Even the experts don’t agree. Chinese medicine says don’t eat cold food, Ayurvedic medicine says don’t eat spicy food most of the time, raw foodists say heat kills the best enzymes in the food. Some say soy is out of the question, others say chicken makes the body alkaline. With so many conflicting kinds of advice about what to eat, how much sun to get, etc., it can be difficul to know what’s right for your body.
I like to look at the arguments and the data coming from both sides of such controversies, and the literature that supports both sides. I like to see who is sponsoring the argument on each side, and follow the trail of the money supporting the studies.
For me, the harder it is to follow the trail of evidence, the more hidden the support, the more I suspect the data to be tampered with. I know that data can be selectively chosen to emphasize a point. I also know that a vast variety of information, from anecdote to in vitro study, from animal work to epidemiology, can point in a given direction. Because making the right choices in these areas are integral to a natural skincare regimen, it’s important to get it right. Begin to become your own detective.
How can you tell what is the best treatment for your body, even when experts don’t agree? There are so many conflicting opinions and facts in the sphere of health that it can be difficult to tell what’s right to eat, wear, etc. Some swear by avoiding wheat and gluten, some eat only raw foods. Some say dark chocolate is good for you, others say it causes acne.
Part of the answer comes in asking the questions: how much, for whom, and when? Sun exposure benefits come with small amounts of exposure, and what you can tolerate depends on your skin color. Except where there is an absolute toxicity or specific sensitivity, most regularly used products have an ideal level of exposure. Too little water and we dry our; too much and we drown. More on this in part three.
How do we know what we can compromise on and what we cannot, in the field of health? How do we know what treatment is best for what ailment? What treatment is best for what person? Medicine is not now, nor has it ever been, a field of absolutes. New information often changes how we think about ailments, treatments, and cures. Not to mention the fact that any number of people have different ideas on any number of subjects.
For example, we have been told for years that eating eggs is bad for you. Now it appears that eggs have gotten a bad rap. Someone says that sunlight is bad for you, and someone else says that it is necessary to make Vitamin D.
A dermatologist who writes about the benefits of sun exposure (Dr. Michael Hollick) gets fired from his academic post, while others tell you to avoid the sun as much as possible. These controversies are numerous and rage on regarding soy, milk, coffee, cell phones, childhood vaccines, and pesticide exposure, just to name a few. How do you know what is right for your body, when even the experts cannot agree? Because making the right choices in these areas are integral to a natural skincare regimen, it’s important to get it right. I’ll go into the answers in part two of this post.
Imagine a hot button that sets off acne when it is pushed. There is such a “button” that has been recognized in cells that sets off an inflammatory response. It is call the “inflammasome”.
A recent study published in the latest issue of the “Journal of Investigative Dermatology” showed that the acne bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, activates the “inflammasome” in cells, and may be an important part in the mechanism that sets off acne.
While they suggest finding ways to block this activation, I suggest we look for ways to avoid it and keep our fingers off the button.
For the past few decades, the role of diet in acne treatment was considered to be a red herring. But thinking is changing in recent years. In part, thanks to a great dermatologist and world expert on acne who just passed away last Sunday.
Dr. Alan Shalita was an expert in both clinical treatment and research in the field. And most impressively, his perspective changed as new evidence cam in.
Years ago, he rebuffed my suggestion that diet might have some role in affecting the sebum in a way that caused acne. But in 2010, he was senior author on a scientific article that re-examined the evidence on the association of diet and acne and he concluded that “Dermatologists can no longer dismiss the association between diet and acne.”
He called for others to explore this relationship between diet and acne, something I have been doing successfully for the past few decades. It is of note that such an expert revised not only his thinking, but that his speaking out helped to change the thinking of the majority of dermatologists.
For the past half a century, dermatologists believed that diet had no effect on acne. It’s time for us to wake up to what we are putting in our bodies, if we truly want clear skin.
For years I have been writing and lecturing that acne is caused by inflammation that comes from within.
