Acne, Amenorrhea, and Natural Hormone Cures

FYI: Before we get into today’s post, please be aware that nothing I write here is meant to be mistaken for professional medical advice. I am just chronicling my own journey and providing resources so you can learn more about it, but before you begin any diet and lifestyle change, please make sure you’re consulting your doctor and/or practitioner of your choice! Okay. Onto the post: 

As you may have witnessed in my last Trigger HAPPY Thursday video, I am still suffering from pretty horrific, scarring, hormonal acne. And since it’s been a while since I did an update on my acne situation–and since it ties in with the whole theme of sex, hormones, and the (lack of) monthly menstruation, I figured now would be a good time to revisit the issue.

When I did the acne update several months ago now, I had been on my ob/gyn’s suggested dose of estradiol for hormone replacement for a month. Estradiol, as you may recall, is an estrogen, and my body’s inability to produce enough of it has caused issues with my period, my thyroid, and my skin.

The doc had suggested a two month dose of daily estradiol, with 10 days of progesterone at the end of the two months to incite menstruation. At first, I was willing to try it, albeit hesitantly, because I was just so desperate to get my hormones back in check. But the more I thought about it, as nice as it was to be able to look in the mirror without cringing, I didn’t want to be dependent on synthetic hormones for the rest of my life.

acne-free

Briefly living with clear skin.

And so I started doing research. Since I can’t afford a functional medicine doc right now, I turned to Doctor Google for answers. And while there’s a lot of bad advice floating around the internet, I was able to find some reputable sources for suggestions of “next steps.”

In terms of reputable sources, I started with Stefani Ruper’s PCOS Unlocked, because she writes not only about the traditionally accepted definitions of PCOS (which involve overweight and hirsutism), but also hypothalamic amenorrhea, which is most likely what I triggered with my ED and bad food choices after my confusing PCOS diagnosis in 2007.

I read Tracy of The Love Vitamin’s ebook, “Ultimate Secrets to Acne Freedom.” I also recently picked up Liz Wolfe of Cavegirl Eats’ “The Skintervention Guide.” I was already doing all of the diet recommendations–eating a real food, “Paleo”-style diet (and actually MUCH lower carb, since I’ve cut out almost all fructose consumption but for berries and the occasional GT’s kombucha)–and yet things didn’t seem to improve. So I stepped it up a notch.

gts-kombucha

Fermented goodness.

First, I looked at natural hormone replacements. I added raw maca powder to my diet first. Maca is a root that has been used for centuries to boost energy and libido. It’s also a phytoestrogen that has been used to help regulate menstruation. At first, the results were amazing. After two weeks of a painful adjustment (stomach aches, crazy hormonal acne, etc.), I not only got my period back, but my skin seemed to at least calm down. But I was nervous about using another phytoestrogen, so I stopped taking it for a few weeks. When the acne got worse and I didn’t get my period the next month, I went back on the maca. Unfortunately, I have not seen the same results. The acne has remained the same and I’m still in the same hormonal situation as I was before I started.

I also took Liz Wolfe’s recommendation of visiting Dr. Ron’s, and purchased the Belle Femme supplements, which contain hormone regulating Chaste Tree, Dong Quai, Wild Yam, Black Cohosh, and Indole-3-Carbinol. I’ve only been taking the supplements for two weeks, so I don’t have any conclusive results to report as yet.

In addition to the hormone-regulating supplements, I’ve been using Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil, which is incredibly popular in the Paleo/Weston A. Price world. This blend is high in vitamins A, D, and K2, which have a number of beneficial properties, not least associated with acne and skin. For more info on all of Liz’s FCLO/BO recommendations, check out her article “WAP Me Pretty.” I also added Lewis Labs’ Brewers Yeast* to my daily cup of homemade bone broth (with Pacific Wakame, for iodine!). The yeast is great for added chromium, which helps regulate insulin, a name we hear tossed around a lot in relation to diabetes, but which also has a relation to acne. In addition, the yeast contains protein and vitamin B12, which has been shown to be beneficial to skin, hair, and nails. The bone broth is rich in collagen, which supports skin–and the digestive tract. And there’s a strong correlation between gut health and acne, if you can believe that. (If not, go read basically everything on Chris Kresser’s site, and then you’ll understand what I mean…)

chris-kresser-revolution-health-radio-gut-skin-connection

And listen to Chris Kresser’s podcast on the gut-skin connection while you’re at it!

