Acne vulgaris is a long-term skin disease that occurs when hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin. It is the most common dermatological issue seen by physicians. It most often effects adolescents but it is not uncommon to suffer from acne later in life.
Diet – Dairy and sugar elimination
A 2012 study found that acne was completely absent in two populations; the first consumed a paleolithic diet with a low glycemic load, and the other, a dairy-free diet. A cellular mechanism clarified that high glycemic foods and dairy increase levels of IGF-1 and insulin, which result in inflammation and specifically, an acne-promoting effect. Therefore, a diet without dairy and high glycemic foods is an effective dietary strategy for reducing acne.
Healing the Gut
There is a connection between our skin and gastrointestinal system. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that effects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include irregular bowel movements, abdominal pain, bloating, etc. IBS is a condition of increased intestinal permeability and studies have shown increased intestinal permeability in patients with acne vulgaris, which demonstrates the need for treating IBS and testing for other gastrointestinal conditions.
Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Zinc
Vitamin A is essential for normal differentiation of epithelial (cells) tissues in the skin and mucous membranes and has been studied as an effective therapy for acne vulgaris. Consultation with a healthcare practitioner should occur before starting vitamin A therapy, as there are various contraindications such as pregnancy, liver disease and other conditions.
A study in 2014 evaluated the serum levels of vitamins E and zinc according to the severity of acne vulgaris. They found a negative association between acne severity and vitamin E and zinc levels, supporting the use of these important nutrients in acne prevention and treatment. A 2001 study found a total pimple count decrease of 49.8% when acne patients took 30 mg of zinc gluconate for 3 months.
Addressing Hormonal Imbalance
Acne treatments target different steps in the pathogenesis of acne. Such as addressing hormonal imbalances and decreasing inflammation. Clinical trials have shown that oral contraceptives can be helpful in reducing acne by decreasing levels of free testosterone.
A successful naturopathic approach to treating acne vulgaris will involve addressing the acne of the individual by getting to the root cause through establishing if it is cause by inflammation, poor gut health, hormone imbalance) using a multi-faceted, holistic approach including dietary strategies, supplementation and topical support.