Say Goodbye to Blemishes Naturally
Most associate acne with those awkward teenager years. But the truth is, it’s far more common – affecting 40 to 50 million Americans across every age group. One study found some degree of facial acne in 54% of women and 40% of men older than 25. In this same group, clinical facial acne affected 12% of the women and 3% of the men, and persisted into middle age as well. Sadly, there is really no age limit to acne. It affects people’s overall quality of life, including their ability to stay fit and healthy, as many isolate themselves from public due to their appearance.
What is Acne?
There are actually various types of acne, but the two most common types that affect Americans are Acne vulgaris (common lesions known as pimples), and acne conglobata (cystic nodules). Acne vulgaris is characterized by skin inflammation, with clogged pores affecting the hair follicles and oil-secreting glands, manifesting as blackheads, whiteheads and redness (Murray, 1998).
People who suffer from acne shows a greater activity of the called 5-alpha-reductase; responsible for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (Murray, 1998). In a study published by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, a total of 62 biopsies were studied from 32 subjects, with and without acne from affected and unaffected areas. It was concluded that, in general, acne-bearing skin had the most conversion of testosterone to dihydrotesterone – two to twenty times greater than normal skin from a corresponding area. Propionibacterium acne (Corynebacterium acnes) thrives in anaerobic activity in the pores of the skin, and releases pro-inflammatory enzymes to break down the accumulated sebum – causing pimple growth.
Diet and its Effect on Acne
The standard American diet consists of foods such as processed carbohydrates (cereals, breads, pasta, cookies, cakes etc.), processed meat products, and a few fruits and vegetables. This diet is high in hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, phytic acid, acrylamide, sodium nitrate and monosodium glutamate (MSG) – most of which your body doesn’t really need. And the lack of vitamins and minerals isn’t a great recipe for optimal health, either.
An article published by the Archives of Dermatology in 2002 by Loren Cordain, Phd et al. observed two isolated non-westernized populations at different age groups ranging from teens to adults: 1200 Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea, and 300 subjects of the Ache hunter-gatherers of Paraguay. Both populations had no incidents of acne. Dietary limitations were the only control. It showed an astonishing difference in acne incidence rates between non-westernized and fully modernized societies, most likely associated with diet and different environmental factors.
Hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as toxins in our food and atmosphere, also contribute to acne. The Federal Drug Administration discovered that preservatives, fragrances and dyes in our personal care products can interfere with our hormones – mainly estrogen, which is implicated in acne concerns. Stress and sleep depravation can also cause an increase in cortisol, causing an imbalance in hormone levels, which can contribute to acne as well.
Acne flare-ups can also be linked to bowel (intestinal) toxicity. The liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin work as our primary elimination channels. And when they’re not functioning optimally, the skin overcompensates by creating acne.
Knowledge is Power
As you learn about acne and its causes, you can also learn how to treat it or prevent it in the first place. Avoid medication that may cause acne such as anabolic steroids, corticosteroids, oral contraceptives, progesterone, or drugs that contain iodides or bromides, as they may cause hormonal disruption.
Clean blood equals clean skin, so detoxify. Aim to drink two to three liters of distilled water a day, and eat lots of fiber for elimination. Electrolyte balanced waters are good as well, and don’t forget to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep at night. Below are a list of vitamins, minerals and nutritional suggestions that can also help you treat and prevent acne:
Consume more proteins such as fish, beans, legumes and complexe carbohydrates –quinoa , tubular vegetables, fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, almond, rice or nut milks as a dairy alternative. Stay away from inflammatory foods that promote acne. Try to eliminate carbonated drinks, dairy, mayonnaise, fried foods, chemicals, MSG and trans-fatty acids such as hydrogenated oils and margarines.
A deficiency will promote the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotesterone, which is linked to excess sebum and keratin production, which leads to acne. Zinc is coupled with vitamin A to help with wound healing, immune system activity, inflammation control, hormone metabolism and tissue regeneration. A study found that patients with severe acne also had low levels of zinc and vitamin A.
3. Vitamin A
Research has shown in many studies that vitamin A plays a great role in reducing sebum production and keratin buildup in hair follicles. High levels of vitamin A should be monitored, especially for child-bearing women, as it has been linked to birth defects. More than 5,000 IU per day should not be recommended unless there is an effective form of birth control. A safe recommended amount would be anything less than 25,000 IU per day. Milk thistle is an excellent source of vitamin A.
4. Vitamin E and Selenium
Vitamin E earns its own place by keeping vitamin A at its optimal functional levels. Vitamin E also acts as a catalyst for selenium to come in and do its job. The enzyme glutathione peroxidase has also been linked to healing inflammation in acne. Typically, acne patients have significantly decreased levels of glutathione peroxidase. Evidence has shown that when these patients were treated with vitamin E and selenium, the level of this enzyme increased and their acne got better.
5. Chromium and the Insulin Relationship
Studies have shown a link between insulin resistance and acne. Insulin is blood glucose hormone regulator, and when it isn’t functioning well, other hormones are affected. Chromium is shown to improve glucose tolerance, enhance insulin sensitivity and aid in improvement in acne patients.
6. Tea Tree Oil
Studies have shown that the active constituents in tea tree oil (melaleuca alternifolia) have antiseptic and antifungal properties in the treatment of acne. In essence, they keep Propionibacterium – a bactera linked to acne – in check. A five-percent solution of tea tree oil may not be as effective in treating more severe acne, but you can go up to a fifteen percent solution, if necessary. Tea tree oil is safe, but in rare occasions, its use can bring on contact dermatitis.