Ugh. 7 am.
There's a bright red, angry monster that somehow took up residence on your chin overnight and is now staring back at you in the mirror. The beast hurts when you touch it. It is also probably giving you the stink-eye, just in time for your incredibly important interview.
I've been there too.
As a teen I had acne so bad it covered my face, chest and back. I went through years of antibiotic creams, washes, birth control pills that I never wanted, and Proactive facial care systems that stained all of my mother's towels. I was even on Accutane for two years. A high dose pharmaceutical variation on Vitamin A, Isotretinoin or Accutane, is commonly prescribed for severe cystic acne. While it is known teratogen (meaning that it is known to cause severe birth defects), a less common side effect of the drug is anxiety, depression and even suicidality. Fun times for me, when both me and my high school boyfriend were taking long courses of Accutane. It worked, however it was a pretty dark time and I'm lucky my family was so patient with me. It has since been taken off the market in Canada due to a possible link between use and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Yikes!
Acne vulgaris (the medical, even uglier sounding term) can be caused by a number of concerns, including:
Hormonal imbalances - excess testosterone, or excess estrogen, PCOS, puberty, pregnancy/post-partum, menopause hormonal changes
Food sensitivities - dairy, gluten, eggs are the most common although there are many other possible culprits, sugar, preservatives
Digestive Weakness - low stomach acidity, excess protein (often from conventionally raised animals whose meat is pro-inflammatory and hormone-laden), poor gut flora, recent antibiotic use
Medications - corticosteroids, oral contraceptives, anabolic steroids
Allergies - cosmetics, chemicals, fragrances, clothing material, detergent
Stress - lack of sleep, stress hormones in overdrive, less-than-scrupulous (or overly vigorous) hygiene
But I'm not a teenager anymore!
While it can be pretty devastating dealing with acne as a teen, most of us grow out of it. However, some people have acne lasting well into their 30's and 40's. Many others are suddenly faced with some angry crops of acne as adults. Several women I see with adult acne struggle to be taken seriously in their professional lives while feeling that that they look like a kid. Acne is not uncommon in the body-building world either, as anabolic steroids, sweaty work-out cloths and high amounts of whey protein powders can contribute to facial and b-acne.
In these cases, look to food sensitivities and other environmental factors. Another form of adult acne, Rosaceae, is often related to low stomach acid or or food sensitivities.
So what can I do for my adult acne?
1. Ditch the chemical laden products - Check out EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to determine if your cosmetics and personal care products could be contributing to your symptoms. Pay particular to expensive high-end brands - many of them have some particularly nasty ingredients.
2. Switch to raw honey as a facial cleanser. Full of good bacteria, honey acts as a skin normalizer for both oily and dry skin and promotes healing.
3. a) Limit sugar, dairy and processed foods. Low glycemic diet and acne (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007), Acne: the role of medical nutrition therapy (Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013)
b) Clean up your diet. Focus on lots of orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like carrots, winter squash, and pumpkin as they contain beta-carotene to help improve skin health. Leafy greens such as dandelion, beet greens, spinach, kale, chard, water cress, blue-green algae (spirulina, seaweeds) tonify the liver to help balance hormones. Mung beans, adzuki beans, unpeeled cucumber slices, alfalfa and soy sprouts are all used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of acne as well.
4. Drink lots of water and green tea. Your kidneys and liver filter toxins out of your body - staying well hydrated assists this function.
5. Adopt a regular stress management practice. Acne is associated with lower self-esteem, higher and rates of depression - Understanding the burden of adult female acne (Journal of Aesthetic and Clinical Dermatology, 2014). Yoga, deep breathing, and exercise can be helpful for confidence breathing, handling stress and improving your quality of life.
Check out Jean's story... this is a great example of how naturopathic medicine can help treat adult acne with amazing results! Naturopathic approaches to acne involve removing food sensitivities, creating a tailored supplement protocol, stress management exercises and hormonal support as needed to help resolve current acne, minimize scarring and reduce the occurrence of future outbreaks.
If you are struggling with acne - whether you are a teen or a grandmother or anywhere in between - let's set up a time to chat.
