How I Cleared My Acne – Update 2018 (2 Years Later)
- Published on: 17 July, 2018
- Last update: 18 July, 2018
I know, I look totally thrilled in this photo. I was looking through my phone for a close-up with no makeup right next to a window, and I happened to find this in a text message I sent to my friend to show her what my new diet/herb changes were doing to my skin!
I can finally say I have the skin I’ve always dreamed of, even if I still get one or two cheek pimples the days before my cycle. I think I’ll always deal with that little hormonal surge, and I’m fine with that knowing the rest of the month my hormones have finally calmed down and are back in balance.
So what did I do to get here, stay here, and keep improving? Well, first of all – I still do my parasite cleanse once a year to keep any viruses/parasites/bacterial overgrowth in check. This year I’ve added in a few maintenance tools in between for the prevention of biofilms, which are sticky substances in the gut that parasites, candida, bacteria, and other pathogens use to protect themselves, mutate, and communicate with each other. You may have seen this in other blogs/forums as “mucoid plaque” if you’ve ever gone down the internet parasite rabbit hole. Since I’m studying to be an herbalist, I now rotate several herbal teas throughout the week and one of those (Cistus tea) is specifically for the breakdown and prevention of biofilms so that I don’t deal with overgrowths of gut pathogens in the future! Cistus tea is also high in polyphenols, which are plant compounds that provide a favorable environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria, and likewise help create an unfavorable environment for pathogens & parasites. I brew the cistus tea with whole, dried stevia leaves (NOT the fake white processed stevia powder) because real stevia – an herb, don’t forget! – is shown to break down and prevent biofilms as well. I still take a probiotic every night, except now instead of VSL I actually take my own probiotic (which I’m extremely proud of)! You can find it in our shop here. We included strains that were specifically shown in studies to increase T cell (aka immune cell) differentiation in order to produce more “T Regulatory cells” (Tregs) – which quite literally help regulate and balance the immune system. A reduction of these Tregs has been found in autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, and mouse models have shown that depletion of Tregs eventually leads to hypothyroidism. Lastly, I also continue to use my friend’s facial sunshine oil because it is truly the best face oil I’ve ever tried in my life.
I only had to take the Lysine for a few months until I was all cleared up, so I was actually able to discontinue it shortly after this video was made. Once I had my first full month of consistently calm skin, I tapered off of it slowly to make sure the breakouts didn’t come back with a vengeance. (Tapered off slowly = I lowered my dose from 2-3 to just 1 tablet per day, then took it every other day, then every 2 days, etc).
I still can’t explain the exact magic of Lysine, but that’s definitely what sealed the deal and stopped the last of my breakouts. It was the perfect compliment to all the other work I did to improve elimination and fix my gut microbiome. I’m thankful that it was something I only had to take for a set period of time and could then discontinue once it did the trick. However, I’ve seen others say that they have to stay on it at a low dose to keep their acne at bay.
“EVEN BETTER SKIN” NEW TIPS & TRICKS
Now that I’ve updated you on the things I did mention in the video, I’ll go ahead and list some brand new herbal, diet and lifestyle changes I’ve made to get my skin to the next level. Once I was clear of constant pimples, I wanted to see if I could get my skin to the point where it was soft, plump and glowing. Not just clear of acne, but healthy and beautiful too.
Cue: my herbal education! Yes, as I mentioned earlier, I am now studying to be a clinical herbalist. One of my favorite systems of herbal medicine we’ve studied thus far is Ayurveda (the ancient Indian “science of life”). Ayurveda has a very clear cut view of acne: it is due to a “pitta” imbalance. There is so much more to this story, and you can learn about all three doshas in my YouTube video HERE, but basically Ayurveda sort of categorizes people, food, and even illnesses by which “dosha” is most prominent. There are three: kapha, pitta, and vata.
Kapha people are stocky, strong, slow, steady, grounded, nurturing, hard working, and often good singers! Kapha foods include anything heavy/fatty like ice cream, pasta, and cookies. Kapha illnesses would be obesity and hypothyroidism for example. Pitta people are fiery, quick-witted, intelligent, loud, perfectionists, and often athletes or entrepreneurs. Pitta foods include spicy food/chili peppers, cacao, tomatoes, vinegar, dairy, and peanuts. Pitta would be include acne, arthritis, and gout (think all hot + red inflammation)! Vata people are thin, airy, light, creative, head-in-the-clouds, enthusiastic, and often artists. Vata foods include coffee, raw leafy greens, sugar, fruit juices, beans and white potatoes. Vata illnesses would be chronic anxiety, intestinal issues (think Crohn’s/malabsorption), and tachycardia.
