Need help with hormonal acne

Discussion in 'Skin' started by ilovethesea, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Hi, this is my first post and I hope you can help me. I'm a 37 yr old female and am in the process of trying to transition my diet to more Ray Peat style.

    The main problem I'm looking to figure out is that I've always had consistent premenstrual breakouts. They coincide with my cycle in that as soon as estrogen drops (2nd half of the cycle) my skin gets oilier and I get these cystic bumps. Then as soon as my period comes (and estrogen goes up again) my skin totally calms down and is perfectly clear... only to start the problem all over again.

    I know it is related to estrogen/progesterone because in the past when I've been on the birth control pill and (briefly) spironolactone - both of which raise estrogen - I had 100% flawless skin. One time I took a progesterone-only birth control pill and it made me break out terribly. I also tried taking chasteberry recently, which I understand raises progesterone, and although I think my mood was better it gave me the worst cystic breakouts I've had in memory.

    My cycle is very regular by the way, 28 days exactly. I have had my hormones tested and while normal, my progesterone is apparently a little on the high side. It used to be low before but I believe is higher now from taking iodine (50mg Iodoral)... which I take because I only have 1/2 a thyroid due to thyroid cancer. I know Ray Peat doesn't believe in iodine so I'm not sure if I will continue taking it when I'm done the bottle. The iodine hasn't made any difference either way with acne. I take it because I believe I got the cancer from being severely deficient and also because I was exposed to radiation (throat x rays) as a toddler.

    Anyway the latest is that my naturopath recommended I take a low dosage of plant estrogens and see if it helps. (She makes a blend that includes kudzu root, red clover, angelica, black cohosh etc). So far it has only been 1 month so too early to know if it's doing anything, but now reading Ray Peat's views on estrogen I am so confused. I see that he recommends women take progesterone but I am scared to take the Progest-E in fear of breaking out.

    Or do I not even take any of these female hormones? I honestly don't know what to do anymore. I know vitamin A can be helpful and right now I'm using Retin A topically although I'm concerned about its long term side effects. I also seem to have better skin when I take cod liver oil even though I'm learning that is a no-no as well. I thought that vitamin A supplements were toxic without vitamin D though?

    Anyway if anyone has any ideas of how I can fix this I would be very grateful. thank you!
     
  2. j.

    j. Guest

    Vitamin A requirements vary extremely from person to person, or even the same person depending if it's winter or summer.

    One thing you could try, which works for some people, is look if the calluses of your hands are a bit orange. If you consume products with beta-carotene, such as eggs or raw carrot, your calluses might get orange when you're having too much vitamin A.

    Vitamins D and E let you consume more vitamin A without experiencing toxic effects.
     
  3. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Thanks. Nope my hands don't have any orange. I'm pretty sure I'm not getting enough vitamin A as I've only just started the diet transition. The past couple of years I've been taking 1 tsp Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil which I think is 5-10,000 IU. I do eat eggs and carrots a lot but never have liver.

    So do you think increasing vitamin A consumption is the best solution for my skin issues?

    Or should all females be taking Progest E? what about aspirin?

    PS I also take 500 IU vitamin E daily... but it's from fish gelatin. (Thorne Ultimate-E) Is that ok?
     
  4. j.

    j. Guest

    I don't think I know enough to recommend anything, but what I do myself is, I consume some vitamin A. If there is improvement, I think I was having vit A deficiency. So I consume more as long as the condition, acne or dandruff, keeps improving by taking vit A.

    Vitamin E lets you take more vitamin A without experiencing toxicity and also lets the body store vit A better.
     
  5. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Do you supplement with vits A and E or just get it from food?
    I was thinking of ordering the Nutrisorb A.
    Is there a certain ratio of A and E you need to aim for?
     
  6. j.

    j. Guest

    I supplement with A, retinyl palmitate, basically because that's what I can get. I can't get good quality vitamin E where I live, so I supplement only with A.
     
  7. j.

    j. Guest

    Forgot to say, yeah, I think it's a good idea to have liver between 2 and 4 times a month whether you have acne or not. Since the timing of your breakouts is sort of predictable, I'd say try some liver just before you're supposed to have a breakout.
     
