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The REAL Cause of Acne

Affiliate Disclosure | in Natural Remedies | by | with 149 Comments

The Real Cause of Acne

Hey Mommypotamus, I want you to write about clear skin :) you have such gorgeous skin and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. maybe even discuss the connection between acne and sugar / gluten / dairy. or the connection between different allergies or dysfunctions and babies with atopic dermatitis, eczema etc thank you :)

~ Alexandra

Aww, shucks, Alexandra! I’ve gotta say, clear skin is NOT something I take for granted. Back in college I had horrible, seriously disfiguring acne. I searched for over an hour for a pic to post as proof, but you know what? There isn’t one. I was so embarrassed I never let anyone near me with a camera. Sorry about that. However, when it comes to the real cause of acne, I do have thoughts to share!

The REAL Cause of Acne

Candida diet? Check. Raw food diet? Double check. Supplements, teas, microdermabrasion? Yes, yes and yes. I tried every over the counter acne treatment and diet I could get my hands on with minimal success. Eventually I came to understand that acne is not caused by bacteria alone . . . otherwise we could infect each other with acne, right? Nope, it’s caused by compromised liver, kidney, digestive and hormone function.

For the sake of making this halfway interesting, I think our subject organs should have names. Let’s start with the liver . . . how about Bob? It’s a good, solid name for a hardworking, jack-of-all-trades kind of organ, don’t you think? Okay, Bob it is.

Photo courtesy of Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Imagine Bob is a guy with a net. One of his major functions is to remove and break down used hormones and toxic substances from our blood, like the odd floating cup or plastic bag going down a stream. It’s all good until that stream becomes a raging river of trash and Bob is out there in nothing but his knickers trying to scoop like mad as gunk rushes by.

The stuff he misses is cycled back into our blood, including androgenic hormones that send signals to our sebaceous glands to make more oil. (Keep in mind that this is their second time around, so that’s MUCH more oil than Bob intended.)

It’s not just the oil, though. As more an more toxins build up in our bloodstream the body gets stressed. In an effort to restore homeostasis other organs like our skin are recruited for detoxification purposes. As the toxins near the surface of our skin they meet a surplus of oil thanks to the extra androgenic hormones, which creates warm, friendly petri dish for acne.

So How Does This Raging River Scenario Happen?

According to Food Renegade, “The biggest dietary culprits [for liver problems] include caffeine, alcohol, sugar, food additives, and excessive intake of Omega 6 essential fatty acids. But, there are environmental culprits too: pesticides, herbicides, synthetic chemical fertilizers, and even doctor-prescribed medicines.”

Puberty and menstrual cycles are factors also, because they increase the load of hormones Bob needs to clean from the blood. However, as long as he isn’t overwhelmed with environmental toxins the extra hormones aren’t a problem.

Sometimes, though, it’s not just the river – it’s Bob. The man thrives on B, D and A vitamins (found only  in animal products) as well as vitamin C. He needs to be well fed to do his job, which means lots of cod liver oil, grassfed butter, liver or seafood along with certain veggies and herbs. (As a side note, zinc doesn’t seem to be a huge part of Bob’s diet but many acne sufferers are deficient in this vital mineral. For a list of zinc rich foods click here.)

Sometimes, It’s Not Just Bob and The River

The real cause of acne is upstream. Here’s what I mean: Caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar (fruit and honey are usually okay in moderate amounts), etc. also damage our digestive tracts, which are our first first line of defense when it comes to deactivating toxins and pathogens. Eliminating problem foods may not be enough to heal holes created in the gut lining (called “leaky gut”). If steps are not taken to repair the holes, proteins and other food substances will pass  into the bloodstream in their undigested state. The liver will continue to be overwhelmed and the body, who doesn’t recognize these proteins in their whole forms, will launch an attack (create antibodies) against these proteins. This kicks off a domino effect which can lead to eczema, asthma, ADD, and other problems.

