There is hope in treating acne naturally without the use of prescriptions that carry severe side-effects. Nutrition and proper care of outbreaks can bring permanent relief from acne. Acne contributes to low self esteem, peer prejudice, and judgmental attitudes from the public in general. Acne has become a growing problem. About 8 in 10 preteens to teens have acne (Acne, 2011). This problem is not limited to teens as one in five adults also suffer from this confidence-killing skin disorder (Mercola, 2011a).
Why not use doctor prescribed drugs and treatments? Because they only treat the symptom on a managing level and do not approach the problem from the underlying cause. Correcting the cause will eliminate the skin disorder and avoid reoccurrences. This is not a quick fix but the rewards affect many aspects of health. The prescription drug isotretinoin (Accutane) is accompanied by side-effects that can range from mild to severe and include depression, suicide, aggressive behavior, psychotic reactions, inflammatory bowel disease, birth defects if taken by women who are pregnant, liver damage, skin and mucous membrane damage, seizures, blood disorders, eye damage, hearing impairment, heart attacks and strokes, and allergic reactions. The common antibiotics prescribed for acne kill the bad and the good bacteria in the body. Because of the long term use of the antibiotics they also contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Other side-effects are damage to teeth and the skeletal structure, photosensitivity, pigment deposits in the acne scars, and autoimmune hepatitis (Mercola, 2011a).
What is the cause? The Acne Resource Center (n.d.) describes the cause of acne to come from imbalances and impurities in the body. What causes the imbalances and impurities? In a randomized controlled trial, a low-glycemic-load diet improved acne and insulin sensitivity (Smith, et.al, 2007). This indicates a diet too high in simple carbohydrates contributes to the imbalances and impurities in the body associated with acne. Limiting the diet in sugar, candy, soda, grain-based foods, and processed foods will help keep the insulin levels down. Increasing complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, nuts, and beans will create a more balanced body system (Mercola, 2011a).
Intestinal cleansing should start the acne elimination program. Cleanses allow the digestive system to be cleared of waste that are causing a sluggish digestive system, toxin build-up, and improper vitamin and mineral absorption (A good digestive system and acne, n.d.). Foods that help cleanse the digestive system are:Natural, unprocessed, and organic foods (Mercola, 2009b)Locally grown and seasonal food (Mercola, 2009b)Raw dairy products and fermented foods (Mercola, 2009b)Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as but not limited to nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados, coconut oil (Mercola, 2009b)Other recommended dietary improvements that will improve acne are:No refined or concentrated sugars (Murray, 1996)Do not eat foods containing trans-fatty acids. These are milk, milk products, margarine, shortening, hydrogenated oils, fried foods. (Murray, 1996)Avoid foods high in iodized salt (Murray, 1996)No preservatives, food dyes, refined white flour (Taylor)Eat meat one to two times per week, three to nine ounces, such as beef, fowl, pork, and fish. (Taylor)Exercise 30 minutes of aerobics daily. Start with 10 minutes of warm up exercises, and end with 10 minutes of cool down exercises (Taylor).
