Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
16 Jun

Primal Advice for Acne Sufferers

acneIncluded among last week’s “Ask Me Anything” responses were several requests for a Primal commentary on acne. A lot of people have asked for this kind of post over the years. The fact is, it’s a great question. Acne is a common problem that gives too many people too much grief. Our medical establishment’s prescription for acne generally involves dehydrating the skin into oblivion, sandblasting it with chemicals, or pumping hormones, antibiotics and potentially toxic meds into the patient. (If any of these methods have worked for you, I mean no offense. I just think people deserve better options than these.) Is there a healthier, more Primal method to a clear complexion? In a nutshell, yes. I’m not talking rabbit-in-a-hat trick but a lifestyle approach with natural options that minimize the systemic and external conditions associated with acne. Let’s look at the full picture.

The Systemic Root

Acne doesn’t have a single definitive cause but can be set in motion by internal and external conditions, all of which have some root in systemic functioning: inflammation, “excessive” sebum (oil) production, pore blockage and “bad” bacterial presence/infection. In large part, the condition of the skin is part and parcel of the body’s overall health. Systemically speaking, hormonal balance (or lack thereof) and associated nutrient levels strongly influence the production of oil, the skin’s vulnerability to invasive bacteria (and presence of “good” defensive bacteria), the natural production and turnover of skin cells, and (of course) underlying inflammation. As hard as it is to believe, the medical community is only this decade beginning to recognize the systemic roots of acne. (Then again, should we really be surprised?)

Now, we all know those folks who eat junk food, exercise once in a blue moon and keep a ridiculous sleep schedule – and yet by some bizarre miracle always have perfect skin. It can seem like a slap in the face to the earnest person who has to work for his/her complexion and still comes up short. (All I can say to this irony is the chickens come home to roost eventually. It’s not metaphysical karma but biological fact. Live a hard and sloppy life, and it will catch up with you at some point, in some way.)

I always say that we’re all cut from the same physiological cloth, and basic biological patterns hold. Nonetheless, subtle differences seem to exist from person to person. Some folks appear to be more vulnerable to acne – hormonal “stages” are a big part of that susceptibility – the teenage years being the most infamous example and early pregnancy or post-pregnancy/nursing being another. Hormonal shifts brought on by stress, exhaustive exercise or medication side effects can also figure into our skin’s condition.

I don’t believe we’re 100% destined to have acne or not, but our susceptibility does appear to vary, and our modern Westernized environment seems to set the stage for that risk. As Loren Cordain’s (and others’) research have shown, acne is ubiquitous in the Western world but limited in other parts of the world and practically unseen in traditional societies. Yet, even Primal folks are subject to acne. What gives exactly? I’d suggest it’s a constellation of influences in modern living that come back to taunt us in the mirror. We live a modern existence full of systemic traps: pollution, personal care products, stress, lack of sleep, and climate controlled living to name a few. Nonetheless, we needn’t sit home on a Friday night.

Systemic Strategies

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What lifestyle factors actually make for healthy, clear skin? (We’ll get to other strategies later.) I’m sure you can guess what I’ll say first, and there’s good reason for this suggestion of course. Go Primal! First, the obvious and then some additional tips.

Diet

Ding, ding! Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. As research has shown, even conventional low glycemic diets make for better skin. Understand also that acne can be a manifestation of food related allergies or sensitivities (e.g. yeast, eggs, gluten, lectins). Dairy is a common culprit(I’ve always said that milk is meant for baby cows.) Women in one study who reported high dairy intake in teenage years were 44% more likely to have experienced severe acne. (Incidentally, full fat dairy isn’t as strongly implicated as lower fat dairy foods.)

Speaking of fat, I suggest that those vulnerable to acne eat plenty of clean fats, and do you can to avoid livestock hormones (the basic reason to avoid milk, which is full of them regardless of organic status). Enjoy clean animal fat and safe, non-oxidized plant-based fats like olive oil, coconut oil, etc. And be sure to load up on antioxidant-rich produce items as well, like garlic, onions, greens and broccoli that support cellular production and repair.

Supplementation

Beyond the power of a clean, anti-inflammatory diet, I suggest adding a good comprehensive supplement as well as extra zinc, vitamin B complex (especially vitamin B3), vitamin A and vitamin D for added help in regulating oil production and further boosting the skin’s natural repair abilities. Research has especially supported the role of zinc deficiency in acne. Women who are pregnant, nursing or have recently weaned are particularly at risk because of higher need for zinc. Of course, make sure you get plenty of omega-3s for extra anti-inflammatory effect. Some folks report good experiences with adding evening primrose, an anti-inflammatory omega-6 as well. Finally, a good probiotic can help your body (and skin) balance its own “good” bacterial defenses.

