Natural Acne Treatments
Natural Acne Treatments
Our Perth natural medicine clinic specialises in natural acne treatments. We treat the underlying cause of acne and resolve the root cause. Many of our natural acne treatments focus on the gut, methylation, detoxification and hormone clearance and balance. read on for more about how we treat acne.
Acne vulgaris is characterised by increased sebum production and keratinocyte formation, with inflammation and infection of the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of the skin causing papules, pustules and comedones.
Acne affects those areas containing the largest sebaceous glands, including the nose, central forehead, medial cheeks, middle chin, back and trunk.
It can affect people of all ages, but is most common during adolescence (affecting approximately 20% of adolescents and young adults).
Symptoms usually diminish after adolescence and have gone by age 30. Acne is most prevalent in Western societies.
Causes of Acne
The primary cause of acne vulgaris is thought to be high circulating androgens which stimulate sebaceous gland activity leading to excess sebum and keratin production in the sebaceous glands.
Increased sebum and keratin leads to blockage of pores, leading to inflammation and overgrowth of bacteria (in particular Propionibacterium acnes).
The increase in testosterone may be related to an increase in 5-alpha-reductase which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent form of testosterone.
Contributing factors that cause acne:
- Gut bacteria / microbiome imbalance / leaky gut
- Methylation – without this functioning correctly our ability to detox and clear hormones is greatly impaired
- Fluctuating hormones in adolescence, pre-menstruation or pregnancy
- High glycaemic load diet: stimulates release of insulin leading to increased testosterone, sebum and keratin production; also increases acne-related bacteria and suppresses immune function
- Diet high in trans fats, refined vegetable oils, junk foods etc: increase inflammatory markers, contributing to skin inflammation
- Dairy intake: associated with an increased incidence of acne, possibly due to hormonal content
- Obesity and insulin resistance: associated with elevated 5-alpha-reductase
- Accumulation of dead skin cells (need regular cleansing)
- Use of greasy skin or hair products containing animal or vegetable fats
- Stress: exacerbates androgen/estrogen imbalance, suppresses immune response and increases inflammatory response
- Allergy to bacteria in skin
- Reactions to foods or medications (including anabolic steroids) – Oral contraceptives are common contributors, especially those high in progesterone along with the Mirena IUD
- Exposure to dioxins
- Exposure to heat and humidity
Signs & Symptoms of Acne
- Characterised by whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, nodules, cysts, red inflamed areas
- Chin (also back and face): hormonal
- Neck: lymphatic congestion
- Widespread: poor elimination
- Acne rosacea
NATURAL TREATMENT STRATEGY FOR ACNE
- Address underlying gut issues and improve digestion / gastric function
- Ensure methylation is optimised
- Reduce serum androgen levels
- Reduce sebum production and sebocyte proliferation
- Regulate blood sugars and improve insulin sensitivity
- Reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and promote tissue repair
- Support immune function and reduce bacterial proliferation
- Support channels of elimination
- Manage HPA Axis response
- Treat symptoms topically
Dietary plan guidelines for Acne
- Low glycaemic load diet: avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates improves insulin sensitivity, lowers free testosterone levels and reduces acne lesions.
- High fibre diet: improves bowel eliminations, supports healthy gut flora, stabilises blood sugar levels and increases SHBG (thus decreasing free androgens)
- Include zinc-rich foods: inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, thus reducing DHT levels; also supports immunity and promotes tissue repair
- Avoid/reduce dairy foods: can be associated with acne due to hormone content
Acne Supplements – Natural Acne Treatments
- Zinc: inhibits conversion of testosterone to DHT: promotes skin repair; prevents scarring; supports immunity
- Omega-3 fatty acids : anti-inflammatory; decreases androgen activity
- Vitamin A & Vitamin E: tissue repair, antioxidant, decreases sebum and keratin, reduces scarring
- Chromium: balances blood sugars
- Vitamin D: boosts skin immunity; anti-microbial to skin
- Selenium: antioxidant, detoxifier, immune system modulation
- B6: assists with premenstrual acne and the clearance of hormones
- Pantothenic acid: short term high doses have shown to decrease acne; important in fat metabolism
- Probiotics: immune support, especially if patient has been on antibiotics
Herbal treatments to consider for Acne
- Herbs to decrease serum androgens: saw palmetto, peony/licorice combination (in PCOS)
- Premenstrual acne: chaste tree
- Anti-inflammatory: licorice, turmeric, Oregon grape, calendula, sarsaparilla, Echinacea
- Antioxidant: turmeric, schisandra, rosemary, green tea
- Immune stimulants: echinacea, andrographis, baptisia
- Liver Support: dandelion, yellow dock, barberry, celandine
- HPA Axis support: rhodiola, panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, withania, licorice
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE – NATURAL TREATMENT OF ACNE
The above are some basic lifestyle adjustments that can contribute to the improvement of Acne. A comprehensive assessment of all body systems including the gut, hormone pathways, methylation and detoxification systems is required to identify and address underlying causative factors.
Treating the body as a whole with a functional medicine approach allows the condition to be resolved completely rather than treating symptoms with drugs such as Accutane that cause potentially nasty side effects.
At Perth clinic of Functional medicine we successfully treat many cases of adolescent and adult acne, patients predominantly have underlying issues either gut, detoxification, hormone or diet and lifestyle related that are driving the condition.
Addressing the Gut-Hormone axis, supporting detoxification pathways and modifying diet and lifestyle measures if required is the key to resolve.
If you are suffering from acne or have a story regarding treatment we would love to hear from you, please write a comment below.