Posted 09 November 2009 - 11:26 PM
Posted 14 November 2009 - 05:51 PM
In fact, I'm curious as to why no one else has really given this a proper shot and reported back on their results by now.
However, there is one difficulty: Once it gets freezing cold during the winter months, staying outdoors for the required length of time will no longer be as feasible.
As you're looking into the possibility of artificial lighting, I'm curious what your thoughts are on lamps designed to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder? I ask on the offhand knowledge that they presumably are designed to replicate daylight to the best of their capabilities. considering what they're supposed to treat.
After some cursory research, they appear to be full spectrum, and have an intensity of 10,000 lux. Would that be something to look into, especially come winter?
Posted 14 November 2009 - 09:49 PM
A problem with all artificial lights for depressing melatonin is the square law effect. The more power you can put in them, the further away you can position them and the bigger range of distance you can put your eyes at and still get the effect. So, some SAD lights are pretty small and intense and need you to get your eyes pretty darn close (e.g. 1-2 feet). That makes the distance between successful melatonin suppression and retinal damage potentially a little to thin for my tastes.
MY DIY solution certainly seems to alter digestion in the same manner as sunlight, so long as I put the hours in in front of it. It seems to be not as highly effective at suppressing acne. Whether that's due to a difference of intensity, spectrum, or "other" (diet, exercise, etc.), I don't know.
Posted 14 November 2009 - 10:13 PM
How long have you been trying this artificial alternative thus far?
Posted 14 November 2009 - 11:48 PM
To be specific, if I have a supersize Coke for both lunch and dinner (instead of just for lunch), then I started getting an initial outbreak. By cutting out the evening fructose/caffeine and planting myself in front of the lights all day, I was able to fairly immediately (within 48 hours) stop it.
Since evolving the theory that acne is prevented by having a normalized melatonin cycle + enough zinc (and how that is co-influenced by carbs/light), it's been pretty rare that I have any unexpected acne. Sometimes I don't get acne when I expect it, but it's gotten to be pretty infrequent that I have an outbreak that I didn't predict would be coming. This degree of control has made me cynical about topicals, and "toxins" and diets that "you have to give it a few months to see results", etc. My experience is, a new acne lesion is pretty much the result of what happened (or didn't happen, in the case of the nocturnal melatonin surge) in the last 48 hours.
Seems like I had a 2-bulb light for a couple of weeks and went to 6 bulbs about a week ago.
Apropos of nothing, just a couple days ago I started a lycopene experiment, based on wondering if the particular "yams" the acne-free Trobriand Islanders eat (which they eat even more often than I eat at McDonald's!) might not happen to be particularly concentrated with lycopene. Lycopene appears able to elevate superoxide dismutase levels like melatonin can, though I have no idea if it's as large an effect or not (or appears when/where needed to prevent acne). So, I'm trying to eat a can (about 2 cups) of tomato sauce several nights a week (however much I can stand!) plus 50mg zinc. If no ill effects, then I'll see if that lets me back off the light exposure and stay acne-free. Since I have highly reliable acne (I can always get it back anytime with about 48-hours of "misbehaving"), it's easier for me to experiment than for some.
Posted 15 November 2009 - 11:53 AM
Posted 23 November 2009 - 10:16 PM
No, but if this hypothesis were true, many people could influence their acne (and likely other long-term health risks) by:
- Not shielding their eyes with hats/sunglasses when outside.
- Installing much brighter lighting with a strong blue spectrum component in areas where they spend much of their time.
- Trying to eat during times of good light exposure and avoiding eating at night after the eyes have been in dim light for extended periods.
I started taking Nicomide-style doses of nicotinamide and ingesting large (~100mg/day) doses of lycopene (via tomato sauce). The latter is based on the assumption that the key mechanism of acne has been uncovered and is the production of superoxide anions, therefore in the presence of sufficient zinc, anything that can elevate superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels is a candidate for an anti-acne treatment.
