Natural Ways to Improve Acne
What Causes Acne?
Acne is like a perfect storm raging inside the hair follicles. While doctors don’t know the exact cause, they do know that several factors make acne worse: overactive sebaceous glands (too much oil), male androgen excess (as seen in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), hyperkeratosis (a build-up of skin cells), inflammation, and an infection by a bacteria strain called p. acnes.
Diet and Acne: What is the Connection?
The most effective way to prevent acne would be to address all of these concerns at once. Improving your diet with high quality nutrition is an effective way to manage symptoms and reduce acne lesions. Research has shown again and again that a high glycemic index diet and dairy consumption are two aggravators of acne. Acne is much more prevalent in the developed world, which is also supportive of a connection between acne and a Western diet that is low in fiber and nutrient-poor.
The Katavan Islanders of Papa New Guinea were found to be nearly completely acne-free, even in the teenage population. The natives eat a diet that is sugar and dairy-free and provides plenty of fiber and organic fruits and vegetables. Their main carbohydrate sources are tubers and root vegetables like sweet potatoes and cassava, which are carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.
There are also certain nutrient deficiencies that have been identified as being common in acne patients compared to controls with clear skin. Supplementation with these nutrients has even showed promise as a natural remedy to acne. If you have problematic skin, be sure to increase your intake of these essential clear-skin nutrients.
Zinc is an anti-inflammatory mineral that has shown great promise in improving acne. Low zinc levels, which are common in acne patients, set the stage for acne to develop. Zinc helps to control sebum production, inflammation, and bacterial infections, which are all factors that make acne worse. Studies also show that women with PCOS have lower levels of zinc than controls. Increasing levels of zinc help minimize PCOS symptoms, including acne. It is estimated that nearly 2 billion people worldwide are affected by a zinc deficiency, so eating a healthy diet may not be enough. Zinc supplementation in higher amounts (25-75mg per day) may be necessary for improving acne.
2. Oregano Oil
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat acne, but they wipe out good bacteria in the body along with p. acnes. Oregano oil is well-documented as a natural anti-bacterial that simultaneously enhances immunity. Unlike medical antibiotics, oregano oil is friendly to probiotics in the gut, and is non-toxic to human cells.
The active component of oregano oil is called carvacrol. Only use wild oregano oil standardized to be high in carvacrol. Don’t trust brands that use oregano oil diluted in olive oil or in a “proprietary blend”.
3. Friendly Flora
There is an important connection between gut and skin health. In 2008, researchers found a significant connection between acne sufferers and digestive complaints like constipation, bloating, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Bad bacteria, such as p. acnes, can become overgrown in the body if there aren’t enough probiotics in the gut, where more than 80% of your immune system is. Supplementing with a probiotic supplement, in particular one containing lactobacillus strains, has been shown to be beneficial in reducing redness and irritation on skin, even lessening acne. Reduce the bad bacteria with oregano oil and replenish the friendly flora with a high quality probiotic supplement.
4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
In clinical research, acne patients had reduced circulating levels of DHA and EPA, omega-3 oils found in fish oil. This sets the stage for acne to develop because omega-3 oils are anti-inflammatory. The Western diet is generally low in Omega-3 and high in inflammatory processed omega-6 oils. Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, Omega-3 fish oil supplements have been researched as a possible treatment for acne. This research has shown significant improvements in acne, particularly severe acne, Plus, fish oil has even shown a promising ability to reduce high testosterone levels in women with PCOS.
If you have acne, definitely make sure you are taking a highly purified fish oil supplement. Lead and cadmium are heavy metals that have been found to be higher in patients with acne, so only use a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement to be sure all heavy metal contaminants have been removed.
Both topical and supplemental curcumin has been proven to improve acne and other inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, alopecia, dermatitis, facial photoaging, and vitiligo. Again and again curcumin proves its usefulness as a highly effective anti-inflammatory compound, especially for the skin.
Curcumin is considered a neutral anti-inflammatory that won’t up or down regulate the immune system too much. It is capable of blocking different types of inflammation, including IL-8 and IL-12, inflammatory compounds found to be higher in the skin of patients with acne. It is also an effective down regulator of the mTOR-pathway, which encourages cell turnover and may contribute to hyperkeratinization in acne, psoriasis, and skin tags. The mTOR-pathway is especially stimulated by branched-chain amino acid intake (dairy) and insulin (high glycemic diet, insulin resistance, PCOS) which supports the connection between acne and a Western diet. Curcumin also helps to calm enflamed acne lesions on the skin.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and a reflection of your overall health status. To improve acne and prevent it from coming back, you must treat it from within where the issue begins. If your skin is stressing you out, try these top anti-acne nutrients, which improve acne by addressing the root causes.