  8. honeybee

    honeybee Member

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    What helped me immensely with balancing hormones is vitex. It works better for me than progest e. peat only mentions cited in contex of lowering prolactin ( as far as I know). Vitex has akso been mentioned on the kmud interviews. I used to have hormonal breakouts and when I started with vitex during last half of cycle after ovulation, the breakouts stopped. The tincture works best for me and it didn't take weeks for effects to kick in. You might try googling for more info because I have heardit can make breakouts worse for some people.
     
  9. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Thanks, that is a good idea to increase vit A in 2nd half of cycle. (Not sure I'll be able to handle liver though... I've never eaten it!)

    Re: vitex, yes as I mentioned above I tried chasteberry which is the same thing. I took it (Metagenics brand) in Nov/Dec and it was a disaster - deep cystic pimples that are only clearing now with the Retin-A.

    So I'm guessing I had that reaction because my progesterone level is already high? My latest bloodwork shows progesterone and estrogen both in the normal range but progesterone on the high side.

    Although it's very strange because even when my progesterone used to be low, years ago before I started taking the iodine, I was still having the same premenstrual acne problem.

    I am so confused.
     
  10. cliff

    cliff Member

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    How are your temps/pulse? Using thyroid, eating liver once or twice a week/taking vitamin A and eating the raw carrot salad usually help clear up acne. Niacianamide can help in my experience too.
     
  11. gretchen

    gretchen Member

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    I had hormonal acne in my 30s and also took the bcp. I've been off it since 2011 without breakouts, but started progesterone in 2010 which might have had a balancing effect.

    What was your past diet like?
     
  12. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Cliff,
    Just messaged you on the other thread about this. I need to buy a more accurate thermometer and then will post my temperatures. However in the past when I was measuring in the morning they were definitely below optimum. (I take my thyroid once a day first thing in the morning so that's probably part of it?) I also get incredibly cold feet at night.

    I didn't know thyroid could clear up acne. Wow. Now I'm thinking that some of my better skin periods were when my dosages were too high according to the doctors! I never made the connection. The doctors are always so crazy about me taking too much... meanwhile that's when I always feel a bit better, more energy, alertness etc. It's almost like they WANT people to be hypothyroid.
     
  13. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Gretchen,
    I ate pretty "healthy" according to mainstream standards. Ever since my thyroid cancer 5 yrs ago I experimented with a lot of diet fads in search of the "perfect one" :) i.e. paleo (4 Hour Body), green juicing, gluten-free, vegan, Weston Price, etc. I'm not a good dieter so I was never strict and could never give up carbs. I think my main food groups have been lots of leafy veg, apples (but not too many other fruits because of the sugar), rice, pasta, root veg, "healthy" cereals and crackers, beans/bean dips and LOTS of nuts/almond butter. For protein salmon, tuna, chicken, eggs but not always at every meal so I'm sure it's not enough. Weakness is salty foods like potato chips. I rarely crave sugar, only a day or two before my period sometimes.

    For vitamin A I was influenced heavily by Weston Price cod liver oil theories so I've been taking that for quite a while now... 1 tsp a day. Along with a whole bunch of other supplements I now discover are bad for me?? Probiotics, vitamin C, D, E (from fish gelatin), iodine, iron, B12, relora, calcium, magnesium and the plant estrogen blend I mentioned at the beginning. Yikes!! Guess that was $$ wasted to my naturopath.
     
  14. gretchen

    gretchen Member

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    Hmm, idk. My acne was probably the result of prolonged low carb dieting. I think estrogen dominance had something to do with it, though I'm estrogen dominant now and have no breakouts.

    In the 2000s I did diets like the Zone, blood type and Perricone- a lot of carb and food restriction with an emphasis on fish and green vegetables.