The two other systems (which shall remain nameless) are the kidneys and hormone producing organs (thyroid and adrenals). Similar to Bob, the kidneys are rigorous housekeepers that filter blood and expel waste from the body via urine. To nourish them well, consume generous amounts of cabbage (preferably fermented into sauerkraut), garlic, onions, berries, red bell peppers, cauliflower, extra virgin olive oil and wild salmon.

To support the thyroid and adrenal glands -which regulate hormone function and give us soft, supple skin -make sure to consume liver from grassfed animals, green leafy vegetables, and plenty of seafood. (If you can’t quite stomach the idea of liver you can get them in dehydrated (dessicated) capsule form.

Overwhelmed? Feel A Little Like Bob?

If you’re struggling with acne here are some suggestions that may help. Of course, each situation is unique and I am only speaking generally, so use your judgment.

  1. Do a cleanse. First a gentle full body cleanse you might consider the Standard Process Purification Program and then, if you feel it is needed, a cleanse that concentrates on the liver. Kari, a reader who knows more on t he subject than I do, says “You need [to start with] a complete cleanse and not just a liver cleanse. You want to clean out your system. If you focus to harshly on the liver it can be dangerous. Make sure you are eating or supplementing w/ lots anti-oxidants. This will help the toxins leave your body and not reattach somewhere else.” (P.S. Daddypotamus did the SP cleanse a few years back and inspired a cleanse-friendly cookbook. You can find it here)
  2. Acne sufferers often have a cluster of conditions such as fatigue, digestive problems, headaches, etc. If you have other health conditions listed here that you would like to work on, consider the GAPS protocol. (Need help getting started? This guide is very helpful)
  3. Get some sun! Remember that the liver needs vitamin D to function and the best source is sunlight.
  4. Get the junk out of your diet and eat foods that support the liver (check out Food Renegade’s article for a fantastic list of foods, herbs and spices), kidneys and hormone producing organs
  5. Specifically, avoid genetically modified foods (GMO’s). Only one human feeding study has ever been conducted on their safety (which found that pesticide producing genes in soy were NOT killed by stomach acid as makers claimed. They continued to live and produce toxins in the intestinal tract.) However, we can gain insight into the potential for organ damage by animal feeding studies. According to Real Food Digest, “
    The livers of mice and rats fed GM soy feed had profound changes. Some were smaller and partially atrophied, others were significantly heavier, possibly inflamed, and some showed signs of a toxic insult from eating GM food.” Oh and rats fed GM Soy experienced a pretty significant indicator of GM effects on organs – their pink testicles turned dark blue.
  6. Eat probiotic rich foods. The more good bacteria we have in our digestive tract the more easily we neutralize toxins and pathogens. By helping our body get rid of them quickly we avoid the need for detox efforts through the skin later. (New to cultured foods? Jenny over Nourished Kitchen has a class that can help you get started)
  7. Try eliminating grains and/or dairy. When digestive function is compromised grains/dairy can sometimes aggravate the problem. You might try eliminating them to see if your skin improves. If it does but you’re not getting full results, check out suggestion #2. (Note: Raw dairy can be beneficial for healing allergies in some instances. It all depends on whether you have enough good bacteria in your gut to break down lactose, among other things. Everyone is different!)
  8. Don’t over cleanse! Stripping skin of it’s natural oils may seem like a good idea, but it often just triggers oil production. Try the oil cleansing method for acne instead.

What did I miss?? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Photo Credit: Foundry Park Inn


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149 Responses to The REAL Cause of Acne

  1. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Kari Martin – I was thinking of another one found at my local health food store but I can’t find it online. I wouldn’t go with that one because one of the “detox” ingredients is caffeine . . . sounds to me like it is more of a quick fix weight loss thing. Though consuming liver cleansing foods like kombucha and beet kvass are recommended while nursing, actual detoxes are not because the toxins released will flow into breastmilk. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I’m having some trouble updating my post right now but as soon as I am able I will clarify about the 7 day recommendation

    • Ashley says:

      i want to thank you for your comment about zinc. I had cystic hormonal acne. After reading your comment on zinc it was the only thing I hadn’t tried. It has helped so much! I must be quite deficent because the ire I take the less acne I have. Now I take 60 mg of zinc a day and I put a topical zinc oxide on my face in morning and evening now I am 95-98% improved. I couldn’t be happier and wish more people knew about this. I also wish I knew about this 15 years ago!!

