There are 4 main causes for adult female acne. Let’s review these and talk about the ways that natural medicine can help.
Inflammation is such a buzzword these days. If you’re following the health trends you know it’s something you don’t want, but how do you get rid of it? Take turmeric daily? Well maybe, but how about instead you go to the source and see what is causing it. Inflammation that causes acne is coming from one source. Your diet. Either there is something you’re eating that is triggering an immune (IgG) type reaction or you are eating too many saturated fats. The solution is simple for this one.
- Get your IgG antibodies tested for foods (I like to use the company US Biotek, the cost currently runs at $159 for 96 foods and I find the test to be about 80% accurate).
- Complete an elimination diet.
- Clean up your diet high in saturated fats.
#2 Hormone Regulation
Not all adult onset acne is caused by hormones, but if your skin looks great for 2 weeks a month and then bam! you ovulate and now you’ve got acne all over.
It’s the hormones.
As a female, you’ve got 2 solutions to address this. Start birth control to suppress the hormonal fluctuations or start botanical medicine to balance your hormones. Personally, I choose the botanical route because this actually gets to the root of the problem and cures the issue. Typically, patients are on herbs for 2-12 months, with the average being around 4 months. My favorite herbs for skin health include burdock, vitex, saw palmetto, nettle root, and dandelion root. Sometimes when I customize an herbal plan for someone I like to alternate my herbs 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off to address the natural hormone changes that happen every month. This gives women easier periods with less PMS, less bloating, less cramps, and less acne. See my article on seed cycling as a good primer for hormone balancing with regards to estrogen and progesterone.
For the testosterone side of the equation this hormone may need to be addressed all month long using herbs like saw palmetto and nettle root.
A simple solution to start with for excess free testosterone is 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds a day. Flax will help increase a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) that will reduce free testosterone that causes increased sebum production. This is particularly a great solution for teen acne and will not reduce libido since it doesn’t affect the total circulating testosterone.
If you have ever been to a traditional dermatologist for acne you know that the cure all from their playbook is retin-A, salicylic acid, or antibiotics. These acne treatments are often covered by your insurance, so it’s alluring to stop there, but if your skin doesn’t get better with these treatments or you are stuck on them for years or decades it’s time to look for other answers.
When you would walk away from an appointment with most dermatologist you are left thinking that all acne is caused by bacteria or oily skin, and you would be wrong. Yes, touching your face often and picking at acne will create infections and this will make your acne worse, but that was not the source of the problem. The reason why medications like doxycycline help is due to the anti-inflammatory AND antibacterial mechanism of the drug. When I address the bacterial (or fungal) component of acne I go to the gut, because what happens in the intestinal tract can also affect the bacterial balance on your face. I test for the bacteria and yeast balance in your gut through stool testing which gives me concrete information on what is off balance and how to treat it. I love using companies like Doctor’s Data that provide me with cultures and sensitivities on the abnormal results so I know exactly which natural solution to use when targeting the problem. No more guessing if this is yeast/candida or bacterial overgrowth, real facts to create real solutions.
Ah, yes stress. Isn’t this the cause of so many of our health problems? If all of the above have been ruled out, then it’s almost always stress that is causing the problem. Our natural world provides us so many wonderful herbs that help combat stress. Some of my favorites include rhodiola, ashwagandha, passionflower, and lemon balm. But, wait you don’t have to take something to manage your stress. Instead look towards gentle exercise like tai chi and yoga, or take up a daily meditation practice to calm your mind and reduce your response to stress.
Remember we can only control 3 things in life: how we react to situations, what we put in our bodies, and how we move our bodies.
Find the solution and fix the root cause of the problem.
I hope this article sheds some light on your root cause. If you would like to learn more about my approaches to natural cures for adult acne or how to balance your hormones naturally check out these two pages: Holistic Skin Health and Women’s Health Services