All of the B Vitamins are included because of their synergistic properties with each other. Some of the B’s are more specific to skin health but the synergistic affects brings about a stronger benefit. The B-complex vitamins include:B1, Thiamin: This B vitamin has no specific benefit for skin health. It is included because it is intricately involved with the other B vitamins in energy metabolism. Magnesium is required in the conversion of thiamin to its active form. Avoid alcohol, coffee and black tea, and sulfites. They will destroy thiamin. The drug Dilantin used for epileptic treatment also inhibits the effectiveness of thiamin. Uncooked freshwater fish and shellfish also affect the efficiency of thiamin. The recommended dosage ranges are 50 to 100 milligrams. Thiamin is considered safe and is not known to have caused toxicity. (Murray, 1996) B2, Riboflavin: One of the aspects of riboflavin is that it regenerates one of the main cellular protectors, glutathione, against free-radical damage. Anything that benefits cellular function will benefit skin health and would therefore improve skin health. Riboflavin is also important for energy production which would bring an added health benefit to this wellness program. Antimalarials can interfere with the metabolism of riboflavin. Dosage ranges are 5 to 10 milligrams per day. This B-Vitamin is considered safe and is not known to have caused toxicity. (Murray, 1996)B3, Niacin: Niacin has many roles but the specific roles it will play for skin health are the manufacture of sex and adrenal hormones, antioxidant mechanisms, and detoxification reactions. Sustained-released niacin can have serious side affects causing liver damage. The inositolhexaniacinate form of niacin is the safest form. Dosage requirements are 1.5 grams to 3 grams daily. (Murray, 1996) B6, Pyridoxine: Pyridoxine also has many important roles. It helps maintain hormonal balance, proper immune function, skin function, and red blood cell function. B-6 works synergistically with magnesium and zinc by increasing concentrations of these essential minerals within the cell. Tissues of the mucous membrane, skin, and red blood cells are composed of rapidly replicating cells and have a higher need for B6. It is important to avoid food colorings; the drugs isoniazid, hydralazine, dopamine, and penicillamine; oral contraceptives; alcohol; and excessive protein intake while taking B6. There are safety issues of large doses of B6. Safe dosages are 50 to 100 milligrams per day. (Murray, 1996)Biotin: Biotin aids in the treatment of excessive oiliness (seborrhea dermatitis) and dandruff with the skin. Oily skin is often associated with acne. Alcohol inhibits absorption and antibiotics may decrease biotin levels because it destroys the biotin-producing bacteria in the gut. Biotin is safe and has no side effects. Dosage ranges are 30 to 100 micrograms but is safe in ranges up to 3,000 micrograms per day. (Murray, 1996)B5, Pantothenic Acid and pantethine: The roles of pantothenic acid and pantethine that will most benefit skin wellness in the manufacture of adrenal hormones and red blood cells. It is also used to treat allergies which have a direct correlation to acne. This B-vitamin has no known interactions with any drug and is considered safe. Dosages for allergy treatment are recommended at 250 milligrams twice daily. (Murray, 1996)Folic Acid: Folic Acid functions with B12 and is critical for the treatment for acne. Seizure activity may increase with epileptics if taken in high doses. Alcohol, estrogens, chemotherapy drugs, sulfasalazine, barbiturates, and anticonvulsant drugs interfere with absorption. Dosage recommendations are 400 micrograms to 10 milligrams daily. (Murray, 1996)B12, Cobalamin: This is another B-Vitamin that has many valuable and critical roles. It is being included in this treatment for its role in immune function and cell functions. B12 is considered safe. RDA dosage recommendations are low (2 micrograms) but for deficiency it is recommended to take 1,000 micrograms daily. (Murray, 1996)