Environmental Toxins

Chemicals like flame retardants, parabens, phthalates and other plastic-related chemicals are hormone disruptors, which can throw off even the best lifestyle efforts. Eliminate them as much as you practically can (including the paraben-loaded conventional acne creams!).

Stress and Sleep

Stress causes a cascade of hormonal actions that over time deplete essential nutrient stores, especially minerals like zinc. They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing! Consider it an investment in your appearance as well as overall health. Additionally, take up stress management methods that support the relaxation response to further support hormonal balance.

Topical, Hygienic and Commonsensical Ideas

Beyond systemic strategies, there are plenty of topical options that are effective for many but tend to be more hit and miss overall. I think it’s important to view their role as supplementary to systemic efforts. From a personal perspective, I understand people being willing to try anything and everything they find – at the doctor’s office, at the drug store, on the infomercials. From a Primal perspective, however, I’d suggest otherwise. The idea shouldn’t be to beat your skin into submission. Most people who have acne actually have very sensitive skin. Rather than looking for products that strip and dry the skin, I’d recommend choices that enhance the integrity of the skin and its natural defenses. There are plenty of natural options that won’t clean out your wallet and that promise fewer side effects to boot. Here are a few of Primal note….

  • Manuka honey: All honey has antibacterial properties, but research shows this New Zealand variety appears to pack more of a punch for acne and other skin conditions.
  • Nicotinamide: A topical form of vitamin B3 can reduce inflammation and help acne and improve skin’s overall condition.
  • Willow bark: It packs an anti-inflammatory wallop.
  • Tea tree oil: Consider it a more natural astringent that has a powerful antibacterial impact.
  • Other botanicals like calendula and feverfew can be soaked and spread over the face with a cotton ball after washing in order to calm skin.
  • Steaming: Visit the steam room at the gym or lean over a pot of hot water with a towel draped around your face to open pores for a good cleansing, natural oil extraction or absorption of botanical agents.
  • Light exfoliants: Use baking soda or oatmeal to exfoliate and encourage skin turnover, but go gentle.
  • Pure water: Those with the worst skin conditions like severe acne or rosacea can benefit from rinsing with distilled rather than tap water.
  • Practical prevention: Minimize bacteria exposure to the face by keeping hands away from the face, cleaning phones, helmets, etc., and using fresh pillowcases (thanks, Shastagirl!)

The idea here is a holistic approach to supporting healthy skin. Although these suggestions might not serve as a magic bullet, they are the best way to get at the root causes of the physiological imbalances behind acne. Furthermore, the natural topical options can support your lifestyle efforts without depleting skin of its natural moisture or defenses and without creating product dependence. Finally, these suggestions can support the overall health and condition of your skin whether or not you have complexion issues. I hope the overview offers those with acne good food for thought and encouragement in their personal Primal regimens.

What say you, MDA community? How did going Primal change your skin? What other strategies and products (natural or otherwise) do you use that complement your Primal efforts? Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts today.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Has heard of metabolic typing? Like some peoples’ systems do better on high protein and there are some (probably Ken who does best on a light diet) can handle a higher complex carbohydrate diet with less fat and meat. I myself do poorly with that kind of diet and better with high protein, high fat with a mix of complex carbs, and very low grains. Consequently my acne responds better to high fat.

    I say listen to your body. I’m wondering if we don’t just all do best eating what our ancestors ate. My family came from Europe, where traditional diets are high fat and protein, but certain other areas of the world are traditionally centered on seafood and complex carbs.

    Kristina wrote on June 17th, 2010
  2. Great topic! your knowledge never ends

    Katherine wrote on June 17th, 2010
  3. this really is the solution

    sam wrote on June 17th, 2010
  4. FWIIW, I have an N=2 sample of teenagers (M, 13 and 15 years), who over the last three months have been moved from having severe face and back acne to it nearly disappearing.

    After looking for RCTs to support the various solutions of the type that Mark reccomends, it appeared that the following were supported, in the literature,with no identified adverse side effects, viz:

    1. Changing to a paleo diet as per Loren Cordain’s variation
    2. Topically applied coconut oil or tea tree oil (>5%)

    We tried each of these sequentially and on different children and/or patches of skin.

    All seemed to work in this v. small sample.

    HPTNS wrote on June 17th, 2010
  5. How does whey protein (for shakes/smoothies) factor into the ‘no dairy’ part of the equation?

