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Natural Awakenings Rhode Island

Treating Acne from Inside Out

by Anna Golub

For those that have ever suffered from blemishes and acne, the experience can bring frustration and embarrassment, and even worse, destroy one’s confidence.

The goal for a skin care professional is to recognize the exact cause of acne development and find the root of a problem prior to starting any treatment. Many different factors play a role in the development of acne, and often acne is an external symptom of a much deeper issue. Unfortunately, these underlying problems are often overlooked and instead harsh products and invasive treatments are suggested as the only course of treatment. 

There are several root causes that contribute to acne formation, including an overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes), hormonal imbalance, genetics, food sensitivities, emotional stress, nutritional deficiencies, poor diet and sluggish digestion.

Hormones, inflammation and Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria

These factors can lead to clogged and infected pores, resulting in increased bacteria and yeast overgrowth on the skin, often causing skin inflammation. P. acnes is a bacteria that grows deep inside of pores, where it feeds on the sebum that is produced by the sebaceous glands that surround the base of the hair shaft. Most individuals with acne symptoms have an overgrowth of P. acnes bacteria in their skin. P. acnes is an oxygen-tolerant, anaerobic bacteria that prefers to grow in low oxygen environments (like deep within a plugged follicle). Superficial inflammation results in pustule formation and skin redness. Inflammation can occur deeper in the skin and form multiple cysts.

Poor nutrition and sluggish digestion

Food allergies or food sensitivities could be a strong factor in acne development. Fat, sugar and processed foods accelerate skin inflammation that leads to problem skin. They also contribute to constipation, triggering the body’s response to release toxins and poisons any way it can. As the skin is the largest eliminating organ together with the lungs, bowel, liver and kidneys, it can become overloaded and not function properly.


A diet with processed foods, full of excessive starches, fried, fatty foods and other junk foods has been shown to aggravate acne. Dark green or orange vegetables are especially helpful due to their beta-carotene content, which helps maintain and repair the skin. Eating them raw or lightly cooked helps to retain their nutrients and fiber. The most helpful is vegetable juices from carrots, beets, cucumber and celery.

Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids like almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, fresh, cold-water fish—salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines—can dramatically decrease inflammation as well. Flaxseed oil and cod liver oil are excellent to include in one’s diet. The plant enzymes especially from pineapple, pumpkin and papaya oils dissolve the tissue that causes scaring.

Incorporating some of the following anti-inflammatory foods in one’s diet can be helpful in reducing inflammation.

Onion – The humble onion has strong antiseptic properties and is one of the best liver detoxifiers. A clean liver equals clear skin. Since onion has a lot of sulfuric oils, it stimulates the digestion and works as an antibacterial agent. It’s a great blood cleanser as well with good amounts of vitamin A, C, sulfur, iron, silicon and calcium.

Raw apple cider vinegar – This has become a popular anti-inflammatory food since the 19th century. Raw apple cider vinegar has powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties and works as a digestive aid in the body. It helps to promote the growth of probiotics in the digestive system and balances the yeast bacteria. It contains potassium and many other trace minerals.

Arugula – Arugula is high in vitamin A, a powerful anti-acne nutrient. This highly alkaline food helps to cleanse and neutralize acidic waste and prevent toxic overload, a precursor to chronic acne.

Lemon and lime – The liver supporting citruses can help keep the skin blemish-free and glowing due to their purifying and cleansing properties. They flush out bacteria and toxins, improving digestion and destroying free radicals in the body.


Hydration and home care

Acne prone skin needs proper hydration to recover. Skin care products with lots of hyaluronic acid as a topical hydration together with proper water intake will dramatically increase the healing process. 

Minimizing inflammation

Acne can be difficult to treat and often people try multiple treatment plans before finding what works for them. There are many different natural alternatives to Accutane or other medications available in esthetics. The best results have been shown using proven ingredients based on plant extracts like calendula, comfrey, sage, mint and products with caolin, sulfur and sea water sponge with plenty of minerals.

It is essential to receive treatment from a skin care professional for acne prone skin every two weeks until the skin is clear. These treatments use healing topical, antibacterial and antimicrobial agents that help control bacteria population, reducing the proliferation of P. acnes bacteria. Topical and effective oxygen sources quickly deliver oxygen to the follicle, killing growing bacteria.

Treating acne can be a complex process, however, when a comprehensive treatment program is designed for a specific skin type and acne cause, results can be achieved safely and effectively, without causing further damage to skin health.

Anna Golub is an award-winning skin care specialist, with a background in biology, nutrition and medical technology. As an innovator and proponent of organic skin care, Golub has accumulated more than 20 years of study, research and professional experience in paramedical esthetic as well as anti-aging and holistic skin care. She is the owner of Renaissance Clinique, located at 145 Waterman St., Providence, and formulator of Vitana skin care as well as a contributing author of the publication Skin as

a Mirror of our Health and a member of American Association of Nutrition Counseling. For more information, call 401-521-0762 or visit