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Acne PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 January 2001 17:13

Question: I have a 16-year-old son who is in his sixth month of suffering with pretty severe acne. Being a teenager, his diet is not optimal to say the least. Lately he is getting more self-conscious and even a bit withdrawn because of his looks. The dermatologist we went to prescribed Tetracycline and Acutane but isn't there any other way to go?

Answer: As your describe, acne vulgaris and cystic acne, two very common problems of modern teenagers, can be very debilitating for young people, particularly as it undermines their sense of self-esteem at a time when it is already fragile. Is there an effective strategy available for people in this age group that does not incur the side effects of conventional medications? (Tetracycline is a broad spectrum antibiotic which alters bowel flora and also interferes with bone metabolism. Acutane is a synthetic vitamin A molecule which causes very dry skin, irritability and possible birth defects in growing fetuses.)

A strategy for dealing with acne begins with effective "bowel cleansing" and healthy bowel flora (the normal lacto-bacteria that live in our intestines). This has always been considered the cornerstone of every natural acne treatment. The best remedy for this is for your teenager to eat about 1/4-1/2 cup of fresh, unpasteurized traditionally made sauerkraut every day and then take one teaspoon of Swedish Bitters in warm water before bed. You can make the sauerkraut yourself following the recipes in Nourishing Traditions. There is also a brand called Bubbies, found in the refrigerator section of a good health food store. There are also scores of other lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits and drinks described in Nourishing Traditions that you can try. Sauerkraut, however, should be the cornerstone of treatment as the high sulphur content of the cabbage is especially valuable in skin cleansing. (Cabbage juice is valued in Irish folk medicine for giving a beautiful complexion.)

Another area of importance is the inclusion of the proper fats in the diet (such as good quality butter and olive oil) and excluding the commercial vegetable oils and hydrogenated margarines and shortenings. Your teenager should also take 1/2 teaspoon or 3 capsules cod liver oil daily and 4-5 capsules of evening primrose daily as supplements.

Raw foods should be included liberally in the diet, including vegetables, fruits, milk and even meat. At the same time he should decline sodas, sugar and junk foods as much as possible. Make his own lunch so that he does not have to eat in the cafeteria, and always have plenty of nutritious natural snacks on hand.

Finally, there should be some attention to sweating and the general cleansing of the skin. If your child is athletic, encourage him to exercise heavily, then brush his skin vigorously (with a loofah) and then rinse off in cool-cold water. This is like a skin "exercise." If he is not athletic, one to three saunas weekly followed by a cool shower will aid detoxification. You might also look into a good herbal skin treatment. I recommend the Hauschka Cosmetics products, available from Raphael Pharmacy (916) 962-1099. They have a trio for acne treatment that consists of capsules containing silica and herbs, a special face lotion for acne and a cleansing cream.

These measures should be a good start in clearing your son's skin.

From a reader, via email:
"Your website neglects to mention high doses of the water-soluble vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) for curing acne. It does wonders, without of course the damaging effects of Accutane."
-Ted Sawyer, Des Moines, IA

The Weston A. Price Foundation responds: Thank you for sharing this important piece of information with us. Good sources of pantothenic acid include nutritional yeast and liver. Other nutrients that help in the treatment of acne are vitamin A (available in cod liver oil, organ meats, egg yolks and butter) and zinc (available in shellfish and red meat).

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Comments (24)Add Comment
Don't worry too much.
written by Fanny, Jan 04 2014
Judging from people I know, and having suffered from teen acne myself, I think it's very important to make clear that a couple or a dozen of pimples is not acne. It's just some pimples that are very likely to go away given some time. So before you try all those remedies given here, just relax and give them some time.
Is a Acne a thyroid problem?
written by Edgardo Bernabe, Dec 30 2014
Probably in a book Steve Langer actually cure ane problems whith desicated thyroid hormone.
The importance Of Diet
written by Anna, Jul 21 2013
Excellent post, brings back lots of memories of the devastating effects getting acne can have on your life, particularly as a teenager.

Hopefully people reading this page will start following this advice, especially as regards diet. Dairy products containing cows milk and anything derived from its proteins like casein, in particular are best replaced with suitable alternatives like Goats milk or soya.

Cows milk is often loaded with hormones which can upset the the hormone balance in the body thus triggering acne outbreaks.
Correct Diet Is Very Important
written by Anna, Jul 21 2013
It is nice to see someone else writing about the important aspects of diet, although there is not yet a proven link to acne, proper diet is essential to healthy skin, as how can the skin repair itself if it lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals?