    West wrote on June 18th, 2010
  6. Now in my mid-30s, I’d had acne issues since my teen years. I’ve been on antibiotics, Retin-A, and ProActiv. My skin’s much better now.

    1) I cut out grains, sugars, and other processed foods.

    2) I get more sunlight.

    3) I don’t wash my face regularly with soap anymore, nor do I use any cleansing products on my face. My wife has beautiful skin and has always just rinsed with water. That’s pretty much as far as I go.

    4) I do use soap on the rest of my body and my hair. It’s something called Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap. It’s available at GNC and natural food stores. When my wife had a little acne due to pregnancy, or we had very dry skin due to harsh winter weather, this made a huge difference. I don’t use any other soap now. It works well for dandruff, too.

    I find that even when I don’t get enough sleep, or if I consume a lot of caffeine, it doesn’t have much of an effect on my skin anymore.

    Good luck to all.

    Adam wrote on June 18th, 2010
  7. I have read a few people say that OCM completely cleared their skin issues. What is OCM? I have never heard of that before.

    Nicole wrote on June 18th, 2010
  8. Google oil cleansing method. I love it, and I will probably never change.

    I use 30% castor oil
    70% sesame oil

    and a few drops of lavendar+a few drops of rosemary essential oils. Smells good, feels good, works good.

    I tried coconut oil, and I really wanted it to work, but I broke out everywhere it landed. Light applications didn’t help, so I bagged it. I use my CO/SO mix as a moisturizer now after my shower.

    Laurel wrote on June 18th, 2010
    • Hey, I had the same thing happen…I heard so many great things about EVCO and broke out everywhere, it was awful, haven’t had bad acne like that since my teens. I am interested in trying the seasame/castor oil wash, however how long did it take before you noticed a difference? or decided that it wasn’t working?

      kelly wrote on April 2nd, 2013
      • If you could stick with it for 2 weeks, your skin may have cleared up. Sometimes people have an initial cleansing period when applying coconut oil. After that, your skin would be perfect. David Getoff said this in one of his interviews with Sean Croxton.

        If after the 2 weeks your skin was still breaking out, it may be an allergy.

        Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
  9. I went grain-free, pasteurized milk free, somewhat Paleo and my acne cleared up. I still eat cheese from grain-fed cows, but what worked the best for me was getting rid of nightshades. And that was hard because coconut milk curry is one of my favorite foods to make. But I do believe nightshades caused acne for me.

    Mark wrote on June 18th, 2010
  10. THIS IS TO BACK UP RSL’s COMMENTS:
    Had mild acne as a teenager. But once I hit the menopausal stage, acne came in with a vengeance. Was prescribed Spironolactone to combat acne around the jawline. Once a woman reaches menopausal stage, the male hormone begins to take over the dminishing female hormone. Because of that, the jawline, where for men, hair starts to grow as beard, women have tendency to also grow hair around the jawline. Hence you see women who have mustaches-like hair. That area gets irritated every so often, then. Spironolactone helps suppress the hair-growth tendency and helps in the process, the acne around that area.
    What actually helped me with acne-flairups that even Spironolactone somehow, at times, forget to suppress is cutting out MILK PRODUCTS completely. Once I did that….perfect skin!
    At the next doctor visit, I will be suggesting trying to stop taking the spirono. med as a trial to see if milk was my waterloo all along.
    Then I will revisit this post and add more comments.

    SuchaPig wrote on June 18th, 2010
    • Someone had left a post I think or maybe I read it someplace else that if you consumed a lot of dairy when you were younger your acne could be because of that. I used to go through a gallon of milk within 4 days when I was younger just because I LOVE milk. Since January I have completely stopped this. The only dairy I get is if cheese I get on my salad when I said, “no cheese please” but still managed to get cheese and I had to carefully pick it out but how can you really get All the cheese out? Impossible. Or if I eat with my family and there’s cheese in some sauce or the dish which I have thought this miniscule amount of dairy wouldn’t harm me. I’m 27 and I know as you age your hormone and sensitivities fluctuate. Since reading this post my guess is I’m pretty sensitive to dairy and even a small amout will upset my skin. I have tried (this is only day 1) to really watch what I’m putting in my mouth and ask myself, does this have ANY dairy? Also this is day 2 of going on probiotics which one poster had mentioned giving to their daughter and that helping. I thought maybe I have some non-friendly flora from way back when still swimming around. I read that picking or messing with cystic acne is bad so I have put all my pimple picking tools away so I don’t scar or irritate/spread the acne around my jawline. Usually when I first wake up my face looks great then after I wash and apply moisterizer the bumps turn red because I guess I was upsetting the area. Thoughout the day the redness will decrease but not completely. I did notice today when I looked in the mirror after lunch my usually red bumps were kinda just pink. My guess is the pobiotics could be helping in getting rid of some bad flora and with the zero dairy tally my face is finally calming down. I googled OCM and I think I’m going to try that out as my double whammy approach, fighting from the inside and outside of the skin. I hope everyone that is trying out new stuff will update on here, I would love to read what the outcomes are. I can not say enough how greatful I am for Mark for posting this and for readers giving their 2 cents on this. I have quit going to doctors for my skin. All they do is give my doxy which makes me burn when I’m only outside for a little while. I had what I was told to be a few cysts on my décolletage (aka cleavage) area and my derm. at the time removed them leaving these awful keloids in their place. When they got the biopsy results turns out they just scar tissue from the cysts that WERE there. Had my doctor had not been so scapel happy I could have gotten laser treatments to break down the tissue to where it would be a flat practically invisible scar….As you can see it’s been 3 years since this happened and I’m still upset about it as any woman would understand this. Sorry for the long post.

