I sometimes forget that when people stumble across this site looking to get rid of their acne, they are going to be coming from all different backgrounds. Some will know everything there is to know about whole foods, natural health, and alternative medicine. Some won’t know a multivitamin from an aspirin.
I’ve decided a glossary would be helpful to those newbies who don’t know what’s going on when they stumble in here and Im going off about quinoa, kefir, and kale. It’s okay! We all have to start somewhere, and that somewhere can be right here.
Without further adieu, The Love Vitamin’s glossary of “holistic acne” lingo:
I use the term “healthy lifestyle” a lot to describe the reason behind why we get acne. When I say this, I’m referring to the quality of food you eat, the amount of exercise you get, how your emotional health is, the quality of sleep you get, and how much sunshine and fresh air you receive. Together these make up your “lifestyle”. My goal at the Love Vitamin is to get you to improve your lifestyle to bring your body back into a place of balance where it can heal itself and your acne.
The Root Cause of Acne
When I talk about the root cause of acne, I’m referring to the specific thing in your body that went wrong, which then affected every body process that relied on it, which then affected the next set of processes, until it eventually affected your skin and resulted in you having acne. The root cause is usually either digestion and diet related or stress and emotions based. Or both.
Digestion is how your body breaks down your food, absorbs the nutrients, and moves the waste along through your intestines. Since a functioning digestive system is how our body and skin obtain all the nutrients we need for health, if your digestion is poor, it can and definitely does lead to acne.
When I refer to emotional health, I’m referring to how you deal with stress, how you have dealt with past traumas and hardships, and how you feel about yourself. Your self esteem is a major part of having good emotional health. Emotional health is another major root cause of acne because it wears your body down and constantly releases cortisol, a hormone that can be responsible for acne.
Holistic means whole, or concerned with wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts. So holistic medicine is about treating the whole body as a means for the body to heal itself from what ails it, instead of isolating the affliction/body part/body system and only treating that. Western medicine and the medical system are not holistic systems, because they do not treat the whole person.
A doctor who focuses on holistic medicine, and treats the whole person with natural means such as lifestyle changes and supplements as opposed to pharmaceutical drugs.
Inflammation is a normal, healthy reaction by your immune system to a cut, wound, or injury. Redness, swelling, and heat – the characteristic signs of inflammation – are signs that your immune system is attempting to heal you. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles have thrown our bodies off balance and created a state of chronic hyper inflammation where your body inflames basically everything at the drop of a hat. This isn’t a normal or healthy response and this is why a clogged pore can easily result in an inflamed pimple.
When you eat food, everything gets broken down and converted to something called glucose, which is fuel for all the cells in the body. Only a carefully regulated amount can circulate in the bloodstream at one time, and this is controlled by the pancreas and adrenals. Certain food, such as processed foods, enter the bloodstream as glucose too quickly and everything gets crazy. In response to this, your pancreas and adrenals pump out hormones that cause acne. So basically, we want to make sure we eat foods that do not cause blood sugar spikes.
A nutritional supplement is something added to complete the diet, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole. It is best to get all your nutrients and everything you need from whole foods, because your body can better absorb everything it needs when nutrients are in the exact right proportion that they are found in nature. Taking too many single nutrient supplements can actually cause more imbalances in your body and nutritional supplements are NEVER to be a replacement for a wholesome diet. However, whole food supplements such as herbs and whole food extracts can be helpful since most people do not get enough nutrients in their diets.
The natural oil that your skin produces. Not so good if your skin produces too much of it, as it mixes with dead skin cells, clogs your pores, and that can lead to inflammation. However, you don’t want too little or your skin dries out and that is not good for acne either. A right amount of sebum gives you a beautiful healthy glow.
Oils for use in Skin Care
Oils are actually the best thing you can use on your face. It tricks your skin into thinking you have produced enough sebum already and prevents overproduction. If you have dry skin, it is a brilliant moisturizer. Oil dissolves oil, so it also dissolves hardened plugs in the skin and unclogs your pores. Don’t be afraid of oils for the skin!