As indicated above a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and the omission of highly processed and refined foods, especially sugar and flour.

At the same time dairy products, (those made from cow milk and derivatives of it, like casein) are generally a big problem for acne sufferers, perhaps more than they realize, and they should be cut from the diet as much as possible, they are easily replaced with healthier alternatives such as Goats milk or soya.
Adrenal Fatigue
written by Dra, Jul 20 2013
Adrenal Fatigue can cause acne, as the adrenals are responsible for over 50 hormones in the body, especially coritsol (the stress hormone). If hormones are out of balance due to decreased adrenal functioning, acne will likely ensue. It is thought that many people in our stressful culture are suffering from adrenal fatigue in some capacity, but are never diagnosed because Western medicine does not understand or recognize the condition. See Dr. Lam's website for more info.
written by befuddled, Jun 05 2013
I follow Weston Price guidelines wherever I can, and generally have found them to have enriched my life. However cod liver oil gave me terrible cystic acne (it was Carlsson's brand). I've been very wary of vitamin A ever since.
written by Gregory, May 01 2013
A huge part of this that is missing is the omega 3/6 ratio is always skewed with acne sufferers. Greatly reducing high omega-6 foods and increasing daily ingestion of high omega-3 foods will have incredibly positive effects for this.

A few ways of doing this are to eat your egg yolks raw and from range-fed chickens only. Eating grass-fed beef and range-fed chicken will also make a difference. Eating wild-caught fish only is also very helpful (basically following the basic guidelines from this website of healthy eating).

Cutting out sugar, with the exception of low-sugar berries, is 100% necessary to getting clear, too. The insulin spikes will break you out like nothing else, and feed bad bacteria in your gut.

