Hormonal Acne – Treatment

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: The Hearty Soul – Hormonal Acne Treatment

Why is it that we always seem to get the largest pimple of our lives on our wedding day, prom night or right before that important business meeting?  Wouldn’t it be great if there were strategies to prevent this embarrassment from happening in the future?

Acne is a process driven by hormones which occurs on our skin following a few steps inside our bodies:

Increased production of Sebum (oil) which is released from glands attached to hair follicles

Excess Keratin production in hair follicles causing follicular plugging

Increased activity and growth of P. acnes bacteria leading to…

Increased inflammation in the hair follicles and surrounding lower layers of the skin (dermis) (Dreno B, 2003)

All humans have P. acnes bacteria on our skin surface.  These bacteria are promoted to grow when given certain environmental conditions.

  1. Hormones that affect Sebum forming glands
    • Androgens (found in both males and females) are the hormones responsible for causing cell changes in our skin
    • High levels of these hormones cause formation of non-inflammatory pre-acne lesions called Microcomedones
    • These hormones also cause an increase in Sebum (oil) production (Gollnick H, 2003)
  2. Sebum composition
    • Human sebum consists of squalene, esters of glycerol, wax and cholesterol, as well as free cholesterol and fatty acids
    • High levels of sebum production tend to allow bacteria to grow more readily in hair follicles
    • Limiting the amount of cholesterol, triglycerides and free fatty acids can help to reduce the risk of forming acne lesions(Picardo M, 2009)
  3. Inflammation
    • As the bacteria grows, the immune system reacts and sends white blood cells and Inflammation to the site of the bacterial growth, causing the formation of an acne lesion

There are a few things that we can do to prevent the bacteria from colonising and forming acne, specifically at the source of bacterial proliferation.

  1. Cut out Processed foods
    • Traditional indigenous cultures tend to have little acne, but as soon as they adopt a Standard American Diet (SAD) high in processed foods, they tend to see increased levels of acne.
  2. Decrease Sugar Intake
    • Consuming sugar leads to increased levels of Insulin which in turn increases levels of androgens (like Testosterone) in women, as well as increasing overall inflammation which can cause acne
  3. Avoid Saturated and Processed Fats
    • These fats increase levels of arachidonic acid, competing with the good Omega-3 fats which lead to more inflammation and acne.
  4. Decrease Dairy Intake
    • As well as being high in sugar content, milk and dairy (including milk chocolate) often have added growth hormone which can lead to acne and other skin problems
  5. Increase Antioxidants
    • Vitamins A and E are very important for skin health and help to combat oxidative stress and inflammation
    • Eat more Vegetables and Fruits which contain anti-oxidants
  6. The following foods have been linked improvements in acne:
    • Fish oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods (like berries), dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.) and Eggs
  7. Manage Stress Levels
    • Stress increases your cortisol and other hormone levels, disturbing the hormonal balance and depletes certain nutrients which help to control acne
    • Manage your stress levels using meditation, yoga, massage, aromatherapy and exercise.(Hyman, 2015)

Eating a balanced diet low in processed and high sugar foods, high in antioxidants and clean, green foods and ensuring that your stress levels are managed can help to manage hormonal acne breakouts.

Dr. Navaz Habib

References

Dreno B, P. F. (2003). Epidemiology of Acne. Dermatology, 7-10.

Gollnick H, C. W. (2003). Management of acne: a report from a global alliance to improve outcomes in acne. J Am Acad Dermatol, S1-S37.

Hyman. (2015, May 31). How to Get Rid of Acne, Pimples, and Other Skin Problems. Retrieved from Dr. Mark Hyman: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/how-to-get-rid-of-acne-pimples-and-other-skin-problems/

Picardo M, O. M. (2009). Sebaceous gland lipids. Dermatoendocrinology, 68-71.

 

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: The Hearty Soul – Hormonal Acne Treatment

Gut Bacteria linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: The Hearty Soul – Gut Bacteria and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Recent research has come to the attention of the scientific community linking Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) to the type of bacteria that exists in your gut.  RA is an autoimmune condition experienced more commonly by females than males and is thought to occur or result from a combination of factors including genetic, environment and other unknown events that occur within our bodies (Pollard 2012).  These epigenetic factors can cause individuals to experience multiple hot, swollen, inflamed and painful joints at multiple sites throughout their body, most commonly in the hands, wrists, ankles and feet.  Current medical management of RA and other autoimmune diseases involves the use of medications to manage the disease but we have yet to find a cure at this time.