Cold-pressed organic jojoba oil is my preferred oil because it is the most molecularly similar to our skin’s own sebum. I use as a makeup remover, cleanser, and moisturizer all in one.
Manuka honey is a special antibacterial honey from New Zealand which has many magical properties. It is AMAZING to use as a face wash (in my opinion) and daily face mask. I use it every day.
Whole foods are foods are in the form that they were in when they came from nature. In other words, they are not stripped of their nutrients, or have food additives, dyes, sugars, or preservatives. Whole foods are full of nutrients essental to beautiful skin and generally do not cause blood sugar swings.
Refined and Processed Foods
Often comes in a packet, box, or tin and has a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. It is food that is altered in some way – stripped of its nutrients, pasteurized, or has added oils, sugars, and dyes (basically the opposite of whole foods). Refined foods include white bread, white rice, industrial seeds oils, and basically everything in the centre aisles of the grocery store.
Proper digestion is very important to healing acne, and proper digestion is dependent on your intestines having the right balance of bacteria. There is good and bad bacteria in there, and the good bacteria is often referred to as “probiotics”.
Fermentation is when a food has been altered via the work of beneficial bacteria and yeast cultures. Fermented foods, providing they aren’t pasteurized afterward, are full of probiotics that can help you with your digestion.
Candida is a certain type of yeast that lives in your intestines. It likes to eat sugar and processed foods and overgrows easily when someone takes antibiotics – so, as you can imagine, with our modern lifestyles, this is very common. Candida overgrowth can lead to all sorts of digestive problems which lead to other health problems, including acne.
When I talk about allergies, I’m referring not to classic immediate allergies like sneezing and anaphylactic shock. I’m referring to foods that you eat in your day to day life that cause a delayed allergic reaction. These are also referred to as “food sensitivities“. Each person will react to delayed food allergies differently, and some who are acne prone will end up with acne. Dairy and gluten grains are two foods that often cause allergic reactions and acne.
Foods that are pasteurized (such as all commercial milk) have been heated to a high temperature in order to kill potentially harmful bacteria and increase shelf life. Unfortunately this also destroys the proteins in the food, make them hard to digest, and render them very unhealthy for human consumption. It also kills any beneficial bacteria that might have been in the food, as in the case with fermented foods.
The word dairy refers to anything that is made from milk – including cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, butter, etc. When I use the word dairy, I’m usually referring to pasteurized dairy, usually from a cow. The reason I use this word a lot is because pasteurized dairy is a very potent acne machine! Raw dairy, fermented dairy, and quality butter may be exceptions, but it depends.
Kefir is a very, very powerful probiotic food that can help you to improve your digestion significantly. It is a sour milk drink kind of like yogurt (except way better for you), and you can make it at home with something called kefir grains, which are like small balls of good bacteria. Making it with raw milk is ideal, but the benefits tend to outweigh the negative even if made with organic pasteurized mik (preferably goat’s milk!).
Gluten is a sticky gluey protein found in certain grains – wheat, rye, barley, kamut, and spelt. Oats are often contaminated with it. Unfortunately it’s very inflammatory and horrible for your digestion, so it can be a major acne causer. It’s really not good for anyone to consume though, and I don’t recommend it.
Non-gluten grains include rice, millet, buckwheat, corn, amaranth and quinoa. These can be okay to consume in small amounts, preferably if prepared properly.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables include things like spinach, kale, collard greens, chard, bok choy, silverbeet, etc. Nutritional superstars, these are your skin’s best friend – and the darker the green, the more nutrients there are.
Fruit smoothies which include leafy green vegetables. It looks green, but tastes like fruit! Very, very highly recommended for beautiful skin.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
A type of fat that is super important to your brain, skin, and a gazillion functions in your body. The best form of it is from cold water fish, although some can be found in seeds such as flax and chia.
Cod Liver Oil
Grandpa was right – this stuff is off the hook. Full of omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D – I’m telling ya, it rocks your skin’s world. It’s even better if it’s fermented.