Fat soluble vitamins beneficial to skin health are vitamins A, D, and E. In addition vitamin E and flaxseed oil have beneficial properties. Vitamin A: This fat soluble vitamin is needed to form and maintain healthy epithelial tissue. Epithelial tissue is specialized cells that form protective linings and coverings around organs, outer skin, and mucous membranes. It is our primary barrier to infection. Vitamin A is stored in the liver making a healthy liver important for administering a vitamin that is critical for skin health. Vitamin A is also important to the immune response, reproductive function, and antioxidant activity (Schlenker, Long, 2007). When combined with Zinc and Vitamin E, Vitamin A functions in the manufacture of thyroid hormone which helps with balancing hormones. Toxicity occurs with high does of 50,000 I.U. per day. Vitamin A levels should be kept low for women who may become pregnant and should be avoided by pregnant women. Dosage requirements are expressed in Retinol Equivalents (R.E.) and International Units (I.U.). Adult R.E. is 800 to 1,000 R.E. Adult I.U. recommendation is 4,000 to 5,000 I.U. (Murray, 1996) Vitamin D: Vitamin D hormone is a fat soluble vitamin and is used to treat skin disorders such as psoriasis because in controls cell division. It also helps with hormone imbalance and immune response. It is processed through the liver and kidneys. This makes it important to support a healthy liver and kidneys. (Schlenker, Long, 2007) Avoid aluminum-containing products. The other drugs that interfere with absorption are cholestyramine, Dilantin, phenobarbital, and mineral oil. The RDA is 200 to 400 I.U. daily. Those with low sun exposure are recommended to take 400 to 800 I.U. daily. (Murray, 1996) Vitamin E: Vitamin E is the most potent fat-soluble antioxidant and oxidizes very slowly making it an important antioxidant. It inactivates free cell radicals (Schlenker, Long, 2007). Vitamin E stabilizes and protects the cell membranes and carrier molecules from lead, mercury, and other heavy metals, toxic compounds, drugs; radiation, and the body’s free-radical metabolites. It is also important in protecting the immune system. It is also used for acne. Vitamin E works synergistically with Vitamin C, Selenium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B12. Vitamin E interacts with anticoagulants, aspirin, and Vitamin K. Dosage recommendations are 200 to 400 I.U. daily. It is recommended to use natural form of Vitamin E and completely avoid the synthetic. The alpha-tocopheral form of Vitamin E is preferred. (Murray, 1996) Flaxseed Oil: Flaxseed Oil may be effective for allergies, autoimmune disorders, eczema, and has estrogenic action (Skidmore-Roth, 2010). It is one of the riches sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 is also important to the diet. However Americans typically consume 10 to 20 times more than what is needed. Fatty acids help regulate hormone synthesis, support immune response, direct endocrine hormone to their target cells, supports cellular membrane function, necessary in kidney function, help control allergic conditions, and are therapeutic to skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. It is important to have vitamin E with flaxseed oil to prevent the breakdown of the chemical structure of essential fatty acids when exposed to heat or light. (Murray, 1996) Immature seeds are toxic. You should not take concurrently with anticoagulants, antiplatelets, antidiabetics, and laxatives. The recommended dosage for the oil is 1 to 2 tablespoons daily. (Skidmore-Roth, 2010) Lecithin: Lecithin is a liver function support and immune system support. Lecithin should be avoided as a therapeutic aid during pregnancy and breast feeding. Recommended dosage is 20 to 30 grams daily. (Skidmore-Roth, 2010)
The following minerals aid in the acne treatment:Choline: Choline prevents fats from becoming trapped in the liver and is essential for proper liver function. It has no negative interactions. Dosage ranges are 350 to 500 milligrams. (Murray, 1996)Inositol: Inositol is not an essential nutrient but works closely with choline. It is a primary component of cell membranes and is beneficial in liver disorders and exporting fat from the liver. It is safe and has no known interactions. Dosage ranges are 100 to 500 milligrams a day. (Murray, 1996) Zinc: Zinc is a trace mineral necessary for tissue growth. It aids in wound or tissue injuries and is needed for optimum immune function. Zinc absorption is a problem with vegetarians because of its absorption is interfered by phytates in plant foods. (Schlenker, Long, 2007) The recommended daily dosage is 45 to 60 milligrams. (Murray, 1996) Selenium: Selenium works synergistically with vitamin A and vitamin E in reducing acne and scarring. Organic selenium is found in protein rich foods such as poultry, fish, meat, seeds, garlic, mushrooms, and asparagus (Nutrient intake – impact on acne, n.d.). Selenium can produce toxicity and should be limited to 50 to 200 micrograms a day. Absorption is reduced with high intakes of zinc (Murray, 1996).Vitamin C: Vitamin C plays an important role in skin health both topically and when ingested. It has antioxidant properties and synthesizes collagen. It also helps protect the skin from sun damage especially when combined with vitamin E and is beneficial to healing. The skin easily absorbs vitamin C which brings its healing properties to the surface level (Vitamin C and skin health, n.d.)