And, finally, taking cod liver oil daily along with about 2 tbsp of flax oil (or an omega-3-6-9 supplement, like The Total EFA by Health from the Sun (what I use)). The flax oil will help a lot! And not to mention burn fat. Just make sure you are consuming high ORAC foods while you take flax oil.
written by Pam, Feb 23 2013
I have had acne my entire adult life. I also tried numerous facial washes, etc. and nothing ever helped except some relief from topical Benzamycin (combo benzyl peroxide and erythromycin) cream from my dr. for quite a few years. Then I went gluten free a couple years ago and an amazing side effect was total clearing of my acne and it's stayed away easily (even with often less than ideal face washing practices). I did have a good break out when I accidentally ate some gluten. I also found out from a skin care product person that some toners, etc. contain gluten in them.
written by Jasmin Wickham, Jul 04 2012
I have been a sufferer of acne for my whole life and I have tried many ways to solve the problem. Each persons body and skin is so individual, but since following the recipes in 'Nourishing Traditions' and listening to my body and watching its reactions I have the clearest skin that I have had in my life so far. I find for me that a balance of all food in Sally's book is the way to go and my skin will tell me if I get clogged up with too much meat, cream or heavier foods. I look at a break out in a positive way now because I am lucky that my body can tell me what needs changing. Diet is the key!! Gentle, natural facial products are important as I think we get tricked into putting chemicals onto our skin by doctors, chemists, advertising in magazines etc. Find a good cleaner that works to keep your ph balanced, follow with an astringent like 'witch hazel' (cheap, natural and aaamazingly quick to smooth and heal) and finish with a small amount of homemade essential oil/herbal concoction that is right for your skin type (research this one, but I love 3.6.9. Omega oil by 'Evohe' - it is truly magical as are all of their products and they are ALL natural). I find washing my cleanser off with a fibre/bamboo/organic cotton face cloth and changing it regularly keeps the bacteria away. I use a mineral powder for coverage during the day and all mineral makeup. No chemicals is very important! A probiotic that is right for you and Cod Liver oil will work wonders. If you feel clogged try a juice and green smoothie cleanse for a day or 2 to get back in balance. I have a FANTASTIC e-book about naturally clearing acne, so if anyone is interested please send me and email and I will send it onto you. I paid $27 for it and I learnt SO much even after my own lifetime of research. Good luck to all with skin ailments, but follow Weston A. Price Foundation and Sally and you will find your way. Peace. xo
written by roess, Dec 29 2011
I had a relatively good diet but at my first pregnancy broke out with acne which I never had as a teenager. I managed to get rid of it thank to a magnesium supplement extracted from sea salt. In french "clorure de magnesium" . Occaisonnally when an odd bump reappears, I go take another dose but basically it is gone.
..., Low-rated comment [Show]
written by raquel tenezaca, Aug 02 2011
I had horrible acne when I was a teenager. I found out I was allergic to dairy products. As soon as I stopped all DAIRY my face cleared up! Even yogourt does this to me smilies/sad.gif I haven't tried raw milk though.
written by resilience, Apr 18 2011
Hey, just wanted to comment on the coconut oil. I am 46 and have had moderate to mild acne as long as i can remember.
One thing that has improved my skin and I believe reduced the appearance of pores is using coconut oil to both remove make-up (including mascara) with a hot wet washcloth. The I moisturize with just a little more coconut oil. Sometimes I use palm oil. It has a yellow hew. But on me it looks like I have a little tan. My skin is much clearer than in the past. I have been using coconut liberally in my diet and on my skin for about 10 years. Oh, I have been eating weston price style for 20+ years. With that said, I have the energy of a 20 year old and no wrinkles. And with all that good food I have the good mood to match!
need for detox
written by Niki Tsir, Mar 23 2011
To my understanding, the skin needs A LOT of time to heal. I' ve had oily skin with spots (that is not one single pore that wasn't blocked) since I was a small child and noone ever told me how diet affected my complexion. It's been only a few months since I changed my diet to WAPF guidelines and my skin is already staring to feel smooth and clear. People compliment me on how radiant and clear my face looks. I use only organic, soap-free, chemical-free facewash once a day and coconut oil every night before bed. But it got worse before it got better. I think it's because when you follow a proper diet the body starts the detoxification process and most of it passes through the skin. Also, check out if the cosmetics, lotions, shampoo etc you're using have parabens, SLS, petrol and perfume as all of these mess up with the production of hormones and cause skin to break out. i hope I was of help.
written by Ann, Feb 09 2011
These are all good suggestions, though I am having trouble pinpointing what will work for me. I have had consistent acne since high school and am now out of college with no real improvement. In my opinion, I eat a pretty good diet. I eat a majority of organic, unprocessed foods, including raw dairy, milk kefer, raw/steamed veggies, cod liver oil, vitamin D, fermented foods like saurkraut, coconut oil, and no sugar, soy, or white flour. I also recently began eating a gluten-free diet. Despite these lifestyle changes, there has been little to no change in my acne. What am I not doing or what am I doing wrong? I would appreciate any suggestions or ideas!
written by Sarah, Jan 21 2011
I do not suffer from acne but do get breakouts and blackheads in my chin and forehead area. I follow the diet very strictly but do eat quite a lot of fruit and sone dried fruit, am wk seeing if that I'd causing the spots?! I currently use dr hauschka to wash my face, bit after reading the article am mow wondering if I should just use an organic soap and coconut oil! Dies anyone have any suggestions or experienwca using coconut oil?
Acne Treatment? What is a Therapeutic Dose for "prescript -assist"?
written by Kim, Jan 11 2011
I was reading these posts regarding acne. I did not have acne growing up but now as a young adult I have it pretty bad just on my face. The dermatologist prescribed me a medication called Finacea but I am hesitant to use it. I am trying different treatments and am pursuing the elimination approach to determine if I have food allergies. But I was wondering what the therapeutic dose is for "prescript-assist"? And if anyone else has had any luck with it.
A Combination Worked For Me
written by Olivia, Nov 10 2010
Hi there, there is a lot of specific actionable detail in this article, great stuff.

