If I had to name the top cosmetic complaint that I hear from clients, it would be about acne. It seems like more and more people of all ages and genders are dealing with cystic acne, breakouts, and other related skin issues. But the truth is, acne is far from just a cosmetic complaint- it goes much, much deeper than that. The skincare industry, and specifically blemish-targeting treatments, accounts for billions of dollars spent each and every year. Yet, for the majority of people, the breakouts continue. Why?
Because topical creams, serums, and other potions aren’t getting to the root of the problem!
In the conventional medical system, these types of frustrating skin issues aren’t well-understood. There are many theories as to why people get acne, and it’s often blamed on vague things like “hormones” or “stress”. However, hearing these half-hearted explanations doesn’t give people much hope, nor does it provide a clear path to healing. I aim to undo some of that today!
The Root of the Acne Problem
Acne is seen as a “mystery” symptom or condition. That’s often because it presents in people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, lifestyles, and health histories. So why does it appear to affect such a diverse population? Because the skin is merely the messenger of what’s happening inside the body, and everyone has a unique state of internal and cellular health. I like to think of the skin as merely the “canary in the coal mine,” a simple visual cue to tell us that something inside of us is out of balance. Remember that the skin is one of our four elimination pathways. Acne can be a signal that toxins/acids are trying to get out and that another of the elimination routes is blocked.
Because there isn’t much known about acne in the conventional realm, several theories are floating around around there, that simply aren’t true. First of all, acne is not due to your own body’s “overproduction” of natural oils. Some people are told that their own skin is making too much oil or sebum, and that this clogs pores and causes acne, but that just isn’t something our bodies do! The only thing that may cause an overproduction of oils is the overuse of harsh, drying topical treatments. But it’s important to know that your own natural oils are not to blame for your acne.
Secondly, hormones are often a target for explaining mystery acne. And while there may be some merit to this, especially as we go through puberty, most of the correlation between acne and say, monthly cycles for women, is due to the interaction of hormones and the immune system/lymphatic system. Certain hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, may shift the acid/alkaline balance in the body. Furthermore, menstruation takes up a large portion of the body’s energy reserves, including immune function, and some skin breakouts may happen around this time.
So, what on earth IS going on, when it comes to acne?
For most of us, it’s a combination of two or more of the following:
1. Stagnant Lymph System
The great lymphatic system is the body’s trash collection system, and many of the lymph vessels sit pretty close to the skin’s surface. All of this cellular waste is trying to get out of the body in one way or another, and this waste can push its way up through the skin. If you think about the typical appearance of pimples – redness, swelling, white pus, etc… it becomes clear that this is acidic waste! Acids burn and create irritation, and that white gunk you see when you pop a pimple is a mixture of cellular waste products, white blood cells, and interstitial fluid.
If your lymph isn’t moving properly, it backs up and becomes dry, sticky, and stagnant. This alone can cause acne and other skin irritations. Things like movement/exercise, citrus and other astringent fruits, and herbal remedies like the Lymphatic Systems tinctures or Our Healing Tea can help get your lymph healthy again!
2. Blocked Kidneys
It’s said that the skin is the “third kidney,” and that skin issues can be directly correlated to kidneys that aren’t filtering properly. Our kidneys are responsible for filtering and eliminating a great deal of our body’s cellular waste products, but they can get backed up. This happens to many of us after years of improper diet, adrenal weakness/fatigue, poor hydration, and other factors. If I am working with a client with cystic acne, I automatically hone in on their kidneys!
Getting good kidney filtration can be a challenging process for some people, but especially those who have suffered symptoms for a long time, those with sulfur deposits, and those who have been on high-protein diets. However, it is possible! 100% raw diets with high fruits, mono-fruit fasting, juicing, and the right Kidney/Bladder herbal formula are keys to success.
3. Playing Host to the Wrong Bugs
All organisms need the right ecosystem, in order to thrive. If you have both a stagnant lymph system and backed up kidneys, your body makes for a good host for all types of bugs. This is also true of stagnation and mucoid plaque in the GI tract/colon. Bugs like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites love to take advantage of our inner habitat that is warm, safe, and filled with the foods they like to eat! Bacteria is an especially big player when it comes to acne, especially strains of Streptococcus.
This is one of the reasons why some people take antibiotics for their acne, and while they may get a temporary relief in symptoms, these antibiotics end up poisoning the liver and laying down sulfur in the GI tract over time. If instead we address the underlying lymphatic and kidney issues, and perhaps add in a good parasite herbal formula, we can make ourselves less tempting of hosts for these bugs! Our Black Walnut Hull is fantastic for digestive health, as it’s a powerful anti-parasite and anti-fungal herb.
Since acne is simply an indication of interstitial stagnation, blocked elimination pathways, and/or the presence of microbes, a full-body approach is best in healing acne. The GI tract, in addition to the kidneys, should be a focus, with the right GI Renew formula (formerly known as Stomach and Bowels) to soothe tissues, restore microflora balance, and break down plaques.
Things to keep in mind when healing acne:
- When we start a new healing protocol, like switching our diets or adding in herbs, our skin can get worse before it gets better. Don’t let this get you down. Remember again that the skin is a major elimination organ. Better out than in! Depending on your level of toxicity, your acne may get worse for several weeks or months, before clearing. This means that your protocols are working, not the opposite. Our Hops Flower Extract is a good formula at this time as it is both a liver and a digestive tonic. It also helps to calm the nerves and can be used to relieve insomnia and anxiety.
- It’s also important to address the chemicals that you put on and around your skin. To keep the skin elimination pathway clear, steer clear from conventional deodorants/antiperspirants, cosmetics, lotions, fragrances, and other chemicals. Make the switch now to natural skincare products.
- Let your skin breathe sometimes! It can be tempting, when you’re struggling with major breakouts, to cover it up with makeup or concealers. Try to at least refrain from using those while at home, and wash your face completely before going to bed.
If you’re suffering with acne, there is hope for healing! You have the power to detoxify your body and get clear skin again. With the right foods, herbs, and lifestyle changes, you’ll be well on your way to smooth, glowing skin.
A Note On Skincare
While your focus should be on healing from the inside out, taking care of yourself with a gentle skincare routine is also important. Opt for high quality, natural products, like those from our good friends at Amaki and La Lune Naturals. Amaki’s Hydrating Rose Water Toner is a great choice if you are dealing with acne. Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce the redness of irritated skin and soothe acne. It’s a great cleanser and aids in removing oil and dirt accumulated in clogged pores. If you like doing face masks, La Lune Natural’s 100% Pure Indian Healing Clay can be mixed with raw apple cider vinegar and water for a cleansing mask that will deeply detoxify your skin and tighten your pores. You can apply this mask to your underarms too!