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databased

A Zinc-less Zinc Regimen for Adults: Draft 4

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what if I wear glasses? Will any of the sun's indirect rays be able to enter my eyes? Do I need UV specifically, or just the light?

Sunglasses are a problem, but not prescription glasses (I wear pretty thick prescription glasses).

The ganglion cells in the eye that connect to the pineal gland are driven largely by intensity, and are most sensitive in the blue-green area of the spectrum, so UV is pretty much irrelevant. They are slow to trigger compared to other cells in the retina, so it can take on the order of a minute of being in bright light before they turn on.

Blue-blocker sunglasses should be the absolute worst thing for acne sufferers to wear, since they not only reduce the intensity of light, but particularly block the frequencies that are best at suppressing daytime melatonin.


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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I ask because I actually have transition lenses, which seem to completely block UV rays. However, they also seem to reduce the intensity of the light rays that enter the eye, so I'm a bit unsure whether I should be wearing them outside or not.

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I ask because I actually have transition lenses, which seem to completely block UV rays. However, they also seem to reduce the intensity of the light rays that enter the eye, so I'm a bit unsure whether I should be wearing them outside or not.

Ah, yes -- me too, since I bought this prescription before I discovered how critical eye-light was going to be to me. Those effectively become sunglasses when hit by UV so, in a way, they're not as bad as sunglasses, but still not a good bet for acne if this hypothesis is correct.

I actually get most of my outdoor retinal light exposure sitting in the shade. Even now (during one of the few months Seattle gets large amounts of UV) that doesn't result in enough UV to make them more than just slightly dark, even though there's a direct line from the sky (not the sun) to the lenses. When I'm in direct sunlight, it's usually because I'm out walking, so I just take them off during walks (even as bad as my vision is, I can still see to walk :D).

It may be that transition lenses aren't problematic at all; it could be that their variable nature means that they never really reduce the intensity enough to impair pineal melatonin suppression. But I don't know that, and since it's already hard enough to get lots of outdoor light per day, I'll pass on the Transitions when I get my next prescription.

I was trapped indoors for 3 days due to the Seattle heat wave, and that alone (since I didn't take massive zinc to compensate) was enough to get acne again (although it didn't show up for a couple of days). There's some evidence that the effects of day-long bright light exposure on the melatonin/digestive cycle can last more than a day (Park, Tokura 1999 -- though you have to dig through the paper to find this).


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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Has anybody experiment the same efect as Databased?

It would be very interesting to test this research that Databases in different people.

keep reporting.

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Hey Databased. RE: magnesium affecting tryptophan/zinc conversion cycle.

I recall you mentioning that magnesium (from your calcium pill) may be a factor. The study (abstract bellow) suggests that taking zinc has an inhibitory effect on magnesium. I wonder if magnesium then should be taken at a different time than zinc, say, on an empty stomach in the morning, the only worry with that being that it may have a calming effect (per some supplements claims). Any thoughts about the timing of magnesium/zinc supplements?

Inhibitory effects of zinc on magnesium balance and magnesium absorption in man.

Spencer H, Norris C, Williams D.

Metabolic Research and Research Service, Veterans Administration Hospital, Hines, IL 60141.

OBJECTIVE: Both zinc (Zn) and magnesium (Mg) are widely used as nutritional supplements and the possibility was considered that Zn may interfere with the absorption of Mg, similar to previously reported results [1,2] obtained with the same dose of supplemental Zn on the absorption of calcium (Ca). METHODS: Mg absorption studies and metabolic balances of Mg and of Zn were carried out in three groups of adult males in a metabolic research unit during the intake of supplemental doses of 142 mg Zn as Zn sulfate (ZnSO4) during Ca intakes of 230, 500 and 800 mg/day. RESULTS: The Zn intake of 142 mg/day decreased the Mg balance and Mg absorption only during the 500 mg Ca intake compared to control values. However, the overall effect of the high Zn intake of the three groups combined, regardless of the Ca intake, was a highly significant decrease of Mg absorption and of the Mg balance. CONCLUSION: Zn supplements of 142 mg/day decreased Mg absorption and the Mg balance significantly during all Ca intakes for the three groups combined.