  2. Shawna says:

    Ha ha! I am laughing to myself, because I have had acne since I was 16. It has only disappeared during birth control pill usage and breastfeeding, so I always assumed hormones were the culprit. I didn’t understand the liver function process that you just described. But if all that is true, then I guess I am lucky I inherited my grandfather’s superhuman liver! He was an alcoholic for his entire life, and he dies at the ripe old age of 83 from a brain tumor….completely unrelated to liver. Anyhow, my diet contains healthy foods, but I have never eliminated caffeine, GMO’s, and processed sugar completely. I am tempted to try one of your cleanses and see what my superhuman liver is really capable of…

  3. Milla says:

    I haven’t really had any major issues with acne since I started traditional foods (touch wood!). However, I still get mini-breakouts – not acne, just some small pimples – whenever I’m in the city. The water is full of chemicals (showering feels like emptying a chlorinated swimming pool onto yourself) and the air isn’t the cleanest either – especially when you live in London, and most of the dirt falls on you in the form of rain. All this goes away when I go somewhere secluded on holiday (and with lots of sun! London is a recipe for vitamin D deficiency). Sun really does wonders for the skin.

    • Heather says:

      I totally agree, Milla!

    • Laura says:

      totally agree about the sun, too. My usually problem skin (working on that) was perfect the summer I worked on a farm and was out in the sun 8+ hours a day. I rarely used sunscreen but never really burned- just got really tan and perfect looking skin.

  4. Aubrianne Kluver via FB says:

    Panteothenic acid (vitamin b-something) changed my life. I’ve also been working on detoxing my liver, detoxing extra estrogen and cleaning up my diet — white carbs get me every time! But that vitamin helps in the meantime like nobody’s business. 1 gram a day until it clears up, and then cut to 500mg. I notice a difference in about 2 days. And actually, I dont have to take it anymore!!

  5. Heather James via FB says:

    For 4 months, I was gluten/dairy/soy-free… no improvement. Granted, I didn’t do everything listed here but if one did, it would seriously be a full-time job. I struggle just to keep myself and 3 kids regularly fed, bathed, dressed, watered etc… just the basics. It is completely impossible to do everything that one must do to have a totally healthy, well-rounded life. Regular exercise? Ok… but at the expense of meditation. Meditation? Ok… but at the expense of reading to the kids. Spending time with and reading to the kids? Ok… but at the expense of using that time going to the health food store and instead fixing just whatever for dinner. It’s maddening. For a person (me) who can’t even remember to drink enough water in a day (I have to set alarms on my phone and half the time, I forget even that), this is maddening. Not that this isn’t good advice… I guess I’m just raging at the fact that we’re set up for failure and that clean, healthy living is harder and one must seemingly swim upstream to achieve it.

  6. Heather James via FB says:

    For 4 months, I was gluten/dairy/soy-free… no improvement. Granted, I didn’t do everything listed here but if one did, it would seriously be a full-time job. I struggle just to keep myself and 3 kids regularly fed, bathed, dressed, watered etc… just the basics. It is completely impossible to do everything that one must do to have a totally healthy, well-rounded life. Regular exercise? Ok… but at the expense of meditation. Meditation? Ok… but at the expense of reading to the kids. Spending time with and reading to the kids? Ok… but at the expense of using that time going to the health food store and instead fixing just whatever for dinner. It’s maddening. For a person (me) who can’t even remember to drink enough water in a day (I have to set alarms on my phone and half the time, I forget even that), this is maddening. Not that this isn’t good advice… I guess I’m just raging at the fact that we’re set up for failure and that clean, healthy living is harder and one must seemingly swim upstream to achieve it.

