Should I Use Accutane, Antibiotics or Birth Control For Acne?

dangers-of-accutane-birth-control-antibiotics-for-acne

One of the most common questions I encounter as a skin specialist is whether someone should take the medications that most doctors recommend for acne control.

 

Personally, I’m not a big fan of this, and for good reason. Today, I want to explain why I don’t recommend these treatments, and how they can be dangerous.

 

A Quick Review Of Acne

 

We had a look at this in depth in a recent article, but acne is generally caused by an imbalance of hormones combined with a lowered immune response.

 

The reasons why these occur are varied, but often it comes back to a diet that doesn’t support hormone balance and is low in nutrients, and a build-up of the liver’s toxic load.

 

Unfortunately, many practitioners don’t understand the mechanisms behind acne, and instead offer medications that cover up the problem, rather than treating the root cause.

 

Why You Might Be Recommended Accutane

 

If your acne is severe and unresponsive to other treatments, your practitioner may recommend a round of Accutane, a medication that is created from a high dose of vitamin A.

 

Vitamin A helps to reduce the production of sebum in the skin. But don’t be fooled because it’s a vitamin – it’s far from natural, and very far from safe.

 

Why It Can Be Dangerous

 

Any medication that requires multiple sign offs and a compulsory pregnancy test before use is not your safest option.

 

Accutane is a high dose of a fat soluble vitamin, which carries a much higher risk of vitamin toxicity than water soluble vitamins. It’s known to cause severe birth defects, which is why using 2 forms of birth control is compulsory for women who take Accutane – even for women who have had their tubes tied.

 

You may also need to have your liver function monitored, to make sure your liver isn’t experiencing toxicity. Accutane might seem harmless, but it can cause side effects such as joint pain, bleeding gums, impaired vision, depression, suicidal thoughts, and even death. In fact, the list of side effects known is about as long as this entire article!

 

Even with all of this risk, there are a lot of people who suffer the side effects of Accutane and don’t even see any improvements in their acne.

 

Why You Might Be Recommended Antibiotics

 

Doctors will often recommend antibiotics to treat acne, particularly acne that becomes inflamed and infected, to treat the acute infection and sometimes to control the population of the bacterial strain most associated with acne.

 

Why It Can Be Dangerous

 

Antibiotics have a host of nasty side effects that vary depending on the type you are prescribed. They also contribute to the load on the liver, as they need to be detoxified just like any other medication in the body, leading to worsening of acne symptoms.

 

Use of antibiotics also disturbs the gut flora, which is shown to be one of the main triggers for release of skin-inflaming Substance P, so long term you may actually be worsening your acne instead of improving it.

 

Finally, antibiotics can disrupt the good bacteria of both the gut and the skin, lowering your immune function even further and leaving you prone to further infections. It basically becomes a downward spiral where you use more and more antibiotics to control infections, and cause even more.

 

Why You Might Be Recommended Birth Control Pills

 

Particularly if your acne flares according to your cycles, doctors will often recommend you use an oral contraceptive pill to ‘balance your hormone levels’.

 

Why It Can Be Dangerous

 

This is a case of using a bandaid to cover up symptoms that are the body’s cry for help. These pills do not actually balance your hormone levels – they introduce artificial hormones that strain the liver further and come with a host of side effects.

 

Often, use of the contraceptive pill can cover up symptoms until a condition is well and truly underway – women who come off the Pill often find out that they have depleted their bodies to the point of PCOS or even complete infertility.

 

Contraceptive pills are also not something that someone should take just to address acne, given that they greatly increase the risk of serious health issues such as clots and heart disease.

 

Why Your Safest Answer Is Natural

 

So why is introducing an acne-reducing diet and treating your skin with natural skin care products the safest option?

 

It gets to the root of the problem – it addresses the hormone imbalance and the load on the liver, so instead of covering up symptoms, you are re-building and nourishing your body.

 

Believe me, your skin will thank you for it.