I liked lycopene for this, because the Trobriand Islanders eat yams (giant scaly kind, not "sweet potatos") daily, and I suspect they may be providing a pretty hefty dose of lycopene. Although it's only been a few weeks, I noticed a serious decrease in sebum production for the first time ever. When I stopped eating lycopene (large dose tomato sauce) for several days in a row, sebum production appeared to resume. That makes sense because there is reason to believe lycopene can decrease DHT levels, though I'm not sure anyone's shown it affects DHT production in the skin itself (which is where it matters). I also notice the heavy-dose lycopene (currently suspect the Nicomide is no factor, since I was taking a Vitamin B complex anyway) seems to allow me to be almost 100% acne-free with significantly less slavish devotion to sitting in front of my bright lights. Eventually, I'll drop the Nicomide to confirm whether it really is no factor (but currently enjoying having clear skin without having to work too hard at it). Who knows, if I could give up my addiction that daily noon 32-ounce Coke, maybe it would be even easier!
Meanwhile, I look for other tricks to elevate SOD levels. Exercise appears plausible, but tricky. It seems certain that too-intense exercise too close to bed time can shift the body clock forward and have a negative impact on melatonin production. There are plenty of studies observing SOD and exercise, but there's lots of issues to sort through, including timing and type; resistance training is not the same as brisk walking is not the same as "acute" exercise. I'm guessing I'll find that what the Trobriand Islanders do naturally (a lot of walking) is a plausible way to elevate SOD.
It really is astounding that zero lesions could be found among hundreds of their men/women/children, and I suspect their lifestyle offers a "perfect storm" of anti-acne factors:
- Strong melatonin surge, due to enforced regular daytime bright light, and enforced regular long sleep in darkness.
- Little access to high-fructose fruits or other sources of fructans which, combined with daily bright light means no problem absorbing tryptophan/zinc.
- No caffeine/alcohol/drugs to interfere with melatonin.
- Regular tryptophan (meat, from fish).
- Daily significant doses of lycopene.
- A constant stream of "incidental" exercise that comes from needing to fish and farm without the help of technology.
Posted 24 November 2009 - 06:04 AM
Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:56 AM
Once a day, I assume. I happened to have 500mg pills laying around, so I ended up taking 1000mg/day, though that will just be for a few weeks.
Posted 24 November 2009 - 09:53 AM
Posted 03 December 2009 - 06:16 PM
Posted 03 December 2009 - 11:44 PM
It's also hard to figure out exactly what people are changing when they change their diet. Did you cut out dairy, or was the important thing cutting out a sugar (lactose) prone to cause malabsorption (and thereby interfere with the production of melatonin in the skin)? Did you cut out gluten, or did you cut out carbs particularly prone to malabsorption?
In my own experience, the difference is stark. If I live outdoors with my eyes in bright sunlight 12 hours a day, there is no question I can eat the same diet that appears to exacerbate acne if I'm living in dim indoor light. If my experience generalized to others, this is the missing link to explain why diet does -- and doesn't -- affect acne. Live in dim light, and the foods that cause carb malabsorption will generally give you acne (via the long chain of events that starts with not getting enough tryptophan and zinc absorbed through the intestinal walls). Live in bright sunlight, and suddenly "problem" foods may be consumed with no consequences. Most long-term sufferers have experienced inexplicable periods where it seemed like highly reliable "problem" foods suddenly caused no problem; I believe the answer to that mystery is carb malabsorption, and the usual variable that makes the difference is bright light exposure to the eyes (though estrogen modulates pineal production of melatonin, and gives women an extra variable to affect the primary chain of events that produces acne).
At this point, I've gone on and off my indoor bright light solution enough times to convince myself they have basically the same effect as sunlight (though it takes more discipline to sit in the right place to get the exposure). That eliminates skin effects of sunlight as a factor, since there's no effective amount of UV from the fluorescents (and my skin is mostly covered even indoors). As Thanksgiving approached, various demands kept me from sitting at my "bright light" desk for most of the day and, as predicted, I started getting acne again. I was still able to clear up for Thanksgiving by throwing everything I had laying around that my theory would have predicted could help: massive doses of lycopene from tomato sauce, sprinkling a tryptophan precursor on my food, large-dose zinc, Vitamin B, alpha lipoic acid combined with modest aerobic exercise, etc. I also ate a fair amount of ice cream around Thanksgiving, without having to suffer the usually reliable penalty of cystic acne, a blessing I only previously got from extensive outdoor light exposure.
I have a few more chemicals arriving in the next pill shipment to test, selected for their ability (in the test tube at least) to elevate superoxide dismutase levels. I'm skeptical that most adults with bad chronic acne can be 100% clear without doing anything to repair their melatonin cycles (interesting to see the quote in Dan's blog from Dr. Fulton “I can get pretty much anyone cleared up, unless they work the night shift.” ), but I can't rule out that there isn't some pill cocktail that can be constructed to at least produce better effects than most OTC treatments.
