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Naturopathic Approaches to Acne
By Jill Corey ND
* This post has been edited to include more gender inclusive language. Going forward I will be more diligent in making these posts gender inclusive.*
I see many patients in my practice with acne. Acne can be very stubborn and the treatment should be individually tailored. To put it simply acne is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. However, there are numerous forms and causes of acne. Some of the contributing factors to acne are hormonal imbalances, stress, environmental pollutants and diet. Therefore, I always make sure these areas are being addressed with my patients suffering from acne and will share how I approach each of these factors.
It is common for menstruating people to notice flares before they get their period. It is also common for me to see an increase in acne with people using gender affirming hormones specifically testosterone. Therefore, it is crucial to optimize liver function because the liver is where your body processes hormones. I often recommend herbs such as milk thistle, artichoke or yellow dock. In addition, to liver support some herbs like maca or vitex can balance hormone levels.
In our modern culture stress in inevitable but for our health we must learn healthy ways of managing stress. I often recommend exercise, meditation and breathing techniques as behavioral tools to manage stress. However, there are herbs and supplements that can be taken to help our body process the effects of stress more efficiently.
If you live in an urban area environmental pollutants can be difficult to manage. I always recommend cleansing your face especially at night to get rid of all the pollution that has assaulted your face throughout the day. It might also be a good idea to get a high quality air filter for your home to help decrease the burden. Also, liver function is essential for processing pollution that enters our body as well as processing hormones.
Many of us have food sensitivities. Food sensitivities are usually related to leaky gut. If our gut lining is leaky then it lets in molecules it is not supposed to let in and our immune system attacks those molecules. The immune attack creates inflammation and inflammation in the body can lead to acne. Therefore, if we heal our gut and decrease inflammation in the gut then that can decrease inflammation on our skin as well. Some of the most common foods the promote gut inflammation are wheat (gluten) and dairy. Lastly, processed sugar always promotes inflammation and can also be a contributing factor to acne.
*this is for educational purposes and not intended to diagnose or treat any condition*