  7. Meagan Riegle Jenks via FB says:

    Gluten free has been huge for my skin, but one of the best things for me, where I saw pretty immediate results, was drinking apple cider vinegar. I hate it, but it works!

  8. Heidi Fiscus via FB says:

    If my husband stays away from gluten and dairy he is free and clear but as soon as he slips, HUGE breakouts and even sores. Try elimination diet, it may be another food.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Hi Heather,

    Thank you for this post! There is so much information out there on this topic and your use of “Bob” was not only entertaining, but easy to follow!

    I have been a whole foods vegan for about 3 years now. My intake of processed/refined food is very rare. Green tea and dark chocolate are my only sources of caffeine.

    Through your blog and others (Weston Price) I am starting to toy with the idea of incorporating some animal products (grass fed butter from the farmer’s market, for example) into my diet. This is something I am working on and will keep you up to date when/if I decide to experiment.

    I will be traveling to Scotland in September and plan on eating real salmon and local raw cheeses, so perhaps I will see how that goes and perhaps continue when I return to the states.

    My skin has been a gross fascination with me for years. I went on Proactiv at the age of 17 and over the last 10 years I periodically have gone off it it to try more organic or natural approaches without any luck (just a lot of frustration!)

    I have been using the oil cleansing method now for about 4 months and I am quite happy with it. However, I do continue to have breakouts along my jaw/neckline. I am still experimenting and I try to eat a variety of foods in moderation. We eat a lot of alternative grains/seeds in my home and I have begun eating a spoonful or two of raw fermented cabbage every other day (or when I remember!)

    Thank you for this blog and all of your info sharing. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the conversation :)

  10. Donna says:

    A coworker of mine recently shared that she gives her son an antibiotic to control his acne. After I told her (tactfully, mind you) that constant antibiotic exposure has deleterious long-term effects on gut health, she replied, “I can’t just let him walk around with a crater face. Do you know how cruel kids are in school? And I can’t blame them – one of his friends has terrible acne, and I think it’s disgusting.” I challenged her to think about the fact that she shares an opinion with 8th graders, whom she sees as cruel and immature, and that she as an adult can inform them and teach compassion.

    She continued, “Besides – do you know how hard it is to get a teen-age boy to wash his face?” This is a similar argument I’ve heard from male genital mutilation proponents who claim that surgery is a better option than teaching guys to wash themselves.

    Despite these opinions, she was attentive when I shared information about probiotics, the effects of antibiotics on both the user and bacteria (the creation of super bugs), and the benefits of nutrition-as-medicine. Maybe she’ll consider this information in future decisions. We have to keep this information circulating so people like my coworker can hear it.

    • Heather says:

      Yes, we do! Back when I had acne I seriously considered Accutane, but didn’t go that route for financial reasons. I had no idea how much damage stuff like that could cause to gut flora (among other things!) back then, and am so glad someone took the time to tell me. Good for you for tactfully sharing information with her!

      • Erika says:

        Heather- when you recommend consulting a professional, are you suggesting a nutritionist, herbalist, acupuncturist, chiropractor?

        • Heather says:

          There are people practicing in all of those disciplines that are more or less qualified based on their approach. Some chiropractors mainly focus on physical alignment, while others take a more holistic approach and look at diet, hormonal balance, etc. In other words, I think it depends more on the practitioner than the title :)

          • erika says:

            Have you heard of EstroBlock? It is a supplement that is supposed to rid your body of excess estrogen. I know that it is better to get what your body needs from the foods you eat, but do you think some supplements are necessary because of what our food supply lacks?

  11. Dusty Janita Curry-Santiago via FB says:

    Aubrianne – how do you detox extra estrogen?

  12. Dusty Janita Curry-Santiago via FB says:

    Heather – i totally feel your pain. It’s tough. Friends, family & spouse support is a must. “It takes a village to raise a child.” It always has.

    Y’all don’t wanna know what we’ve been eating this week with all the reading & searching I’ve been doing!

  13. Erin Shaw via FB says:

    WHERE is the info on whole body and liver cleanses that was mentioned in the article?? Ive been looking for something that I can trust for a long time…PLEASE point me in The right direction!!!

