Three Natural Approaches to Acne
Author: ANCP Date Posted:26 May 2016
Acne occurs when the hair follicles of the skin become blocked, resulting in the build up of an oily substance called sebum beneath the skin’s surface. This enables bacteria (often the organism Propionibacterium acnes) to multiply there and cause inflammation and localised infection.
Acne is linked to levels of the hormone testosterone, which is found in both men and women. Acne is therefore more common during times of hormonal change, such as puberty, menopause and the premenstrual phase of a woman’s cycle.
Top up your zinc levels
Zinc plays numerous roles in the human body, and may have a number of benefits for those with acne-prone skin. These include helping to support the immune response to infection, an anti-inflammatory action in the body, and supporting hormone metabolism. It is also an essential nutrient for wound healing and skin repair.
You’ll find zinc in foods such as shellfish (especially oysters), meat and whole grains. If you’re considering taking a supplement, choose a formula that combines zinc with co-factors such as manganese, magnesium, vitamin B6 and also includes copper which may otherwise become depleted when taking zinc supplements.
Support your body’s detoxification pathways
According to naturopathic philosophy, acne and other inflammatory and pustular skin conditions have traditionally been regarded as indications that the body is not eliminating its waste products efficiently. To support your body’s detoxification processes, base your diet on high fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains and drink plenty of water to help flush the urinary system and keep the bowels moving regularly. At the same time, lighten the load on your liver and gall bladder by avoiding alcohol, caffeine and fatty foods.
For extra support, consider taking herbal medicines that have traditionally been used to purify the blood and cleanse the skin, such as sarsaparilla, burdock root, calendula and echinacea. Globe artichoke may also be beneficial and has traditionally been taken to help maintain liver and gall bladder function and aid the removal of wastes from the body.
Try a low-GI diet
The links been acne and diet have been controversial for many years, with some people believing that it is triggered or exacerbated by foods such as chocolate and deep fried foods, and others claiming that dietary factors were not involved. However, the connection between diet and acne may be more complex than originally thought, as research now suggests that rather than being triggered by any individual food, acne lesions may in part be influenced by your diet’s glycaemic load, or in other words, the way that the carbohydrates in your diet affect your blood sugar and insulin levels.
In a study conducted at Melbourne’s RMIT University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 43 adolescent and young adult males with mild-to-moderate facial acne followed either a diet with a low glycaemic load or one with a high glycaemic load. After 12 weeks, participants who had followed the low glycaemic diet had approximately half the number of acne lesions they’d had at the start of the study, while the acne of those consuming the high glycaemic diet had only improved by 31%.
To give a low-glycaemic diet a try for yourself, start by swapping quickly digested forms of carbohydrate such as potatoes, white bread, cakes and biscuits for carbohydrate foods that are converted to glucose in the blood stream more slowly, such as stone-ground sour dough bread, whole grains, legumes and pulses. Include plenty of high quality lean protein in your diet too – fish and free-range chicken and eggs are good choices.