Some new research is pointing to the possibility that the normal bacteria in your gut (microbiome) may contribute to your risk of RA as well as active inflammation in the joints.  This is possible as the type of bacteria that make up our individual microbiome is different, and some specific types of bacteria can lead to issues in the gut as well as other areas throughout the body including joints. The specific bacteria in your gut is associated with the foods that you eat and can be involved in causing Leaky Gut Syndrome (aka. intestinal hyperpermeability) as well as loss of immune tolerance to the normal bacteria of the gut (Yeoh and al 2013). Specific locations in the body with a high load of bad, opportunistic bacteria (for example, the gut) may represent the source by which immune cells begin attacking body parts as they increase the amount of inflammation circulating in the bloodstream (Brusca and al 2014). This led scientists to the idea that if the types of bacteria in the gut could possibly be changed, it could allow your immune system to recover and potentially stop attacking the joints.

In a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial study, patients with RA were given either a probiotic capsule daily for 8 weeks, or a placebo sugar pill for 8 weeks.  At the 8 week mark, RA disease activity was significantly improved in the group which received probiotic treatment when compared with the group that was given the placebo pill (Vaghef-Mehrabany and al 2014). The researchers found a significant decrease in specific markers of inflammation and a significant increase in good regulatory markers.  These researchers also found a lower Disease Activity Score in patients that were given the probiotic treatment as well as a lower number of active swollen joints.  It is also important to note that there were no new problems noted in patients after taking probiotics in the study (Alipour and al 2014).

There is also the issue of underlying Leaky Gut Syndrome (aka intestinal permeability).  Tight junctions are proteins that bind together cells side by side in the walls of the intestines to create a physical barrier to bacteria and particles that are within the digestive tract.  It has been shown in many studies that specific foods and food additives can lead to changes in the tight junctions between the cells of the gut, leading to holes, or ‘leaks’ in the gut wall, thus Leaky Gut syndrome. These foods and additives include sugars, salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, gluten and even nanoparticles. As well, all of these food additives are shown to be used in greater quantities in countries with a higher rate of RA and other autoimmune conditions (Lerner and Torsten 2015).

So what does all of this mean for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  1. Reduce your intake of Food Additives

These food additives include added sugars and salt in foods and beverages such as soda, juice, milk, chips, crackers, milk and other highly processed foods.

  1. Reduce your intake of Gluten – Avoid it completely if you can

Gluten has been shown to cause Leaky Gut and even Celiac Disease (Lerner and Torsten 2015). Cut down on or even eliminate your intake of breads, chips, tortillas and wheat-based highly processed cereals.

  1. Start taking Probiotics (after consulting with your doctor)

Probiotic supplements have been shown to reduce active inflammation in joints of people suffering with RA as well as other autoimmune conditions.  L. casei was the specific probiotic that was used in the studies outlined earlier in this article. Consult with your doctor before taking any probiotics.

  1. Consult a Functional Medicine Doctor

If your current course of therapy is not effectively managing your disease, consult with a doctor who practices Functional Medicine. These doctors will help you find the root cause of your disease process and give you a course of treatment to heal the source of your condition.

 

References

Alipour, B, and et al. 2014. “Effects of Lactobacillus casei supplementation on disease activity and inflammatory cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a randomized double-blind clinical trial.” International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 519-27.

Bedaiwi MK, Inman RD. 2014. “Microbiome and probiotics: link to arthritis.” Current Opinions in Rheumatology 410-5.

Brusca, SB, and et al. 2014. “Microbiome and mucosal inflammation as extra-articular triggers for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmunity.” Current Opinions in Rheumatology 101-7.

Lerner, A, and M Torsten. 2015. “Changes in intestinal tight junction permeability associated with industrial food additives explain the rising incidence of autoimmune disease.” Autoimmunity Reviews 14: 479-489.

Pollard, KM. 2012. “Gender differences in autoimmunity associated with exposure to environmental factors.” Journal of Autoimmunity J177-86.

Vaghef-Mehrabany, E, and et al. 2014. “Probiotic supplementation improves inflammatory status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.” Nutrition 430-5.

Yeoh, N, and et al. 2013. “The role of the microbiome in rheumatic diseases.” Current Rheumatology Reports 314.

 

I originally wrote this article for The Hearty Soul: The Hearty Soul – Gut Bacteria and Rheumatoid Arthritis