This weekend I came across a small book on Leaky Gut from Vitamin Cottage and thought it made a lot of sense that this could be a major root cause of acne. This is by no means a "end your acne with my regimen" post. I simply found it quite interesting in providing a solid understanding of how acne, diet, and digestion all work together.
After reading this book, I'm finding many common themes with leaky gut and acne regimens that seem to work one way or another on this site. This book mentions so many of the methods people are using here with I felt like I was discovering the missing link
Sugar, diets, B vitamins, zinc, vitamin c, a, and e, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and probiotics are all mentioned to have positive effects in healing leaky gut which has been linked to cystic acne.
I've been battling cystic for about 13 years now. After 3 rounds on the tane, every antibiotic in the cabinet, and topicals to boot, I've finally said F-it to modern dermatology practice and starting going down the holistic road. I've gotten my skin to "somewhat tolerable" condition and only have few cysts and moderate acne elsewhere. Still its persistent, and damages my social life as so many of you can relate to. So anyway, what I'm posting here is my objective research on leaky gut, its relationship to acne, what causes it, how to diagnose it, and how to help heal your wounded digestion. This is something I just found, so I'm putting together a new regimen and putting the research here to the test myself and will track my progression as time goes on.
Since reading this book I've done the "spit test" for Candida, failed miserably, and am now fairly confident I've found what could be the root of it all: candida and leaky gut syndrome.*Warning, this is a long post with lots of quoted material**Also, I'm by no means an expert I'm simply relaying information from a published source. Please take this information with a grain of salt!*
Here's a preview of the book I reference and quote throughout this post: http://books.google....ky gut syndromeWhat is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Its basically a condition where the mucus layer of your stomach (which functions as a barrier to keep bad molecules out) is weakened and thinned, which allows bacteria and fungi to pass directly into the bloodstream and into the body. The liver is then charged with clearing out these foreign bodies, but can get overwhelmed with too much work load. When that happen the liver stores this bacteria, fungi, etc into fat cells so it can get to them later. The liver often never catches up and the body is left to expel the waste in another manner, i.e. acne.
Some Common Clinical Conditions Associated with Leaky Gut
- Allergic Disorders
- Celiac disease
- Childhood Hyperactivity
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Crohn's disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Food alllergies or sensitivities
- ...more are listed in the book but I'm trying to not write 30 pages
The 7 stages of the "inflamed" gut.What causes Leaky Gut?Pain Medications
- When the gut is inflamed, it does not absorb nutrients and foods properly and so fatigue and bloating can occur.
- When large food particles are absorbed there is the creation of food allergies and new symptoms.
- When the gut is inflamed the carrier proteins are damaged so nutrient deficiencies can occur.
- Likewise when the detoxification pathways that line the gut are compromised, chemical sensitivity can arise. Furthermore the leakage of toxins overburdens the liver so that the body is less able to handle everyday chemicals.
- When the gut lining is inflamed the protective coating of lgA (immunoglobulin A) is adversely affected and the body is not able to ward off protozoa, bacteria, viruses and yeasts.
- When the intestinal lining is inflamed, bacteria and yeasts are able to trans-locate. This means that they are able to pass from the gut lumen or cavity, into the bloodstream and set up infection anywhere else in the body.
- The worst symptom is the formation of antibodies. Sometimes these leak across and look similar to antigens on our own tissues. Consequently, when an antibody is made to attack it, it also attacks our tissue. This is probably how autoimmune disease start.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like apsin, ibuprofen, and indomethacin are a common cause of leaky gut syndrom. NSAIDs work by blocking prostalglandins, which are tiny messengers that circulate throughout the body. Some prostaglandins cause healing and repair; others pain and inflammation. However, NSAIDs drugs block all prostaglandins. Since the digestive tract repairs and replaces itself every three to five days, prolonged use of NSAIDs block its repairs, which can lead to leaky gut.Dysbiosis
Basically a fancy term for saying there isn't a proper balance of good bacteria (flora) and bad bacteria (pathogens) in your digestive tract. Quoted from the book:
Normally, we have hundreds of types of bacteria living inside our digestive tract. In fact, we have more bacteria living inside our digestive tract than cells in our body. Many of these are helpful (flora), some are neutral (commensal) and others are harmful (pathogenic).Antibiotics
The unbalanced microbes often form chemicals that are poisonous to the cells around them and to the person they live in. A wide variety of substances are product, including amines, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, indoles, phenols and secondary bile acids. These substances may hurt the intestinal lining directly by damaging the brush borders and become absorbed into the bloodstream, causing system-wide effects.
The most common cause of dysbiosis is use of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Antibiotics, for instance, change the balance of intestinal microbes. They simultaneously kill both harmful and helpful bacteria throughout our digestive system, mouth, vagina, and skin, leaving the territory to bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi that are unaffected by the antibiotic.
Published research has listed dysbiosis as a contributing cause in rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune illness, B12 deficiency, chronic fatigue, cystic acne, the early stages of colon and breast cancer, exzema, food allergy/sensitivity, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowl syndrome and steatorrhea.