Like the majority of teenagers I suffered from pretty bad acne from early till my late teen years, and my parents seeing how much it got me down organised a regime that helped 'control', but not completely eliminate my acne. They too made me give up the processed food, stick with raw fresh foods and vegtables, and cooked lunches at school. I also combined this with a weak course of Benzoyl Peroxide an anti-bacterial agent (some of you might not like to hear this), and these two approaches paid dividends for me.
response to Sharon
written by Amber, May 04 2010
While adjusting the diet of your daughter, also take a look at other causes of her acne. I had extremely severe acne in the past, and during those bouts identified things that aggravated it.
First was food allergies. An easy way to identify this is a simple version of muscle response testing. Have your daughter firmly hold out her left arm at shoulder height, palm open, thumb pointing to her right big toe. You try to push her arm down as she resists. If she maintains strength, it's good. To test a food, have her hold it in her right hand, her left arm extended as explained. Try to push her arm down, and if her arm is now weak and easily pushed down, that food does not suit her. (I have since received NAET treatment, and was taught by my practitioner how to self-treat for allergies).
Another strong aggravation for me was the shampoo and shower gel I used. Turns out, I was allergic to sulfates (discovered when I was treated for an unrelated problem with a sulfate drug). The sodium lauryl sulfate and other sulfates in shampoo/bath gel was aggravating my skin. I now use alternatives like Aubrey Organic's shampoo.
Lastly, such things as pillows, perfume...or anything else in contact with her skin should be suspect and muscle tested. Use natural things like 100% natural latex pillows (not the synthetic stuff or memory foam).
A well balanced diet is helpful... I tend to eat whole foods, limit simple sugar like fruit juices, NO refined sugar, limit grains. No supplements unless a deficiency is suspect. It means I cook from scratch rather than pre-packaged foods. But my health (and clear skin) is worth it. Raw milk is great, not sure why you're being told not to use it. Spend your money on whole organic foods and healthy meat from non-abused animals, rather than on so many supplements.
For facial cleansing, less is more! Using gentle soap I GENTLY wash my face with a washcloth when I take my morning shower. That's the only time I wash my face with water. For moisturizer, I use coconut oil, or olive oil only as needed. If you use a chlorine filter on your showerhead, the water won't be as harsh. I have tried MANY cleansers and creams (even all-natural ones), but in the end have found that maintaining my naturally occurring oil is the best thing. Which means no scrubbing, no overwashing, and no unnecessary creams or other "stuff" we've been taught is needed. Neem was far too harsh for my face (but very effective at stopping the itch of mosquito bites!). If she uses make-up, your daughter can gently remove it at night with a cotton ball and coconut oil (or almond or olive oil).
And kefir from real kefir grains is the best probiotic out there! (sorry to disagree with your practitioner!)
All this is my own opinion and from my own experiences with treating severe cystic acne. Hopefully your daughter will discover what works best for her.

My Acne Cured!
written by Rebecca, Apr 29 2010
On March 15th, 2010, at 32 years of age I was tired of fighting acne. I was at my wits end having tried EVERY natural remedy under the sun. I was introduced to a Probiotic/Prebiotic called Prescript-Assist (NOT Prescript Assist PRO). I can still hardley believe my eyes when I look in the mirror! About a week into my therapeutic dose I began to see improvements. It's now about 6 weeks later and my skin is the clearest it's ever been. I am taking a lower dosage now of the Prescript-Assist and can actually look at people in the face without feeling embarrassed. I hope this works for you too :-)
written by Sharon, Apr 18 2010
I have been working with a who suggested putting my child on a strict diet of cream, (no milk even though we only drink/use whole raw milk from grass fed cattle), no grains except for gluten free (before this we were eating mostly sprouted grains and always organic. Basically she wants her on a diet of nuts, fruit, vegetables, cream and butter. We have tried this for a few weeks but seen NO improvement of the acne. The practitioner also had us put her on cod liver oil, a strong pro-biotic, magnesium, diatomacious earth, coral legend, digestase sp from Premier Research Labs, Herb pharm dermal health, a natural facial cleanser from Premier Research and Neem oil. She, our child, was also suffering with RLS so I believe the minerals were added for that. We are eating Lots of bone broth from the Nourishing Traditions book. The RLS is gone but the acne seems unchanged. To be honest we are exhausted and frustrated trying to keep a 14 year old on this strict diet. She is getting burned out from it and really starting to resent it. Also the cost involved in all of the supplements added to the higher cost of all natural foods is becoming more than we can financially hadle. I'm hoping you can lead us in a more beneficial and practical solution for this esteem killing acne problem.
Thank you so much for any help you can give us. I noticed someone mentioned that fruit juice should be avoided. We have been buying natural organic juices. Should she avoid them? Before going on this diet I was making smoothies with kefer and giving her kombucha. She loves sauerkraut but the practioner wanted her off of all fermented foods so her gut would heal from past antibiotic use. I'm trying hard to give her the best nutrition possible but it seems the harder we try the worse the acne is getting.
insulin and acne
written by Anna Wasson, Mar 03 2010
There is a lot of compelling evidence that high insulin levels lead to the formation of microcomedones (clogged pores), which then turns into acne. Loren Cordain has summarized research on insulin's role in comedone formation in some of his papers.

