Catherine | Age 24 | U.K.
My acne started when I came off the pill in March 2016 over two years ago now.
I’ve tried many things including face peels, accupuncture, cutting certain foods out, trying different skin care products; none of which made any real difference.
But after running an organic acids lab test on my gut with naturopathic doctor -Stephen Cabral, I now know the reason why I have acne and I’m working on healing it!
When It Started
About five years ago I started having digestive issues.
Now and again I would need to go to the toilet literally straight after eating. At the time I couldn’t see any obvious triggers or patterns but after a couple of months it started happening more and more; especially after eating dairy products or dishes that contained cream.
I used to love eating Italian food!
I went to the doctors and they suggested I be tested for celiac but as I had never reacted to gluten I didn’t see the point. They suggested I keep a food diary to document exactly what foods I reacted to to try and establish a pattern.
But I had already told them it mainly happened after eating dairy?!
I left feeling frustrated and like I had wasted my time. I didn’t know what do to next to try and figure out what was wrong with me.
I decided to pay for a food intorance test and as I suspected it said I was intolerant to dairy. I was advised to cut dairy out completely for 6-8 weeks and then to start re-introducing it again slowly.
I did this and all was well. I didn’t react to it, although I still got some bloating.
From there I really got into eating healthier and taking more of an interest in what I was putting into my body, as well as all the products I was using; like make up, deodorants etc.
I was also taking the contraceptive pill, however I started to question what affect this would have on my body in the long run. So I deceiced it was time to stop. I no longer wanted to put synthetic hormones into my body as I had been taking it for seven years.
Spots started to appear around six months after coming off the pill and gradually it got worse and worse.
Initially I tried natural products but I didn’t see an improvement so I went to a skin specialist and started having skin peels/LED light facials and using the products they recommended for about six months. After all that time I still saw no change and was left with a red, flakey face from all the skin peels.
I got a new job so it seemed like the right time to stop because it was costing me a lot of money for something that wasn’t really working!
Sixteen months had passed since coming off the pill and I was convinced my hormones must still been out of sync. I had read it could take a while for your body to adjust and produce their own hormones naturally; so I went for accupuncture every four weeks to try and balance my body.
I went through stages where it was starting to get better but then I would break out again. I learnt a lot of great information from Louise (my accupuncturist) and I think she learnt a few things from me too, as I was always researching body products. I just so badly wanted to have clear skin again!
By December I had developed a few other symptons including lower libido, yeast infections (I suspected I had Candida), as well as my ongoing battle with acne and scarring.
I purchased Organic Oliva’s parasite capsules and did her cleanse.
OMG – I saw things come out in my poo! Parasites!
Olivia had suffered with cystic acne in the past and now her skin is completely clear so I thought it was worth a shot, plus I had quite a few other sypmtons of parasites so I was excited to start.
She has a two part blog called ‘Everybody Has Parasites’ on her website which I highly recommend having a read of! I was planning on starting after Christmas as you can’t have alcohol, sugar and other foods however I was struggling REALLY BADLY with fatigue; so I ended up starting it a week before Christmas.
I couldn’t put up with feeling like that any longer! I would literally have no energy once I got home from work, no matter how much sleep I got the night before. I remember one day it was midday and I could of gone to sleep at my desk! I felt that tired… It was horrible.
After three months of the cleanse I felt much better and my energy levels had returned, however the yeast infections came back once I started eating sugar and bread again.
This was probably one of my lowest points with my health and acne.
My skin was still bad. I had red inflamed spots, pimples, red acne scars and deep scaring all over my face.
I felt as if I’d tried everything and nothing was working!
It felt as if I’d taken three steps forward, two steps back but I am so glad I did the parasite cleanse, my stomach is much flatter and less bloated and I untentionaly lost some weight around my tummy.
I knew I had to keep going, I hadn’t come this far for nothing, I knew I could get better.
I have been listening to Stephen Cabral podcasts for a good couple of months and love his honesty and passion for health/healing the body so I deceided to get some proper advice from someone who knew what they were talking about, rather than me just guessing!
I ran three lab tests with him:
- Organic Acids
- Food Sensitivity
Once my test results came back I had an hour phone call (included in the price of the tests) with one of the health coaches at Stephen Cabral to go over them and help me understand them.
The test results came back with a high level of Candida albicans which is a pathogenic yeast which is found in the gut, high levels of bakers yeast and brewers yeast. The most common causes of candida are; a high sugar diet, antibiotics, chronic stress, the contraceptive pill, mercury in your fillings, chemical exposure and diabetes.
I also have low levels of food sensitivity to Wheat Gluten, Gluten, Kidney Beans and Crab which is weird because I dont ever think I’ve eaten crab in my entire life! Haha!
I was interested to see what level the dairy catogory was as I havn’t eaten dairy for a year and a half now. It was within the low range (although towards the higher end) however because I haven’t eaten it for such a long time they expected to see it lower than it actually was which suspects I still have some sort of sensitivity to it.