As I mentioned, acne is a very clear pitta imbalance. (All of that heat and fire coming through the skin in angry, red, painful, inflamed bumps!) I found out that I am a pitta/kapha constitution, although more pitta than kapha now in my entrepreneurial, fast-paced 20s. I have always been a workaholic who thrives under pressure (aka stress) and loves to go, go, go! No wonder I was always dealing with hormone and stress-related acne (not to mention how stress affects the digestive system & gut). If you are a pitta person who has pitta acne, it’s a good idea to consume some “pitta-pacifying” foods and herbs — oh, and to stop being so hard on yourself all the time!
The past two years, I’ve really slowed down my lifestyle and stopped putting so much pressure on myself. I knew I had to change my pace if I wanted my skin (and my mind) to calm down. Although this means I haven’t been posting as much, it means that I am doing slow, steady, intentional work (very kapha) behind the scenes – which includes going to school and focusing more on my professional future in health rather than my social media presence. This is a lifestyle change we can all make in our own ways by prioritizing, asking for help when needed and remembering that only so much can be done in a single day.
I’ve made other “pitta-pacifying” lifestyle changes as well to keep my skin from breaking out or becoming red and inflamed, including going to bed at 9:30 pm. Pitta time is 10pm-2am (which is why we tend to get so hungry during this time; the pitta flame rules the digestive fire!) You want to rest during these hours so that you aren’t “pushing pitta”, and so that your liver can properly fulfill its detoxification duties while you sleep.
However, the biggest changes in my overall texture, softness and GLOW came when I started implementing these pitta-calming foods and herbs…
- GRASS-FED GHEE. Yes, I know I mentioned in my video that dairy itself is bad for acne sufferers – and I still stand by that! The lactose and casein within dairy are what make it such an allergic, inflammatory food for so many. And as you know, gut inflammation = skin inflammation. I consume *very* little dairy myself, but I did bring ghee back into my diet which has far different effects than milk or cheese. Ghee is “clarified” butter, which means butter that is heated to remove all milk solids and water. Because the milk solids are removed, it contains no lactose OR casein protein (I use the Fourth and Hart brand which actually tests their ghee to make sure). While even organic milk, ice cream or cheese usually breaks me out, I was literally SHOCKED at the changes in my skin within 1 week of consuming ghee. It was brighter, more plump, even-toned, and less sensitive. It looked and felt much smoother. I believe this is because ghee is rich in fat-soluble vitamins that are very important for the skin (such as Vitamin A), but also because it is a wonderful pitta-pacifying food. I put a spoonful in my oatmeal or use it to sauté vegetables. Ayurveda recommends ghee as an incredibly healing food for all three doshas – an essential staple in the diet for keeping the gut soothed, lubricated, and healthy.
- CHAMOMILE TEA & TINCTURE. Chamomile is the ultimate pitta-pacifying herb and this too has made my skin so plump and glowy. I actually started using it for the pit in my stomach that I get when I’m overstimulated in NYC, but I noticed that my face never looked better after consuming it consistently for a few weeks. Chamomile is now part of my daily routine and I always consume it either as one of my rotating herbal teas, or in glycerin tincture form before bed to wind down and relax. Chamomile is excellent for GI irritation and inflammation, which means it’s soothing to IBS, IBD, gastritis, acid reflux, heartburn indigestion. Again, gut inflammation equals skin inflammation, so whatever you can do to heal and soothe your gut or balance your microbiome will always reflect in your skin. Chamomile has also been shown to inhibit inflammation-signaling compounds in the body such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which can also contribute to face and body acne.
- NO MORE COFFEE? Yup, you read that right! This year I gave up coffee, and it was the best decision I ever made for my skin and overall health. First of all, coffee is very “vata,” and too much vata “pushes pitta” according to Ayurveda. So even extremely vata foods like coffee and refined sugar can cause pitta aggravation without you even having to touch a spicy food! I replaced my coffee with the herbal teas that I rotate such as chamomile, cistus, licorice root, red clover and linden. My skin was much less “combination” after I gave it up, meaning I noticed that my textured dry areas (upper cheeks, around the nose) were more lubricated and even. It’s also a great feeling not to be dependent on a substance to make me feel normal every morning. The first few weeks – no, actually months – were hell, but now I am 100% adjusted and wake up with energy that actually comes from ME, not Joe!
I’ve also cut down on spicy food. I don’t use hot sauce anymore or force myself to eat super spicy soups because they taste amazing even though my tongue is on fire. I eat a lot less chocolate now since cacao is so pitta and that seems to help as well, even though I have no problem treating myself in moderation! Overall, I’ve focused on calming down. Calming down my food (keeping things simple and nourishing), calming down my life (saying no and living at my own pace), calming down my mind (less self-criticism, more love and play) and calming down my gut/skin (with the herbs and foods mentioned above). This has benefited my life in ways that reach far beyond how my face looks, and I hope these tips help more than just your skin, too! Xo, Olivia