  14. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Erin Shaw – There isn’t one that I think is a good fit for everyone. For example, I like the Standard Process 21 Day Cleanse (I even wrote a cookbook that can be used with it!), but I think it’s a bit too restrictive on healthy fats like coconut oil and don’t think the fiber supplements are useful for everyone. It might be a good place to start, though.

  15. Erin Shaw via FB says:

    Thank you! Any thoughts on a liver cleanse?

  16. Erin Shaw via FB says:

    Thank you! Any thoughts on a liver cleanse?

  17. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Erin Shaw – Not really. They’re not recommended for pregnant/nursing wpmen. I’ve been one or the other (or both!) for the past 5+ years now so doing one hasn’t really been an option :)

  18. Anna says:

    I have read lots of research on acne, and I’m not sure the “liver is overloaded” explanation holds up. Acne starts when a pore (hair follicle) becomes plugged; a plugged hair follicle is called a comedone. The bacteria that cause inflamed acne grow very well inside comedones. If you can prevent comedones, you can prevent acne. Comedones can be caused by putting comedogenic ingredients on the face. However, the hormones insulin and insulin-like-growth factor (specifically, IGF-I) also cause comedones by causing the cells that line the hair follicle to multiply rapidly, and also inhibiting apoptosis (natural cell death). What you end up with is a follicle that is so crammed with cells that the cells start to suffocate each other (the cells suffer from hypoxia). The low-oxygen, crammed environment is perfect for P. acnes. Eating a low-glycemic diet can be really helpful for clearing up acne, because it generally results in less circulating insulin. However, there there is one type of food that low on the glycemic index, but very high on the insulin index, that can be helpful to avoid. Dairy! It doesn’t matter where the dairy comes from–whether it’s raw, etc.–it all causes a surge of insulin. This is because whey protein is insulinogenic–it stimulates insulin production from the pancreas. And in case you’re wondering, one glass of milk, or one cup of yogurt, stimulates much more insulin from the pancreas than a slice of white bread. Cheese is low in whey, and thus also fairly low on the insulin index, but it does contain testosterone (produced during fermentation from precursors) that can aggravate acne. Besides being insulinogenic, milk–ALL milk–also contains large amounts of IGF-1, which promotes comedone formation. The IGF-1 is NATURALLY present in cow milk, presumably because it helps the calves grow.

    So yes, eliminating grains and dairy can help with acne, but I would argue that it works because it lowers circulating insulin levels and IGF-1, and not because it improves digestion. You can have VERY POOR digestion and still have skin like a porcelain doll. My brother’s acne disappeared when he developed severe Crohn’s. He had skin like a porcelain doll. I would guess that if they had measured his insulin levels at that time, they would have been extremely low.

    One more thing…insulin also promotes acne by stimulating the gonads (testes or ovaries), resulting in higher androgen levels.

  19. The Redneck Princess says:

    Great post!!! Thanks so much…I have just gotten over a kidney infection and had a huge breakout. You just shed some light on that for me :)

  20. Patricia says:

    “Excessive intake of Omega 6 essential fatty acids” This is so true. You can easily overeating nuts and get too much omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 and 6 intake should ideally be equal, and not in excessive amount.

  21. Katie @ Imperfect People says:

    I use the oil cleansing method. or “OCM” and LOVE it.

  22. Oil Cleansing – Your Questions Answered!! « The Mommypotamus says:

    […] personal care products, it must be addressed by diet. Read Mommypotamus’ fantastic post on†acne†to help get you […]

  23. Raquel says:

    I really wanted to incorporate raw milk into my diet but now I’m pretty sure I have a true allergy. I tried raw kefir and got a huge pimple on my face. Then I tried raw yogurt and now I have a monster pimple on my neck. Butter makes my eyes itchy the next day after eating it :(

  24. k pope says:

    “The man thrives on B, D and A vitamins (found only in animal products) as well as vitamin C”

    This is horribly WRONG. If you research, you’ll find that B12 is actually the only vitamin that doesn’t occur in natural plant-based foods and must come from an animal source (or supplement.) At least clear up what you meant because the way it is phrased sounds like you’re are saying B, D, and A all must come from animals, and that’s just not true. Please edit this misinformation.