My hormone levels were slightly off but my cortisol levels were fine.
The organic acids test (which is the best test to run to see if you have any gut issues) confirmed I do have yeast and bacteria overgrowth, I’m a little low in vitamin B2 however turns out my body is absorbing minerals really well, which I was pleased about.
It’s great now I’ve got some answers and hopefully once my gut starts healing my skin will too. I realised a long time ago our skin is just one way of our bodies telling us that something isn’t quite right on the inside. You can spend all the time in the world trying to fix your skin with face washes/acne creams etc but until you find and heal your ROOT CAUSE nine times out of ten your acne will remain!
I don’t want to focus too much on skin care as I feel its not the ‘be all and end all’ to clearing your skin (for me anyway), it took me a while to find a brand my skin likes but it’s trial and error, what works great for me might not work for you and vice versa.
I’m currently using Mario Badescu Cucumber Make up Remover, Lush Cleanser (Ultrabland), Toner (Tea Tree one), Moisturiser (Vanishing Cream) and Spot treatment (Grease Lightening). Higher Nature Aloe Gold Ultimate Aloe Vera Skin Gel is great for redness and acne scars, it has really helped reduce the redness of mine.
In terms of makeup I have switched to more natural products and make sure they are non-comedogenic (don’t clog pores). I wear makeup nearly every day and for me I don’t think it has made a difference to my skin breaking out or healing. My current foundation is pretty good at covering the redness.
I can not stress enough how important food is for healing your body/skin! No fad diets, no extreme dieting/obsessing about what you are eating. Eat your fruits and vegetables, lots of water, no processed food, no fizzy drinks, remove foods that cause inflamation in the body, just eat REAL food. Have a heathly relationship with food, don’t beat yourself up if you have something you know you shouldn’t be having once in a while.
I have been dairy free and meat free for a year and a half now and I feel like my digestion is much better. I definitely notice a difference in my skin when I eat healthier and if I have a weekend of eating processed foods/refined sugars my spots are definately more inflamed, red and angry. If you suspect food is a cause of your acne it might be worth running a food sensitivity test, some people have sensitivities to healthy foods like certain fruits and vegetables. Everyone is different!
- Candida Bacterial Overgrowth Protocol from Stephen Cabral for the next 3 months
This includes eating quite a strict diet (I have a list of foods that does not feed candida that I am able to eat). Over time I will be able to start eating a more varied diet as my gut starts to heal and the candida and bacteria starts to die off. Eventually I will be able to eat normally again and not have to worry if I want something processed or unhealthy.
Also recommended by Stephen Cabral specifically for me, based on my test results
- Grapeseed extract drops x2 a day
- B Complex Vitamin
- Omega 3 Support (important for hormone regulation and inflammation)
- Vitamin D
I have also been making a homemade Bentonite clay mask twice a week which draws toxins out of the skin and dry body brushing to get the lymphatic system going. (This is important for the body to be able to release toxins).
Juicing is great too! I have celery juice first thing in the morning about three times a week. Celery juice is great for gut health, skin and improves digestion.
Having acne has knocked my confidence, it has made me depressed, low, hopeful, frustated, angry, happy, fed up and there have been many days I have cried as I’ve thought WTF?! How did my skin get like this? Why isn’t it getting any better?
It has made me not want to go out and see people. And there have been times when I’ve not wanted to socialise for the fear of friends seeing my skin.
I know my friends don’t judge me but no matter what anyone says you still have those thoughts in your head. My boyfriend Chris has been really suportive throughout the whole thing. I’ve come to accept that I may have some scarring left that I won’t be able to get rid off, although I will try be best.
People often comment on how much money I’ve spent trying to get rid of my acne but to me my health is way more important than money. I just want to be healthy and feel ‘normal’ again.
I am so grateful for being able to afford all of these treatments I have tried and I don’t regret any of them, whether they helped my skin or not. They are all part of my healing journey and without it I wouldn’t be were I am today.
I have learnt so much along the way. It has taught be to be grateful for all the things I do have, such as a home, an income, water, food, and that my health isn’t any worse than it is. I can get better. The body will heal if we allow it to.
We all take the little things including our health for granted, until something goes wrong and we get sick. I honestly beleive it has made me stronger as a person and has changed my mindset, as well as having a lot more empathy and understanding for others.
I am really excited to see where the next three months takes me, I have 100% faith in Stephen Cabral.
My advice to anyone suffering with skin issues is FIND YOUR ROOT CAUSE!
If you want to go down the non-pharmaceutical route like me and heal things naturally find a naturopathic doctor. Do your research and make sure it feels like the right thing to do for you. Just be aware if your aim is to clear ance through accutane or going on the pill etc, it is not solving the deeper problems in your body, it will/may only surpress it for a certain amount of time.
My final words of wisdom are; be gentle to your skin, spend time doing things you enjoy, get enough sleep, be kind to people – you never know what they are going through. Stay positive, love yourself, accept yourself, find your root cause, don’t give up, be patient.
You will get better; it will just take time.