      Nicole wrote on June 18th, 2010
      • You might try iodine applied topically to the keloids. Could help them become flatter.

        Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
  11. Megadosing on B5. Like 4-8000mg a day for week, completely cleared my skin up. I eat 95/5 primal, never touch soda’s or other nasty processed snacks, yet still was getting acne on my face and horrible ingrown hairs (shaving everyday stinks). The megadosing concerned me, but I gave it a shot and it worked. The only tweak I made was to also take a B complex in the afternoons to offset any potential energy differential.

    Gabe wrote on June 19th, 2010
  12. Since I’ve had acne for over ten years and successfully keep it at bay with diet, I thought I would leave some feedback. I only treat myself with diet and my skin stays 99% clear. For me, the worst offenders are, unfortunately, animal foods. Lean protein is great, but if I eat oily fish or fatty meat (both of which I love) I break out badly. Fish oil makes my skin terrible. I suspect it is toxins, chemical and otherwise, that collect in animal fat. It is not iodine, as I have tested this multiple times by eating seaweed. Large amounts of caffeine make my skin look a little worse texture-wise, but I don’t get breakouts from it.

    Regardless of what it is, my skin is not affected by high carb intake or by high plant fat intake (I’ve tried every diet out there to fix my skin). I stick to vegetables, olive oil, avocado, coconut milk, lean meats, and some fruit. I wish I could go back in time and give myself this diet and avoid the social frustration of acne. Hope that helps!

    Eugene wrote on June 19th, 2010
  13. I started breaking out at age 26 with horrible cystic acne all over my chin, neck line and cheeks. I struggeled with it for 3 years trying everything from not washing, to spiro, to Duac, to supplementation, Proactive…. Finally, after seeing an intergrative medical doctor, she suggested I take a gluten alllergy test. Sure enough, I tested positive. Within 1 week of giving up all gluten, I was 95% clear. Within 3 months, I was 100% clear. Now, when I accidentally ingest some gluten, I break out a little, but usually clears up pretty fast. During this time I also minimized sugar, and took supplements to heal my intestines.

    kpp335 wrote on June 21st, 2010
    • so great to hear your success! Sucks that there are so many toxins in the environment and even our “foods” which people aren’t educated about.

      Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
  14. Primal diet doesn’t seem to work for me much either. I feel sick eating just proteins, fruits and vegetables. It hasn’t done anything for me. Makes things worst actually. I think I need whole grains, whole wheat and legumes back in my diet along with fruits and vegies and less meat and fat. Like someone said above, it really depends where you come from because usually europians diet differ from Asians diet.

    Ana wrote on June 21st, 2010
  15. The single thing that helped me most is a aspirin mask, just a few cruched aspirins in warm water, aply to face as a mask, I usually let it sit on my face over the night and by morning my face is so much smoother, all rednes gone and existing pimples is way smaller and less inflamed.

    Another thing that helped me very much is epsom salt bath. I dont know if its the magnesium my body takes up from the epsom salt or if it is that extreme sweating that epsom salt induces that helps me, either way I just feel so awesomely calm and clean after one of those baths.

    Another huge one is rooibos tea. Its a red tea that is naturally caffeine free and its packed with anti oxidants and also which probably is the biggest key with rooibos, contains lots of zink and other minerals :) Ive read that its supposed to be good to use topically aswell, beacause of its alpha hydroxy acid and zinc content, gonna try it topically today.

    Other then that niacin, the kind that makes you flush helps so so much whenever I see a breakout on its way.