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Any thoughts about the timing of magnesium/zinc supplements?

Wow, back from the days when they still used zinc sulfate in studies! (And that was a pretty hefty daily dose.).

When I take zinc (not currently taking any), I pretty much always take it on an empty stomach just before bedtime to the reduce the odds of interference (at least at the point of the gut lining) with anything else (and vice versa).

For me, magnesium comes in a calcium pill and AFAICT bone researchers are in relative agreement that taking the calcium with a meal is more important than most other factors in determining absorption. So that automatically separates the zinc and magnesium intake for me.

The tight regulation of zinc in the body starts at the gut lining, where absorption starts shutting down when the zinc arrives. So it makes sense that zinc can interfere with the absorption of other things. By taking it on an empty stomach at bedtime, everything else that's gone done the gullet that day has already had a fair shot at being absorbed (although a much better shot if you lived the day in bright light than in dim indoor lighting).


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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Also- do you think that working under a sun lamp would have an effect on melatonin levels similar to the effect of working outside?

I have installed in my office 2 banks of 4 4-foot fluorescent tubes providing partially direct and partially indirect (bounced off the white ceiling) light. It's not blinding, but it's no doubt the brightest lit place in the house by far. I used GE bulbs with more blue spectrum than normal (Chroma 50 40W bulbs if you look on the bulb markings and not the packaging). There exists a bulb that better emulates sun spectrum but I couldn't find a local dealer so went with cheaper and easily available. How effective this is is hard to say, but I'll have a stronger opinion when the rainy season returns and it's harder to work outdoors and get many hours of outdoor light. In the meantime, I can certainly see everything that needs dusting in my office!


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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Hi databased, I started your regimen yesterday, and am currently sitting in my garden on day 2 of spending all my days outside plan, if anything all this natural light and fresh air is helping with my depression. My skin just got really bad over this winter (I live in Australia). Reading your posts makes so much sense in my case, as during this time I spent all my days shut away inside my house where little daylight can get in. I have a ton of theories as to why my skin, almost perfect after so long of trying before winter is now literally the worst it has ever been, but I'm gonna roll with your regimen and see what happens. I'm currently doing a course of omnilux as well so hopefully combined I can knock this SOB over the head for good.

I have a few questions, after I came inside when the sun was starting to set I didn't know what I could do. Can I watch T.V.? Should I keep all the lights off in the house? It was only 4-5pm, far too early to go to sleep. Will doing these things until I am ready to go to bed suppress my night time melatonin, or are we only concerned with this when we are actually going to sleep. What do you do? Would it be possible for you to give me a day in the life of you with times? I'm currently not working and it is about to be summer with plenty of blue sky days, so I think I could mimic your current routine pretty easily.

I'm a vegetarian so I currently take iron, some naturopathic herbs and a zinc complex for the skin which includes vit A, echinacea and evening primrose oil. I was taking a B complex and D daily for quite a while, but I have kind of gotten lazy with them, I think I'll get back on to it though. With this mix and following your latest draft, I think I'm on the right track. Should I add anything else do you think?

Thanks so much for presenting your research to the rest of us, it's much appreciated.

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I have a few questions, after I came inside when the sun was starting to set I didn't know what I could do. Can I watch T.V.? Should I keep all the lights off in the house? It was only 4-5pm, far too early to go to sleep. Will doing these things until I am ready to go to bed suppress my night time melatonin, or are we only concerned with this when we are actually going to sleep.

How the melatonin cycle works is still a very active area of research, but here are some basic ideas I believe are holding up:

  • Hours of bright light during the day gives you a bigger (i.e., closer to what we are designed to get) melatonin surge at night.
  • Not living in bright daytime light affects your digestion which, ironically, can interfere with absorbing the chemicals you need to make melatonin and avoid acne.
  • The intensity of light required during the day to count as the "daytime signal" can vary significantly from one person to another. Outdoor bright sunlight is pretty much bright enough to do the trick for anybody.
  • Caffeine can affect your sleep (duh!). It also (proven in rodents, not tested in humans AFAICT) may make you lose zinc.
  • Varying the time you go to sleep can decrease your nocturnal melatonin surge.
  • At night, even a small amount of light getting to the eye can start to shut down the nocturnal melatonin surge.
My typical day:

a) wake up around 7-8am, open all the shades in the house.

