14 Naturopath tips for preventing acne
Hormonal and cystic acne can be confidence-depleting and debilitating but should actually be considered a welcome sign that there is an internal balance that needs to be addressed. Benzyl peroxide, the oral contraceptive pill and Accutane are prescribed without any consideration for underlying hormonal or nutritional deficiencies that may be contributing to the acne. Side effects which result from these treatments are undesirable and can not only disrupt our skin microbiome and lead to a dry and weak skin barrier, they can also contribute to mood disturbances and leave us nutrient depleted.
Solving acne from a naturopathic perspective makes sense when we think about where acne comes from. It is actually a result of excess sebum leading to clogged pores and begins at the sebaceous follicle level, which implies that topical treatments won’t get close to addressing the underlying cause.
Using a combination of herbs, foods and nutraceuticals, and with just a bit of patience it is easy to get the skin looking clear and healthy.
When someone presents to me with acne, I will delve deeper to determine what is causing the acne. Some of the factors that can often be triggers for acne include hormonal imbalances, a highly inflammatory diet, high stress, smoking, a gut or skin microbiome imbalance or a sluggish liver – sometimes a few of these factors may be manifesting as cystic and chronic acne.
Regardless of the cause, the below tips will help to naturally calm inflamed, cystic acne. Where hormones are at play, it may be worth delving further with a salivary hormone test to determine what specific hormones are imbalanced. However, generally the below tips will be of benefit for all types of acne and will provide dramatic results if followed for at least 6-8 weeks.
14 Naturopathic tips for preventing and treating acne naturally
Care for your liver.
The liver is central to the elimination of toxins and excess hormones. A sluggish liver can mean that toxins are not being cleared from the body properly manifesting as skin eruptions. Bitter foods stimulate enzymes and bile flow to support the liver as do herbs such as Turmeric, Dandelion, Burdock Root and Globe Artichoke. Enjoy these in our 1 Green Goddess Detox Tea and Beauty Detox Shot.
The power of turmeric.
Turmeric contains anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory compounds which makes it a phenomenal aid in combatting cystic acne. Use it as a spot treatment on areas of breakouts in our Turmeric Beauty Latte serum.
Avoid harsh cleansers. Anything that foams is not our friend! Not only does it strip our skin of natural oils, forcing our skin to overproduce oil, it actually leads to a compromised skin barrier which may encourage skin inflammation and hypersensitivity. Use a milk or oil based cleanser to keep your skin happy. Our 1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk purifies skin whilst hydrating at the same time. It will help to calm and soothe unhappy acne prone skin.
Up the ante on greens and veggies.
Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower contain glucosinolates (sulfur-containing chemicals) which have incredible liver boosting benefits. Aim to have 1 cup daily along with 1 cup of leafy greens (rocket, spinach, cos lettuce etc). Leafy greens are abundant in chlorophyll and folate which helps to keep skin inflammation in check.
Check in on your fibre intake.
Fibre is an essential to healthy skin. Many of us are not getting the 25 -30 grams recommended in our daily diet. Fibre helps to sweep up toxins and oestrogen along with undigested food in the gut and help to feed good gut bacteria keeping our gut microbiome healthy and our digestion in check. Add 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal to your smoothie or morning porridge. Enjoy fibre rich foods such as oats, brown rice, vegetables and legumes. Your skin will thank you for this!
Avoid inflammatory foods.
Inflammatory foods such as sugar and processed foods (bread, crackers, chips, cakes etc) can be contributing to blood sugar imbalances which lead to an excess of insulin, testosterone which ultimately leads to excess sebum. Dairy has also been linked to insulin surges which also follow this hormone path leading to excess sebum.
Enjoy a low GI diet.
Low Glylcaemic-Index (GI) foods mean blood sugars respond more slowly to food intake. Foods rich in fibre, most vegetables, whole grains, legumes and protein tend to have a low GI so your diet should be focused on these.
Top up your plate with healthy fats.
Omega Rich fatty acids found in flax, chia and walnuts along with avocados are a fantastic way fight “inflammation”. Add ¼ to ½ an avocado along with a handful of walnuts to your daily salad. Make the effort to avoid inflammatory Omega 6 foods (other than olive oil), these are mostly found in vegetable oils. A high Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio can contribute to acne.
Delight in orange foods.
Pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and squash are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is instrumental in fighting acne.
Supplement with B vitamins.
Vitamin B6 (P5P) is instrumental for balancing hormones in particular progesterone. Take 50 mg daily along if your acne is hormonal. Panthenol or Vitamin B5, is critical in the production of Co-enzyme Q10, which is instrumental in breaking down fat and sebum. It is often depleted in teenagers as is used to produce hormones. Supplement with 50 mg daily or as part of B complex vitamin.
The sunshine vitamin.
Vitamin D is important for skin repair and acne prevention with deficiencies linked to cystic acne. Enjoy 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily wearing no sunscreen or sunglasses (if exposed any longer be sure to cover up). If you are living in a part of the world where you are not able to get any sunshine, supplement with at least 2000 IU daily.
Drink in Licorice, Peony and Burdock root.
Licorice is a beautiful herb for reducing inflammation. Combined with Peony it has been shown to assist with hormone balance in women suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Drink it on its own or with Burdock Root and Calendula in our complexion tea, 4 Golden Glow.
The beauty vitamin zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, but it is hard to find it vegan foods and if you do not enjoy oysters and liver you may be not getting enough zinc! In conjunction with Vitamin A, zinc helps with wound healing, hormone balance and tissue repair. Supplement with 30 mg daily, my preferred type of zinc is Zinc Picolinate.
Improve your hydration with trace minerals.
Ensuring you are getting your 2 litres of water will help to flush your body of unwanted hormones and toxins along with helping your liver to provide bile. Ensuring that your body is getting plenty of trace minerals will ensure that your body is able to utilise this water. Trace minerals also facilitate the biochemical reactions in our body and assist hormone balance so you don’t want to be missing out on them. Seaweed is a fantastic source of trace minerals. Add dulse powder to your soup or cut up nori sheets and add to your salads. Sprinkle Celtic Sea Salt on your salads as it is a fantastic source of minerals.