    Jimmie wrote on June 21st, 2010
  16. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face wash…mix with water and leave on for three minutes…rinse off. (This takes off dead skin cells which trap dirt and oil). THEN..Glycolic Cleanser…leave on face three minutes and wash off.(This gently empties the pore of excess oil). THEN..Use one of the Benzoyl Peroxides…put on face, use covered ice compress…leave on for a few minutes…(this takes oxygen down into the bottom of the pore and kills the bacteria which grow in the oil and cause the acne)…do the BP only in the evening before bed…use old T-shirts to sleep in and cheap cotton-only pillowcases. This regimen works! Hair conditioners contribute to acne…wash face and body AFTER rinsing conditioner out in the shower. Hair products absolutely cause acne…change pillow cases frequently. No kidding! I had very SERIOUS cystic acne in my forties, called out sick at work as a flight attendant because I was so humiliated by it…found a book with this regimen in it, did the routine, and still do…and have no problems with acne as a result…no longer have to use the BP…thank goodness…it is a peroxide,and can wreck clothes and bedding. I have told many young people about this, they have tried it, and have lovely skin now. Good luck…and…stay away from grain!!!

    Cj wrote on June 21st, 2010
  17. Alright, I know this is a primal website. I know this is an article on hollistic approaches to acne. However, after seeing the post, and reading the article; I couldn’t help but share a decidedly non-hollistic approach: Spironolactone/Aldactone.

    A little about me: I’ve been eating strictly primal for about a year and half now. I LOVE it, it works for me, and I recommend it to everyone I can. Why, then, am I recommending a prescription medication?

    Well, I suffered from acne breakouts from 13-22. I felt as if I tried everything non-traditional and hollistic to solve the problem because I didn’t want to put chemicals in my body. In fact, I first became interested in nutrition and alternative medicine as a pre-teen for this reason. I refused to take Acutane, and I had tried antibiotics and topical creams prescribed by dermatoligists–all to no avail.

    I avoided milk, I ate lots of vegetables, I supplemented with zinc, I drank liquid cod liver oil, I ate lots of garlic (until I could smell it sweating through my skin), I used colloidal silver to wash my face, I juiced leafy greens, I avoided sugar, I tried tea tree oil, Royal Jelly, and just about everything else you can think of. Despite all these efforts, by 22 I still had acne.

    By this time, I hadn’t been to a dermatologist in years. I had tried them in the beginning, and I felt that they were pathetic excuses for doctors–more like a pharmaceutical sales rep pushing different drugs–if one didn’t work, they’d prescribe another. And it always pissed me off that they never accepted that what one eats has an effect on their skin.

    Finally though, I went to a dermatologist who actually does research. Although he was still hesitant to agree with me that food has much impact on acne, he did prescribe me something I’d never heard used for acne treatment–Spironolactone/Aldactone, a rather old and cheap potassium sparing diuretic.

    Basically, it works as an anti-androgen to block some testosterone. For more information, see this article:

    http://acne.about.com/od/acnetreatments/a/spironolactone.htm

    BTW, this is only a treatment for women. Though I don’t like recommending prescription medications, this one was a life-saver to me. I felt as if I tried everything holistic and nothing worked. Although I don’t think it’s ideal to be manipulating hormones, I do think this drug is less harmful than many others (i.e. long-term antibiotic use, Acutane).

    Anyway, just thought I’d throw this out there in case it helps someone else as much as it helped me. =)

    Veronica wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Read comment #35 on this post. I hear you, sister! :0}

      RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • Glad to hear that it helped someone else. It really was a miracle for me. I worked so hard, and tried so many different holistic approaches before I finally caved in and returned to the dermatologist–I was even finally willing to accept Accutane (as much as I hate to admit it). It really was a last ditch effort for me.

        The fact that a water-pill, a diuretic can have such a positive effect on my acne is really amazing. I went from breakouts on my face, chest, and back to totally clear skin. I can actually leave the house without makeup, and even get compliments on m skin!

        So, this brings me to my new dilemma. I’ve been on Aldactone fro 3 years now, and am wondering what my skin will do if I stop taking it. Even though it is just a diuretic, and even though I’m recommending it to other people, I really do hate taking a prescription medication.

        How long have you been taking it, and have you tried stopping to see if you’re skin is fine without it?

        Veronica wrote on June 23rd, 2010
        • Veronica,

          I have been taking it for at least 10 years – maybe more. For me, it was the magic bullet. When I take it, I am clear 99% of the time, and I only take half of what is prescribed for me each day.

          Every now and then, I wonder if I can live without it, and I stop taking it. I usually go 3-6 months without a breakout, but then I get a huge lesion on my face, and I go back on it.