b) if the weather's nice, it's a morning walk with the dogs in the sunlight.

c) work outdoors on the deck or in my office with uber-bright lights on.

d) if I've been working indoors, I make a conscious effort to try to get into the bright sunlight (if available!) for 30-60 minutes before lunch. I want my guts to know it's daytime and that they should be up and working correctly before I eat. I try to avoid caffeine after the noon meal.

e) Rest of the day is pretty much the same. I try to push any dim light/indoor activities towards bedtime. So, if I'm going to sit in watch TV in relatively dim light, I try to leave that for 8-9pm.

f) I start trying to get to bed somewhere around 9-10pm. I close all the blinds in the house and sleep in a highly darkened bedroom (tinfoil + plastic blinds + cloth curtains). I wear a thick sleep mask.

Should I add anything else do you think?

It is plausible, but not tested outside the test tube, that you need sufficient selenium for zinc to transfer from other molecules into the zinc superoxide dismutase that I suspect is key to avoiding the inflammation portion of acne. I doubt any doctor would look askance at you taking a 200mcg selenium pill each day just to help ensure you're not deficient.

Being a vegetarian just makes the goals of this regimen harder to achieve. It's harder to get enough tryptophan (can't make it, you have to eat it, required to make melatonin) from non-meat sources. If you're low on B3, the body may use up more tryptophan just to make B3. If I were a vegetarian, I think I would be pretty religious about taking that B-complex pill every day.

I've looked at pill solutions for tryptophan and not found them compelling. Just taking L-tryptophan as a pill would be reasonable -- except there is significant scientific disagreement about how safe that is (I'm comfortable taking it every day for a few weeks as an experiment, but not every day for months). There's 5-HTP which... just isn't a natural way to get tryptophan into the brain, and therefore also makes me uncomfortable. Have tried both these forms of tryptophan-as-pill, my experience was that I got better effects by spending the day in sunlight than by taking either of them. You might try eating more of foods rich in tryptophan. There's a processed gourd seed solution a-comin', but AFAICT no product on the market yet.

It's interesting that of the two acne-free primitive tribes Cordain studied, the really large study (and therefore most stunning) was of the Trobriand Islanders, which is pretty darn near the equator (latitude about 8 degrees, if I read correctly). That means both that they get more sun than me, and that there's way less seasonal variation in the number of hours of sunlight they get each day. I think the data suggests strongly that Vitamin D is not sufficient to cure acne, but it's harder to suggest that it might not be a necessary ingredient (especially with the suggestion that it may be needed to aid zinc absorption). Probably all the folks in those acne-free tribes get more Vitamin D3 than you or I. If you're an (insanely!) strict vegetarian, you may refuse to take D3 which has (necessarily) a meat source (pig ears, often -- God help you if you're a kosher vegetarian!). In that case, your options are tanning bed, getting UVB exposure from the sun (in both those cases you become the meat source of D3 :D), or taking the vegetable form of Vitamin D (D2) and hoping it does some good (even though we evolved to get very little Vitamin D2 from plants -- most provide little compared to what's in a pill). Most researchers don't even study D2; it's clear that D3 (the stuff we used to get from living naked in the sun) is the crucial hormone that affects almost every system in the body. If you do opt for UVB exposure to get D3, you really want to avoid ever getting any reddening of the skin, and there's some thought it's a good idea to wash before, not after, UVB exposure.

The core trick (assuming you're not zinc-deprived) is achieving that big/long surge of melatonin each night. Because it's circadian, there's no easy way to test yourself for it, short of checking into a sleep lab. Just sleeping 10 hours is no real indication of your melatonin cycle; depressed people can sleep 10 hours and awake feeling like total tired crap because their melatonin cycle is seriously disrupted. For me, I watch my melatonin cycle via the indirect indicators of a) being sleeping at bed time, b) sleeping soundly, and c) awakening refreshed and feeling good. When I start to get excessive REM sleep (dreams that feel like they never end) and waking up feeling fuzzy instead of clear-headed, I know I'm in trouble.

