimchi or sauerkraut), coconut products or sprouted seeds (chia, flax or hemp).
Although I believe in getting nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, I needed a little help for repairing my leaky gut. I am only going to list the supplements I took for leaky gut as my skin didn’t clear until I focused on my gut healing foods and supplements. At the start I was focusing particularly on hormonal balancing herbal combinations, but I wasn’t absorbing these nutrients because of my leaky gut. Once I realized I had to repair my gut first- and then my hormones would balance, everything changed! Here are the three things I took to heal my leaky gut:
Probiotics are the most important supplement to take in healing your leaky gut because it helps replenish good bacteria and kills of the bad bacteria which makes your leaky gut syndrome worsen. Taking a good quality probiotic supplement worked wonders for me.
Glutamine is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine acts as a shield: coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants which wreak havoc on your intestinal lining.
Although some foods contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes, for someone like me, I needed something that would help break down foods ensuring that they are fully digested and will not damage my intestinal wall. Luckily you can get digestive enzymes in capsule form- taken before each meal. This made a huge difference for me.
I learned a lot about leaky gut from reading Dr Axe’s articles (http://draxe.com/7-signs-symptoms-you-have-leaky-gut).
- A little bit of sunshine and salt water can work wonders for your skin and your mind!
- Upping your intake of Vitamin C and Zinc; both of these vitamins/minerals work together and can be beneficial for healthy collagen and wound healing. My immune system has also never been better!
- Including plenty of EFAS (essential fatty acids) in your diet such as fish, avocado, olive oil, flax seed or hemp oil. EFAS are vital to help cells retain water and flush out toxins, so a diet rich in them can help to minimize the appearance of aging, cellulite and acne. EFAS can also prevent breakouts and reduce the appearance of scarring.
- Treat yourself to a monthly facial; it will work wonders for your skin.
- Everyone is different and our bodies work differently from each other as we all have different needs. See a professional before you make any supplement or diet changes.
- Healing your acne is not a quick fix; you will require patience. A lot of it! Your body needs time healing and regulating, it takes at least 4-6 weeks to notice any difference.
- Never give up. Keep on going and you won’t look back! My life has changed for the better. My sleep, digestion, mood and physical shape has improved majorly as I’ve chosen to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In years to come, my body will thank me!
- I can’t stress enough how bad STRESS can be for you. Take a good look at your lifestyle, our bodies are a result of our lifestyles.
- Don’t ignore your symptoms; they are our bodies way of fighting illnesses. They are a good thing. Take a good look at your symptoms- what are they telling you?