 

References

https://gutpathogens.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1757-4749-3-1

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa003216#t=article

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190962201025907

http://journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/Abstract/2003/03000/Overview_of_Existing_Research_and_Information.12.aspx

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1517/14740338.3.2.119

 

Keep It Cool – Why You Should Follow An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Anti-inflammatory diet for skin

 

Anti-inflammatory is all the rage in wellness today. But what does it mean, and does it matter to you? Today I want to look at the benefits of an anti-inflammatory
diet – for your skin, and your overall well-being.

 

An anti-inflammatory diet is one that contains lots of foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, as well as eliminating foods that can cause inflammation.

 

Why is inflammation bad? Well honestly, a little bit isn’t – it’s good for you. Inflammation in the short-term is beneficial and helps your body to heal itself.

 

But the type of inflammation that we experience today is generally low-grade and chronic, and is a contributing factor to hundreds of health conditions, including those that impact on your skin.

 

An anti-inflammatory diet offers a solution to chronic inflammation, helping you to get your health back under control.

 

Benefits For General Health

 

An anti-inflammatory diet can protect all of the systems of your body – some known ways it can help include:

  • Reducing heart disease risk and associated factors
  • Reduced risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke
  • Helping the body to heal after a heart attack or stroke
  • Reducing risk of cancers such as breast, prostate and colorectal cancers
  • Longer life span – living longer and healthier than the average person
  • Reduced risk of obesity
  • Better control of type 2 diabetes and blood sugar levels
  • A healthier alternative to a low-fat diet when trying to lose weight
  • A lower chance of a neuro-degenerative disease such as dementia
  • A reduction in inflammatory markers such as C reactive protein and interleukin-6

 

So really, when it comes to general health and well-being, there’s very few reasons to NOT take an anti-inflammatory approach to your food!

 

Benefits For Your Skin

 

Can it make a difference to your skin though? That’s the real question you want to ask.

 

You bet it can – inflammation is a key component of pretty much every skin condition out there, whether it’s a cause or just something that exacerbates it.

 

Every time your skin feels hot, or tender, or swollen – that’s inflammation happening, right there on the surface. So it makes sense that an anti-inflammatory approach can help.

 

When inflammation is low, your skin can feel firm, plump and well moisturized. Everything from acne to rosacea and auto-immune conditions like eczema can benefit from the anti-inflammatory effect gained from this way of eating.

 

Common Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients

 

So what is in an anti-inflammatory diet? There’s no one set diet plan, but generally they all involve anti-inflammatory foods that have been proven to relieve inflammation on a cellular level in the body.

 

The most common foods thought to have anti-inflammatory effects include:

  • Oily fish such as salmon and sardines
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • A variety of seasonal vegetables
  • A variety of fresh fruit
  • Herbs and spices
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green tea

 

An anti-inflammatory diet will often exclude inflammatory foods, such as wheat and dairy, either for short or long-term – it depends on what you are trying to achieve.

 

It will also generally have a low GI overall – using only whole-grain carbohydrate sources, as well as plenty of fibre from plant foods.

 

Sample Plan

 

Want a bit of a glimpse into what an anti-inflammatory diet might look like on a day-to-day basis? Here’s a simple 1 day sample diet to get you thinking.

 

Breakfast

Breakfast bowl – oats or quinoa flakes in almond milk, topped with nuts, seeds and berries and a pinch of nutmeg

 

A cup of green tea

 

Lunch

Super Salad – a mix of dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, rocket and spinach, mixed with pumpkin seeds, diced avocado and blueberries, drizzled with olive oil and Italian herbs

 

Serve with protein of choice, such as leftover roast chicken or kidney beans

 

Dinner

Seared salmon served over a bed of wilted Chinese greens and sesame seeds

 

Snacks

Homemade spicy nut mix – a mix of nuts coated with spices such as turmeric and paprika

2 squares of 80% dark chocolate

 

Dessert

Fresh berries topped with a spoonful of coconut cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon

 

An anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless – in fact, it includes all of the most flavorsome foods around!

 

Want a personalized diet plan? Make an appointment and we will customize an anti-inflammatory diet to suit your needs.