Finally, you might want to consider fructose. Part of the point of daytime sunlight exposure is to avoid carbohydrate malabsorption that can keep tryptophan and zinc from getting digested. Carbohdrate malabsorption can be induced in just about anybody by just giving them enough fructose at one sitting. My read of the literature is the gut can efficiently digest fructose so long as there is a glucose molecule to pair it with. Thus, in contrast to what some people believe, this indicates that you are not the least bit better off (vis a vis carb malabsorption at least) eating high fructose fruits than drinking sodas made with high fructose corn syrup. My calculations are that (shockingly) a large sweet apple can have as much or more excess fructose as a can of Coke (assume the usually quoted 55/45 ratio for HFCS in soft drinks). If my hypothesis is right, then the digestive benefits of living your day in sunlight can be lost by eating lots of the wrong kinds of fruit all day long (I just shake my head at people going on apple-only fasts to treat their acne).

This article has a nice table that ranks fruits/foods by how "bad" they might be for malabsorption. I wouldn't bother with any extreme diet (I can stay acne-free and still have a 32-ounce Coke for lunch, which influences my thinking on the subject), but if I were vegetarian, I would take a look at that list and compare with my usual diet. This hypothesis says that if you're getting a hefty chunk of your calories from high-fructose fruit, that won't be doing your acne any good.

That should be more text and links than you would ever want to read :D. I hope you find something that works well for you. Good luck!


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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This article on what wild monkeys eat was interesting with regard to problems of vegetarian nutrition. If humans did evolve as largely vegetarians, that vegetarian diet may have looked nothing like what civilized vegetarians eat today. It's pretty hard to find jungle leaves and undomesticated fruits to eat at the local supermarket. It may have been much easier to get (e.g.) tryptophan from what monkeys are still eating than from the vegetarian options easily available today.


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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Ah ok so if I'm understanding you correctly, its actually better to have all the house lights on and to watch tv/ use computer until you are actually going to bed or an hour or two before, because we want to continue to suppress melatonin until this point. Rather than what I had first gathered, that when it becomes dark outside you want to keep all lights out of your eyes to allow your melatonin to build up and make you tired for bed time. Well thats a lot better then, I was thinking I had to fumble around in very dim or no light from when the sun goes down and there would be no time to watch any T.V ha!

So I'm on day 5 of spending all day in natural light and wearing a sleep mask at night, we've had beautiful sunny days up until today, it's overcast and rainy so I'm indoors by the window with the blinds open, so hopefully thats ok. I'm not sure if I can tell if my skin is improving just yet as there is a lot of preexisting acne on it, after day two I had a few pus filled heads, whereas before all acne coming up was cyst like, so I guess that is an improvement. There is a lot of crap under my skin, I can feel it all when i touch my face, that needs to come out so I think anything I do will take some time to show results.

I've added selenium to my intake, as well as magnesium and 5-HTP, I know what you've said about that stuff but my step dad is taking it atm and he's raving about how great he feels, so he's given me some to trial it. Back on the B regularly now, and it is the D3 that I'm taking, but the bottle says free from animal derived ingredients, so I'm figuring must be ok for vegies, if you know otherwise please don't tell me, I know it sounds hypocritical or something but I would rather stay in ignorance! Though it might not make sense to others.

Well I'm currently on one of those extreme diets given to me by a naturopath. I don't eat any sweets, sugar, chocolate, not even honey atm. And I have an apple maybe every few days, thats it for the fruit, so I think there is very little fructose in my diet. I do want to be able to eat these things in moderation again at some point, so does that mean if I do I just have to eat them only when my gut fully knows that it is daytime and after my savory meals? oh yeah, what time do you eat dinner?

I've been thinking about this a lot, and it confused me that there are some people I know who spend way more time in dim light during the day, even sleep in the day and are up all night and eat crap, and have no acne. And then when I read about how tryptophan converts to serotonin which in turns develops into melatonin, I thought I could have found a connection. A few years ago I got into recreational drug taking, mostly ecstasy (yes I was a stupid teenager who didn't think about consequences, these days I don't even have an occasional drink, so don't judge me people!) which we've all heard of how it amps up your brains serotonin, and I guess essentially uses it all up. Could this then be the link, I had depleted my serotonin therefore my night time melatonin became screwed? Another interesting thing I read from a quick google search was that healthy melatonin and seratonin cycles ares important for a normal menstrual cycle, ta-da! my other big problem, absent or very infrequent periods. I've had my hormones tested and the results were normal, melatonin is a hormone right? But not a sex hormone so I don't think I would have been tested for it.

