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  • Dr. Julie Hwang, ND

How to Know the Cause of Acne, So You Can Beat it


Knowing the cause of your acne can help you solve your skin problems faster.

Most health professionals agree that a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (1) contributes to many instances of acne. This is why your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for you if you have severe acne.

While antibiotic treatment can be effective in some cases for immediate improvement of acne, it doesn’t always solve the underlying problem, and often the problem keeps returning.

What many of us are NOT told is that our skin problems can be related to both a state of inflammation in our digestive system, and a hormonal imbalance. You see, the skin is a living breathing organ (like your lungs, or stomach). When we know and address the root cause of acne and skin disease internally, it can be a faster and more complete route to clearing the skin.

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Do you have painful menstrual periods?

Painful periods have been linked to a high degree of a chemical called prostaglandin released in the lining of the uterus during your period each month.

Prostaglandin is a sign of inflammation.

Although in 90% of women, this cramping will improve by taking hormonal oral contraceptive pills, this may not solve skin problems because the issue may not be only hormonal.

The top treatments for painful menstrual periods and improving your skin are:

  • Increase soluble and insoluble fiber sources in the diet

  • Increase anti-inflammatory food sources in the diet such as ginger, tumeric and omega-3s such as fish oils

2. Do you have irregular periods or unwanted hair growth?

These two signs of hormonal imbalance can suggest an excess production of androgens hormones, namely testosterone. Having excess androgens or testosterone would connect the acne to hormonal imbalance.

Some treatment options for excess androgens and improving your skin are:

  • Herbs such as chaste tree, spearmint, saw palmetto and more

  • Nutrients that correct for insulin-resistance such as chromium picolinate

  • And many more.

3. Do you have bloating or alternating stools between constipation and diarrhea?

Bloating and excessive gas production can be a secondary symptom of gut bacteria imbalance, which can cause skin issues.

Alternatively, diarrhea or loose stools can be a sign of inflammation in the gut, and the back-and-forth of this along with constipation can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or even food allergy.

When we see these signs of inflammation in the gut, we have to consider that inflammation of the gut can be contributing to acne and the inflammation needs to be reduced

Some treatment options for bloating, alternating stools and improving your skin are:

  • Increasing fiber - soluble and insoluble fiber such as in fresh ground flaxseed

  • Adding probiotics to rebalance the gut bacteria

  • Adding an anti-inflammatory herb such as turmeric

  • Adding an anti-inflammatory such as fish oil

4. Where is the acne?

In Chinese medicine, there is a map for the face. If the acne is on the cheeks or right underneath the bottom lip, it’s more linked to the stomach channel.

If the acne tends to be on the jawline and chin, it is more likely linked to hormones. Back acne tends to be more systemic and linked to possible infection and inflammation.

For solutions for hormone-related acne (jawline) check:

  • Herbs such as chaste tree, spearmint, saw palmetto and more

  • Nutrients that correct for insulin-resistance such as chromium picolinate

  • And many more.

For solutions for inflammation-related acne (back and cheeks):

  • Increasing fiber - soluble and insoluble fiber such as in fresh ground flaxseed

  • Adding probiotics to rebalance the gut bacteria

  • Adding an anti-inflammatory herb such as tumeric

  • Adding an anti-inflammatory such as fish oil

Sidenote: if the acne tends to appear between the eyebrows or around the eyes, in Chinese medicine these are liked to the Chinese medicine Liver and Kidney organs. In these cases it may be helpful to reduce any alcohol and/or caffeine intake, and increase your water intake.

5. Does your acne cycle come and go with your period?

The timing of your acne breakouts will tell you directly if it’s related to hormones. Some women have more breakouts a week before their periods or so, when estrogen begins to lower and progesterone dominates.

If you notice your acne coming on consistently around the same time of the month, then it is likely that there is a hormonal component.

You should now know if you acne is more likely to have a hormonal cause or is due to inflammation, or if it’s possibly related to both!

Before you try to adopt any of the suggestions, be sure to consult your licensed, qualified health provider.

For an individualized program for skin issues, book your Free Initial Consultation.

#acne #painfulperiods #dysmennorhea #inflammation #IBS

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© 2020 by Dr. Julie Hwang, ND

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