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.

Going Paleo? Consider this instead… [part 2]

Depositphotos_14134412_xsMy concerns with the paleo diet include the possibility of eating too much meat in order to have to burn protein for energy, eating too much saturated fats. Charred meat may be tasty for some, but a steady diet of charred altered animal proteins may be a lead in to cancer or autoimmune disease in the unlucky few. And too much fruit can lead to sugar, insulin, and yeast overgrowth issues.

Elaine Gottschauk was a pioneer in writing about the benefits of grain free diets. Before her, there was book on the mucus-less diet by Arnold Ehert. There have always been individuals who, at least under certain conditions, such as allergy and cold season, seemed to benefit from cutting out grains and milk and eggs.

The bigger issue is understanding your specificity and conditions, and knowing what part of the Paleo diet to adhere to. Raw vegetables may not work well if you do not have sufficient digestive fire.  

For some people, grains like brown rice in moderate quantities may be helpful for energy, to spare your burning your muscle protein as a very inefficient source of energy. In short, the Paleo diet has benefits and avoids many allergens and toxins of today. But the strictness of adherence to the definition of this diet really depends on a number of specific individual characteristics of the individual.

Have more questions about how your diet relates to your skin? Have a persistent skin condition? As a natural skin doctor and board-certified dermatologist, I have treated hundreds and hundreds of people with chronic skin conditions using natural methods. Learn about booking a visit with me, here.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner
Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Going Paleo? Consider this instead… [part 1]

Depositphotos_11071988_xsOne of the hottest trends today is the Paleo diet.  My first thought is a vision of so many bearded young men and their women, with wild veggies in one hand, crowded around to get a charred piece of meat from the latest Mastodon kill.

More to the point, the Paleo diet represents a 180 degree shift from the food world of junk foods, pesticides, colorings, and additives that complicates knowing which of these things is accumulating to the point of messing up your health and the way that you feel. It is also a dramatic shift from the high grain vege diets that a few people seem to be able to thrive on. Most of all, it eliminates sugar of various sorts that is consumed in epidemic excess in our society.

As a holistic doctor, I have some strong opinions about this diet and what effects it might have on the skin. What I like about the Paleo diet is that it gets away from many of the foods that aggravate environmental illness and overgrowth of yeast in the body. Eliminating sugar, refined carbs, bread, wine and beer and processed foods is the core of the diet I recommend for my patients. A

diet high in vegetables, with meat or fish for protein works well for those who have sensitivity to lectins in grains and beans, and reactions dairy products that they have eaten nearly every day of their life.  

In my next post, I'll share where I think Paleo misses the mark.

Have more questions about how your diet relates to your skin? Have a persistent skin condition? Book a visit with me here.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner
Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine
New York

Got Dandruff?

Depositphotos_15595421_xsDo you have dandruff? One of the central factors in causing dandruff, or Seborrheic dermatitis, is an organism that lives in the skin of most people. That organism is a yeast that changes back and forth into a fungus. Interesting, huh? It used to be called Pityrosporum, but it is now is known as Malassezia species.

Here's my summation of the medical literature: it is your immune system’s reaction to Malassezia, which causes the inflammation, redness, and scaling that is characteristic of dandruff. Inflammation seems to depend on the presence, quantity, and type of exposure to other similar yeast and fungi entering the body, and other factors that affect the immune system.

The presence of related yeast and fungi is important because they may play some role in changing the body’s immune response to Malassezia in our skin, thus causing dandruff or other inflammatory skin conditions.

So it is very interesting to see a recent article that shows that other fungi of the same genus, Malassezia, are present in a variety of organisms as different as corals, deep sea hydrothermal vents, lobsters, eels, and Antarctic soils.  

So the exposures that increase our allergic reactivity to the Malsasezia in our skin may, and thus our dandruff, may be quite varied and completely unexpected. Diet, seafood, travel, and underwater adventures, may someday be linked to worsening or improvement of dandruff. Future holistic skincare treatments could include monitoring and changing these factors.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Skin Cancer: getting drunk and falling asleep in the sun?


Scientists set about to do a meta-analysis of 16 different studies, covering 6251 cases of skin cancer.

They found a 20% increase in the incidence of melanoma in patients who drank alcohol on more than an occasional basis.

Unfortunately, the studies do not eliminate the possible relationship of sun exposure time. So it is possible that those with increased melanoma related to alcohol either hung out outside too long, or… fell asleep out in the sun.