I dunno, I'm just fumbling round some ideas that I haven't really researched, correct me where I'm talking rubbish please!

And another point I was gonna ask you about was in reference to even the slightest bit of light can destroy your night time melatonin surge. What about moon and star light? Surely the neo-Paleolithics had this in their environment, so why can't we?

Your reply was not at all more than i cared to read, I really appreciated you taking all that time to respond to me! Thank you. And sorry for throwing a whole bunch more questions and stuff at you!

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So far, I don't know of any research to suggest that there are important effects related to the transition from night to day and vice versa. There is some research to suggest that before electricity, when you could easily see 12 hours of darkness, people would go to sleep at sunset (nothing else to do), wake up in the middle of the night, lie there and talk quietly (still in darkness), then fall back asleep.

It's worth noting that the melatonin cycle and sleep are related but not identical. If you wake up in the night but keep light from getting to your eyes, the act of waking up does not shut down the melatonin cycle as far as I can see from existing research. But if you get up 2 hours early and turn on the lights, you will both send a signal to shut down pineal melatonin, and also nudge the 24-hour clock to try to start the melatonin cycle earlier the next day (loads of detailed research into clock-nudging, due to desire to extract maximal labor from night/swing shift workers!).

I know it sounds hypocritical or something but I would rather stay in ignorance!

I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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Awesome.

I always knew there was something missing in my life :wub:

But honestly, lately I've been sleeping like crap from stress. I try to not stress during the day, but I stress like mad when I sleep. Whether it's bad dreams, or whatever, I always wake up with my body tensed and my teeth clenched. I got very little direct sunlight in the past two weeks or so. But I have been sleeping a regular schedule, so hopefully more sunlight will


I'm CelloIsLove.

Here's the problem I see:

People want to heal their acne through diet and lifestyle. Great. But then they get obsessed only with their skin and not how they FEEL. Physically. Emotionally. What is the quality of your life? It's not directly connected to your flesh, I can tell you that. Then obsess over their food. They hear "diet" and think low-fat, juicing, fasting, cleansing, starving. You're young. Do you really think you have liver failure? Do you really think you need more fiber?

Paleo changed my life. It's the only lifestyle that ever helped me-not just with my skin, but with my life. My happiness. My fitness. It says, "Eat good quality meats. Eat lots of veggies. Eat fruit too. Some nuts. Then go outside. Walk around. See the world. Play with friends. Lift heavy things. Get some sun. Then go sleep, wake up and do it again." What that means to me is to live an enjoyable, happy, dynamic life where I can be the best me for the people I love, not anxious, not angry, not depressed.

Be gentle to your skin, your heart, your tummy, and your life.

Get out there and live.

And also eat bacon.


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I always wake up with my body tensed and my teeth clenched.

Yikes. That seems pretty extreme!

One thing I like about this hypothesis as it evolves is it ties stress to acne in a simple but non-traditional way. Most people just imagine that stress "causes" the acne. This hypothesis says stress is just a symptom of what's causing the acne, not an actual cause itself. Cortisol (aka "the stress hormone", though it's possible to take that label too literally) fluctuates in opposition to melatonin. As melatonin shuts down during the early morning, cortisol levels start to rise to help you become alert and awake. If you want to experience more hours of cortisol each day (also blamed in late-night infomercials for storing fat around your belly) just get less hours of melatonin surge each night.

Disturbed sleep is also a feature of both depression and a disrupted melatonin cycle, which led me to this relatively new study.

Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants.

Key result:

Among depressed participants, a dose-response relationship was found between sunlight exposure and cognitive function, with lower levels of sunlight associated with impaired cognitive status

That's what I would have hoped the result would be. We're just at the beginning of researchers starting to pay attention to the importance of the daytime portion of the melatonin cycle in affecting the nighttime portion of the cycle. Of course, it's always possible other direct retina-to-brain effects are in play besides just the suppression of daytime pineal melatonin.

