October 1, 2011
Simple Treatments for Abolishing Acne!
Acne is a very common condition that is seen in both children and adults. Unfortunately, over 85 percent of us will deal with acne at some point in our lives and it is the most common skin condition treated by
dermatologists. It can be embarrassing and emotionally painful.
Essentially, everyone has bacteria on their skin. However, acne results when the bacteria blocks the pores on the skin, leading to inflammation and infection. The prevalent treatment used by dermatologists is to prescribe an antibiotic designed to kill infections. This is in an attempt to kill the bacteria that is responsible for the inflammation and infection that occurs on the surface of the skin. Other treatment methods include using a topical agent such as benzyl peroxide or resorting to stronger treatment drugs including Accutane.
Although these treatment methods can be quite effective, they come with a variety of risks. Antibiotics, by their very nature, are designed to kill bacteria – but the problem is that they are non-discriminatory. In essence, both bad and good bacteria are killed off by the use of antibiotics. In a healthy body, the good bacteria actually make up about a third of the gut flora. When this balance is disrupted, harmful bacteria can begin to bind to the gut wall and cause damage. It can result in difficulty absorbing nutrients, vitamins, and minerals while allowing toxins through our intestines. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies, allergies, and auto immune disease. Also keep in mind that our bodies quickly build up antibiotic resistance and this means that usage becomes increasingly ineffective. Drugs such as Accutane are even more dangerous and I would strongly advise against its use. Accutane is classified as a category X drug (the highest rating possible) and this classification means that it is 100 percent guaranteed to cause birth defects in pregnant women. Studies also show that people taking Accutane suffer a 21 percent decrease in frontal brain activity, the part of your brain that plays a critical role in mood and social interaction. These changes may partially explain the depression, suicidal thoughts, and aggressive behaviour reported by users. Something that is so dangerous and toxic should not
be taken into your body!
Although these treatments may work, they actually do nothing at all to treat the underlying cause of acne. They may temporarily kill the bacteria but that’s it. You need to ask yourself why you’re producing this excessive bacteria! At the end of the day, if you don’t eliminate the underlying cause then it’s almost guaranteed that the acne will return time and time again!
It is important to realize that your diet and lifestyle have everything to do with acne. What you are putting into your body is going to have a direct and profound impact on the health of your skin – your body’s largest organ. Our bodies are designed as a singular unit – from the inside out and it is important to remember that when dealing with skin conditions. The following factors may all be playing a serious role in your acne and the recommendations mentioned can drastically help reduce breakouts:
- High GI Food Diet – If you are eating a diet that is causing your insulin levels and associated insulin growth factors to skyrocket, you will naturally have acne. When you eat refined carbohydrates and sugar, it causes your body to experience a surge in both insulin and IGF-1 (an insulin-like growth factor). This leads to an excess of male hormones that cause your pores to secrete sebum, an oily substance which attracts acne promoting bacteria. The IGF-1 also causes skin cells called keratinocytes to multiply and this is associated with acne as well. To combat insulin spikes in your body, you must drastically reduce the amount of food you consume that is causing your body to produce insulin.This means sugar and all grain carbohydrates as they are quickly converted into sugar in your body. It is important to note that this means reducing your intake of even the healthy grains because they are still a carbohydrate. Try to replace the grains and sugars with vegetable carbohydrates instead because these are slower to break down into simple sugars, with minimal insulin impact. Improving your diet will greatly impact your acne and the condition of your skin should show a marked improvement.
- Imbalanced Gut Flora – The toxins that come from the pathogens or bad bacteria can effectively take over your intestinal tract. Studies show that in about 50 percent of acne cases, the natural balance of the gut flora has been disrupted. In essence, the bad bacteria are multiplying faster than the good bacteria. If you have taken antibiotics, you have most likely offset the balance of bacteria. One common side effect of that can be an overgrowth of yeast in the body for both men and women. It is crucial to maintain a healthy gut flora and supplementing your diet with a good quality probiotic will help re-balance the intestinal system and put those good bacteria back in control. Please be aware that not all probiotics are created equal and it is important to take one with enough strains to counter the bad bacteria in your digestive system. Personally, I like to give my patients a pharmaceutical strength probiotic that can help alleviate their acne.
- Deficiency in Vitamin D – This vitamin is essential is establishing a healthy immune system and controlling basically any type of infection including acne. Having sufficient vitamin D is critical for making the skin and body healthier as a whole. When your immune system is healthy, your skin is healthy. By optimizing your vitamin D levels, you make over 200 antimicrobial peptides which are an essential component of your immune response and are powerful antibiotics. The sun is the most potent source of this nutrient and is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels. You body is capable of producing as much as 20,000 IU’s with about 20 minutes of exposure to most of your body. However, it is imperative that you do not exceed exposure to the sun as you can cause skin damage by staying out too long. You can also consider supplementing with oral vitamin D, ranging from 2,000 IU’s to 10,000 IU’s per day. You should see a marked improvement in the condition of your skin with improved vitamin D levels.
- A Stressful Lifestyle – Stress worsens almost every illness and condition, including acne breakouts! This one is almost a no brainer – I’m sure those of you who suffer from acne have noticed that you break out more often when you’re stressed out. There have been numerous studies to back up this claim including one in which a connection was found between acne breakouts and final exams for college students. Researchers were able to determine that those students who experienced the most stress during examination periods also had the most serious acne outbreaks. Worsening the problem, stress and fatigue can also lead to adrenal burnout so that your adrenal glands become depleted. This ultimately worsens the acne and perpetuates higher stress levels. It is just as important to maintain your emotional health as your physical health. Exercise, meditation, yoga, and adequate sleep can all help to decrease your stress levels. Some people don’t realize the importance of sleep on our emotional well being but you cannot afford to overlook it.
I can understand that pharmaceutical treatment of acne is big business. Considering the embarrassment and emotional pain that it can cause, it’s quite understandable. But it may be worth your time and much cheaper for you to consider the above suggestions. After all, you have to keep in mind that these treatment drugs are really doing nothing to correct the underlying cause of your acne and are only managing the breakouts, not eliminating them. It might be easier to take the drugs but in the long run, it’s doing nothing but making the drug companies rich.
If you feel that you have addressed all of the above suggestions and still aren’t seeing results, it might be time to get your hormones, GI system, and/or adrenals tested. That can provide a much clearer understanding of what may be the underlying cause of your breakouts. In any case, pharmaceutical drugs should be your absolute last resort (if even that). There are just too many side effects and dangers associated with consuming such toxins to overlook or neglect.
I deal with a lot of patients with this condition and understand the impact it can have on one’s life so I hope that some of you find this information useful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions and remember that the only stupid question is the one not asked!