Of course, I didn’t do all of this at once–I’ve been slowly adapting my diet over the last several months, seeing what works, what doesn’t, what helps, and what hurts. I’ve also changed my skin care routine, which I’ll talk about next week so as not to overload you all with a ridiculous amount of information in one post. (If you’ve read this far, I commend you! I seriously need to learn how to edit myself…)

All of that said, my skin has not cleared up and my period has not come back. For the last several weeks, I’ve been on the brink of despair…as I mentioned in the Trigger HAPPY video, there are days when I’m embarrassed to leave the house because of how bad I perceive my looks. But what’s stopped me from just giving up or falling into a depression was the realization:

I spent thirteen years starving my body of the nutrients it needed and feeding it hormones and chemicals that have caused all kinds of damage. Thirteen years of treating myself badly, and I’m getting upset about not seeing changes in ten months. I am being unfair to myself by expecting to heal the wounds I’ve inflicted overnight. I am being unfair to myself by letting impatience cause me more stress–and stress ups my cortisol, which is also a contributor to the acne problem.

skinny-genes-hormonal-acne

I have earned this challenge, but I will overcome it.

As hard as it is, I have to take a deep breath and stick with my healing regimen. I am strong enough to keep the commitments I’ve made to fighting ED in all of his forms, from scarring thoughts to scarring acne. I am strong enough to have patience.

Tell me–those of you who are suffering from acne, amenorrhea, low thyroid or estrogen–what have you done to work toward healing yourself? Have you tried any natural hormone cures? If so, what were the results? I’m curious–and your comments don’t just help me, but everyone reading this blog who is in the same or a similar position!

I’ll be back next week with my natural skin care routine and more updates!

Stay hungry,

@MissSkinnyGenes

*Recommended by Liz Wolfe, because it’s not grown on hops like most nutritional yeast products. Nutritional yeast, or “nooch” to many in the vegan/health blogger community, is a cheese substitute–not for its consistency, but because it imparts a cheesy flavor to dishes. This makes it great for both vegans AND Paleo people (as well as those with any sort of lactose intolerance), and it adds a flavor dimension without causing gastric distress!

Note: many of the products I’ve linked to are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase, I do get a very small percentage of the sales. This will help keep the Skinny Genes blog ad-free! 
Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Acne, Amenorrhea, and Natural Hormone Cures

  1. I have suffered from acne for a few years now as well as a few symptoms that may indicate an estrogen dominance. I am really unsure about that but I bought Maca powder almost a month ago. I said I would finish the entire bag before I made any claims. My acne is a bit worse than yours but I am working on gaining control over my breakouts. This acne jouney has its peaks and valleys but I can see it has definitely helped us women understand our bodies a whole lot better.

    • I’m still trying to figure the maca thing out. I’ve stopped taking the powder (which hasn’t helped) and graduated to the pill form from Femmenessence called MacaHARMONY. Right now, I’m dealing with a HORRIBLE cystic breakout, but I’m hoping that it’s temporary as my hormones adjust…Good luck to you–and come back and let me know how your journey is going…it helps for us to “talk it out” as it were–because, while no one solution will work for everyone, we can always offer insights into what might work! 😀

  2. I found this site very interesting. I have no achnes. my skins is clear or may be too clear. I am suffering from secondary amenorrhea for 3 years now. am scared. tried oral contraceptives, yet the flu still persist. Right now am really looking up for natural cures

    • Hi Stella,

      Amenorrhea can be very scary–and incredibly frustrating. While I don’t have all of the answers yet, I’m going to be working with a functional medicine doctor to find some more natural cures to get my body back on track.