 

 

References

http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/321197

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037851220900259X

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0708681#t=article

http://www.diabetesresearchclinicalpractice.com/article/S0168-8227(10)00201-9/abstract

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17378953

 

The Different Types of Acne and Their Cause

Types and cause of Acne

The word ‘acne’ is thrown around all the time, along with medicinal and traditional ‘cure’ suggestions, but many people don’t understand exactly what acne is or the cause.
So today, I thought I’d share a bit more about the common types of acne, and why they occur.

 

Comedonal Acne

Comedonal acne is a simple condition – it occurs when pores become plugged with oil, causing small bumps under the skin, particularly around the T zone area.

This type of acne has a couple of contributing factors. Firstly, slower skin cell turnover can cause a build-up of cells that make it easier for the oil to become trapped under a layer of skin.

Secondly is a lack of factors that exfoliate away these excess skin cells, often combined with use of products that can clog the skin, such as heavy makeup.

Finally, an excess production of sebum, the oil produced in the skin, can cause a plug to form quickly. Sebum production is linked to a variety of factors, including liver and gut health and hormone balance.

 

Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne is caused by clogged pores, and often begins as comedonal, but then the body has an inflammatory response to the clogged pores.

This then leads to the common idea of acne – formation of blackheads, whiteheads, and redness of the skin around the spots.

Inflammatory acne has all of the contributing factors of comedonal acne – slow skin turnover, clogging of the skin, and excess sebum production – but also has other factors involved.

The inflammatory response can be exaggerated in those who already have inflammation due to other health issues. Inflammation in the skin can also be triggered by an imbalance of gut flora in the digestive tract.

It can be increased due to a lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that protect the body from the damage of inflammation.

Finally, many people with inflammatory acne also have a higher amount of a particular bacteria strain that can infect the spots, which means that bacteria balance and the immune system also play a part in this form of acne.

 

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne, with a combination of clogged pores, deep inflammation and chronically infected spots leading to the deep scarring of the skin.

It often comes with nodules forming under the skin from the inflammation, as well as involvement of other parts of the body, such as the back.

Cystic acne is definitely a sign that there is an imbalance in the body, particularly in the immune, digestive, hormonal and detoxification systems.

Clogged pores, sebum excess and skin turnover all play a role, but particularly hormones and inflammatory bacteria seem to have a big impact on cystic acne. The inflammatory substance P and the bacteria P. acnes also play very prevalent roles in cystic acne.

There are also likely to be multiple nutrient deficiencies at play – particularly those that support gut health and the immune system.

Finally, the inflammation in response to infection is the main factor behind the scarring of the skin in cystic acne.  It can cause an abnormal healing response and collagen production in the skin is altered.


Hormonal Onset Acne

Hormonal onset acne is a little bit different, in that it generally has a later onset than most types of acne, and its main cause is a hormonal imbalance.

Hormonal onset acne generally occurs in women in their late 20s or early 30s, often in women who have never experienced acne before.

The main change is often in estrogen levels. This in itself can have multiple causes – whether it be too much testosterone production as a side effect of conditions such as PCOS, or from excess or too little progesterone, or even from insufficient nutrients to support healthy estrogen levels.

This type of acne can show in forms of comedonal, inflammatory, or cystic acne, and is often identified based on the location and timing of the acne in a woman’s cycle.

Hormone testing is recommended for proper treatment of this form of acne.

 

Other Causes of Acne

There are a number of other things that can contribute to one of these forms of acne, or even cause acne to form. While many of these types of acne have internal causes, there are also things in the environment that can trigger the formation of acne.

Common irritants include make-up or skin-care that doesn’t suit the skin, certain medications, wearing hats, or even the hair products you apply to your hair. Anything that can inflame or damage the skin has the potential to cause acne in a vulnerable person. Even excess heat and humidity has been known to cause acne.

Does this mean that if you’re vulnerable to acne, that you’re doomed to never wear a hat or wear foundation again? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that you need to be on top of your well-being to reduce your risk.

If you want to reduce your current acne, or prevent further break-outs, your best bet is to book in for an appointment so we can create a personalized treatment plan to give you your healthiest skin yet.