The ability of the sunlight to help us avoid carbohydrate malabsorption that can screw up digestion of tryptophan (the fuel required for making melatonin) seems really likely to be part of how sunlight (indirectly) affects the brain. It is possible for melatonin to be synthesized from tryptophan outside the brain, but it seems like the really big system-wide dose of melatonin still comes from the nightly pineal gland production. That makes me think that getting the tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier is still potentially important to results (including depression and acne).

Now that I know more about getting the tryptophan absorbed by the gut, I need to go back to some experiments with moving more tryptophan in to the brain. Exercise helps move it, and carbs in the absence of fat (taking a glucose pill on an empty stomach) can do it as well. Timing probably matters (want to get the tryptophan in place near the time the pineal gland starts to want to burn it up, I imagine). I will redo my old experiment of early supper, and then taking a glucose pill before doing an aerobic run on an empty stomach within 1-2 hours of bedtime.


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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This is very interesting. First time I've seen this kind of an explanation. I like the simplicity of it. I can see from my own experience how my relationship with caffeine triggers almost immediate skin disturbances. My case is one that appears to be rosacea and acne together. (I'm menopausal and have a lot of health stuff going on alongside it.) It was at the end of this past winter (I live in NZ and spring is only just arriving), a time when I rarely got outdoors and never without a hat, that my skin got so bad that two people asked me, "What happened to your face"? The amount of indirect light getting into the cottage I live in and where I spent most of the winter was miniscule. There's a hill situated next to it that blocks sun for a couple months in winter. I was hibernating in a sense, but in true hibernation, mammals I suppose do not eat a thing. Human that I am, I carried on eating. I could hardly get my fill of apples and rice, eggs and yoghurt doing a vegetarian thing this winter. I was sleeping very very poorly, though I went to bed at the same time most nights. So, big wow to read your theory. As an aside I did find myself craving sulphur containing foods like onion and eggs, but I haven't investigated which, in the vegetable world, are the best zinc containing ones. I adore chickweed and I know it contains a lot of good minerals and other nutrients. Sulphur drugs are often used in the treatment of acne and I wonder how sulphur absorption might fit into your theory or if you see a correlation at all.

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You have in common with me notable and extended periods of no days spent in bright light. There is a disturbing study I'm waiting to see replicated that showed that hours of dim light exposure could be used to dampen the ability of bright light to suppress melatonin. If true, what I would really like to know is if it's possible to at least semi-permanently induce that diminished natural response to bright light. If I had a spare 6-figure bank account laying around, I would just get to the heart of the matter by commissioning a study to see if chronic adult acne sufferers have statistically elevated daytime melatonin levels compared to people without acne.

Not low enough levels of melatonin during the day, not high enough levels of melatonin during the night -- I believe that that will eventually prove to be as big a culprit in auto-immune disease as Vitamin D (the other major "sunshine hormone") is proving to be in cancer. From my perspective, acne, rosacea, psoriasis and that ilk are all reasonably reasonably viewed as auto-immune diseases once you accept the importance of melatonin in regulating immune response (a perspective only recently growing among researchers). We have drastically messed up these two ancient hormones for a couple hundred years by changing our relationship to light without understanding what the consequences might be.

Sulphur drugs are often used in the treatment of acne and I wonder how sulphur absorption might fit into your theory or if you see a correlation at all.

I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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I have been following this thread with much interest as it may be a piece of the puzzle for me. I work from home 4 out of 5 days, and since starting this job a couple years ago, my acne has worsened over the past year. I have never minded being a 'mole person', but perhaps lack of sunlight and irregular circadian rhythms are causing some issues.

databased - have you ever done one of those melatonin level test kits that you send into a lab? In the instructions of one test kit I was looking at, it says to collect a saliva sample at 8am and midnight, but if other times of day and night are more interesting based on your research, then why not go with those. At $75, the test is not chump change, though. Do you think something like that would be worthwhile?

I found a barely used Verilux HappyLite light on Craig's List for $35 and an Apollo GoLite on eBay for $34, so I'm going to incorporate those into my work days to try to improve potential body clock issues.