      Stay tuned to the blog for updates over the coming weeks!

      Good luck & stay hungry!

  3. I am reading your blog right now and trying to keep from crying. I am a recovered (but possibly relapsing) anorexic. Less than 10 years ago (I am 26 now), I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa with the tendancy to purge. I became very, very sick, and I was hospitalized for several months. With the help of my friends and family, I made a strong recovery. In addition to my eating disorder, I have struggled with acne my entire adolescent and adult life. Puberty was hell for me, and my mother (who was horrified at having a daughter with bad skin) put me through every kind of dermatological treatment available short of accutane. After I recovered from my ED, I enjoyed relatively good skin for several years, probably thanks to birth control and a healthy, relatively stress-free life. After going through an ongoing trauma, In the last 2 years or so, my acne started getting progressively worse. When I went off birth control early last year, it went from mild blackheads and the occasional whiteheads, to full blown inflammatory puberty-style acne. As my acne got worse, I noticed my weight start to dip. I am extremely, extremely depressed about my skin. Doctors do not seem to care, dermatologists are especially unsympathetic. I don’t know how to talk to anyone about it, and when I do it only makes me feel worse. I am currently on two topicals, birth control, and an anti-androgenic (like you, I am very wary of oral antibiotics). Although the blackheads and whiteheads are slowly going away, and my forehead is relatively clear, I am now dealing with these awful, painful cyst/nodule things that feel like white-hot marbles living under my skin, and they never go away even if they come to a head. I cant smile, because the pressure of my skin folding around them causes searing pain. I can’t even cry about it because my tears inflame them! I hate looking in the mirror, I hate that I have to wear make-up to feel even remotely normal looking, and I HATE that I hate myself again after going through so much. I feel like my body is betraying me. But I am so glad to have found your blog and to know there are others out there who know my specific kind of pain. Thank you for sharing.

    • Oh, Meghan, I am so sorry to hear that you’re in pain. Skin issues are so horrible because they can make you feel so out of control–they’re painful, embarrassing, and seemingly never-ending.

      I don’t know if you’ve seen any of my recent posts about the acne situation, but I’ve found a little bit of hope–I started seeing a functional medicine doctor, and through some testing, I found out that I have a genetic polymorphism that could be at the root of some of my depression, anxiety, compulsive eating/restricting/exercising, AND my acne and hormonal issues.

      While the process to fix the problem is going to be really LONG, painful, and difficult, at least I finally see a potential light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve spent years being ignored by dermatologists (told to just take an antibiotic or use a topical cream and get over it) and blowing through my makeup budget in cover up…but now that I have a doctor who understands on my side, I feel like I have a little hope.

      Keep following along–I promise to update you and everyone with what I learn so that it can potentially help you, but if you can enlist the help of a functional medicine doc, you may be able to get to the bottom of your issues and start the healing process.

      Let me know if there’s any way I can support you in your journey–hang in there and know that you’re not alone!

      Hugs,

      Kaila

  4. Thank you for sharing that! I feel you…! I’m now 6 months with absence of period and cystic acne. I eat vegan and 80% raw. I also ordered the Maca like you did. I refuse to take accutane or go on the pill…I don’t know what to do anymore. Seeing posts like yours helps me holding there!
    Oh well I stopped coffee since yesterday, we’ll see how it goes!
    By the way I find that Super Lysine cream for cold sore helps healing open wounds.
    I’m with you!!
    Xx

    • Hey hon…

      So I posted this a LONG time ago. I no longer eat vegan or raw. It nearly killed me. I also went on thyroid medication, stopped exercising so much, and gained necessary weight. It was honestly the only way that I was able to get my period back, keep it regular, and reduce my acne.

      You should talk with a doctor to figure out what’s best for you, but, honestly, giving up the idea of using “natural” cures and just eating a little more, moving a little less, and getting thyroid support changed my life.

      I blog at performingwoman.com now. 🙂

      Good luck to you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s