Treat Acne Naturally & Boost The Health Of Your Skin By Julie Merrick ND BHlthSc www.poweroverpcos.com www.pcossuccess.com Acne is one of the possible symptoms that women with PCOS can experience, and is more than just a cosmetic problem. It has a huge effect on self esteem and confidence, it can be quite painful, and it is a sign of an underlying imbalance that needs addressing. I used to suffer with acne myself, and I tried all the medications commonly used to treat it. While I had some relief while I was on them, they had unpleasant side effects and the acne only returned in full force after stopping the medications. Thankfully, I am now acne free due to a combination of strategies I implemented that worked wonders, and if I get the odd pimple now, I can almost always pinpoint why it’s there, and what I need to do to not only heal it faster but stop further breakouts. Although this article can’t be long enough to go into full details of everything I did, I would love to share some of what I learned with you, so that you may be able to get some relief from acne too. There are four main aspects of dealing with acne that I will discuss; diet & natural treatments, detoxification and digestive health, mind-body techniques, and nourishing skin care. 1. Diet & Natural Treatments: It was once thought that diet didn’t have any effect on acne, but we now know this assumption is untrue. The glycaemic load (GL) of a diet can affect the development of acne, with both high glycaemic index (GI) foods and an overall high GL throughout the day contributing. This is because the increase in absorbed glucose from these foods stimulates insulin release, which then stimulates testosterone production; the male hormone that is involved with acne. Reducing your reliance on sugar and grain based foods will lessen the GL of your diet, and following a more ‘paleolithic’ way of eating has helped many acne sufferers. Dairy milk has also been shown to be a contributing factor in acne development, regardless of whether it is low fat, full fat, or skim milk. This may be due to the insulinaemic (insulin stimulating) effect of milk. Reducing or avoiding dairy products may help, as it did for me, but you do need to make sure you get adequate calcium from other foods in your diet. Because acne is an inflammatory condition, you also need to ensure adequate intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3 fats from foods like fish. These not only help reduce the inflammatory process, but also have an effect on the viscosity or thickness of sebum; the oil produced by your skin. Good fats help to ‘thin out’ the sebum so it can exit the pores more easily, and prevent clogging of the pores. Supplements of fish oil can often be helpful in obtaining enough of these fats, especially if you don’t like fish. Zinc is a mineral that is often deficient, and treatment with zinc supplements has been shown to be helpful for acne. Naturopaths can check your zinc levels quickly and easily, and to replenish a deficiency, a liquid or powdered form of zinc is preferable. You can also get zinc from nuts, seeds, oysters, and poultry. Its best to supplement under professional advice though, as long term use or high doses can cause problems. In addition to diet and nutrients, there are various herbs that can be helpful for acne, such as peony, licorice, and vitex agnus castus, but an individual prescription is best to get a more targeted formula for your needs. 2. Detoxification & Digestive Health: Naturopaths are very aware of the connection between the gut and the skin, and time and time again we have seen skin problems improve simply by improving the health of the digestive system. If there is inflammation in the digestive system, or an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, this can affect the rest of the body, the skin included. Also, over the years, compacted waste matter in the intestines can build up and adhere to the gut walls, reducing the surface area available for nutrient absorption, and creating fermentation and growth of ‘bad’ bacteria. This creates a low grade inflammatory response not only in the gut, but in the immune system throughout the body. It also makes the spaces between the cells lining the gut more ‘permeable’, allowing undigested food particles and organisms to enter the bloodstream, which can set off a reaction in the skin of some people. We call this leaky gut syndrome. The digestive tract is also one of the first places in the body that processes toxins from the environment. With the chemical world we live in, we are exposed to multiple toxins, many of which put a stress on the gut and other elimination organs in the body. The connection between the gut and the skin is complicated, but undergoing a safe and proper detoxification and gut repair program, involving diet changes along with specific herbs and nutrients, can be of great help for sufferers of acne. I found this to be one of the main things that helped in my recovery, and I have seen it with my patients as well. 3. Mind-Body Techniques: Too often we forget to look at the emotional contributors to our symptoms, but your state of mind and attitude has a definite effect on your health. Research shows your thoughts and perceptions have an impact on your genes, so mind-body techniques should no longer be considered new-age mumbo jumbo, but valid methods for improving your health in conjunction with other strategies. By changing your thoughts around your skin, you can help to improve the condition. How often do you look in the mirror and offer a negative thought or negative words about your skin? Do you ever say things like “I hate my skin”, or “This acne looks awful”? Every time you say those things you are unknowingly adding to the problem. Although it’s hard, try and retrain yourself to only offer positive thoughts and words. Of course, this doesn’t mean looking in the mirror and saying “I have such beautiful skin” when inside you’re saying “Yeah, right!”, it just means diverting your attention to things that are positive, such as your eyes or smile, or acknowledging that your skin is healing itself (which is true). You can also say affirmations such as “I love having clear radiant skin”, or “My skin is healing itself right now”. I found that once I was able to do this (it took a bit of practice!), my skin just got better and better. Also, as stress worsens acne, relaxation and stress management techniques such as meditation can be helpful. 4. Nourishing skin care: Your skin is an organ just like all the others, so why feed it with chemicals? Most skin care on the market is a chemical cocktail, I know, I used to work in the industry! Your skin absorbs much of what you put on it, so not only are you irritating your skin, but you are adding to the chemical load on your body. Also, common preservatives used in skin care called parabens have been shown to actually enhance the skins ageing process, so the anti ageing cream you use may not in fact be all it’s cracked up to be. To put it simply, you don’t need all these chemical skin products when there are plenty of natural alternatives available. You need to nourish your skin with soothing, healing ingredients, especially when your skin is inflamed as it is with acne. Also, despite the aim of many acne products on the market – to dry the skin out, drying the skin will only encourage more oil production to compensate. When I started using high quality natural skin products, I found that my skin healed faster and became more hydrated and supple. Although acne is an internal problem, using healing ingredients topically can also help a lot. And for those unwelcome breakouts, tea tree oil straight from the bottle will help reduce the infection, inflammation, and pain from pimples. If you’re not happy with your skin, give these strategies a try, and visit www.poweroverpcos.com/helpforacne.html to find acne-friendly recipes, recommended skin care products, and other valuable resources to help you become acne free.
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