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Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly.

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Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly.

Posted by Rapunzel on April 11, 2002 at 13:20:02:

Hello Dr. Stoll,

I've been searching your site and I have been doing research on the 'net and in books/magazines/medical literature for months, now.

Here is my problem. I never had acne until I turned 31. (I'm now 36.) The acne was cyclic each month--new acne spots for a couple weeks and then a respite for a couple weeks. Then, it would start over again. During my pregnancy with my son and for the first 9 months of his life (until my cycle returned), my skin was clear and beautiful. However after my cycle returned, so did my acne.

In the fall of 2000, I was introduced to a brand-new line of skincare that nutrients the skin from the outside in and from the inside out. (A new concept in the world of skincare.) Within a month, my skin was once again gorgeous! It remained perfect until May 2001.

I was already taking this same company's high quality, pharmaceutical-grade nutritionals. Thus in the past year and a half, I've become even more health conscious and nutritional aware than I already was. In May of 2001 after reading about the importance of EFAs, I started supplementing with it.

First, it was fish oil capsules. Within a few days, I started having acne problems. Since all the literature I have ever come across (including info on your site) stated that EFAs are supposed to IMPROVE acne, I never once thought that could be the cause. So, I set in motion an investigation to pinpoint the cause of my acne.

After ruling everything else out including various dietary factors, environmental factors, stress factors, etc, I finally realized that the fish oil capsules were the last remaining item I had not yet singled out. It took me 5 months to figure this out. During this time, my acne had progressed to becoming worse than I had ever had it. No longer was it cyclic, but it there all month long with at least 10 open large spots and many more red spots from old acne. I looked like Frankenstein.

So, I quit using the fish oil capsules. The acne started to dissipate right away. I thought perhaps it was the source – fish. (I intensely dislike fish and anything from the sea and thought perhaps it was a natural avoidance masking a food allergy to it.) So, I tried other sources of EFAs – various forms of flax seed (golden), the oil (organic, from very reputable companies), etc. Each time I tried it, my acne would return with a vengeance. This trial and error continued for several more months.

Sadly, I decided to discontinue all EFA supplementation as the way the acne made me feel was devastating.

With no EFA’s, my acne was not nearly as bad but it was still there. So, I asked a nutritionally aware doctor here in my area (Atlanta) about my problem, he recommended a particular supplement by a certain company. It contains saw palmetto along with a couple other items. I started taking it a couple months ago and WOW – my skin is clear once again.

Buoyed by this, I started adding back in some of my EFA supplementation. First a small supplement that contains borage oil, flax oil, antioxidant-rich green tea and grape seed extracts, as well as vitamins, phytonutrients, and amino acids. [This supplement is part of my skincare regimen that takes of the part where I nutrient my skin from the inside out.] So far so good.

Then I added back a tablespoon of a mixture of EFA oils (Organic flax seed, sunflower and pumpkin seed oils). Pow! Once again, the acne immediately returned – literally the next day. If I bump up the intake of the supplement with saw palmetto, it seems to help a tad but it is expensive and not a good alternative.

In the meantime, I’ve done research. I’ve learned that taking EFAs slightly increase the body’s output of testosterone. Then, I wondered why would the saw palmetto help my acne.. I found that saw palmetto research indicates that it inhibits production of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which is a catalyst for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). By inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase production, saw palmetto reduces the amount of DHT in the body. So, I’ve deduced that this could be the true cause of my acne.

My question – why in my body would EFA’s do this to me and not so many others? What could be so out of "whack" to cause such a response?

I must tell you that I am not a stressed person. No life is perfect or without stresses but I have a very good life. I have a wonderful family, great husband, wonderful happy 4 yr old son. I eat healthy, (organic whenever possible),whole foods, as preservative free as I can find. No nitrates, no artificial food colors or flavors. I exercise fairly regularly. I am considered to be in terrific health. I’ve done yoga on and off since I was pregnant. (I love it.) I’ve just incorporated Tai Chi which I really enjoy. I listen almost exclusively to soothing classical and new age music, non-verbals only. (I find words used in song to be distracting unless they are of a different language, preferably of tribal languages.)

I do take a daily supplement of a probiotic supplement to keep my candida under control. I don’t eat yeast breads too often for this reason. (I was subjectively diagnosed in ’92 with a candida problem by a wonderful alternative RNP and through research and personal experience have found this to be true. I am about to have all 18 mercury amalgam fillings removed b/c of the dreadful risk mercury poses to my health as well as the fact that mercury reacts with the candida on my intestinal tract, etc. I also want to give my next child a better start than my first child had.)

[It is interesting to also note that during my pregnancy and during the first 9months that my candida was nearly non-existent – quite the opposite of many that I’ve known with candida.]

Considering my age, peri-menopause is a possible factor in all of this. However, none of the vast array of books, and research I’ve done has shed any more light on this matter… at least in MY situation. Hormonally, I seem to be the opposite of many. ?

