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Getting Rid of Acne Once and For All

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By TJ Williams, DC, PhD

The dreaded acne. It affects more than 85 percent of teenagers. But did you know that this skin condition has increased among adults? In fact, some eight million people visit the dermatologist every year for issues with their skin. We spend over a billion dollars for prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC) products to cure acne, yet at best, these are short-term solutions. The only way to deal with acne once and for all is an inside out approach. What is going on inside your gut and your body affects your skin tremendously. Rather than attack acne through superficial solutions, Functional Medicine takes a roots-deep approach to acne and other skin problems. From that perspective, oxidative stress, which triggers inflammation, contributes to acne and a host of other problems.

Major Causes of Acne and How to Treat Them

Food Sensitivities, especially dairy.
Hormones (including growth hormones) in dairy contribute to acne. Two large controlled trials found that consuming cow’s milk increased both the number of people who got acne and its severity. Other acne-triggering dietary culprits include processed fats like trans fats, which increase arachidonic acid levels and compete with omega-3 fats in the body, leading to more inflammation and acne. It’s important to remove dairy and trans fats from your diet.

Sugar. Sugar raises insulin levels, which then promote the production of testosterone in women, as well as inflammation in general, causing acne. Large randomized prospective controlled trials (the gold standard of medical research) found people who had higher sugar intake and high-glycemic load diets (more bread, rice, cereal, pasta, sugar and flour products of all kinds) had significantly more acne.

Gut challenges. Check for parasites, yeast overgrowth, and bacterial imbalances and treat these things with the help of a Functional Medicine practitioner. Taking probiotics (such as lactobacillus), prebiotics, and digestive enzymes can improve acne. I have seen serious cystic acne resulting from gut imbalances and parasites that resolve when the gut is fixed.

Nutritional Deficiencies. Look for low levels of zinc, omega-3 fats and some anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats, such as evening-primrose oil – all of which can boost immunity, reduce inflammation and reduce acne. For women, try saw palmetto, which is most often used for prostate health but is also found to reduce facial hair and acne in women.

Cooling off inflammation. Foods like wild-caught fish, turmeric, ginger, green tea, dark purple and red foods such as berries, green foods like dark leafy vegetables, and pasture-raised eggs all help to reduce inflammation that contributes to acne.

If you would like more information regarding any of the treatments, therapies, or services offered at The Institute of Natural Health, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at www.theinstituteofnaturalhealth.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sense, science-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 3:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.

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