    Otherwise, this was a great article.

  25. Jessica P says:

    My daughter is already having problems with acne and our dermatologist recommended Citrus Clear – so I tried this and it worked immediately. She is washing her face and using it daily and is a much kinder and gentler than other acne products. She loves it !

    • Ash says:

      Hi, my name is Ashton. I have had an issue with acne for about 6 months now. About two years ago my dermatalogist put me on a oral and facial regimen and i never had acne. Then summer of 2014 came like a hurricane of acne. I got it all over my face mainly the jawline. The following November i became a huge fan of motivational speaker Anthony Robbins. I started up on a super greens drink amd alkalized my diet (my diet before consisted of 99% animal protein… Eggs, bacon, turkey…) immediately my skin cleared up. Now hear i am four months later. About a month ago (early February) my acne showed its ugly self again. This time in almost a rash like state on my cheeks (looks alot like rosecea but dermatologist said it is not) so i found myself on dermatologist drugsagain. I am knowon two different topical gels both having a tretinoin (vit. A) concentration of .025. I am a month amd a half out and have not found any change. So i beleive it has to be with what goes on inside my body. With the super greens drink, i was actually overdosing (only supposed to take one scoop of servings and was taking three… Oops) this means i was taking in 3X the daily recommended amout of beta carotene needed on a daily basis. To add to that i have the vitamin a from the two tretinoin medicines my dlctor has me on. So i am wondering is this causing hypervitamosis A in my liver? If so can this be what is causing my rosecea like acne in my cheeks? Thanks

  26. Sarah says:

    You see, I was hoping to find that “AH-HA” thing that would solve my skin problems, but no luck. I eat well, what you, other readers and I would call well, I very rarely eat any junk and don’t eat processed sugars. I eat a lot of grass-fed meat, lots of pastured butter…still, I have acne. Here and there on my face, not severe, but almost always present. Same as my upper back between my shoulders, so I know it’s not a reaction to a cleanser. I’ve tried cleanses and noticed no difference, but would be willing to try again if it weren’t for nursing…
    hmmmm…going to try to increase my gelatin, but other than that, I was wondering what you thought of diet and hormone balance- any suggestions?

  27. Daniela says:

    I’ve been battling with acne my entire life and am constantly trying to figure out what causes it. I know some of the foods that make it worse are cheese and milk, even raw and grass fed but when I was pregnant and nursing my skin was flawless for the first time in my life and the day my first period returned it was right back again, even worse. This confused me even more leading me to believe it is hormonal. I’ve been really strict with eliminating cheese and milk from my diet as hard as it is, but still allowing yoghurt, kefir and goats cheese which I thought I was fine with but I am still getting some acne. So maybe I need to eliminate all dairy. I have also tried eliminating grains and that doesn’t seem to make a difference. I will try one week without any dairy and then see what happens.

  28. Jen says:

    Great article. Most helpful.
    Any tips on healing a leaky gut eg foods to heal? I recall reading that raw cabbage juice can help heal the gut.
    Look forward to any advice!

  29. Vita says:

    I agree with everything you wrote here! My acne was aggravated by certain food items, mainly lack of omega 3 and too much sugar/carbs. Going Paleo really helped.
    However, I don’t think it’s all just about our kidneys, liver, digestion system, etc. Skincare is just as important. Using chemical products and stripping the skin can also be a massive reason why people have acne – ditching all products and using just olive oil, OCM and water has completely sorted out my skin. On most days water only is enough to keep my skin completely happy.
    I agree that being in the sun and making enough Vitamin D is also so important.

  30. Mayor61 says:

    I have pretty bad skin: at 30 I have to use acne medication… That aside, my skin is so sensitive that I often get huge problems with my skin starting to painfully peel off. Needless to say, I’m not very keen on face washes. I’ve tried some before, but they were so irritating and caused break outs.

