Acne + Diet: A Chinese Medicine Approach

Republished with permission from Silk + Palm an Evio Community Partner

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ACNE + DIET

The dreaded “A” word. Becoming more and more of an issue for so many people, especially adults and women. As someone who has dealt with acne for years and still does at times, I understand how frustrating and upsetting it can be in so many ways. Your face is the first thing somebody sees when they look at you, and to have it covered in red, swollen, painful bumps is heartbreaking. It is emotionally and physically scarring and can take YEARS to fully heal. I don’t believe there is one solution that will work for everyone, I believe that it is layers and layers of healing that has to happen in many different areas, like hormones, digestion, stress, emotions (past and present), water intake, sleep habits and so on. 

In this blog post, I'm going to discuss how Chinese Medicine looks at acne + diet and what has helped me along the way!

 

WHAT IS ACNE?

Acne is a skin disorder that happens when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells, oil and dirt. This results in oily skin, papules, pustules, blackheads and/or whiteheads. It can occur on the face, back, chest and shoulders. 

In Chinese Medicine, Acne can be caused by heat, damp and/or stagnation in the body. Many different things can lead to all of these issues and will be different for every person so it is best to see an Acupuncturist to figure out where the root of your acne is coming from and how to best treat it. That being said, I’ve put together some general diet recommendations that you can get started on in the meantime. 

 

DIET

Diet was one of the most important aspects to my personal struggle with acne, it wasn’t until I made changes to my diet and did them consistently, that I noticed changes. The biggest thing for me was cutting out…gluten, dairy, refined sugar, eggs, nuts, corn and junk food (obvi)…It seems like a lot and at first was very overwhelming to me, especially because dairy and eggs are hiding in so many food products, even healthy ones, but once I got into it, its become very easy. 

In Chinese Medicine, food has qualities to them that can heal or burden the body and will be different for everyone depending on their constitution. That being said, acne is considered to be heat and damp, and the above foods are known to cause heat and damp in the body, so its necessary to cut them out of the diet, if not forever, at least for a while to give the body time to heal.


Foods that help to fight heat and damp in the body are:

🥒veggies - asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts, lettuce, zucchini, eggplant, radish, spinach, boh choy.

🍋fruits - lemon, watermelon, kiwi, low sugar fruits like berries, grapefruit, rhubarb.

🍚grains and legumes - jobs tears, mung beans, adzuki beans, sprouts, millet, amaranth, buckwheat.

🌿herbs - peppermint, chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, dandelion.

🐄meat - small amounts of good quality meats.

 

These foods are all good to incorporate into the diet to clear heat and drain dampness.

 

Foods that can make acne worse are:

  • dairy
  • gluten
  • refined sugar
  • eggs
  • spicy food
  • fried food
  • bananas 
  • avocado

I don't personally believe in any one diet for everyone, and its going to take a lot of trial and error to figure out what your body likes and doesn't. That being said, I believe in eating a balanced diet consisting of whole, real foods with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, along with whole grains (gluten free), antibiotic + hormone free meats, and fruit. 

 

HOW TO EAT 

As important as what you’re eating is, it's just as important to pay attention to how you’re eating! I know most of us have heard of conscious eating before and I think its an important part of anyone's diet. If you don’t know what conscious eating is, it's basically being present and positive when you’re eating. Which means don’t be answering emails or scrolling through Instagram and don’t eat during times of emotional stress, as the body won’t be able to properly digest the food. As important as being present is, I personally think being positive is a game changer! I used to be someone who would get sad and bummed out that I couldn't eat certain foods like donuts or cheeseburgers anymore, especially being in social situations where everyone around you is eating those things. It wasn't until I changed my thoughts on the food I was eating that I really noticed a difference. I started getting AMPED about the foods that I COULD eat instead of focusing on what I couldn't eat. I can now be in social situations and it doesn't phase me at all to eat how I do. I'm also super lucky to have some really bomb ass friends who also support me and the way that I eat. And once you start seeing results, you'll be so happy you won't care about the foods you can't eat anymore!

 

CONSISTENCY + PATIENCE 

The other important part of a diet is consistency and patience, which for me, was the hardest. I can remember going gluten and dairy free for a couple weeks, not seeing any changes and then getting upset and eating the food again. It wasn't until I decided to do it for AS LONG AS IT TOOK, that I started seeing changes to my acne and my body/ health. It took me a full 3 months to notice ANY changes in myself, which I feel is a very long time. Most people will notice a difference in a month, sometimes less, sometimes more. Patience isn't my strongest quality, so it was VERY difficult for me.  That being said,  It's been 10 months of me eating this way and I can finally tell that my body is healing and so is my acne, which makes me SO unbelievably happy. So don't give up, push through and remember, as much as diet WILL help you, its also not going to be the only thing that clears it up either. In the upcoming weeks, I'll be touching on the other important areas for when it comes to healing your acne and letting yourself... ✨GLOW WITH THE FLOW✨