Posted 07 December 2009 - 10:36 AM
I find it so strange that fruit/fructose could be causing problems, i know there is more fructose in fruit now but i was always under the impression that fruit was basically one of the essential foods because of the need for vitamin c etc, in most parts of the world anyway.
The sunlight thing would make sense as an explanation to my stomach problems as i am outside very little, in my part of the world it never seems to ever stop raining maybe 10 % of the year is dry. I have tried experimenting by going outside and sun staring [gazing] when i wake up and before i eat anything but it's basically a waste of time because the sun is only out 1 in 10 days if that. I guess i need to buy some lights as all i have i my house are these energy saving things which seem to be very dim and are also behing light shades so i my light intake must be as low as possible. Problem is that i have very limited funds and my ignorance means i dont have a clue what to buy.
It seems to me that the sunlight theory [the technical explanation is way too much for my small brain] could definatly be it. I have never really worked out the cause for my stomach problems but maybe it just has something to do with light exposure and the melatonin cycle etc.
The fact that none of the indigenous people studied apear to get acne including inuits [i think] even though they all have varied diets would indicate that maybe diet has nothing to do with it. None of my stupid diet restrictions have ever done anything.
Does anyone know what the acne rates for the people that live in the parts of the world where at times of the year it is almost dark all day are [might be Norway i think] ?
Is there any link between seasonal affective disorder and acne ?
Have there been any links found between night shift workers and acne? I think i read once that they are more unhealthy.
Is there any information regarding the rates of acne accross the different parts of the world and where people live?
I know i should/will look this up myself but i am lazy and stupid and when i start reading for too long have some kind of panic attack.
Do you know what you think the minimum amount of tomato paste needed per day would be to have any effect?
I have wrote too much.
Keep up the good work.
Posted 07 December 2009 - 11:53 AM
It is an emerging theory. See this paper for an argument that a variety of such symptoms are attributed to other syndromes when they really have carb malabsorption at the root. The paper also describes the dietary changes they have used to affect intestinal symptoms in their patients. (The people who wrote this paper presumably know nothing of the Japanese study that implies that the root cause is living in dim light).
The acne-free Trobriand Islanders, for example, don't eat much fruit, and it's not very sweet. There is a renegade theory on the need to consume Vitamin C that says, for example, that the British Navy didn't start getting scurvy problems until they switched sailors to a high-carb diet (tea and biscuits).
Consider the evolutionary argument. You have to cook up some elaborate ideas to explain how it could be an evolutionary advantage to lose the ability to internally synthesize a substance vital to health. Hence the simpler explanation: you'll get enough Vitamin C in your diet if you just don't eat a modern high-carb diet.
Buy the biggest, brightest fluorescents you can (e.g., multiple 4-foot 40-watt bulbs) and position them so they are glaring in your eyes when you are sitting at whatever spot you spend the most time sitting indoors. Preferably no more than 4 foot away from your eyeballs. There is a standard for fluorescent bulbs that indicates how close they are to replicating the look of sunlight. You want the highest CRI you can get (should be able to get >= 90) and a temperature around 5000K.
To be clear, the stomach problems may just be the very direct result of carb malabsorption. IOW, the pain and discomfort is just what happens when you eat a problem food out of synch with your melatonin cycle. The acne comes later, because that disturbance in your gut is keeping at least two important nutrients (tryptophan and zinc) from being absorbed -- those two things are needed to make the nightly chemicals that would normally give you enough of the right kind of anti-oxidant in the skin to prevent acne.
This theory says that when you don't have a normal light relationship like pre-civilized folks living at the equator, then diet does matter. So, for example, a no-carb diet should improve acne symptoms for most chronic sufferers. However, most studies of Atkins-style diets show few people can actually do a super-low-carb diet for long, let alone a no-carb diet. Also, you can still raise the odds of acne by doing things like using caffeine, not having a regular/long sleep cycle, etc.
I'll translate that as "I currently suffer from depression." I don't know the answers to your other questions.
This is a good thing to not overthink if you want to try that experiment. Depression makes us think and think and think to keep us paralyzed from doing anything. Find something you like to eat that you can pour a ton of tomato sauce on (I pour it over a piece of sauteed chicken and some dry mashed potatoes). Eat that meal every other day for a week or two. Take 50mg of zinc/day at the same time. See if you notice a change in symptoms.