          I take testosterone, so I am now even more prone to acne than I was before. I don’t want to have to take a drug, but this is all that will work for me, and it’s such a small thing, I’m not going to beat myself up for it!

          I also get many compliments on my skin. People have NO IDEA how happy it makes me to have what most middle-aged women take for granted!

          RSL wrote on June 23rd, 2010
  18. Even being 80 – 100% Primal, I still am afflicted, so I wanted to add to this.

    Your gut may have issues if your chin seems to be afflicted, specifically.

    You may need to go see a specialist regarding your gut health.

    SassaFrass88 wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  19. One part of the primal diet that Mark does not drill into our heads as much as he should is avoiding pesticides. I hypothesize that they would increase your acne. One type of pesticide can change the gender of frogs that normally don’t change. If it can mess up frogs’ hormones that much, imagine what it could be doing to your face at this moment!

    Chazzlyboy wrote on July 2nd, 2010
  20. Mine cleared up a lot after i stoped washing my face.

    No soap anywhere for 6 months now – just wash with water every day. it works!

    I also dry my face by lightly rubbing each area once with the towel (not rubbing or scrubbing), which i find is necessary without soap to get the dirt/dead cells off.

    alex wrote on July 6th, 2010
  21. I am a 51 year-old woman, and 4 years post-menopause. I have been Primal for 8 months. For 1 year and 8 months, I have had a nearly continual breakout of whitehead pimples on the tip of my nose! I am so humiliated! It isn’t enough to have sudden hot flashes that drench me in sweat, hair falling out, and no sex drive, but I have to have big honking zits on the end of my nose that never go away! There are so many suggestions here that I’m not sure where to start. I suppose Zinc, B vitamins, and tea tree oil. I really hope this will make a difference.

    Joanne wrote on October 14th, 2010
    • Dr. Berg talks about adrenal glands not working right as being the cause of hot flashes for women during menopause. The adrenals take over for the ovaries. So if your adrenals are worn out, they can’t do their job. Look him up on youtube and he also has his own website.

      Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
  22. Hi,
    We are in the midst of the Paleo 30 day elimination diet to address son’s acne, I’m most intrigued by Primal.

    Having some progress, son is also on extra zinc and fish oil tablets; but just wanted to add after reading your article I bought Manuka Honey and he has been applying it topically. We have completed day two and having noticeable improvements!! Thanks so much.

    Erin wrote on November 21st, 2010
  23. Hi There – just discovered this site and this thread is where I put my first focus.

    I have suffered from on going skin problems for years (I am 36) and I can relate to the crowds search for reasons for flares and the infinite search for that one cream or vitamin that could cure.
    I have ignored it and listened to peoples well meant advice.

    I ended up not picking up the hard core prescription med. my doctor prescribed when I finally got the nerve to do something about it. Instead I went to a homeotherapist who analyses the body through the acupuncture zones.

    The outcome was – I had a severe overgrowth of Candida.
    Diet: She tried to keep it as simple as possible No carbs, sugar or alcohol… for 8 weeks

    No Carbs – In Denmark we eat a lot of rye bread – pumpernickel styled bread so bread was no big deal. I still had white rice, but no pasta at all.
    I even stayed away from potatoes.

    No Sugar – Not even fruit (There are a few neutral ones, Mango and bananas) Red pepper and beet-root ended up being my sugar treats. after a while the taste buds adjust and beet-root is like tasting chocolate!

    No Alcohol – psychologically this was far the hardest one – the social occasions yadayada This is also where I sinned the most. Beer and Wine are worst and as I could not have sugary drinks I had Vodka with mineral water and lemon.

    I had to eat every 2.5 hours – a handful of nuts or some leftovers from last night was good stuff.

    The first week I was so hungry

    She advised me to stay on the hormonal cream but gradually fade it out. And I got supplements for fighting the candida and probiotics.

    I stayed on it for 8 weeks – and the reaction from my body was so intense. The cleansing feels yucky but nice to see things a happening.
    My skin reacted instantly – after 4 weeks it cleared up totally and it has stayed that way!

    I lost 4 kg and now that I am not dieting as hard I still stay away from carbs and sugar.

    One of the big epiphanies in retrospect is that for years everybody have tried to say that my skin condition was due to some kind of emotional distress… You are stressed/sad/overly happy…. the focus just made me feel bad because it felt as if people were saying I was responsible for this condition myself.
    My emotional state had nothing to do with this – and it was tough to do the diet but felt very active and low practical to stay away from carbs, sugar and alcohol.

    I highly recommend it.

