17th October 2021 • Written by Dr Sam White

An Integrated Approach to Acne

If you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) it is important to seek medical advice to help manage this. There are a number of overlap strategies for managing both acne and PCOS.

Quit Sugar. This will reduce a hormone called Insulin like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). Reducing IGF-1 will help reduce sebum, keratin, and inflammation. If you have not already downloaded my PDF guide to the Paleo-Ketogenic (PK) diet, please visit the homepage to obtain your copy.

Address Digestive Complaints. Acne can be worsened by hypochlorhydria (low stomach acidity) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Acid is necessary in the stomach to kill off bacteria, digest food and break down proteins to be absorbed and to ensure closure of the gastro-oesophageal valve (thereby preventing reflux of stomach contents). SIBO and hypochlorhydria can be easily tested (at home) and treated.

Avoid Cow’s Milk Dairy to help reduce inflammation and IGF-1. Cow’s Milk dairy contains the protein casein which many people happen to be intolerant to. The PK diet is a dairy free diet. Alternative milks tend to be much better tolerated.

Zinc is a great treatment for acne and perfect for providing immune support. It is anti-microbial and reduces keratin but also helps lower androgen levels. It has been shown to be effective in several clinical trials. Take Zinc before sleep in a dose range of 30-50mg.

Histamine Intolerance can be a common problem in which excessive histamine is produced. High histamine foods include chocolate, sweetened drinks, processed meats, and fermented foods. Quercetin is a mast cell stabiliser and thereby helps to lower histamine.

Berberine is another effective anti-microbial agent. I will often use it to help manage patients with dysbiosis in preference to a pharmaceutical antibiotic- it is better tolerated. It helps to reduce inflammation, lower glucose levels and IGF-1. In one study, acne improved by 45% after just four weeks. Berberine should be avoided in long term use.