It’s not just a “local” process caused by plugged follicles. It’s not just caused by the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes that lives in the follicle. Over the years, more data has accumulated to support this thinking.
The big news is that just this month, an article came out in the most scholarly of all the dermatology professional journals, showing that acne is not only related to inflammation, but also has characteristics of an autoimmune disease.
An article in the February issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed that extracts from the acne bacteria cause formation of “TH 17 Lymphocytes,” a type of white cell characteristic of autoimmune disorders. This same type of lymphocyte was also found in acne lesions themselves.
The other factors, such as diet, have yet to be connected to the findings in this study, but the evidence is growing stronger that something is lighting the fire to cause the inflammation in acne.
Since most people have this Propionibacterium (acne-related) organism in their skin, the flame that sets it off the fire of acne may well be coming from what you eat.
If you break out in acne, pay very close attention to what you put in your body the few days before the acne explosion. Studying your breakout cycle is the start of natural acne treatment.
There have been a number of observations quoted in the literature of rosacea that is associated with a particular bacteria living in the stomach.
That bacteria is known for being associated with the formation of stomach ulcers, and is named Helicobacter pylori. Its ulcer-causing activity was proven by a bold physician who swallowed a culture of Helicobacter pylori, and got severe stomach upset and developed stomach ulcers.
Some, but by no means all, people with this bacteria living in their stomachs get rosacea, and some people taking the antibiotic triple therapy to get improvement in their rosacea.
So here we have a bug that does not live in the follicles in the face that sets off the reaction in the face that we see as rosacea. The ability of an organism at a distant site to cause a reaction on the face is likely due to the immune reaction it sets off. This could be the start of a natural acne treatment.
More soon on natural acne treatment and holistic skincare.
Another inhabitant of the skin and hair follicles is named Staphylococcus Epidermitis. This form of staph is as common as robins in springtime; that is to say most people have this organism living on their skin.
Nevertheless, there is at least one report on rosacea that seems to be related to it. Whether the individual had some sort of immune defect, or the bacteria had some genetic variation, there is an inflammation caused by it.
There are many other organisms that share the skin, and Staphylococcus epidermitis is valuable because it is a benign bacteria that usually not only does not cause harm: it also occupies the niche so that harmful bacteria cannot find a place to grow. Unfortunately, even this “friend” can sometimes be a bad actor. Here’s a reference to the study.
My seventh grade science teacher used to recite a quote, to give us the essence of the biologic world:
“Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ‘em, and little fleas have smaller fleas, and so on, ad infinitum.”
And so it goes with rosacea. A portion of the people with rosacea have organisms living in the follicles that may be part of the cause of the rash.
One of the organisms that has been found in increased numbers in the hair follicles is a mite (not a flea, but a very distant relative), named Demodex folliculorum. A propos to the quote, Demodex is inhabited by a bacteria called Bacillus Oleronius, which itself has been suspected to be a stimulus of the inflammation seen. Would you believe, this bacteria was first identified in rear gut of a termite? It may be involved in causing the downfall of both your appearance and your house!
More on Acne Rosacea and treating acne naturally, soon.
Treating your acne rosacea naturally can bring up a bit of shock. People are often horrified to find out that there are tiny organisms living in the follicles on their nose and the center of their face. Some of those organisms include tiny mites that burrow into the hair follicles with their tail sticking out.
These mites, known as Demodex, are shaped like tiny cigars, with legs at one end. Identifying an abundance of them under the microscope after scraping the skin can be very helpful for the treating dermatologist, and for the patient as well.
Nevertheless, they can bring up great disgust when the patient sees them, wiggling under the microscope after being scraped off their skin. There is an old morbid old children’s rhyme: “the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout.” Sounds like rosacea to me.
What’s more, these mites have bacteria living inside of them, which may be a stimulation for the inflammation seen in rosacea. To top that off, this is only the beginning of the list of organisms living in the hair follicles that are suspected to play a role in causing rosacea. Treating rosacea naturally can be the safest, longest-lasting way to clear it. More on treatment methods in the next blog.