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databased - have you ever done one of those melatonin level test kits that you send into a lab?

I looked into them a year or two ago but decided to wait. The saliva test for melatonin (as opposed to urine or blood) seemed not to have established a track record of accuracy at that point. The other problem is that I'm really interested in the daytime portion of the melatonin cycle, which would both increase the expense and decrease the usefulness -- I'm not sure anyone's done enough testing of daytime melatonin to establish what "normal" levels are.

I found a barely used Verilux HappyLite light on Craig's List for $35 and an Apollo GoLite on eBay for $34, so I'm going to incorporate those into my work days to try to improve potential body clock issues.

I am starting to suspect my giant bank of blue-skewed fluorescents in my office can produce some of the same effects as bright outdoor light. At least I seem to be relatively acne-free without zinc even though I'm spending much more time indoors as the rainy season arrives. However, it does not seem able to produce the really stunning effects on digestion that being outside all day in bright sun does; I can't have a 32-oz Coke + giant burrito in the evening and experience zero indigestion or acid reflux. It takes an insane amount of artificial light to get to the intensity of outdoor light at the eyeball.

I also find that it's really easy to end up inserting periods of dim light in the day. If I sit down to fold laundry in front of the TV instead of dragging it into the one-and-only really bright spot -- my office -- to do the work, for example. I think that problem gets worse with these little lights like the Verilux. They quote it as 10,000 LUX, but the fine print says that's if you have it 9 inches from your face. So, instead of just having to keep all my work in my office all day, I would have to keep my head positioned correctly all day. Of course, they are selling it as a "treatment" for limited use, not really an attempt to reproduce 12 hours of outdoor light, so the idea that you would just sit still in front of it for some # of minutes makes sense from their point of view. It's funny that one of their ads shows a woman reading a book in darkness with just the Verilux off to one side to provide light. Unfortunately, the exact angle you put it off to one side will significantly vary the intensity that will get to the retina. I'm guessing some of the highly variable results that people get from using such devices to treat depression come from the fact that small changes in how you use the device can greatly vary how much light is actually getting to the eye. The other part probably comes from the fact that 30 minutes per day first thing in the morning is just not going to be as effective as being in bright light all day long as we evolved to be (though in fairness to the makers of these devices, the evidence of the effects of all-day bright light exposure is relatively recent in the research literature). OTOH, sitting with small lights close by is more of a light signal than not having them at all -- it will be interesting to see what results you get.

I can't actually ever find any detailed spectrum specifications for these sorts of lights, which always put me off buying one. If I knew they were using one of the tri-band special bulbs designed specifically to get closer to sunlight spectrum, I would be more interested. OTOH, if they're just using bulbs with a bit more blue than normal, I can buy those for $7 apiece at the local Fred Meyers myself.


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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For me, the low start-up cost for purposes of experimentation, easy set-up in my office, portability of these lights (especially the GoLite for travel), and long life-time of the bulbs (for Verilux) and LED (for the Apollo) made this the most appealing route for me. I would not have been willing to pay full retail, but these were a bargain given their sources. The Verilux is full-spectrum, while the GoLite is a specific blue designed for a "circadian response".

I doubt my office set-up is even in the same ballpark as perfect as far as mimicking real daylight, but I think it's an improvement from how my office was before - which was more like a cave. I don't aim to keep my head positioned perfectly correct all day...it wouldn't be realistic, and I'd start to resent the whole set-up instead of enjoying it. For the Apollo, however, I do try to do 15-30 minutes how they recommend - with it catching the corner of my eye and glancing at it occasionally.

At any rate, I'm grateful for all of the information you have posted, as this concept wasn't even on my radar until I came across this thread. I'd always assumed that light therapy was just for S.A.D., but circadian rhythm issues go beyond that and can really affect quality of life in many ways. Thanks again.

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I suspect the people getting improvements via massive doses of niacin are simply marginally increasing cell levels of glutathione (niacin being required to regenerate glutathione)

Although another interesting possibility is that the niacin megadosing is interfering with an enzyme (DGAT2) required for manufacturing fatty molecules.