Although I don’t usually use this term, I would say it best describes how I eat, or at least strive to eat. Traditional eating is based on the teachings of the Weston A Price Foundation and Sally Fallon. It is a nutritionally dense whole foods diet that emphasizes high quality foods and traditional cooking methods. It includes fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, naturally raised meat, eggs, seafood, bone broths, and raw dairy products.Non-gluten grains and legumes are included but only if they are prepared by soaking, fermenting, or sour leavening which increases their digestibility. Fermented foods and healthy fat are heavily promoted on this diet.
Another diet that I recommend and has helped many people overcome their health challenges. It is pretty much like the traditional diet, except generally paleo folks do not include legumes or too much dairy, and are quite strictly against any grain consumption.
Was this list of holistic acne terms helpful? Please help me by spreading the word about The Love Vitamin! Share it with facebook, tweet it on twitter, or email it to a friend.
I think this is a very, very good blog post, which is more of a dictionary for somebody trying to clear their acne or wanting to improve their lifestyle in general.
I’m also loving your new ‘routine’ of posting videos/text on set days, I know for sure when to check back and always look forward to the next update 😀
You bring so much goodness into my life, which I would’t have normally found out. so thank you very much.
Peace and love,
I’m enjoying my new posting routine too 🙂
Here’s a word to add to your dictionary–epigenetics. Epigenetics means that our food influences our genes as well as those of our kids. In other words, if we eat healthy food, we could have better genes and, in turn, pass on better genes to our children! Since acne is a condition that is said to be inherited from our parents, maybe if we eat better, our children will not be so acne-prone as they would have otherwise been!
Genes are not effected by anything you do to yourself. If you cut off your left arm, your child will still be born with two; if you eat fast food every day your child’s genetics will be the same as they would be if you were perfectly healthy. (although the diet during the womans pregnancy would effect the child’s development… but not its genetics)
Not true actually. Many foods have been shown time and time again to change gene expression and actually cause mutations in the DNA.
Many viruses even cause genetic changes in the body. If one is protein deficient DNA repair won’t work as well because of the lack of amino acids involved in protein synthesis and nucleotide base pair replacement. Mutagens from common foods/chemicals have been shown to cause birth defects, which is proof enough that what we put in and on our bodies has an effect on genetics.
Our DNA, as humans, isn’t nearly as stable and static as we’ve been led to believe.
Just adding this tidbit, soy has been shown to increase infertility significantly several generations down the line. I think the amount was 3.
If 3 generations down the line aren’t capable of reproducing because of something you eat now, clearly there’s something going on “behind the scenes” that’s causing this change/mutation on a genetic level that’s not beneficial to the human genome and reproduction.
A woman is born with a set amount of eggs, that already contain the genetics that will create the new human. The eggs are not effected by what food you eat. I wont say anything about sperm because it is continually produced so I don’t know.
That would imply that what a woman does during her pregnancy has no effect on the fetus, which just isn’t the case. Mutagens exist in many forms. Alcohol is one such mutagen. I don’t think any sane person would recommend a woman drink during her pregnancy or even think it’s “ok.” If alcohol is, it’s not difficult to see how even common foods may cause birth defects.
… i said in my original comment that what the woman does during pregnancy effects the child. That is obvious. But it does not effect the child’s genetics. But you’ve defeated your own point now. Alcohol does not mutate your genes.
Alcohol is mutagenic. A mutagen is something that changes any variety of genetic processes from genetic expression or your DNA. So yes, alcohol does have the capability to change genes, actually, even if you don’t think it does. Doesn’t mean it will, but it certainly has that capability.
Along with Accutane, it’s also teratogenic and responsible for birth defects. Not sure what point you were trying to make with your comment, but it’s incorrect.
Well before you got side tracked. the point was that the food you eat will not effect your child’s genetics.