    /Nanna, Copenhagen Denmark

    http://www.thecandidadiet.com/whatiscandida.htm

    Nanna wrote on January 12th, 2011
  24. My rosacea got worse again this past spring, I think because I stopped using sunscreen/moisturizer during last winter. My skin got very dried out, but I didn’t really realize it. Recently I went back to using a lot of Cetaphil moisturizer with sunscreen during the day, and a Cetaphil moisturizer at night without sunscreen. This seems to be helping. I also eliminated dairy except for butter.

    shannon wrote on June 19th, 2011
  25. All good ideas and worth trying, but when these fail and the only thing that works is oral antibiotics, I am left wondering what is the impact from their long term usage? Can regular antibiotic use be reconciled with a primal diet and lifestyle. In my case, the difference with and without the antibiotics is dramatic and nothing else has worked.

    JDT wrote on June 21st, 2011
    • Some people in the natural health community think there is a place for antiobiotics. I personally don’t, but I’m only educated from online info, so everyone can make up their own minds about it. I would suggest safely stopping the antiobiotics, ask your doctor if there’s a way you should do it. Look into healing your gut with specific foods such as GAPS diet, candida diet, etc. I understand we have many different things in our lives compared to our ancestors, but there really should be a natural solution to health problems instead of something that didn’t exist until recently.

      Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
  26. As a long-time acne sufferer and primal newbie, I’m fascinated by these suggestions. My question is, how do you clean off make-up if you’re only using water to wash your face?

    Julia wrote on July 15th, 2011
    • Use a microfibre cloth with lukewarm water. It wipes makeup off really easily without the need for soap. There are specifically marketed versions like the Jane Iredale magic mitt, but it’s basically a glorified microfibre cloth. I’ve used one now for a couple of months and it takes my makeup off perfectly.

      Hannah wrote on March 26th, 2013
  27. Ah, I have always had problem skin and after trying numerous acne fighting products (which probably were the culprit), I have found my safe haven… Dr. Bronners Tea Trea Castile liquid soap. On the website it says “Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that helps heal cuts and bruises as well as skin conditions like acne dermatitis and psoriasis”. It takes off all my makeup too! And here is what is listed under ingredients: Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Tea Tree Extract, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
    * CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS
    ** None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin
    I use it for my whole body and as a shampoo to really clean my hair a few times a week. The soap at first makes my face a little dry but that goes away after an hour or so. I also use Vitamin E oil sparingly afterwards and it feels yummy!

    Olivia wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • I’ve read that Tea Tree can be estrogenic. So for anyone who has hormonal imbalance or develops it, just be careful.

      Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
  28. I cut out dairy, grains, and sugar and that seemed to do the trick. Whenever I reintroduced any of these in large amounts, my skin would break out within three days. It’s nice when your body tells you that you ate something bad for you. I’m so glad I didn’t waste my money seeing a dermatologist. They’ll never admit that diet is related to acne. Why would they? How do you make money off of telling someone to stop eating processed food? Refilling Accutane subscriptions is more lucrative. Businesses love repeat customers.

    BigNoseDog wrote on September 5th, 2011
  29. A question for readers re acne scars. Has anyone used coconut oil with good success to get rid of scarring? My son (17) is currently using it and i think we are seeing a closing of the pits, could be hopeful thinking.

    Erin wrote on July 24th, 2012
  30. Attractive portion of content. I simply stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to claim that I get in fact
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    retinol acne wrote on September 8th, 2012
  31. I am 37. I’ve always had some acne but 2 years ago my skin got really bad. I had painful cysts on my face and breakouts on my chest and back. I tried ziana, antibiotics, apple cider, tea tree oil, facials – nothing really worked. Recently, I had stopped coffee, sugar and alcohol. It was a little better but far from good. I was recently tested for gluten and I came up just a tiny bit gluten sensitive. I stopped gluten and my skin completely cleared up.

    clearnow wrote on December 4th, 2012
  32. I never had acne until I went primal. Connection? Not sure, but I do know that I am having the worse acne of my life right now (I’m 27) and although I feel great from eating many months of primal foods, I think I am at my whits end with this sudden problem with acne. Any suggestions for some one who actually develops acne after going primal rather than it being cleared up as it supposedly should do? I have tried giving up dairy and nuts and even nightshades to no avail.

    Mindy wrote on January 26th, 2013
    • I am with you, Mindy. I had some break outs before I went Primal, enough to go on Proactiv, and that worked very well. Since going Primal, I slowly cut it out, but my face exploded. I tried natural, organic options, but that made me worse.

      It’s been a few months and even restarting the Proactiv is not working (that scares me). I’m trying to cut out dairy (slowly because I still eat a lot of it) to see what happens. I wish expermintation did not have to be written all over my face.

