I Cleared My Cystic Acne In 7 Days By Eating Less Healthy
My daily routine was to wake up, immediately run my hands over my face to feel if any new spots had developed overnight, then head to the bathroom to analyse my skin. I would almost always have a new pimple appear, putting a downer on my mood for the whole day.
I couldn't understand it!
I'm a Nutritional Therapist, eating a real food, organic diet, exercising regularly, taking all the right supplements and using the 'cleanest' natural skincare products.
What else could I do?!
Over the past 2 years I have been on a deep dive into skin health and acne, trying to get answers for myself and this condition that I have been dealing with since the age of 18.
Fasting, liquid only diets, gut healing protocols, parasite cleanses, FODMAP diet, juicing, expensive face creams, going on the oral contraceptive pill, clay masks, food intolerance testing, essential oils, low carb diet, going caffeine free, probiotics.....
You name it, I had done it.
I had slight relief with some of these treatments, however I have never had completely clear skin, apart from when I took the birth control pill aged 18-20. The pill worked in clearing my acne, however caused a lot of side effects too. When I started transitioning into a more holistic, natural lifestyle and studying naturopathic nutrition, I stopped taking the pill and sure enough my acne came back with a vengeance.
Recently I had really been focusing on gut health and a lower carb diet (to support my hormones), which meant I was consuming a lot of oily fish like mackerel and sardines, avocado, walnuts, bone broth, grass-fed beef, collagen powder and cacao. Healthy right?!
At the same time I noticed my anxiety levels had increased, my blood sugar was becoming much higher than normal and my acne had exploded into painful cysts and whiteheads, covering my whole face.
That's when it clicked, after I started tracking the similarities with my triggers....
They were all high in HISTAMINE !!!
I was aware of the link between histamine and conditions such as asthma, eczema, migraines, hives and allergies, but the acne connection is hardly ever mentioned.
I had researched histamine extensively during my studies, to support my clients and also during my own gut healing protocols. I used to react to high histamine and salicylate foods when my gut was in a bad shape, and experienced symptoms such as facial hives, flushing, headaches, dizziness, itchy skin and constipation. During this time I also eliminated high histamine foods such as fermented foods, vinegar, aged meat, left overs, citrus and avocados. Looking back, my acne didn't clear at that point because I had a ton of other issues such as hormone, digestive, blood sugar and adrenal imbalances.
Because I had overcome those particular symptoms I was experiencing, histamine just wasn't on my mind anymore.
I believe I took advantage of my increased ability to tolerate the foods I had previously avoided, and passed my tolerance 'threshold'. My symptoms may have changed over the years but the underlying causes remained the same.
Turned out that I had MOLD ILLNESS & was unknowingly living in a water damaged building that was keeping me sick all this time. Breathing in this toxic air every day meant that my body was chronically stressed & inflamed 24/7 despite everything I was doing. I now know that histamine/mast cell issues can very commonly be driven by mold exposure. I also have a genetic predisposition to having high histamine levels, meaning that when my body is imbalanced, I can have difficulty breaking down internally produced histamine (endogenous) and histamine rich foods (exogenous). Because I was eating so much histamine laden foods every day, without being able to detoxify it well, my 'histamine bucket' was spilling over - creating inflammation and several symptoms.
Within 1 week of cutting out high histamine foods, my skin was clear!
All that remained was some hyperpigmentation and slight redness from previous spots. No more cysts, whiteheads or red bumps.
Although high histamine levels were triggering my cystic acne, I ultimately needed to address the toxicity from mold exposure.
I guess I was too busy trying to follow all of the advice from other nutrition 'experts', instead of listening to my own body & looking at the bigger picture.
Almost everything you read these days is how we should be eating tons of avocado, sipping on bone broth all day long and supplementing with collagen we want to have optimal gut, skin and immune health.
But I'm here to tell you that sadly this doesn't work for everyone & even if you find out histamine is a trigger for you, PLEASE investigate & work on the causes, because you should be able to tolerate these foods.
A few weeks into my dietary change I identified that avocado and chocolate were the two main dietary triggers! How sad :(
**4 YEARS ON, March 2022 update**
Have I needed to avoid all these foods ongoing?? NOPE. My food tolerance has MASSIVELY increased after moving homes & healing from mold. I may still react to high histamine foods if I consume a lot of them in a day, but I know my limits now & compared to where I was at with dietary restrictions at one point, I feel free as a bird lol.
If you are someone who is currently dealing with acne, please don't jump straight on a super restricted, low histamine diet, hoping that you will 'cure' your acne too. This may not be a common acne trigger, but it may be something to consider.
It is important to address the foundations for optimal skin health first, like I did. These include the elimination of processed foods, refined sugars + inflammatory fats. You also need to work on blood sugar management, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and stress reduction techniques.
To learn the other root causes and solutions for chronic acne, you can check out this blog post.
Only once you have addressed the factors I discuss, should you start to look at more specific imbalances and drivers of histamine intolerance. Other symptoms indicative of excess histamine include itchy skin, rashes, dizziness, headache/migraines, insomnia, anxiety & palpitations.
The key is to listen to your body and look at the bigger picture, rather than focusing in on which superfood to buy or the latest 'acne fighting' facial serum.
Look closely at what you are eating, your daily habits, the environment you live in and all of the symptoms you are currently experiencing. Doing this can help you (or a health practitioner) find out your own personal acne drivers and develop a protocol to address them.
Are you someone who struggles with acne or histamine issues? What natural treatments have you tried that have been successful? Let me know in the comments section below! :-)
If you would like help in figuring out the root cause and drivers of your acne, you can work with me 1-on-1 by clicking here! I know how frustrating it can be to deal with adult acne. You don't have to suffer. Get help in clearing your skin once and for all.