Acne. 

It’s a sensitive topic for those who struggle with it. For me, the emotions are real, because for two decades…20 YEARS…I struggled with this humiliating condition. 

Your face is the first thing people notice when they see you, and anyone who has suffered from acne can tell you what an emotional toll this condition takes. Research has shown that people who suffer from acne or other visible skin conditions have a much higher risk of depression than those who don’t have acne, and often turn to social isolation, excluding themselves from interacting with friends and colleagues. 

Put simply, it is emotionally exhausting to put your best face forward and feel great about yourself when you’re covered in a breakout. I speak from years of experience here.

My breakouts began in college, right in line with an overall decline in my health. At the time I didn’t realize that all the health issues I was having, along with my face breakouts were related. It started small, with minor breakouts that I attributed to teenager hormones. But as time progressed, the breakouts became worse and more frequent. They continued into my 20s, and then my 30s.

I spent thousands of dollars on different types of makeup, lotions, potions, medications, tools and facial treatments from the esthetician. Some of the treatments (for example Proactiv and even safer products such as Dr Hauschka) worked for a short while before the symptoms came back with a vengeance. 

The problem was that all of these treatments were focused on suppressing the symptom (acne) that rooted from a much bigger problem (an unhealthy inflamed and leaky gut, and food & chemical sensitivities). The answer to healing my acne didn’t lie in one more magic cream to rub on my face or one more pill to swallow, but in addressing the underlying CAUSES of the acne. 

But I didn’t know this. So I suffered. For 20 years.

Much bigger than the financial expense, however, was the emotional toll acne had on my overall wellbeing. I suffered from increased anxiety, especially when my breakouts were at their worst. I avoided social situations and stayed home instead. I felt angry and sad, all correlating with periods of worse breakouts. 

I recall one particular family vacation when I was experiencing a particularly bad breakout…forehead, cheeks & chin covered in large bright red welts. We were camping at a large family campground, surrounded by, and in close-contact with lots of people all week. The entire week was a frenzy of laughter and play, with everyone having a great time. I played right alongside everyone else, trying my damnedest to put my best face forward and laugh right alongside everyone else, but I was dying inside. 

Each morning that week I had to force myself to step outside of our cabin and show my face to the outside world. On one particular morning I recall sitting down on the edge of my bed and sobbing because I just could not feel the excitement and joy that everyone else was experiencing. I felt humiliated and shameful about the appearance of my face. I wanted to hide myself from the world and all the fun and laughter that was swirling around me.

If you haven’t experienced acne or another visible skin condition, it is probably difficult for you to relate to the devastating effects it can have on your self-worth and overall mental health. If you have, or are currently experiencing it, you know exactly what I am talking about.

My solution to acne, after 20 years of suffering, was not a lotion, potion or pill, but healing my inflamed, leaky, unbalanced gut.

Here are the two big things I did to completely heal my acne after 20 years of suffering:

  1. I adopted a Paleo style diet that removed the inflammatory foods that were keeping my gut sick. It’s important to note that I didn’t just do this for 30 days hoping for a quick-fix and then return to my old eating habits. Eating this way was a lifestyle I adopted permanently, and have continued for the past 8 years. 
  2. I did some functional lab testing (which I use with my clients today to help them get to the bottom of their health issues) to uncover problems in my gut that involved an unhealthy balance of bad bacteria, a parasite, inadequate digestion, inflammation, and depressed immune function.

One of the first things my clients begin to notice when adopting a healthier eating plan and begin the process of healing their guts, is clearer, more radiant skin. For me, my acne disappeared completely right alongside a slew of other health issues I had struggled with for two decades. 

Why? 

Because all your symptoms are related, even when they are happening in different areas or organs of the body! They all start with a disrupted gut microbiome! This is why, with all of my clients we begin with a stool pathogen test that uncovers hidden culprits in the GI-tract that are causing problems, along with removing inflammatory foods.

When I see people in public today who are suffering from acne, I want to take them aside, give them a big hug filled with love and say, “I can help,” because I know how deep the emotional toll of living with acne can be.

Symptoms are merely clues from your body that something is not right, whether those symptoms occur on your skin, in your joints, digestive system, respiratory system, muscles, brain, etc. The solution is never a quick-fix like a lotion, a potion or a pill, but in uncovering and addressing the root cause of the problem, which most likely begins with an unhealthy gut.