 

 

References

http://www.kalbemed.com/Portals/6/komelib/dermatologicals/Kulit/Climadan%20Acne/topical%20therapy%20for%20acne.pdf

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2010.03919.x/full

http://iai.asm.org/content/63/8/3158.short

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198304283081701

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s007950100002

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22849351

 

 

 

5 Everyday Superfoods For Beautiful Skin

Everyone talks about the latest ‘superfood’ – whether it be acai berry, goji berries, maca or lucuma, they all seem to be exotic and incredibly expensive.

But for those of us who want to reap the benefits of beautiful skin from our diets, there are several more budget friendly foods that can clear the complexion and keep us looking youthful.

 

Avocado

Avocados are all the rage in the health scene at the moment, and for good reason. The good news is, their amazing health benefits extend to your skin as well.

They are an excellent source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that is one of the skin’s most potent antioxidants. It protects the skin from the damage caused by free radicals, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and may even help protect from UV rays.

Avocados are also a good source of carotenoids, which can form vitamin A in the body, creating another fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant powers.

Avocado goes wonderfully with breakfast, lunch or dinner, whether you blend into a smoothie, add some slices to the side of your meal, or blitz it up into a delicious avocado sauce.

 

Berriessuperfood for skin

If you’re looking at the best
fruit for gorgeous skin, look to berries such as
blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Berries are incredibly high in antioxidants that help to protect the skin from damage. They also contain plenty of skin-friendly vitamins such as vitamin C, which aids in the formation of strong healthy collagen that keeps us looking younger for longer.

Berries also have the benefit of being lower in sugar and higher in fiber, keeping blood sugars balanced and reducing the chance of increased inflammation and associated skin issues.

Enjoy berries as an easy snack, dessert, or addition to a meal – simply grab a handful to munch on whenever you feel a bit hungry.

 

Oily Fish

When it comes to the integrity of any cells, particularly skin cells, your top nutrient is omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish, such as salmon or sardines, are your top source of omega-3s.

Omega-3s reduce inflammation in the body, which can aid in taking the redness out of blemishes and acne flare-ups. They help to keep your skin moist and hydrated, which is essential for skin health.

Fish is a great source of protein, which is the building block of the body, including the skin.

You can substitute fish into salads to replace processed meats, added to rice for a quick meal at work, or enjoyed freshly cooked (or raw if you’re a sashimi fan) – aim for at least 3 serves per week to get the most benefit.

 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, aren’t just the leftovers from a holiday celebration – they’re a powerhouse of skin-supportive nutrients.

Pumpkin seeds are packed full of zinc, which aids in healing the skin quickly, protecting the skin from UV radiation, and can even act as an antioxidant on the skin, shielding it from toxins.

A lack of zinc is associated with dry skin, acne and dermatitis. In fact, supplemental zinc is one of the top non-medicine based treatments for acne, with studies showing it to be almost as effective as acne drugs.

Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of biotin, an essential nutrient for the skin.

Enjoy them on their own, added to meals, or mixed into a trail mix with other nuts and seeds.

 

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables might have been your least favorite as a kid, but now they will be your skin’s best friend!

These vegetables are a great source of sulfur, which is essential for healthy liver detoxification. They also have a component called indole-3-carbinol, which can clear excess hormones from the body. This combination of effects can greatly improve skin health, particularly for those with hormonal acne.

You can add a serve of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage, to your diet daily for a boost to your detoxification.


Including healthy skin foods has far more benefits and fewer side effects than skin medications when it comes to skin health and overall health. So if you want to have a glowing complexion, make sure you add in these foods regularly to gain the benefits for your skin and your body.  Click here to receive my one week meal plan packed with all kinds of creative ways to enjoy these amazing superfoods.  The plan includes delicious and easy recipes and a done-for-you grocery shopping list to get you on your way to fantastic skin right away!


References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20150599

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-4362.2002.01567.x/full

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11586012

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s005350050192

http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40020305009/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11130-010-0177-1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1656396

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-1097.2004.tb00076.x/full