As mentioned above, antibiotics change the balance of intestinal microbes.
Antibiotics simultaneously kill both harmful and helpful bacteria, leaving the territory open to resistant bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. In a healthy gut these are kept in check by healthy microbes. When left unchecked, they colonize the area, contributing to inflammation, irritation and disease. Candida, a fungus, is the most common microbe to flourish in this new environment.Chronic Stress
I think I'm a victim of this as well...
Poor Food Choices
Prolonged stress changes the immune's system ability to respond quickly and affects our ability to heal. Our body reacts to these stressors by producing less secretory IgA and DHEA (an anti-aging, antistress adrenal hormone), slowing down digestion and peristalsis, reducing blood flow to digestive organs and producing toxic metabolites
Food and Environmental Sensitivities
Poor food choices contribute to an imbalance of intestinal flora and pH. An intestinal tract that is too alkaline promotes dysbiosis. Low-fiber diets cause an increase in transit time, allowing toxic digestive byproducts to concentrate and irritate the gut mucosa.
I find this part really interesting in explaining how diets can be so different for many people, and why it would cause a spark in acne:
How to diagnose Leaky Gut
True food allergies affect only a small percentage of the population, but food sensitivities are common.
Food sensitivities, also called delayed hypersensitivity reactions, cause symptoms which are delayed, taking several hours to several days to appear.
Food sensitivities cause a wide number of symptoms typical of a leaky gut. Food particles enter the bloodstream through damaged mucosal membranes. The body recognizes them as foreign substances (antigens) and triggers an immune reaction. The liver also recognizes these antigens as toxins and begins breaking them down. Eating foods to which we are sensitive increases our intestinal permeability, which, in turn, increases our propensity to develop more food sensitivities.
Almost any food can cause a reaction, although the most common are wheat, beef, dairy products, eggs, pork, and citrus fruits.
I'll be brief in this section since there's a lot to it in the book and I'll explain in more detail as questions come up.
What you can do to help your Leaky GutRestoring Digestive Function
- Intestinal Permeability Testing
Also called the Lactulose and Mannitol Test, measures the ability of two sugar molecules - mannitol and lactulose - to permeate the intestinal lining. Available as a take home test from physicians, this test can tell you if you have dysbiosis, food allergies, parasites, and poor digestion.
- Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis
Checks for bacteria levels, presence of Candida, determines how well you digest protiens, facts and carbohydrates. http://altmedicine.a...ocus/a/CDSA.htm
- Candida Testing
There are several online questionnaires that can help you determine if you have a Candida problem. There is also a "spit test" you can do at home. I tried it this morning and failed miserbly I suggest trying it because its easy and well, what do you have to lose! http://www.adhdrelie...andidaTest.html
- Parasitology Testing
As it sounds, will test you for parasites in your digestive tract. Usually involves a randomly taken stool sample several times.
- Food and Environmental Sensitivity Testing
If you have food and/or chemical sensitivities you probably have a leaky gut. Testing can help you pinpoint exactly which foods bother you. There are two main ways of testing: an elimination/provocation diet and blood tests. Its advisable to do both.
Reducing Oxidative Damage with Antioxidants
- Chew your food carefully
- Deal with your food allergies
- Treat Dysbiosis
Dysbiosis is treated according to the specific bacteria, fungi and/or parasites you have. The most effective natural substances are Berberine, capryllic acid, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, mathake tea, oil of oregano capsules, pau d'arco and tanalbit.
Candida fungi respond to wide variety of natural substances and dietary changes. Eat a low carbohydrate diet, and avoid sugar, alcohol, and vinegar. NOTE: When candida fungi are killed, they protein fragments and endotoxins released trigger an antibody response. This can initially produce a worsening of the person's symptoms and is common known as a dieoff, or a Herxheimer, reaction.
- Replenish Intestinal Flora
Flora play an important role in our ability to fight infectious diseases, providing a front line in our immune defense. They manufacture antibiotics, acids and hydrogen peroxide which make the intestinal environment hostile to competing microbes. Some flora have anticancer and antitumor properties. Friendly flora also manufacture many vitamins, including the B-complex vitamins biotin, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), panthothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), cobalamin (B12) and folic acid, plus vitamin A and vitamin K. Lactic acid-secreting acidophilus and bifidus increase the bioavailability of minerals which require acid for absorption: calcium copper iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Dosage: Take a mixed probiotic supplement that contains at LEAST lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Supplements that come as refrigerated as powders or capsules usually have the highest potency.
- Use Fructooligosaccharide (FOS)
These sugar molecules rapidly increase the growth of food bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. Fructooligosaccharides are in many foods but are especially high in bananas and are also found in barley, fruit, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, soybeans, and wheat.
- Take Digestive Enzymes
People with leaky gut syndrome usually have imcomplete digestion. Use of digestive enzymes, either plant-based or pancreatic, can significantly reduce the bloating and gas caused by the fermentation of partically digested food.