So, I wonder if you have any gems of wisdom? Why do the EFA’s cause acne when for so many others, EFA’s help?

Sorry for the length of post but I felt it necessary to give you as clear a picture as possible.

---

Thanks for all you do here at your site – it’s terrific and it remains permanently bookmarked in my computer! Please keep up your fantastic work!!! (And I wish the world was full of doctors like yourself.)





Re: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly.

Posted by rpf on April 11, 2002 at 14:13:58:

In Reply to: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly. posted by Rapunzel on April 11, 2002 at 13:20:02:

I have come to the same conclusion. I actually ran out of pills and my face cleared. When I started to take them again my face broke out. My outbreaks were huge and painful. I have stopped taking the supplement and am eating more fish.

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Re: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly.

Posted by R. on April 11, 2002 at 15:42:36:

In Reply to: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly. posted by Rapunzel on April 11, 2002 at 13:20:02:

According to your research, do all EFA's (Omega-6 and Omega-3) increase production of testosterone?

Have you come accross research about ability of different fatty acids to affect production of different prostaglandins? Could it be that proportion of EFA's you were taking wasn't right for you?

I'd also like to say that not everybody needs to supplement with EFA's. Supplementation is designed for those who don't get enough nutrients from food. Perhaps (and it's obvious), you didn't need to supplement. EFA's are contained in whole food. I don't remember reading about healthy native people making oils from food and consuming it. Well, olive oil *may* be different. Food from pastured animals is said to contain enough EFA's.

I find words used in song to be distracting unless they are of a different language...

It's amasing as this is also my attitute toward words in songs. That's why I don't like listening to songs with words in my native language.



Re: Acne caused by EFAs

Posted by Carol B. on April 11, 2002 at 17:18:02:

In Reply to: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly. posted by Rapunzel on April 11, 2002 at 13:20:02:

I started taking flax seed oil capsules, and noticed that my hands did not chap in the winter weather. My face has always been very oily, and I have had acne since I was ten. In my early forties I began using Pond's Age Defying Lotion. When I did, my face finally cleared up!

The lotion has one of those acids in it that helps the outer layer of skin to shed, and it is enough to keep the pores open. I might get a small whitehead when my hormones shift, but that is all.

Elevated levels of testosterone can cause acne. Could that be causing your problem?

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Re: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly.

Posted by Rapunzel responding to R on April 12, 2002 at 10:14:58:

In Reply to: Re: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly. posted by R. on April 11, 2002 at 15:42:36:

Few people get enough EFAs. One study pointed to the fact that 90% (or more) of people do not get enough EFAs.

After doing research, I realized that I do not get enough, either. Most of us do get enough Omega-6, but Omega-3 is the one we need MOST. In fact, an imbalance of Omega-6 can cause problems b/c the prostaglandin it affects is Series-1 and Series-2 [Series-2 being the one that could cause problems], and your body needs Series-1 and Series-3 to in order to maintain a healthy balance, most especially Series-3. Series-3 is made from Omega-3.

From the reading I have personally done, mammal meat - no matter how fed, is not a source for a-linolenic acid (LNA) or Linoleic Acid (LA) . (3 and 6, respectively)

I wonder... I have not been able to find a single scientific reference to back up your statement - are you able to furnish one?

For me since I am not a vegan/vegetarian, the right ratio is a 3-1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6. Current American diet indicates that our ratios are 1:20 or 1:40 - extremely unhealthy. Old tribal diets were estimated at a 1:1. There's been no "official" recommendation by larger entities but those steeped in true science seem to agree on the 3:1 ratio.

Prior to becoming more aware of the nuances of EFAs, I did try varying sources and as a result these sources gave me different ratios, all tipped the scales to the Omega-3 side in vary degrees. (Which of course was the smart route since my diet like most has plenty – too much – Omega 6.) The ratio didn't seem to matter. I still came up with tons of acne.

And no, I've not yet found anything that indicates if testosterone is made by one or both omega-3 or 6. Some literature seems to point to the fact that all of the EFAs influence testosterone though I've not yet confirmed that from a chemistry perspective.

Although… the moment I try to increase my Omega3 intake, the acne kicks in... (argh)

There's still some missing links, here. (sigh)

Thanks for the questions – they were good ones!

----

And regarding the music, I love native people’s songs interspersed with New Age-type music. Though French or Italian is just as beautiful when done right (such as Sarah Brightman or Andrea Bocelli, etc.)


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Re: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly. (Archive in acne.)

Posted by Walt Stoll on April 12, 2002 at 18:16:36:

In Reply to: Acne caused by EFAs - Yes, you read that correctly. posted by Rapunzel on April 11, 2002 at 13:20:02:

Thanks, Rapunzel.

You have just proven what I have been saying for years: everyone is very different. You are the first person I have heard of that had this response but I am not surprised.

EFA's are, at best, just a treatment that may help many people reduce or eliminate their acne. Wellness is the only thing that seems to reliably reverse it in all people.

Namaste`

Walt

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