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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Fascinating stuff, db. I have been on Zinc, B-Complex and D3 for a number of months now (based on your initial research) and it has not failed me. I'd rather die 20 years early from a liver disorder than go back to how things were, so I know the risk and am willing to pay the price, should there be one.

I cannot possibly follow this new regimen. As much as I hate the alternative, it's just not possible without winning the lottery. I hope you or someone else participating can narrow it down to sufficient daylight exposure before meals, no light when sleeping and a fairly consistent sleeping pattern. That's something I could do.

Interestingly, I have a roommate who is also a work colleague and he has no acne at all. I guess he does not need the same amount of daylight exposure as I do? I doubt your theory that you could induce acne in those you have never had the problem. My actions are not that unusual to justify this kind of punishment. There must be some kind of deficiency or genetic trait that makes me far more sensitive to these factors.

Please keep up your work, it's very interesting. Just try to make sure you can bottle your final theory - you can't sell sunlight ;-)

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These are some interesting discoveries databased. I can definitely look back at the times when i was clear and notice the sun exposure I was getting. But on the other hand i've always slept with the tv on so you'd think that would cancel that all out? My acne came back during a successful BP reg I had going on for almost a year, maybe a couple few months after i started my OFFICE JOB. On top of acne i have chronic fatigue like symptoms that developed during my clear period with BP. Perhaps this melatonin cycle is also related here as well? I'm definitely going to give this a decent shot. I can only do so much when it comes to getting sun exposure with my desk job and living in an apartment complex. But i can go outside for lunch and keep my blinds open, as well as finding ways to make my room pitch black at night. I'm curious to see how this turns out for me.

Thanks for the research you've done!

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I cannot possibly follow this new regimen.

If this hypothesis were correct, it should be possible to construct indoor lighting that produces the same effect as sunlight (power LEDs are available for just about any frequency of interest, and certainly for the blue-green areas most able to induce a signal in the intensity-sensitive retinal ganglion cells). It would probably still end up being damn bright for indoor light, though.

Interestingly, I have a roommate who is also a work colleague and he has no acne at all. I guess he does not need the same amount of daylight exposure as I do?
I don't think there'll be any satisfying answer to the "why me not him?" question until someone has broken down all the exact biochemical steps in acne and there are tests to examine all the factors that can make a difference. I should live so long. There definitely is significant demonstrable variation in the ability of light to suppress melatonin from one person to another. I can't see any reason to rule out the possibility that that alone could explain the variation, but nor is there good data to make that highly likely.

I doubt your theory that you could induce acne in those you have never had the problem. My actions are not that unusual to justify this kind of punishment.

You probably would doubt it less if you knew the true odds. You and I probably say "acne" to refer to our own experience of "crap, I don't want to show my face" and imagine that few people have acne. In fact, one of the best surveys we've got of a civilized population found some facial acne in 54% of women and 40% of men over 25. Once you realize that a very large percentage of folks are having regular acne (albeit probably much less severe than you or I), the idea that I could push most adults into visible acne with just manipulations of light and fructose may sound less unlikely.

Just try to make sure you can bottle your final theory - you can't sell sunlight
A pill would sure be nice, but if it's true that the nightly pineal melatonin surge is key, that's going to be hard to emulate. Come to think of it, though, I think someone is going to sell a prescription melatonin pill with a timed release in the EU that they claim is a breakthrough for sleep disturbances. It would be interesting to see someone do a study to see if that pill can significantly reduce acne. Can't remember if that's out yet or not -- I checked far enough to see they don't plan to sell it in the U.S., so then lost interest. If someone across the pond is willing to badger a doctor into getting it, I would be happy to try to look up the details again...

BTW, you probably can't hurt yourself taking a few thousand IU of D3 or a B complex pill every day, but if you're taking large (>50mg) doses of zinc per day, you might try taking a modest 200mcg selenium pill to see if that lets you get the same effect with less zinc. Depending on what the exact mechanism is by which zinc helps acne (there are at least 3 possibilities, probably more), selenium may help move the zinc to where it's needed.


I think impaired zinc metabolism is the root cause of chronic acne.

A Zinc Regimen. | My crappy blog.

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer -- superstition ain't the way" -- S. Wonder


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