Years ago we used to treat acne as a local infection using drugs like tetracycline, which lowered the immune system and turned teeth gray, and alkaline soap bars that harden the sebaceous oils in the skin, resulting in cystic acne. Alcohol based products were used to dry out the skin, but that made the sebaceous glands produce more oil and made the problem worse. Little was known about how to treat acne then – even diet and supplements were ignored for the most part.
Today, we know that uneven hormonal levels and stress are the root causes of acne in humans. Hormonal changes and daily stresses send messages to the hypothalamus gland – the hypothalamus relays the message to the pituitary gland which in turn relays the message to the adrenal glands. The adrenal over-reacts to the message, and sends it on to the testosterone. The testosterone has a direct line to the sebaceous oil glands in the skin and as a result of all this activity, the sebaceous glands in the skin produce more oil.
Normally this should only result in oily skin, but factors like acne bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) which is present on most healthy adult human skin, and dead skin cell build-up, traps the oil which clogs the sebaceous glands including those in the hair follicle. The trapped sebum (oil) starts to collect under the skin resulting in a pustule that often becomes a cyst.
Healthy and radiant skin requires proper nutrition. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can affect the body’s ability to function optimally. Vitamins and minerals can be taken to supplement our diets when our nutritional needs are lacking through food consumption alone. However, multivitamins should not be taken as a substitute for eating healthy foods.
While there is an ongoing debate about the role food plays in the onset or cause of acne, there is some scientific evidence that certain dietary deficiencies contribute to the onset and/or persistence of acne. For example:
Blackheads – The appearance of blackheads may suggest the need for magnesium and vitamin A supplements.
Whiteheads – Chronic and numerous whiteheads may suggest a B1 deficiency or absorption problem.
Raised spots – Usually found on the outside of the arms and sometimes on the thighs, these raised spots are also referred to as ‘chicken skin’ because of its appearance. Consistent raised spots in these areas suggest the need for magnesium and vitamin A, or essential fatty acids like Omega-3. This condition may also suggest the need to avoid foods that inhibit the absorption of these essential fatty acids, such as trans-fatty acids found in margarine and hydrogenated oils such as cottonseed oil and palm kernel oil.
Pustules – A deficiency of zinc can contribute to the onset of acne. Taking 100mg of Zinc once a day with a meal will not only help with the inflammation, it will help dry out oil glands, reducing blemishes by at least 35% over time. Zinc can also be added to lotions and creams to reduce acne breakouts.
*Taking too much of any vitamin or mineral can be toxic and extremely dangerous. Vitamins and supplements are not a substitute for proper nutrition. Please consult with a doctor or other trained healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements.
Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Inc.