Snack your way out of acne

Depositphotos_24286607_xsHaving healthy snacks available at home and when you’re out is an important way to get control of your acne. After all, if your hungry, need a pick-me-up, it’s going to be very hard to resist if your friends offer you some kind of acne-producing junk food, and you have nothing to substitute for that.

But if you plan ahead, you can pull your healthy snack out of your bag and enjoy it. Examples of healthy snacks might can might include a small container of steamed vegetables, a bag of carrots and celery, or a small container of rice and beans. Thin slices or raw turnip or parsnips or radish also make a good snack, depending on your taste. Even a small plastic container with a little bit of last night’s dinner, with a cold pack if necessary, can also do the trick.

Vegetables are one of the healthiest snacks that you can eat to help with acne. Raw vegetables are good if you chew them really well or blend them. Get a stack of small plastic containers, and be sure to prepare a little bit extra when you make salad or vegetables. Put some of those leftover vegetables in a container in the refrigerator and use them in the next day or two and snacks that you carry with you.

One advantage of preparing them before you go out is that you can season them with a little bit of salt and perhaps olive oil or lemon juice or both, so that they are delicious and ready to eat. In the winter, you can usually simply place the container in the pack that you carry with you. In the summer, you can place the vegetable container in the small cold pack with an ice pack from the freezer. That way, you have delicious healthy fresh vegetables as a snack when you need them.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Skeptical about alternative dermatology? Read this…

Depositphotos_25722971_xsQ: Dear Dr. Dattner, I'd like to see you for an appointment, but I’m a bit reserved (not about your fees by the way… I am HAPPY to pay them), but after  25 years of  seeing Harvard, Dartmouth, and Georgetown-educated Dermatologists, I am just kind of curious as to why no one else utilizes this holistic approach, at least where I live, which is only 90 miles above the medical  centers of  Boston… please understand my concerns.

Respectfully, and best regards,



A: Dear Sam, I must say that your reply set off quite a spark in my head, and got me really thinking about the answer.

It's a great question. Why would I have a more effective method for helping certain people with skin disorders than other dermatologists from some of the most prestigious academic centers in the country, if not the world? And if I did, why wouldn’t they be doing what I am doing? For a variety of reasons well beyond trying to engage you as a client, I feel compelled to answer this question. And since you asked it, I think you deserve to hear the answer. It's an answer that will also help you understand my mission in life and how it relates to your skin condition.

The first reasonable question, which you may not have wanted to state outright might be whether I am delusional about my professional abilities. Can I really help some people who my well-trained colleagues cannot? Could my methods really be so different?  I know that many dermatologists are brilliant, well educated, and help a lot of people. I also know that I have helped people who have not been helped by a string of dermatologists and other practitioners. 

Recently, I saw several patients with challenging and potentially dangerous skin conditions. They had been prescribed toxic drugs to take for several years, as this was the best available treatment from highly-respected, well-intentioned dermatologists. Using only diet changes and supplements, I helped them clear their complex skin conditions. They were elated to have clear skin and also to be able to stop using the drugs they were prescribed. I cannot deny the feedback that I get about their dramatic improvement; in fact it's what gets me up in the morning. My methods are vastly different from those of my dermatologic colleagues who follow an allopathic model, and I will describe them below.

I abhor the use of medications that suppress inflammatory responses because, it is dangerous. As the medicines get stronger, the collateral damage caused by weakening the body’s defense system can be very costly or even fatal. What do I know about the immune system? I started getting involved in tumor immunology 51 years ago at Sloane Kettering in Rye with Dr. Lloyd Old, who is often called the "father of tumor immunology." I took off time to do research in medical school and chose the most vibrant researcher I could find, Dr. Barry R Bloom, turning down an offer I had from Harvard. Barry later became the head of the Harvard School of Public Health for ten years. My sixth immunology lab was at the Dermatology Branch of the National Cancer Institute, where we discovered aspects of the nature of how the immune system recognizes foreign presence in the body. The insights I gained from what we learned form our incredibly productive nearly three years of research confirmed what I had heard from the “alternative” medicine world about the ability of foreign substances such as food, chemicals or microorganisms to set off a very specific response by the immune cells against particular targets in the skin, manifesting as skin disease.

I look to find and remove the cause of skin problems rather than stop the outward manifestation of the problem by suppressing them. It takes a lot of time to probe and find out the network of causes underlying a rash, choose what tools to use (supplements, diet, lifestyle changes, etc.), explain it to the patient, and them motivate them to make difficult lifestyle changes that will benefit them beyond improving their skin. This way of working is resource-intensive; it takes a lot of time and energy, which I am happy to spend, in order to solve and clear mysterious conditions. However, if I were to accept health insurance, I could not afford to practice this way unless I had a huge trust fund to support my practice.

Most dermatologists use a generally effective allopathic approach to help a large number of patients, and could not do that if they spent the amount of time I do, either with patients, or studying the various alternative methods I have pursued. They are likely not versed in botanical medicine, nutritional medicine, Functional Medicine, and numerous other alternative modalities that I integrate into the way I hear a history and create solutions. Even if they educated in this way, and they spent the time I do, under insurance payments, they would quickly have to close their offices due to negative bank accounts. Unfortunately, as you shared with me, the allopathic approach was not effective for you, and likely also not effective for a percentage of the population at large.

