It’s not just some teens that suffer from acne, but in fact between 40 – 55% of people aged 20 to 40 have experience low-grade acne or worse. At 17 I hadn’t experience acne, so in my mid – late 20s when I started to break out, to constantly having not just pimples but actual acne and painful spots – it was a rude shock!
In nutritional studies, the skin (our largest organ) has long been viewed as an indicator of internal issues and bodily imbalance. This has been around for hundreds of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as Ayurveda, techniques such as face mapping have been used to analyse skin problems in relation to gut issues, indigestion and intolerances, often revealing underlying digestive issues.
Sometimes when problem skin conditions do not respond well to skin care treatments alone, the source of the issue may actually be in the gut.
Personally it affected my self esteem and confidence, as when the acne was at its worse it was painful – so I wasn’t just seeing it in the mirror, I was feeling it constantly as well.
The doctor I spoke to was only suggesting Accutane (Isotretinoin) or Benzoyl Peroxide products. I took my referral and script and did more research, the potential side effects were overwhelming reading about them, but my instincts for me personally wanted to seek more alternative options and actually get to the bottom of the issue.
My first flare up was finding out I had PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome), coming off the contraceptive pill. Being told I was infertile (another story to tell) I started Chinese Medicine to help, PCOS was the underlying condition that was causing the fertility concerns, but potentially also the painful cystic acne. 6 months later, I was pregnant and my skin was like my teen years (smooth and bright) – I kind of forgot I even had a previous acne condition.
Fast forward, when I stopped breast feeding and decided to go back onto the contraceptive pill (I asked my G.P if I could go on one that was helpful for acne, just in case my skin declined). Even so, my skin progressively got worse. I think I was semi in denial, I remember dreading going to the gym or doing a fitness class as my skin was going to be exposed and seen. That was the moment I knew I had to actually do something serious to actually help myself.
What I did over 6 months that dramatically changed my skin:
Organic Spa products and Peels started to help the appearance of my skin, helping the visual redness and scaring.
I went back on Chinese Medicine Herbs (they taste like dirt, but they seriously help our internal system) and this is what helped get rid of my cystic and painful acne spots.
Colonic Hydrotherapy helped reset my bowels and intestinal health. It helped to re-balance my gut health and natural bacteria with eating probiotics and antioxidant rich foods after my sessions, including Aleo Vera Gel drinks (available to pre order in store). I had 3 sessions within a short time frame to assist in a deep cleanse and detox.
Removing milk and wheat from my diet as they are both are high inflammatory food groups. Neither of these were assisting in repairing my gut health or my vitamin absorption. (Learn more about why gut health is important and how it links to vitamin absorption here).
I did a hair analysis test that involved DNA testing on my hair, testing 600 of the main dietary and environment allergens, it came back with the level and % of intolerance I had to certain food: this gave me a clear insight into personally what would support my gut health and what was the worst things for me to consume.
I also started taking Vitamin E, Vitamin B complex tablets & Zinc – as testing on the hair analysis and blood tests came back that I was low in Vit. E & B3: which are all important for skin health and preventing acne break outs.
Other useful tips:
- It is important to make sure you are cleansing your face, ladies – removing make up at the end of the day and have an exfoliation routine that assists with your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, inflamed, aging concerns, normal or combo). Making sure your products are avoiding strong chemicals and synthetics, which over time may actually causes more problems. If you need or want to customise your skin cleansing routine and products; speak to Michelle or Stacey our Skin Therapists at Samsara.
- Get more sleep – psychological stress increases by 14% for every hour of sleep you loose a night. Stress increases glucorticoid production, which can lead to abnormalities in skin structure and function.
- Address your stress! High levels of stress increase your cortisol levels and can be part of the issue in regards to hormone imbalances. Stress hormone: cortisol increases oil production which can worsen the skin’s health or trigger acne.
- Wash hands immediately after using gym equipment, plus wash your face when sweated.
- Avoid holding your mobile directly on your cheek when speaking on the phone (bacteria transfer can cause skin irritation).
- Change pillow slip covers regularly / daily to prevent further bacteria transfer on the face.
- Drink 2-3L of water daily. Hydration assists with flushing toxins out of the body and is needed for the cellular repair processes.
- Tweak your diet, limit or avoid inflammatory foods!
- Avoid high oil products (skin care and hair care)
- Find out if you are low in any of these Vitamins…
Zinc: helps fight viruses and bacteria. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help relieve some of the redness and irritation associated with moderate-to-severe acne. It may even help reduce the appearance of acne scars.
Selenium: a mineral that actually preserves the levels of other antioxidants, such as zinc, in your system. Your body contains an enzyme called glutathione that prevents inflammation associated with acne. This enzyme depends on selenium to function properly.
Vitamin A: Is an antioxidant and helps your body shed dead skin cells. These dead cells are what build up in your pores and cause breakouts.
Vitamin B: In particular B3 and B5.
B3 has the ability to soften and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin B3 helps form the skin’s protective barrier, keeping moisture in and the nasties out. B5 as it will help improve elasticity in the skin and help keep you hydrated.
Vitamin C: is found at high levels in the epidermis (outer layer of skin) as well as the dermis (inner layer of skin). It protects and fights off UV damage and nasty pollutants in the air and is a great solution to inflammatory skin conditions. It is also known to brighten up the complexion.
Vitamin E: best known for its abundance of antioxidants that protect your body against free radical damage to the skin. It also helps our body’s healing abilities.
Magnesium: is great for fighting acne that’s directly related to stress. It reduces levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
Omega 3: the essential fatty acids in Omega 3 oil benefits the skin by soothing your body’s inflammatory response to excess sebum and bacteria, they can also tackle the root of the problem by helping to regulate some hormones.
Written by Gemma Linnell
Disclaimer: this is strictly my personal experience and sharing what helped me.
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