Quality organic herbs have unique properties that aid in acne elimination. Golden seal, black cohosh, and milk thistle were chosen for their supportive properties to skin health. Golden Seal: Golden Seal is recommended for its antibacterial properties and its effective treatment for skin disorders. Recommended dosage is 500 to 600 mg four times daily (Murray, 1996). Black Cohosh: Black cohosh is recommended for its estrogenic action. It should be standardized to 1 mg triterpenes. Dosages are 40 to 80 mg daily (Murray, 1996). Milk Thistle: Milk Thistle is used to cleanse and protect the liver. Recommended dosage ranges are 200 to 400 mg daily (Murray, 1996).
Treating Acne NutritionallyNutritional approach bringshopeNutrition and proper care brings permanent reliefYour are not alone 8 in 10 preteens to teens have acne 1 in 5 adults also suffer from acne
Why not use doctor prescribed drugs?Treating the symptoms will not correct the cause.Side-effects can be severe Depression Eye damage Suicide Hearing impairment Aggressive behavior Heart attack and stroke Psychotic reactions Allergic reactions Inflammatory Bowel Disease Antibiotic resistance bacteria Birth defects Damage to teeth and Liver damage skeletal structure Skin and mucous membrane Photosensitivity damage Pigment deposits in the acne Seizures scars Blood disorders Autoimmune hepatitis
What causes acne?Imbalances and impurities in the body caused by: Diet high in simple carbohydrates which are: • Sugar • Candy • Soda • Grain-based foods • Processed foods
Food that help cleanse thedigestive system and balancethe body: Natural, unprocessed, organic foods Locally grown and seasonal foods Raw dairy products and fermented foods Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids: Nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil Organic proteins Exercise also helps the digestive
Helpful educational sources to help in the journeyto healthy, acne-free skin: The Linus Pauling Institute http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/resagenda/about.html This website is dedicated to supporting research on the validity of vitamins, essential minerals, and phytochemicals and their effect on aging, immune function, and chronic diseases. Peer reviewed articles and evidence based research is available. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) www.nccam.nih.gov This site is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services and provides evidence based research, peer-reviewed articles, facts, and information on CAM therapies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition http://www.ajcn.org/site/misc/about.xhtml As a journal of the American Society for Nutrition, this site provides peer-reviewed articles on research dedicated to education and training on human and animal nutrition. Dr. Mercola www.mercola.com Dr. Mercola promotes and teaches innovative health and healing. His articles are supported by fact based research, clinical studies, and evidence-based research. The Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/natural-acne-treatment/AN01716 The Mayo Clinic has a reputation for giving reliable information on hundreds of health conditions. I am always looking for sites that include natural and alternative recommendations and the Mayo Clinic includes this type of information. The Acne Resource Center Online http://www.acne-resource.org This is an educational site along with product suggestions and links.
ReferencesA good digestive system and acne. (n.d.). The Acne Resource Center Online. Retrieved from http://www.acne-resource.org/understanding-acne/good-digestive.html.Acne (2011) KidsHealth. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/kid/grow/body_stuff/acne.html#.Mercola, Dr. J. (2011a) The root cause of acne your doctor will never tell you about. Mercola.com. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/31/simple-secrets-to- eliminating-acne-for-good.aspx.Mercola, Dr. J. (2009b) Should you detox to get rid of chemicals? Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/05/23/Should-You-Detox-to-Get- Rid-of-Chemicals.aspx.Murray, M. T. (1996). Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. New York: Three Rivers Press.Nutrient intake – impact on acne. (n.d.) The Acne Resource Center Online. Retrieved from
References (cont.)Schlenker, E., Long, S. (2007). Williams’ essentials of nutrition & diet therapy. St Louis, MO: Mosby Elsivier.Skidmore-Roth, L. (2010). Mosby’s handbook of herbs & natural supplements. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsivier.Smith, R., Mann, N., Braue, A., Makelainen, H., Varigos, G. (2007). A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. American Society for Nutrition: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.ajcn.org/site/misc/about.xhtml.Taylor, D., Taylor, J.(n.d.). An ounce of prevention, L.L.C: Reference guide to vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Kaysville, UT: AOP Herbs.Vitamin C and skin health. (n.d.). Linus Pauling Institute. Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/skin/vitaminC/.