Posted 09 December 2009 - 10:02 PM
Posted 10 December 2009 - 01:16 AM
I continue to see that a damn big regular dose of lycopene (about 2 cups of tomato sauce, 3 times per week) appears to noticeably reduce oil production. I never saw such a reduction before while being clear, which reinforces my suspicion that the crux of acne is the generation of superoxide anions, and that the nocturnal surge of pineal melatonin primarily prevents acne by stimulating cells to make superoxide dismutase. Even in studies that show a correlation of increased oil production and acne, you can clearly see that it's nowhere near a linear relationship, which supports the view that the extra oil is not the most direct cause of the lesions.
Since I've been able to reproduce acne while taking large doses of lycopene by simply disrupting my sleep (taking big doses of evening caffeine, staying up hours later, etc.), that suggests to me that lycopene, though it may have some ability of it's own to raise superoxide dismutase levels, may primarily affect DHT production. Sort of the complement to melatonin: put them together and you get less oil and increased ability to wipe out the excess superoxide anions that trigger the acne lesion. I can be acne-free without lycopene, but not without the nocturnal melatonin surge.
After a whole lot of searching, I still never found any lycopene content analysis of the "wild yams" the Trobriand Islanders eat.
Posted 10 December 2009 - 03:03 AM
On a side note... is tryptophan still a factor in your equation? If so, why not just supplement it for the sake of easy and consistency?
I have tried a lot of your theory so far, with mixed results. I'm wondering if perhaps the tryptophan had something to do with it. Lets say I ate a meat containing meal and took the zinc and I thought hey this is working. But then I don't eat meat for a few days and take the zinc alone and suddenly its not working.
Basically I need something simple to try before I embark on an artificial light adventure. That would be very difficult for me to do because I'm a student who works random shifts at night (in a nightclub no less). That seems like the worst possible scenario for getting the optimal melatonin surge etc.
I was thinking of trying a cocktail of:
1. High dose tryptophan supplement(I'm educated on, but not worried about side effects or anything)
2. High dose zinc supplement
4. Vitamin D
What do you think?
Edited by AltaPGT, 10 December 2009 - 03:58 AM.
Posted 10 December 2009 - 04:15 PM
L-tryptophan never produced good results for me, either by improving my acne or sleep cycle (the latter being the only way it could improve my acne, IMO). Carb malabsorption is correlated with lower tryptophan levels, and it may be that the pill form has even more trouble being absorbed in the presence of that problem for some unknown reason. I'm currently trying out a tryptophan precursor (alpha-lactalbumin, bioZzz) but it's in the form of a tasteless powder that I haven't yet found a convenient way to choke down on a regular basis. I recall (but can no longer find) a study in which they gave a breakfast milkshake containing some form of typtophan or precursor to carb malabsorbers, and were able to measure cognitive improvements by afternoon, which makes me think it must be possible to get it through the gut and into the brain (to make serotonin, in the case of that particular experiment). But direct L-tryptophan supplementation just didn't seem to make a dent for me.
Honestly, you're screwed. At least in terms of normalizing your melatonin cycle while you have to work at different times at night. All the tryptophan in the world won't help if your body keeps getting different signals about when sunset and sunrise are.
In your situation, I would try (something I haven't tried, just throwin' it out there for the wild at heart!) a gigantic cocktail of chemicals aimed at duplicating melatonin's ability to elevate SOD levels:
- Vitamin B complex
- 50mg zinc
- 200mcg selenium
- Coenzyme Q10 (bigger dose is better)
- Vitamin E (via red palm oil)
- Alpha lipoic acid (may work better with exercise)
- Vitamin C (may work better with alpha lipoic acid)
- green tea extract (bigger dose is better)
- Milk thistle
- Artichoke leaf extract
- Rhodeola rosea
- sea buckthorn
That would be about everything I've run across that presents some evidence of being able to elevate SOD levels. And avoid fructose (fruits, sodas, etc.) and caffeine as much as possible. Caffeine's ability to flatten the melatonin curve doesn't matter once you give up on your melatonin cycle, but the possibility that it can deplete zinc would still matter. Carb malabsorption's ability to prevent tryptophan digestion wouldn't matter, but of course you still have to be able to digest zinc (and all the other pills!).
Edited by databased, 10 December 2009 - 04:52 PM.
Posted 11 December 2009 - 12:10 AM
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