My Acne Journey
I’ve suffered with varying degrees of acne since about the age of 13. It started with a few spots on my chest and progressed to my face. It was probably just teenage acne and maybe it would have got better on it’s own. That said, I didn’t want to wait to find out, so a visit to the doctor was in order. For the next 7-8 years I was given every topical treatment you can imagine and every possible antibiotic available. My skin was clear for a while at age 16, in fact it was beautiful, blemish free and pigmentation free, but this was short lived.
Certain antibiotics when combined with strong sunlight can cause pigmentation to appear. They also upset the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut, causing Candida Albicans (where yeast over grows in the body), leaky gut (permeable gut wall) which can lead to autoimmune disease, manifesting itself in many different ways.
At age 20/21 I was not only battling acne but also feeling unwell and extremely exhausted. My self esteem was at an all time low. I was laying in the garden with no energy to move one day, when a friend of my mother’s came round. She’d had Candida and suggested this might be what was wrong with me. At last I had a starting point, since the doctors didn’t have a clue why I felt so ill. (These days doctors understand so much more, and I don’t think I would have been prescribed antibiotics for pretty much 5 years without a break.) Anyway, homeopath confirmed I had Candida and I was put on a yeast free, sugar free and mould free diet (no mushrooms, beer etc.). I started to feel better almost immediately. However, I struggled with the diet because I didn’t have any idea in those days. I thought a big bowl of pasta, tuna, sweetcorn and mayo was a healthy meal!
During this period I moved to Belgium to be with my new boyfriend of the time. My skin became unbearable as I struggled to stick to the diet, half not believing that it would really help (if only I’d known then what I know now!). As a previous acne sufferer my boyfriend knew of a drug called Roaccutane. Supposedly you take it once and you are cured forever. Very quickly my skin improved and after 6 months I had great skin again – I felt like a new person and moved back to England to enrol on a make-up course in Nottinghamshire. By the end of the first year my skin started to flare up again. Feeling unwell and exhausted I was forced to go home to Kent to recuperate for a week. Some homeopathic tinctures helped to calm me down and I slept for 12 hours a night for a week!
For the next 8 years I carried on, half doing the diet and half not, trying all sorts of alternative treatments that I thought might help me. I also (stupidly) took a second course of Roaccutane, it cleared my skin but the repercussions had an enormous impact on my well being, but that’s another story!
Eventually I came across ‘Vibrational Medicine’. It’s strange how it works, but it basically gets your cells to vibrate at the correct frequency in order for the body to heal itself. This absolutely changed my life! It didn’t clear my skin as much as I’d have liked but I had my constitution back. I had treatments over a period of 3 years until instinctively I felt I had to move on. My skin was still an issue.
Food and Healing the Gut
It’s only now, 10-11 years later, I feel I am finally on the right path. It really does come down to food and achieving and maintaining a healthy gut. Who knew the gut is 80% of our immune system? It makes sense that if you heal the gut you have every chance of living a happy and healthy life. I kind of fell into this because I had been eating junk over Christmas 2012 and put on 7lbs. For me that’s quite a lot as my healthy weight is around 9 stone. At 9st 7lbs my clothes felt tight and I didn’t feel good. My friend suggested I try the ‘no sugar no grains’ diet. I read up about it and decided it would also be good for my skin and I’d also lose the extra weight. Very soon I was back down to 9st 3lbs. I wasn’t 100% strict in the early days, allowing myself 2 days per week when I could eat biscuits or crisps. The biggest thing though was just not knowing what to eat! Paleo recipes became my focus because they looked tasty and interesting. This lead me to a guy called Chris Kresser, the gut expert…plus The Paleo Mom who is also very hot on the latest research in gut health.
I believe healthy skin starts on the inside but you change the texture of it by using the right skincare and having a feel peels. About 10 years ago I had a few TCA peels. I had the salon version so the peel was left on for literally seconds and the skin peeled off over a period of a week. This got rid of a big patch of pigmentation in the middle of my forehead. It’s recommended to have 1 peel per week for 4 weeks.
Currently I am under supervision of Rebecca Green of The Green Room in Bournmouth. She advised me to cut out dairy completely for 6 weeks as this is the amount of time it takes to clear the body. My skin improved almost immediately. I’d still been getting lumps and spots around my chin and jaw area. By eliminating dairy cleared this up. Over a 2 month period I had a few peels to improve skin texture and help with pigmentation. I am now using the Obagi Skin care system which is excellent for pigmentation, skin texture and ageing.
Food is no longer a second thought for me, it is central to my life, my health and my well being, not to mention the health of my skin! Even when I’m super busy, working from 7am – 7pm I make sure I’m organised. I’ll prepare, pre-cook and freeze food beforehand to make sure I have the right food to hand. I keep it simple, just veg and meats, eggs, soups and homemade muffins or cakes made with almond & coconut flour for treats. I’m evolving all the time and still working towards the day when my skin will be the best it can be, it’s a work in progress!