Here is an excerpt from the abstract of a paper by Loren Cordain ("Implications for the Role of Diet in Acne") explaining what the 5 causes of acne are:

"In contrast, a large body of evidence now exists showing how diet may directly or indirectly influence the following 5 proximate causes of acne: (1) increased proliferation of basal keratinocytes within the pilosebaceous duct, (2) incomplete separation of ductal corneocytes from one another via impairment of apoptosis and subsequent obstruction of the pilosebaceous duct, (3) androgen-mediated increases in sebum production, (4) colonization of the comedo by Propionibacterium acnes, and (5) inflammation both within and adjacent to the comedo."

1-3 describe the formation of a closed or open comedone. (1) essentially means that a certain type of cell (keratinocyte) multiplies within an oil gland, which can result in it being plugged up. (2) means that another type of oil gland cell (ductal corneocytes) do not die and slough off like they are supposed to, which also results in the gland being plugged. Then, when oil tries to flow through the clogged duct (even when it's a normal amount of oil, as opposed to the large amounts caused by excess male hormones as implied in (3)), a small bump forms. If a little bit of oil makes it to the surface, it will oxidize and look black/brown--hence, an open comedone or blackhead will form. But if the oil can't reach the surface, a closed comedone will form.

As Cordain explains in the paper, high insulin levels aggravate the first three causes of acne. Insulin directly promotes comedone formation by binding to receptors in the skin and encouraging causes (1) and (2); lowering insulin levels and taking vitamin A can help to normalize the growth of cells within pilosebaceous ducts ("pores"). Also, high insulin levels will cause the testes and ovaries to produce more androgens, which will lead to increased sebum (oil) production.

A low glycemic diet can help normalize insulin levels. Also, retinoids are "comedolytic" (they discourage comedone formation), so getting adequate beta carotene and/or retinol in the diet is important, because beta carotene is converted to retinol, which in turn is converted to tretinoin (the body's active retinoid). Accutane (isotretinoin) is very similar to tretinoin, but it's an isomer (meaning it has the same chemical formula, but a different shape). It is less active than the natural tretinoin, which is why doctors prescribe it. Natural tretinoin (taken orally) would cause more severe side effects.

I should note that retinol taken in large quantities will cause the same side effects as Accutane, including possible birth defects. However, it takes A LOT of retinol to do this (more than 30,000 IU per day), so if you're getting retinol from food, you're probably safe, unless you're "chugging" cod liver oil.

In my experience, even large amounts of retinol/retinoids have not been able to compensate for a high glycemic diet. I think it's best to take a moderate amount of retinol, eat a low glycemic diet, and use topical retinoids (if necessary).

And just an extra note: exercise, zinc, and chromium can all help reduce insulin resistance, which will lead to a decrease in insulin production.
food allergies could also contribute to acne
written by Jill, Feb 22 2010
I really like the suggestions in this article. One thing I will add to it is to consider the possibility of food allergies. My daughter had very severe cystic acne for years we couldn't turn around until she was finally tested for food allergies. When she eliminated those foods we finally had our breakthrough. It has been about 7 months now and if she "cheats" and eats one of the foods she is allergic to she breaks out for several days after.

She had a blood test for allergies, but there is another, though not quite as accurate test you can do at home. Check your resting heart rate before and about 10 minutes (and off and on throughout the hour) after your eat a food you suspect you could be allergic to. If you notice a marked rise in heart rate, there is a very good chance you are allergic, or at least sensitive to that food.
elimination diet will show you the cause(s) of your acne
written by ryan b, Feb 22 2010
One of the best ways to show people what is causing their acne is an journaled elimination diet.

First I'd eliminate all foods with processed sugars and refined starches/flour and hydrogenated oils. I would say the majority of the time just doing that little bit alone, if done as completely as possible will erase acne. Eating fresh raw vegetables where there were none before will show the sufferer an exponential increase in healing rate of existing acne. Usually people will get lax about avoiding the culprit foods after they have been acne free for a while and then will witness an immediate return. Then they'll eliminate the foods again until they're acne free. And this will go on for a while until they reach a balance of how much acne they want to tolerate so they can eat the offending foods. Cystic acne is what started me on my long journey towards traditional foods. Now I eat mostly raw meats and fresh vegetables as well as fermented foods along with a little bit of cooked foods and very little grains or starches and almost zero refined sugars or fruit juices. I am generally acne free except when I'm not getting enough vitamin D or i break my own rules and eat too much of an offending food.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 18 December 2010 19:13