Here's to your clear skin!
It was 2 pm and I was sitting in my first year physiology class at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.
I knew that it was important to stay awake but the more I tried to focus on my professor's words, I Just. Kept. Falling. Asleep. It felt so good, telling myself that I would just rest my eyes while listening to how the kidneys are supposed to work. Unfortunately I would wake with a gasp about every two minutes. I always blew my cover.
I had told myself that I was just tired, that I didn't need to see anyone. I knew I didn't want the zombie pills that many of my family members were taking, you know, being a first year Naturopathic student and all. I needed help. That was the first time that I consulted a Naturopathic Doctor.
Insomnia is one of the most common reasons for people to seek health care. Indeed, the vast majority of the patients I see have some sleep issues and are sometimes surprised to be told that they have insomnia. People with insomnia often have difficulty either falling or staying asleep, wake up too early and may feel un-refreshed in the morning.
Insomniacs are also more likely to develop depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes, be overweight or obese, report substance abuse, have poorer cognitive performance and memory and take sick days from work. In other words, many of us are not sleeping and it is a problem.
So what did I do? I learned the hard way. I know what it is like trying to function when you need to be at your best...and failing. I also learned that a few simple hacks can make all the difference.
The Essentials for Good Sleep and Preventing Insomnia, Naturally:
If after implementing all of these measures consistently you are still having trouble sleeping, know that there are many options to help support you. As a Naturopathic Doctor, my role is to help identify the factors that may be contributing to your poor sleep, and helping you to create a treatment plan that is tailored to suit your lifestyle. I use a combination of therapies with great success to get my patients sleeping well.
If you are interested in how I can help you, you are welcome to book a Health Discovery Session with me. I have helped many people, just like you, to get a good night's rest naturally. And me? I sleep like a baby now.
Right now, it seems like spring is just a far off promise. The cardinal in our yard is singing his little heart out, but I'm still looking at my winter boots.
After spending so much time indoors, with recycled indoor air and way less sunlight all winter long I go searching for things to remind me that there is still hope for spring.
Can you tell that I'm getting a little squirrel-y?
Enter Canada Blooms 2014. Canada's largest annual horticultural and floral exhibition always lifts my spirits. Being married to landscape construction-turned-horticultural wizard, we always make the show a priority. I just love the earthy smells, the colors of fresh hyacinths and tulips, the giddy energy in the air and the incredible walk-through displays. My favorite part however is picking seeds!
In general, we try to aim for plants that are not super high-maintenance, and are drought, mildew and heat resistant with good yields. Last year we had a beautiful crop of Red Russian Kale from Urban Harvest. A Canadian company known for carrying a large selection of heirloom fruit, vegetable, herb and flower varieties, all of their seeds are also 100% organic certified. As much as I like to support my local greenhouses, I love knowing that I am helping to encourage organic producers to carry older, unique varieties rather than the standard few varieties you typically see in commercial seedlings. From a political point of view, small companies and individuals growing and saving unique cultivars decrease the absolute dependence on government and large-scale seed companies for supplying most (if not all) seeds for home and commercial food production. I always liked to go against the grain.
This year, we are trying our hand at Red Hot Rocket peppers, Lipstick sweet peppers, Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes, Eva Purple Ball tomatoes, Black Beauty zucchini, spaghetti squash, Pumpkin Winter Luxury Pie, Cippolini Yellow onions, Buttercrunch lettuce and a 5 Mustard Green Mix (including
Mizuna, Arugula, Tatsoi, Red Mustard). We will also be giving our favorite kale a large reprise - it's just so good in salads, stir fries and smoothies!
If you are interested in growing your own garden and are looking for some inspiration, check out this awesome video - Roger Doiron - A Subversive Plot: How to Grow a Revolution in Your Own Backyard. I watch it every spring to get fired up about my own small revolution.
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Dr. Keila Roesner is a Naturopathic Doctor. When not treating patients she is also an enthusiastic barefoot-strolling, music-loving, yoga-doing kitchen wiz - who also happens to be a wrestling fan.