Here is a link to the study.

To your health, 

Dr. Alan M Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Melanoma, Melatonin, and Vitamin D

happy young couple making heart shape with hands  at sunsetTurns out Melatonin and Vitamin D may be useful in preventing recurrent melanoma formation, and may even have a preventative effect.

This might be most helpful in patients with Parkinson’s disease, who have an increased risk of melanoma, and also in those with a history of excessive sun exposure, other skin cancers, a family history of melanoma, or use of Viagra, which now is suspicious for increasing the incidence of melanoma.

Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine



See comment David L. Keller, MD,MS2014 Apr 09 09:09 a.m.

See:Sildenafil Use and Increased Risk of Incident Melanoma in US Men: A Prospective Cohort Study.[JAMA Intern Med. 2014.]

Got Viagra? Check. Got melanoma? Maybe.

6a00e55255b462883401a3fd227564970b-300wiA prospective study published in the June 5th 2014 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), had some ominous correlations. It was carried out with matched controls from the years 2000 to 2010, on 25,848 men, who had no previous history of skin cancer.

The study showed an increase in melanoma in me who used sildenafil, the chemical in Viagra. There was not an increase in the incidence of the two other major skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, suggesting that this was not caused by other factors. Factors such as increased sun exposure, in those who took sildenafil. Those who used Sidenafil had roughly twice the liklihood of developing melanoma compared to those who did not. 

Mechanisms of activity of suggest that sildenafil by the nature of its activity as a phosphodiesterase activity inhibitor, may act like the gene activation (BRAF) that is known to be related to increased invasiveness of melanoma.

This study suggests possible association with the use of Viagra regarding risk of developing melanoma, but is too limited to absolutely prove this association. (Even after studying 25,000 men.) It is, however, a caution that use of Viagra, even once, may cause serious side effects that last more than 4 hours.

To your health,

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



JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Jun 1;174(6):964-70. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.594.

Sildenafil Use and Increased Risk of Incident Melanoma in US Men: A Prospective Cohort Study.

Li WQ1Qureshi AA2Robinson KC3Han J4.

Researchers stunned at the success of an “alternative” treatment.

6a00e55255b462883401a3fd227021970b-300wiConventional physicians have a default expectation about alternative medical therapies: that they’re bogus and don’t work.

This often runs contrary to my observations, and what I hear from patients and fellow physicians.

For years, I have heard about the benefits of chelation therapy in cardiovascular disease. This method of reducing heart attacks and other cardiac issues was categorically frowned upon as fraud by the more conventional physicians. 

So, it interesting to read that analysis of the results of a recent study on the effects of chelation, called the TACT study, showed that chelation has positive benefits in protecting heart disease patients from further damage, compared to those who got control treatment only. Click here to read the study.

This makes me think of all the people who cannot get alternative treatments because no-one has invested in proving their benefits. Like for chelation, many other alternative treatments are not considered scientific until the proper science is done. Perhaps it’s time to do more research.

Alan M Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Maximizing your energy, slowing aging, losing weight, and preventing diabetes.

6a00e55255b462883401a511af6c64970c-200wiI just spent a weekend day at a seminar on mitochondria. Mito… what?  You may remember vaguely from biology, those little oval energy generators inside cells. So what do they have to do with the skin and the environment, and why bother to read about them?

The answer is that are the key producers of the energy currency of the cells, known as ATP, and they have a number of roles in signaling and affecting the fate and function of other organs of the body.  Good energy, control of obesity, avoidance of diabetes, all require good mitochondrial function.

Mitochondrial function decreases with aging, and DNA mutations, that we have limited control over. But we do have some control over our exposure to persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and other environmental toxins and medications that harm the mitochondria and reduce their function. Toxins include the ever-present BPA, and plasticizers in vinyl. Caloric excess, alcohol, and fructose are also toxins to mitochondria. Drugs that poison mitochondria include aspirin, acetaminophen, Metformin, and Statins.

We can increase the activity of mitochondria by fasting, moderate exercise, cold exposure. Green tea, tumeric, resveratrol from grapes, and quercetin from capers, onions and apples are all natural food substances that support the mitochondria. Magnesium, Co Q 10, and alpha lipoic acid are supplements that help mitochondria.

So if you are interested in maximizing your energy, slowing aging, losing weight, and preventing or controlling diabetes, some do’s and don’ts are listed here as a starting point. You have an opportunity to take control of the chief energy source in your cells.