So what’s going on???
Our skin is our largest organ, and hence, when there is an imbalance in our bodies, we “detox” that through our skin. It’s time to change our perspective of acne being a problem with bacteria, and see it as a sign of a deeper internal imbalance that needs addressing. If it was a problem with bacteria, then everyone would have acne. Bacteria is everywhere, but why our bodies and skin breakout is not entirely due to bacteria. Everyone acne sufferer has that friend who does nothing to their skin, never cleans it, sleeps in makeup, eats horribly and seems to have perfect, acne free skin. Clearly there is something else going on.
Acne is our friend, as it is there to tell us that there are bigger problems going on that could lead to further problems down the road. Acne is also often connected to other health concerns you are currently experiencing. Understanding your acne can give us a lot of insight in to what’s going on in your body and how to not only clear up your skin, but to get you feeling better all around, and solve many other health issues you might experiencing, or prevent future problems.
A holistic practitioner looks at the whole body and person. This is NOT a one-size fits all ointment or pill. It’s a personalized approach that looks at each individual case, their background, their whole body health, other symptoms they may have, each body system, and then creates a program to heal THEIR acne, not a plan that treats someone else’s acne. This is why traditional treatments often either don’t work at all, or work initially and then stop working once they are discontinued, or after some time has past.
A Holistic Mind-Body Natural Approach — Healing Acne Naturally for Long-Lasting Relief:
When you work with a holistic practitioner who specializes in acne, this is what a plan might look like. This is an example of what my programs involve when you work with me.
What are we looking at?
– WHEN did the acne start: can give us insight in to underlying
causes such as stress, sleep issues, medication, hormones, etc.
– WHERE is the acne located on the body: this provides us with
information about what systems or organs of the body may be
contributing to the problem
– WHAT do the breakouts look like: red, itchy, white heads, puss, etc.
Diet: The top dietary aggravators of acne: sugar, dairy, excess starches/carbohydrates, stimulants like caffeine. They cause inflammation, affect our immune system, insulin, and hormones.
– Nutritional Deficiencies: are there certain vitamins or nutrients
missing from you diet? Eg. you may need certain supplements or
vitamin support even if you think you’re eating a “healthy” diet.
Certain medications, hormone imbalances, thyroid imbalances,
stress, digestive issues can cause you to not absorb well, or become
deficient in certain vitamins. A close look at what you’re eating on
a regular basis will help determine if we need to fill in the gaps.
– Inflammation: Looking closely at the diet, we can determine if
there are items that are pro-inflammatory, leading to breakouts and
– Blood Sugar: a common cause of acne is insulin resistance which
spikes your testosterone, leading to acne and breakouts, particularly
around the chin and mouth, but can be on other parts of the body
- Hormones: there are different types of hormone imbalances that might cause acne. Most common is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. This can lead to weight gain, loss of periods or irregular periods, infertility, acne, and abnormal hair growth on the body, or hair loss on the head, among other symptoms. For more info on PCOS, read our PCOS blog post. It explains other types of hormone imbalances that may be at play as well.
- Topical Products: Sometimes acne can be caused or aggravated by topical products we use. Even if they are organic, vegan, gentle, they may not be right for our skin type and can cause breakouts or affect our oil production. A holistic plan should include an examination of what products are being used, and how to replace them with products that would work better for your skin. How and when we wash our face and skin, and what we use needs to be looked at for optimal results.
- Exercise: Believe it or not, certain types of exercise may not be ideal for some people. For example, my PCOS patients may be given HIIT recommendations as opposed to steady state cardio, whereas my adrenal deficient patients may be given suggestions for yoga, walking, and gentle relaxation movements. It really depends on each individual’s underlying make up, and doing the wrong types of exercise over time can aggravate acne breakouts as well as underlying imbalances.
Mind-Body/Relaxation/Stress: Stress releases cortisol and adrenaline, our stress hormones. In adequate amounts, and at the right times, they help us stay awake, get stuff done, deal with stressors, and feel good. Long term stress, chronic stress, acute traumas, or improper stress response can lead to a myriad of health problems and chronic inflammation in the system. Acne is often associated with higher cortisol levels.
A holistic approach for healing acne naturally must include techniques for managing stress in your life. In my program for healing acne naturally, I use a combination of one-on-one sessions for stress management, as well as home-care, teaching you how to incorporate it in to your own life so that it becomes habit and routine. The goal is to change the way we perceive and interact with our environment and things around us in order to have a healthier hormonal response. In essence, the techniques we use re-train our nervous systems to respond differently to stressors for a healthier mental and physical body.
Some examples of techniques we can include in our program include Acupuncture or home stimulation of Acupuncture points using phototherapy patches that you can do yourself to achieve the relaxing and skin healing benefits of Acupuncture.
- Sleep: when we are lacking in adequate and good quality sleep, our cortisol and adrenals are affected, creating lower tolerance for stress. It can also lower our immune system, contribute to blood sugar and insulin imbalances, and studies have shown even short-term sleep deprivation leading to higher inflammatory markers.
Other Source of Inflammation:
– Digestive Imbalance/GI Inflammation: underlying GI imbalance
can cause systemic chronic inflammation. Testing and determining
whether there may be absorption issues, gut lining issues, leaky gut,
food allergies, microbiome imbalance, or infection (parasites, or
other microbes) is super important in helping to heal inflammation
and regulate our immune system. Herbs and supplements are used
to heal and restore the GI system once we determine if and what the
issues are. Proper diet and elimination of certain foods may be
– Pathogens: sometimes there are low-grade “dormant” viruses or
other bacteria, that can create a chronic inflammatory state in our
bodies, or residual lasting inflammation post- infection that lingers.
Examples of this are Epstein-Barr/Mono, parasites, fungus, candida,
Strep. Herbs, supplements and proper diet are used to heal and
restore optimal health.
As you can see, a comprehensive program is necessary in order to address the actual underlying causes of your acne. Healing from acne is far more than just using a topical cream or taking a medication. Sure those may work temporarily (if at all), but in my experience personally and in my practice with patients, acne will often return, get worse, or linger if the root causes are not discovered and healed.
If you’d like to learn more about how this program might help you with healing acne naturally, once and for all, set up a free consult. We can see if this might be a good fit for you.
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Virtual Online Health Coach & Boston Acupuncturist
Nicole Brown, Licensed Acupuncturist & Certified Health Coach