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      News — acne



      Look in a Merck medical manual 10 years ago and you could find the statement “diet does not affect acne”. It is hard to imagine a respected health resource stating this considering so much our health is tied into our food, diet and lifestyle – and acne, for the most part, is no different with a few caveats.

      Acne can have several causes and in this blog post, I will attempt to outline these with some guidelines for overcoming the condition (naturally). Much can be written on this topic, I will attempt to be as brief as possible and cover the main points in less than a 5-minute read.

      Acne can be a debilitating disorder especial during a severe outbreak. The social aspect of the disorder can be the hardest part of dealing with acne. Acne on the face makes one less likely to want to socialize leading to a loss of confidence and self-esteem. Acne, especially during the teen years, can be difficult to deal with when social activities are so important (and often awkward enough). Hang in there… condition lasts forever and with the right guidance it can be a thing of the past more quickly than you expect.

      First lets quickly look at the conventional drug store options as a way of indicating what not to use.

      Prescription drug
      • Accutane (Isotretinoin) and it's now other brand names is an outrageously dangerous drug for the treatment of severe acne. From the harmful side effect including birth defects, inflammatory bowel disease, abnormal bone growth and depression/suicide/psychosis to name a few (there are around 30).

      Over the counter
      • Benzoyl peroxide a drying (burning) petrochemical derivative that compromises the skin's eco-flora (immune system) and set the acne sufferer up for continued failure to treat acne effectively.
      Benzoyl peroxide does, however, dry out the acne nicely to give the appearance of reduced redness. This drying/burning is similar to a bleaching or a chemical peel where layers of the skin are removed. As mentioned above this impairs the integrity of the skin's eco flora (good bacteria) and hydro-lipid layer (moisturizing protecting layer of the skin) causing the acne to often come back with a vengeance.
      • Synthetic Salicylic Acid – has a similar drying action however less severe that BP. Thera Wise Ac+ Acne ointment uses salicylic acid from willow tree bark @ 0.5%, witch hazel extract and tamanu oil to assist in overcoming pathogenic bacteria.

      Here are the considerations that in my opinion are the biggest causes of acne.
      • Pathogenic bacteria (bad bacteria) vs good bacteria (healthy skin eco-flora) in and around the skin's pores.
      • Hormonal changes (Stress, puberty, PMS, pregnancy, menopause, food choices).
      • Comedogenic (pore blocking) personal care and air pollution particulates.
      • Diet – deficiency in micronutrients, GLA EFA’s, high glycemic foods, hormone-injected meats and milk, allergies.
      • Internal health – immune system (gut health), imbalance in the constitution.
      • Genetics – some people are just more prone to skin challenges (not your fault!).
      • Allergies – mostly from food, however, could include personal care, pets pollen etc.

      What to do
      Proper skin regimen.
      For any inflammatory skin condition, less is more when it comes to personal care use especially in the affected areas. For women that use foundation, blush, mascara try to minimize, eliminate and remove when not working or going out until the acne is eliminated or reduced.  Gentle soaps and cleansing gels should be used sparingly (consider an olive oil soap) and avoid petrochemicals.

      As the first defence against acne use our Thera Wise Ac+ Bio Active Acne Ointment 
      It is a comprehensive approach that targets the factors that cause acne.
      No other anti-acne ointment on the market approaches acne-like Ac+.

      Here is why:
      • Anti-inflammatory plant extract reduces redness, swelling and itching.
      • Restorative and regenerative emollients protect and rejuvenate delicate compromised tissue.
      • Balance the skin's eco-flora (reduces pathogenic bacteria and promotes healthy skin bacteria).
      • Protect and rejuvenates the delicate hydro-lipid layer of the skin (natural barrier).
      • Gentle pore cleansing & naturally antibacterial activity to remove acne-causing bacteria.
      • Natural moisturizing base – has a bio affinity with the skin – the composition of olive wax is the most similar to human sebum.

      You can use our Ac+ as a moisturizer on areas that you are often experiencing acne before an outbreak occurs.  Works great as a spot treatment too.

      Diet, supplements and herbals suggestions

      • Probiotics – important for overcoming any skin condition – fermented vegetables are my first choice, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles etc. If you have been taking antibiotics then possibly consider a quality store-bought probiotic initially.
      • Quality filtered water.
      • Essential Fatty acids can really help overcome inflammatory skin conditions. – Flaxseed oil, krill oil, hemp seed oil, Olive oil salmon, sardines, mackerel etc.
      • Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) mostly found in the foods – hemp seeds, oats and barley and in oils – evening primrose oil, blackcurrant seed oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil and flax oil can be helpful overcoming acne.
      • Detoxifying leafy green vegetables – kale, collard greens, salad greens should already be part of everyone's diet, this is especially important for acne sufferers. I like whole food choices over processed green products that come in a bottle. Consider green smoothies to increase your greens intake quickly. For some inspiration and fun in this category, there is no-one more likely to get you motivated than Canada’s ambassador to healthy food fun Megan Telpner – search green smoothie on her site.
      • Quality protein for cellular regeneration – use only organic (grass feed for beef, lamb bison etc) pasture-raised animal proteins. Avoid hormone injected raised conventional meats
      Vegetarians/Vegans look for beans, hemp seeds, avocados, nuts, kale etc
      Look also at green tea, my favourite cannot live without morning vice is Tsuen tea organic sencha from Kyoto (the oldest tea manufacturer, merchant in Japan from 1160)…heavenly!
      • Locally grown (organic if possible) cooling in nature vegetables cucumber, radish, snow peas, beets, turnips, zucchini, bok choy, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower.
      • Avoid or minimize dairy and high glycemic foods (sugars) both have studies indicating they can exacerbate acne.