I agree with Sampson, I was at a course by an Oncologist, who said basically what Sampson was telling you, these mutagenes gradually create mutations that can lead to cancer or be given partially on to the children and when they live a unhealthy life, they add up to these mutagenes, and it can lead to cancer. At least that’s what the lecturer/doctor was teaching us.
I don’t know the answer to this debate, but be sure to keep it civil guys 🙂
Random question: have you ever heard (or tried) of eating clay to heal acne? Particularly, calcium benotite clay. I recently read about it and now I’m hearing it everywhere.
Yes I have – like bentonite and psyllium shakes for a bowel cleanse? What it’s supposed to do sounds good – cleaning out the bowel and absorbing the toxins is great and definitely would help acne. But I haven’t tried it or thoroughly researched it enough to actually recommend it yet
Ah, alright. If you ever get the time to do an experiment or research, that’d be awesome. I understand if you’re too busy though.
Is cod liver oil the best type of fish oil that one could use? I remember a guest poster on your blog mentioning other types of fish oils and when I go to my health store I get really confused by all the different types. I want to invest in good fish oil and would like more details on the subject please.
Oh yeah… there’s all sorts of fish oils. They’re all good if they’re high quality. But I like cod liver oil because along with the omega 3s, it also contains naturally occurring, highly useable forms of vitamin A and D, which are really important for the skin.
I have used Carlson brand in the past which is really good, but I have since learned about fermented cod liver oil which is even better – it’s called blue ice by Green Pastures. Quality is really important here – you don’t want to be cheap and get a crap brand or it will do you more harm than good.
So is the liquid stuff better than the soft gels? I’m assuming it is since it’s so much more expensive…
Also, why is the fermented stuuf better? More active ingredients and live bacteria?
I think the gel just has more ml in the bottle than what the gel caps come out to. Get the flavoured stuff too because you’ll be sad otherwise when you’re choking back fish flavour :/ Apparently the emulsified peppermint flavour tastes like candy (and it’s flavoured with natural essential oils, not sugar or anything)
Yes, fermented is better because like all fermented foods it’s absorbed and used by the body way easier. So even though the Green Pastures stuff is more expensive than non fermented, you need to take like half as much of it to get more benefits so it evens out.
I was just curious if you approved of kerrygold butter? It is organic and from grass fed cows, but says pasteurized cream in the ingredients. Is there any other better source of quality saturated fat other than coconut oil?
Yes! Kerrygold butter is awesome. It’s okay if it’s pasteurized because butter contains very little lactose and proteins, it’s mostly just the fat. Pasteurization is bad normally only because it denatures the proteins and makes them hard to digest and allergenic. But since butter doesn’t really have that component, it’s all good, especially if it’s grass fed and organic. Kerrygold gets a thumbs up 🙂
I’ve recently purchased some of the Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil, in the mint flavour.
The taste it still quite gross, and to me it’s not something I want to be ‘drinking’ every day as it makes for a bad breath!
The bottle says that you can mix it with hot water or some paste/butter… would hummus be ok do you think? (mixing it in batches not all at once)
How do you take your fermented cod liver oil? Straight or with foods?
Haha so the mint flavour doesn’t really taste like candy? Hahah I saw a video of someone feeding it to her kid and the kid was like “MMMM YUM tastes like candy”. And then asked for more of it later – so I just assumed it was all delicious.
I haven’t tried green pastures yet (it’s hard to get in Australia) but I want to so bad, I’m still working my way through my my bottle of Carlson…. the lemon carlson flavour tastes like nothing, but I accidentally bought the regular one so it tastes nasty like fish…
Usually I try to take the cod liver oil at the same time as a meal… but I don’t mix it with a meal. What I do is put it on a spoon, then put it in my mouth…. you can’t seem to taste the fish taste until you swallow it, so I leave it in my mouth for a second while I take a sip of water to dilute it… swallow it and then take another swig of water. It’s not that fun, but it’s not that bad.
You should be able to mix it with whatever you want… whatever makes it easier on you! Hummus is fine!
I’ve tried orange flavoured cod liver oil. Tasted alright.