    The only thing my sensitive skin can use is the Made From Earth Grapefruit Glycolic Wash. First, micro-beads are big, so even if you scrub a lot, they won’t scratch you. Second, I did not notice any break outs after using this product every other day for a month now and my skin looks much more radiant and feels really smooth.
    I’m one of those people who really need to use sensitive skin products, but I’ trying to move away from Clinique to more natural/organic like Made From Earth.

  31. Anna says:

    Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to Standard Process Purification Program? I did some research and it is not safe for someone with a gluten allergy.

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    Rainbow light vitamins orthomol it was specially registered at a forum to tell to you thanks for support

  33. Melana Bucher says:

    I have had acne for over seven years now and I recently started looking at all organic ways to treat acne. I know diet is a huge factor and I can’t wait to try changing my diet to completely organic. I don’t have the means to go completely organic yet, but I would like to start implementing more organic foods to my diet. Where should I start? By the way, great post, I loved reading this!

  34. Alexis says:

    Can I just say THANK YOU!!! I am 17 right now and have had bad acne since I was 13. Many people have said that the only reason I did was because I was (am) young. Well I’ve tried every over the counter medication ever heard of and It has only gotten worse. But here’s the thing that I just realized might be connected: I have a wheat allergy, am lactose intolerant and corn intolerant. And even after not eating all of those hings my face did not get better. But now that I’ve seen this post I will definantely try some of the things you have suggested. Thanks sooooooo much! You are my hero

  35. Brookolyn says:


    I am on the GAPS diet and eat very healthy. What should I do if I still have acne?

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Brookolyn, Heather’s not a doctor and cannot diagnose conditions, but in general the theory behind GAPS is that a compromised gut can create a variety of symptoms, including acne. Some of her friends have found that GAPS was helpful for reversing their conditions but not all saw results immediately. It seemed to be a process. Might be worth consulting with a GAPS practitioner to see if you could accelerate the process.

  36. Joffrey Collins says:

    I enjoyed this article and i did add to my knowledge of what causes acne.Thanks mommypotamus

  37. C says:

    what about baby acne?

    • Anna says:

      Hi C,
      I know this response is a little late, but… your baby’s acne might not be acne after all. It could be milia, specifically “primary” or “pediatric” milia. If the bumps you are seeing on your baby’s face are small and white, pinkish but not bright red, then that’s what it is (most likely). If they are indeed red, inflamed bumps then he or she is suffering from baby acne, which can be caused by all sorts of things. It may be caused by the hormones in breast milk, or any medications you might be taking. Chances are it isn’t serious, and will likely clear up on its own. Babies are going through a lot of changes very quickly, so I have no idea if this is even relevant to you still! Hope all is well,

  38. Brittney says:

    Thank you for this article , it was very informative about how the liver works. I have been searching the web for information about acne. I took a morning after pill about 8 months ago and I developed acne . It started on my forehead the first month and eventually spread to my cheeks. I’m 25 yrs old and prior to this I have never had acne only 1 or 2 bumps every once in a blue moon. My husband and I have been looking for ways to resolve this issue naturally, because I’m terrified to try anything artificial for fear it will make things worse. If your have any advice I would love to hear it. Hopefully you will see my comment , I know this was a posted some time ago.

  39. Alisha says:

    Hi! I’m Alisha, and I found this article while searching for information on phosphorous kidney stones. I’ve been struggling with kidney stones since I had my first daughter 5 years ago. They were tested and came back as struvite/phosphorous stones causes from chronic kidney infections? What can I do do help this?

  40. Anthony says:

    Hi Heather

    i’ve suffered with chronic back acne for 6 years and after numerous visits to top dermatologists in and around Durban SA. The only answer they had for me was Roacutane, which i have been on with bad side effects and a bad relapse after stopping! I thought i had tried everything!