      Internal herbals to treat acne (tincture or decoction/tea).
      Chastetree berry (hormonal normalizer)
      Burdock (cleansing detoxifying and all-around good for the skin)
      Yellow Dock (similar to burdock – cleanses the blood and lymphatic system)

      Tamanu Oil

      Tamanu Oil

      Tamanu Oil - Calophyllum inophyllum

      If one did not know much about tamanu oil, one drop on the skin would give a rich and luxurious feeling with wonderfully hydrating and softening properties. If you intuitively sensed that this oil has a bio-compatibility with the skin, you would be bang-on. Highly regarded in Pacific island folk medicine, the oil has been topically applied to treat just about everything you can imagine related to the skin including cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites and stings, abrasions, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, herpes sores, and to reduce foot and body odour.

      The tamanu plant (Calophyllum inophyllum) is native to South East Asia and Polynesia, with much of the commercial production coming from Tahiti and Fiji. Tamanu is a member of the mangosteen family, this is a thick tree with cracked dark greyish brown colored bark. The leaves are shiny rugged and elliptical, with the tree producing a striking white perfumey flower to be followed by a large nut with green outer fruit (apparently tastes like an apple). 

      The nut of tamanu in some way reminds me of olive fruit in that both cannot be consumed or used without some processing. Amazing how someone at some point figured out these processes to obtain these incredibly valuable agricultural products.

      The process to make tamanu oil requires cracking open the nut and drying the kernel for approximately 1-2 months where it turns from a blond colour to a deep chocolate brown with a visible sticky greenish yellow coloured oil trickling out. The kernel is then cold pressed to make tamanu oil.

      The pressed oil has a luxurious rich feel with a slightly nutty pleasant smell. That sense of luxury does come at a cost though, considered an expensive oil for good reason, only 5kg of cold pressed oil is produced from 100 kg of tamanu fruit! 100 kilos is the amount the average tree will produce annually.

      What is really cool about tamanu oil and the reason I recommend it especially for use with acneic skin conditions is that apart from having anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, restorative and regenerative properties, it is also great carrier oil absorbing quickly in the dermis with no oily residue left on the skin surface.
      Some of Tamanu oil bio-active properties are believed to come in part from a unique fatty acid called calophyllic acid.

      Argan Oil – Argania Spinosa

      Argan Oil – Argania Spinosa

      Occasionally I come across a plant raw material for use in personal care that seems too good to be true. Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa) is one of those. From a functional, environmental and social aspect, argan oil is truly amazing. This is probably why in 1999, UNESCO added the argan tree to the World Heritage List.

      The argan tree (Argania Spinosa (L.) Skeels), is endemic to a particular area of Morocco (South- Western) where it grows over about 800,000 hectares. It is not unusual for Moroccans living outside of this region not to be familiar with this tree as it is only in this specific region of the world that it can be found. This fact actually makes argan oil one of the rarest plant oils in the world.

      For centuries now the argan tree has played an essential ecological function in this part of Morocco. Its roots grow deep in search of water and thus help retain the soil, preventing erosion and limiting the ever-increasing advance of the desert. Its ability to survive in this otherwise harsh environment is nothing short of miraculous.

      Not only does the argan tree plays a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance, but it also provides a source of income for the local Berber women who have few other means to support themselves.
      It is estimated that the argan forest can provide subsistence for as many as three million people.

      Almost all of the argan production is and has for centuries been run by women (women’s cooperatives).
      These women working today come from the villages nearby and are offered to work half days (so they can still tend to their families) in exchange for fair wages and good working conditions.
      These cooperatives have two objectives:
      1- to preserve the argan forest by finding sustainable economic use for its products
      2- to improve the social and economic status of rural women.

      It was traditional Moroccan medicine that gave us a clue as to argan oils benefits for the skin. Traditionally it has been used to treat all kinds of skin ailments including acne (particularly juvenile acne) chicken pox, pustules, dry skin, wrinkles, and even rheumatic conditions

      Modern science has determined that argan oil contains exceptionally high levels of natural tocopherols (vitamin E), actually almost twice as rich as olive oil and is also high in phenols and phenolic acid, carotenes, squalane, essential fatty acids, and unsaturated fatty acids (80%). The tocopherols (vitamin E) and saponins in argan oil help to restore the skin’s water lipid layer while also soothing inflammation. We now believe that the unique combination of phytosterols, containing the rare D-7 stigmasterol is one of the main factors in the highly effective treatment of skin diseases, wound care, burns and compromised skin tissue.

      Anyone who develops personal care products can truly see the bonus of working with argan oil in that it is relatively stable when compared to other oils with high essential fatty acids profiles. Argan oil is more resistant to oxidation than olive oil which gives a good indicator of its preservation properties.

      The propensity for rancidity has always been a challenge for companies that use ingredients like borage, hemp or evening primrose oil. It is all too often that I will see a tester in a store with these oils that have obviously gone rancid. The smell and consistency are immediately apparent.

      Today the argan tree is threatened: in less than a century, more than a third of the argan forest has disappeared, reducing the tree count to approximately 20 million. The reduction is largely due to the locals allowing foraging goats to damage the tree as well as using the tree for wood. Another factor to a lesser extent is that the climate has become increasingly arid over the years.