My daughters take the mint flavored one after breakfast. One of them likes to pass it down with some grapes or raisins. It’s extrely potent but also extremely good.
I love the mint flavored one and my husband has no issues with the unflavored one.
But I insist it’s quite strong, take it after a meal.
I finally just got myself my first bottle of green pastures cod liver oil/butter oil blend in the cinnamon flavour, and it tastes totally fine to me… can’t detect any fishiness at all! So I’m pleased about that.
It’s funny you should say that. I’ve just ran out! I think I’m going to get the capsules next time though… just because it’s more convenient and tasteless.
(the quality is still as good right)?
Yeah, but I’ve read that it’s a lot less cost effective because you need to take a lot more of the capsules to make up the same amount as taking a teaspoon of the gel.
Which flavour were you taking again? And were you taking the butter oil blend or just the cod liver oil? I’m telling you the blend in the cinnamon flavour tastes totally fine… I can just take it right off the spoon with nothing else
Great post, Tracy! Very considerate of you 🙂
I’m curious, have you seen the documentary, “Bag It”?
My acne started after I had a root canal and some fillings replaced. Do you think there could be a link with mercury in my mouth?
Hi Karen –
Interesting, I just recently had another commenter mention that her acne started after she got a root canal and mercury filling. And if you do a quick google search, looks like other people have noticed the same thing. Mercury can cause a crazy array of symptoms, acne could be one. I’m not sure at this time what the direct link would be, but it’s interesting… might have to do more research on this. I myself have a mercury filling from when I was a teen, and have always wondered about it..
Thank you for your response.
I’ve done tons and tons of research on this. When you have had clear skin all your life and after some dental work your health goes down and acne starts appearing on your face- something is def wrong.
I have many symptoms of mercury poisoning. It isn’t just acne on my cheeks on dealing with but skin flushing, even if I just yarn, my skin turns red. I’m having my mercury replaced – I have 4 fillings and my root canal extracted.
You can look it up on YouTube that people have actually had acne as one of their symptoms including eczema, parosis , allergies.
It’s to do with toxin build up as mercury (silver filling) is 50% mercury. If its dangerous outside then why wouldn’t it pose danger to us?
Anyway please let me know what you think about it- I should be having my replaced in the coming weeks and doing a mercury detox soon after.
If you have my email- please email me and let me now what you found out.
Oh and sorry about the typos- iPhone isn’t great with understanding my mind lol.
It seems like there are just SO many things that can trigger acne, it doesn’t surprise me at all if this triggered it for you. Mercury is bad news. And if you have other signs of mercury poisoning, I’m sure that once you take the fillings out and detox from it, you will see improvement in your skin. And if you do, I’d love to invite you to do a guest post or something sharing your experiences with this, in case others happen to be going through the same thing!
Will let you know..
I keep reading that in order to cure acne one should get a good quality multivitamin. I am not sure what to look for in order to decide if something is good quality. Any advice?
I believe you’ve mentioned before that you are/were taking holistic nutrition courses online. Could you tell me what institution the courses were through? Also, how do/did you find the program?
It was Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (RHN program) ~ Just found them online
I am getting better with my acne, thanks to the Paleo diet and exercises but now I am worried about scars. I have microdermabrasion once a month but I still don’t see any improvements yet. Do you have any suggestions?
Hi Bamboo, sorry to hear microdermabrasion isn’t working so well! here are the articles on the Love Vitamin about scarring:
Just wanted to say that this post is great and I appreciate all the advice you give. I am hooked on the manuka honey, ACV and jojoba oil. My skin is coming back to life! and my wallet is a lot fatter 🙂
Awesome, that’s great Norah!! 🙂
Do you soak all the grains you eat? If so, could you do a post about it, like how to do it correctly? I’m having quinoa flakes for breakfast, sometimes brown rice and use buckwheat and rice flour for pancakes and soda bread. When I cut out wheat my acne went away, but sadly it’s come back. I’m not sure going paleo is right for me. But properly preparing grains does sound important.