    Untill i heard about body builders that use steroids, having to use liver supplements to counter act the potential back acne side effects.
    2 weeks after starting with a liver supplement my back was clear!!!
    The relief i have now if second to none!

    i still have terrible scaring on my back, which i hope you can help me out with.
    My back looks like the moon with craters deep and wide spread.
    what is an effective procedure/cure for scaring?

    I would also like to know what potential long term damage a sluggish liver could cause? has dirty blood been going through all my other organs?

    Great article and i wish more qualified people knew about this!!!

    best regards

  41. Patricia says:

    “The man thrives on B, D and A vitamins (found only in animal products) as well as vitamin C.”

    What? Did you just say that vitamins B, D, and A are only found in animal products? Animal products are not even the best sources of these vitamins, let alone the only sources. Best source of D (actually a hormone) = sunlight; A = sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens; B = more complicated because several vitamins, but can be found in dark leafy greens, other vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fruits. B12 is the only one difficult to obtain via plant foods (though certain sea vegetables and macroalgae do contain it), and thus is the ONLY vitamin vegans are recommended to supplement. B12 is not, however, produced by animals themselves but is actually manufactured by bacteria and gets stored in animal flesh. (The B12 used to fortify foods is sourced from bacterial cultures.)

    I appreciate your post as a whole and find it valuable, but as a committed, educated vegan, statements that perpetuate the myth that we need animal products to be healthy disturb me–especially when they are as blatantly untrue as the above claim that vitamins B, D, and A can only be found in animal products.

  42. Sara C says:

    After 20 + years of horrible cystic acne, I have tried every acne remedy both conventional and unconventional, from Accutane and antibiotics to vitamins, dietary changes and a Naturopath doctor, the only thing that has worked was cutting out dairy and eggs. We have free range chickens but even those eggs will cause huge, painful cysts. I would like to try raw milk but from what I understand, it mostly like will cause the same problem. As anyone found the secret to combating the dairy intolerance? I miss my eggs and cheese so much!

    • Patricia says:

      The Nondairy Evolution Cookbook by Skye Michael Conroy. Lots of plant-based options to recreate some of the foods you are missing. Best whipped cream, gelato, “cheddar” sauce for potatoes, etc. I have found since going plant-based years ago. (And plant-based eating is so much better for your health, the planet, and of course the animals, why would you want to go back to dairy?)

  43. daniela says:

    I can’t drink cow’s milk, even raw, or cheese cause it makes me break out. I am fine with goat’s milk, goat’s cheese, yoghurt and kefir. Try those. Otherwise I have found that Argan oil makes a huge difference to my acne but it doesn’t solve the root cause, as well as the Cod Liver Oil beauty balm by Radiant Life. Also being pregnant! Throughout both my pregnancies my skin was more flawless than it has ever been. Which makes me think it must be related to hormones.

    • Sara says:

      I’m so glad to know that while you can’t have cow’s milk, that you have tolerated goat’s milk. I still need to find a goat milk source near me. I have to agree with being pregnant:) I just found out I am 5 weeks pregnant which would explain why my skin is finally calm! I have even been able to “cheat” with dairy and get away with it! :) I have read about Argan oil and will definitely give that a try.

  44. Carla says:

    It’s now 2015, but so glad I found your site. Question.. I’m currently nursing a 13 month old and recently tried kombucha tea. Loved it and felt amazing afterwards, then I started reading how you shouldn’t drink it while breastfeeding. But opinions vary.. Any input? Thanks so much.

  45. Nicole says:

    Hi Heather,

    I saw a naturopath 2 months ago because i was convinced I had candida, my skin wasn’t bad at all but i had extreme sugar cravings all day long. She told me she’s thinks i do have candida and leaky gut so i set out to get this problem under control and I have been sticking to her program. Now i have really bad acne, my knuckles are rough cracked and bleeding in this short period of time. She now is suggesting it may be polysistic ovaries. I have a 1 year old baby and would like another in a year or so. After reading your article which makes total sense, Im so confused!! I would love your advice, do you do email consulting? Im feeling very lost, how do i fix this?..

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