      So, I add my voice to yours: Anyone out there have any thoughts for post-Primal acne?

      Nicole wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Hi Mindy- Any luck with the acne? I am having the same issue. I felt great for 2 months, clearest skin Ive ever had- but then I had a slow to complete eruption all over my jawline and neck. Its now creaping up my right cheek this week. I wasnt eating many grains to begin with so it wasnt a huge transistion- not sure if it was too much protein, not enough carbs or added one of the 20new things into my diet again I wasnt used to. My hormones have gone completely nuts Ive always gotten the occasional pimple, this is very hard to handle.

      Allison wrote on May 6th, 2013
      • This is just an idea – maybe when beginning to eat healthy, your body starts to clear out the old stored toxins from fat cells and this is the cause of acne after going Primal.

        If hormones are going crazy, do some research on iodine supplementation and look up Dr. Berg on youtube and his site. He may have some other info that will help.

        Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
  33. Hi Mark, do you think acne sufferers should avoid whey as well? Would plant proteins such as rice and pea be less offensive?

    Alan wrote on February 20th, 2013
  34. For me I find dairy is the worst thing, I also wash with hot water the hotter the better. I guess it helps remove oil and drys out the acne temporarily. I’m scared to use creams in case it makes it even worse.

    Jes wrote on March 28th, 2013
  35. Hey, just wanted to update you all! I finally found out what was causing my acne! It was soy lecithin! I already knew soy messed up my hormones, but figured that beause the lecithin was seperated out from the soy, it wouldn’t cause me problems. I often ate dark chocolate and other things containing it, but never made the connection. But then my husband bought me a huge belgian dark chocolate bar, which I munched daily for a couple of weeks until it was gone. I subsequently broke out in horrible deep acne cysts all over my face! I immediately suspected the soy lecithin in it, as nothing else in my diet had changed. Once I figured it out, I started reading labels and avoiding anything with soy lecithin. Now, 2 months later, for the first time in 40 years, my skin is acne free! YAY!!!!

    Ailu wrote on April 3rd, 2013
    • That’s wonderful! Congratulations! I am still fighting the acne battle and you must be so happy! Thank you for sharing. I am going to add that to my list of foods to avoid — maybe that will help!

      Nicole wrote on April 3rd, 2013
  36. I also should add, at first I thought it was flouride, so I was avoiding it. But then my acne got worse! That was when I figured out it was soy.

    Ailu wrote on April 3rd, 2013
    • Oh, and avoid flouride, anyway!

      Nicole wrote on April 3rd, 2013
  37. For whatever reason, my son developed acne on his back. Maybe it’s from from lack of sleep and stress from school? …

    Anyhow, I bought the Citrus Clear Acne Wash online and it was excellent at treating any acne and even helped to prevent most of it. My son washed with this Citrus Clear wash at night before bed – and it works great!! He has had no body acne since he started using this product.

    Maria Giz wrote on June 19th, 2013
  38. My daughter is already having problems with acne and our dermatologist recommended Citrus Clear – so I tried this and it worked immediately. She is washing her face and using it daily and is a much kinder and gentler than other acne products. She loves it !

    Jessica P wrote on June 28th, 2013
  39. Excellent post and one of the best I have read recently. Acne is a treatable condition and before resorting to powerful medications folks would be wise to follow much of the advice given above.

    In particular diet, most of us are aware they is no scientific link between diet and acne, but there is one between diet and a healthy skin, without the vital nutrients and minerals it needs the skin will not be best able to repair itself, nor will the immune system be in a good position to fight infections.

    Cows milk and anything made from proteins of it is a big enemy of acne, especially for teenagers, it is usually full of hormones that can play havoc with the hormone balance in the body, for this reason it is best to use goats milk or perhaps soya milk as alternatives.

    Anna wrote on July 21st, 2013
    • Soy milk has an extremely high level of estrogen, comparable to birth control pills. Please don’t drink soy milk ever.

      Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
      • This is a commonly held beleif by many…and perpetuated by the wild west internet…It is is true that soy is a “phyto-estrogen” food, which means it contains substances that have hormone-like components. However, their estrogen strength is 1/1000th that of the body’s own stronger estrogen’s. therefore, you want to load your digestive system with quality controlled raw soy powder, because these weaker estrogens will block the estrogen receptor sites from receiving your body’s own stronger estrogen s and therefore be very protective against estrogen fed cancer

        Caroline wrote on December 4th, 2013
  40. A combination of 3:1 water and apple cider vinegar has been a blessing for my acne.

    Sarah wrote on July 29th, 2013

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