Hey everyone, I forgot about this thread. Here is what I found out about Saw Palmetto - any drug or herb that affects one set of hormones will have impact on the others and it can increase estrogen: http://answers.yahoo...17072631AAyC1Pk
High testosterone and estrogen dominance can cause acne. So I was right, Saw Palmetto was helping and hurting me at the same time - it was blocking the testosterone from turning into DHT so instead it was turning into estrogen which led to estrogen dominance which explains why I was breaking out after my period and the crazy anxiety and panic attacks. (This is my theory, anyway. Really no one knows exactly what is going on with these herbs and EVERYONE reacts differently - this is just what happened with me).
An herbalist I am seeing recommends that saw palmetto be taken with something to counter its effects and now I'm on a tincture of 1 part saw palmetto, 1 part peony, 1 part licorice and 2 parts chasteberry (vitex). Chasteberry is supposed to naturally balance your estrogen and progesterone. So far so good - I still broke a bit leading up to my period, but it wasn't severe. The oilyness has gone done quite a bit, but hands down the best thing about it is my anxiety and depression has gone way down too. And no sore boobs or cramps leading up to my period! She also recommended chromium to help with insulin imbalance and that is also good for depression. My blog has all the details - although I've stopped updating it.
I've heard that vitex works for a while and then stops working but I'm guessing it's another herb that needs to be taken with something (like saw p) to keep it balanced. This is a complex subject - good luck to all of you!
Anyway, talk to an herbalist and see if they can make up a tincture for you.
I agree with your approach. Have you had success with the tincture? Vitex worked for me in the past, but then I started getting more facial & body hair so I'm guessing it increased androgens in my body. I read that vitex might interact with saw palmetto, though, that's why I was hesitant to take both at the same time. Did your herbalist ask you to do a hormone test before making a tincture for you?
I don't know if this is true, but I've heard progesterone is a precursor to the other hormones, including testosterone, so maybe vitex was fixing your estrogen dominance but also adding more free testosterone to your body?
I've been on this saw palmetto/vitex tincture since December and I have mixed feelings about it. My skin is looking pretty great the two weeks after my period starts but I am still getting hormonal acne, like clock work, two weeks before my period. It's been pretty mild except for a cyst I got on my cheek a month ago that is still lingering. And I've noticed I'm getting more pimples on my chin before my period every month, which isn't usually my big problem area.
The best thing is what it has done for my anxiety and depression and PMS issues like cramps and sore breasts. I'm also not touching my face as much because I don't feel as anxious - not sure if that's the tincture or the combination of things that I am doing (I'm also taking chromium which is said to help with depression). So for those reason alone, I love it and will continue using it.
The herbalist didn't think a saliva hormone test was worth the cost. I don't have excess body hair or other classic signs of PCOS, so it's likely I'm just very sensitive to androgens.
I'm also alternating with Dan's BP and Paula's choice 2% BHA and am only using retin a for fixing hyperpigmentation the two weeks my skin is not as sensitive. It's not perfect, but with time, I can see how it will get a lot better.
Another thing to try that my herbalist recommended is that I take magnesium, b6 and zinc the week before my period. That's supposed to help with PMS acne specifically. I haven't consistently done this because I've heard that b6 also causes acne in some people, but I'll try it now that my period is coming up.
I'm still researching this and will dump everything I learn into my blog. I am determined to defeat my hormonal acne! Anyway, I was going to experiment with taking a saw palmetto capsule in addition to the tincture for the two weeks leading up to my period. I noticed right away that one 160 mg capsule did a better job of reducing my oil most of the day. I like the idea of getting everything you need in a tincture, but it's hard to know exactly how much of each ingredient you're getting.
I always ramble in these messages, but I really do think saw palmetto needs to be taken with vitex or something to regulate the progesterone and to make sure you are metabolizing your estrogen via your liver and bowels. I also found Dr. Nan Dunne's website http://www.drnandunne.com/ and think there is a lot of helpful info there.