    It could be the cod liver oil. I got interested in WAP a few years ago and bought some clo last year but then read Peat's fish oil article and abruptly stopped all omega 3. My hormonal stuff (severe insomnia, acne etc) got worse within the first year on salmon so the clo is probably the thing you should drop first. Pour it down the drain if you can and pick up some coconut oil. Also, fwiw, I've read accounts of other people having their hormonal balance ruined by clo (actual comments on the WAP site; someone linked it to their infertility issues).
     
  15. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Oh I had premenstrual breakouts long before the cod liver oil. That actually seemed to improve it, probably because of the vitamin A. I've stopped taking it though! Ordering some Nutrisorb A asap.

    Re: estrogen/progesterone... I'm willing to experiment supplementing with the Progest-E and see what happens, as long as I can keep any acne that may crop up under control with vitamin A, diet and topical Retin-A.

    Problem is, I don't know how I'm going to get Progest-E because it's restricted in Canada. I take it none of the progesterone creams come close to the same results?
     
  16. gretchen

    gretchen Member

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    Your acne is probably mostly due to estrogen dominance:
    http://www.acupuncturecenteraa.com/pdf/ ... inance.pdf

    Estrogen dominance is normal after 35 but your diet is probably the cause also. You mentioned you've eaten a bunch of nuts and nut butter. PUFAs store in the tissues and cause hormonal disturbances.

    To what extent or whether the drops are more effective I can't say having never used them. Admittedly, the creams didn't work when I was breaking out.

    Whatever you do, try to avoid the bcp; it will only make you more estrogen dominant.

    Lower your stress as much as you can. Consider briefly doing something like a "rest and refeed"; eat some ice cream daily and load up on the sugar and salt. Matt Stone writes about this if you want more information.
     
  17. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Wow thanks for that article. I didn't realize premenstrual acne could be a symptom of estrogen dominance - I just assumed it was the effect of the progesterone rising during that stage of the cycle (and also that I had too much progesterone since the vitex/chasteberry broke me out.)

    I definitely have some other symptoms on that list - the worst being cold hands and feet, premenstrual irritability/depression/inability to deal with stress for that one week, and a headache on the last day of my cycle each month. I had bad allergies in the past too but as long as I'm not exposed to dust and animal dander I'm ok now.

    Copule more questions:

    1. What would be the next best thing to use if I can't get Progest-E - would it be the vitex?
    I'm in Canada so unless I can get a relative in the US to get me some Progest-E it looks like I won't be able to use it. I can't find anything where Peat has talked about vitex. I'm a little scared of it messing up my cycles since I've always been 28 days like clockwork with zero issues and I've heard it can lengthen them if you're already regular. However now that I'm stopping my iodine which also raises progesterone I feel like I need a substitution, or else I'll revert back to even lower progesterone (which I was before on a saliva test a few years ago).

    2. Should I also be starting on aspirin now as I detox out the PUFAs? I have 325mg tabs but not sure how many/how often to take them.

    Oh and as for eating ice cream, salt sugar and relaxing I am all for that :) Even in the past week from upping sugar and salt I feel a difference with the stress.
     
  18. jyb

    jyb Member

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    @ilovethesea, re aspirin: experiment with several doses as needed. If you plan to take a big dose (several tabs), it's sometimes recommended to build up to it gradually during a few days. I find that for 1 tab daily, then after several days my blood ends up thinning too much (if I get a bleeding nose, it will take more time to stop) meaning that my vitamin K should be increased - whatever vitamin K from food I was getting was not sufficient, so I supplement it if I take 1 tab daily. When I do get enough K, the blood thinning is never an issue even at several grams per day.
     
  19. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Ok thanks. Doing 1 aspirin a day for now, and got the K2 on order so by the time it arrives hopefully can move up to 2/day.

    Also good news, Progest-E can ship to Canada so I'll start that soon. And my Nutrisorb A is coming from iHerb, as well as a new thermometer. My temperatures and pulse are both low which I'm sure is the root of the problem (in addition to the estrogen dominance). :(
     
  20. OP
    ilovethesea

    ilovethesea Member

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    Just updating my own thread here. I forgot about this one. My skin issues completely cleared as soon as I got on a higher dose of NDT. Just for the record :)
     
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