Dosage: 1 to 2 tablet enzymes with meals, 3 times daily or as needed.
- Hydrochloric acid may help
Low HCl levels open us to the possibility of food poisoning, dysbiosis and bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine. Adequate HCl is critical for absorption of vitamin B12 from food. Low HCl symptoms are: belching, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, food allergies, heartburn or gas immediately after meals, indigestion, nausea after taking supplements and chronic parasites and candida infections.
Dosage: Begin with 10mg capsule of betaine HCl with each protein-containing meal. If you don't feel a warm sensation in your stomach, add an additional capsule the next meal. You can get up to a total of 50 mg. If you take too much and are uncomfortable, you can neutralize the acid with a glass of milk, a teaspoon of baking soda in water, or Alka-Seltzer Gold.
There's a lot on how natural antioxidants help the system so I'll be brief. The most powerful antioxidant substances are bioflavonoids, carotenoids, coenzyme Q10, glutathione, lipioc acid, selenium and vitamins C and E. All the antioxidants work together as a team to protect us. Each has a specific job which compliments the others so they must be used in balance.Detoxification: How to remove the toxins
Dosage: Take a multivitamin or antioxidant supplement with contains 200 mcg selenium, 400-800 IU vitamin E, 10,000 IU or more beta carotene and at least 500 mg vitamin C. It may also contain coenzyme Q10, cysteine, n-acetylcysteine, glutathione and lipoic acid, among other nutrients.
There's a lot of info out there about detox programs, so I'll just list possible regimens:
Reducing your exposure to toxic substances
- Fruit and Vegetable Cleansing
- Metabolic Cleansing
- Vitamin C Flush (can do at home)
Kind of an over arching topic of how to control environmental toxins you can't control, i.e. exhaust fumes, second-hand smoke, and air pollution.
Rules for a Lifetime of Healthful Eating
- Reduce your intake of medications, especially nonsteroidal pain medications and antibiotics
- Use alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all
- Buy organic food when possible
- Reduce or eliminate food additives
- Use natural cleaning products and cosmetics
Another broad topic of lifestyles changes that can help reduce leaky gut. These are offered in the book as good general practices to keep in mind when putting food in your body.
Rebuilding Intestinal Mucosa with Supportive Nutrients
- Eat local foods in season
- Eat small, frequent meals to sustain energy levels
- Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are satisfied
- Avoid high-calorie, low-nutrient foods
- Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible
- Drink clean water
- Eat lots of fiber (I've had personal acne success with this)
- Respect your biochemical uniqueness
- Relax while you eat
Most nutrients help restore the digestive integrity. A comprehensive program of nutritional supplements will help the cells regenerate, providing a ladder to climb out of the deep hole we're in. You'll find the following nutrients (most important listed first) offer special benefits when healing leaky gut. You can find them in products especially designed to enhance gut function. I won't get into the details of each one, but I'll but down the book's suggested doses. Some are listed without suggested doses, sorry.
My Personal Leaky-Gut/Candida Regimen
Dosage: From 2 to 8g daily.
Dosage: 100mg three times daily for three weeks.
Dosage: Six capsules daily in divided doses, best before meals.
- Vitamin A
Dosage: 8,000 IU. More is not necessarily better since vitamin A can be toxic in high doses.
- Vitamin C
Dosage: From 1,000 to 10,000 mg daily, or the amount that is three-quarters of your bowel tollerance (see Vitamin C flush)
- Pantothenic Acid/Vitamin B5
No suggested dosage
- Deglycyrrhized Licorice
Dosage: From 2 to 8g daily.
- Folic Acid
Dosage: From 800 mcg daily.
- Milk Immunoglobulin Concentrates
Dosage: 15 to 50mg daily.
So, armed with the knowledge I've tried to share here, I've reworked my daily routine and am starting up on a new regimen. I know lots of other folks on these boards have had success with one or several of the suggested treatments here, so hopefully this post can help connect some dots for people and have a better idea to what causes their acne.
For me, knowing its quite possible I have leaky gut and a nasty case of Candida (damn you anti-bios!), I'll be taking on a diet change as well as supplementation. Here's my current plan (subject to change)
- Diet consisting of mostly meats and veggies. I'll probably still have a small amount of wheat, rice, and beans since diets like the Paleo diet are just so hard to stick with.
- Probiotics: I use Gr8-Dophilus by Now. I'll be taking about 8 billion organisms twice a day
- 850mg Broccoli Concentrate, twice a day
- 50 mg Zinc w/ 2.5mg copper, once daily
- 1g Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids taken twice daily
- Men's multivitamin as suggest in the "Reducting Oxidative Damage with Antioxidants" section.
- Multi-Omega fatty acid supplement
- High-fiber food and Metamucil fiber pills when eating low-fiber meals.
Thats it! I hope some people find this information to be the missing-link they were looking for�€”I feel fairly confident this is where my acne stems from so wish me luck in the new regimen! I hope to open up discussion on the topic since I only found scattered information on leaky gut here on the forums. Cheers!