Living my approach as part of the integrative medicine world, along with dermatology and the scientific world of immunology for 35 years has given me a rich background of diagnostic and therapeutic tools that are not part of forefront allopathic dermatology. I have also developed some proprietary treatments in the course of all of this that would not be known by other dermatologists, which I am not positioned to reveal. So I guess that is why I can fix problems like yours.

I am about to write the 4th revision of my chapter on Seborrheic Dermatitis on in Rakel’s Integrative Medicine, and I have written the review on the same topic for the American Academy of Dermatology’s Integrative medicine task force. So I guess I am somewhat of a national expert on the subject of integrative treatment–combining conventional, alternative, and scientific methods to treat this condition. If you saw anyone else from Harvard with this perspective and these qualifications, I would very much like to interview them for my latest revision.

Look at the “About” section on my website,, or look up the scientific articles I have written on PubMed, to verify what I have stated.

I hope that I have answered your question, and am happy to hear your comments.


Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD
Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Natural home acne treatment that works, part three

Depositphotos_31778959_xsFace washing is an important home treatment for acne. Especially if your face is oily, A mild soap can be very helpful used once or twice a day. If your work or other activities cause your face to get sprayed with chemicals dirt or dust, face washing is also very important.

It is also very helpful to wash after workouts and sweating. If your face tends to be very dry and gets worse with washing, there are non-soap cleansers on the market which will not dry out your face. Also, if blackheads are a major problem, gritty soaps may help.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

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Natural home acne treatments that work, part two

Depositphotos_4683136_xsWhen bacteria are a big part of the cause of new acne pustules, application of essential oils such as tea tree oil or oregano oil can be very helpful for temporary relief. Dabbing a tiny bit of the oil onto just the area of the pustule, or pimple as it is commonly known, can be very helpful in calming down the lesion.

Unfortunately, these oils cannot be used for long periods of time because repeated use may cause an allergy to them. In addition, almost any antimicrobial product used on the skin whether natural or medication, is likely to result in resistant bacteria that will no longer respond. For that reason this kind of treatment should only be used for a short period of time.  

Be sure to stop if either the oil is not working, or if you develop any itching or information or other signs of allergy.

A warning: If the lesions are hot and tender, painful, or if there is any sign of fever, see a physician to make sure you do not have a dangerous infection on the face. Infections on the central part of the face, in rare instances, can migrate to the vessels in the brain, and cause those vessels to thrombosis.

Aside from that, these oils can be a good short-term option.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

A natural home acne treatment that works

Depositphotos_30471299_xsOne of the simplest treatments for new acne lesions is to apply a thick paste of clay to each of the lesions. The Clay will help dry out the fluid and inflammation.

Do this only on new pimples that have not been squeezed or open or have open skin nearby. If you apply it to open skin, there's a possibility that you will create irritation if the clay gets into the skin.

A secondary benefit of this treatment is that it gives you something to do to reduce the lesions instead of squeezing them, which can force the contents to break out underneath the skin and cause the formation of large cyst. Some clays are more effective than others, And some custom combination clays may be far more effective. Be sure to stop using clay if you get too much dryness or irritation or itching.

To your health, 

Dr. Alan M. Dattner

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine


Natural Medicine for Atopic Dermatitis

Depositphotos_15414903_xsA recent article appeared in the October issue of Contemporary Pediatrics, systematically questioning the efficacy of various alternative treatments used for atopic dermatitis. It's unfortunate that this kind of mis-information is so rampant.

It is of note that the author is a pediatrician–but not either a dermatologist or holistic/integrative practitioner. He is still stuck in the "disease model" and seems to have no idea about the conceptual basis for the application of alternative medicine to atopic dermatitis.

Use of alternative therapies and diets must vary according to each person, using an understanding of the specific patient, our culture, and the pathophysiologic syndromes understood in alternative and functional medicine. Treatments that work with some people may not work with others. For example, giving probiotics without understanding and addressing the factors in yeast overgrowth will lead to less than desirable results.

As a practitioner of Holistic and Integrative Dermatology, I can attest to the number of variables involved in controlling atopy, and the difficulty in getting patients to co-operate with their protocol and success with patients in a manner that meets their time expectations.  It takes time and more exchange of information than conventional care.

Speaking as a health professional, I'll share that from behind-the-scenes, it requires a good understanding of dermatology, immunology, and alternative medicine, in order to avoid one or two omissions or errors that negate the benefits of the rest of the protocol, and to understand the meaning of various responses to exposures and treatments.

For example, it has taken me years to be able to use natural methods to successfully clear patients with severe acne who have seen multiple dermatologists and alternative practitioners. I can't imagine how the author of this article could have the perspective to make any meaningful pronouncement on the effectiveness of alternative medicine in Atopic Dermatitis. I do agree that more studies are necessary. However, they need to be designed with an understanding of the healing systems being applied, beyond the disease model.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M Dattner, MD

Integrative Medicine and Dermatology


As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.