Can(dida) I Beat Acne?

So. Major disclaimer before we start. I am not a functional medicine doc, and I can’t afford to see one. So the following self-diagnosis is based on conjecture. There are some great resources out there that both confirm and deny Candida as a possible reason for acne, and both confirm and deny the effectiveness of a Candida-killing protocol. I’m giving it a shot because I’m open to discovering new ways of healing my body. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. Please no hating–if you don’t believe in Candida, I invite you to respectfully explain why in the comments though! 

Okay. Proceed:

The acne thing is slowly killing me. Not actually, as in causing death, but every time I look in the mirror, I feel a wave of self-loathing and shame that makes me want to hide in my bedroom and never come out. It’s awful that I should care so much about this, but, frankly, if you’ve ever suffered from adult acne (or acne of any kind), then you know what I’m talking about.

It’s entirely superficial, but the feelings of shame and hopelessness cut deep.

As you’ve seen before, I suffer from all sorts of acne. Blackheads in the T-Zone. Whiteheads on the chin. Cysts on the jawline, hairline, and above my eyebrows.

Recently (as in, over the last year), I’ve noticed a new kind of acne. Strange little bumps on my cheeks, jaw, and around my mouth. They turn into a hybrid of cyst and whitehead, leaving horrific scarring in their wake. Of late, they seem to have gotten worse.


Around the middle of last month, while I was stupidly destroying my jawline with whey protein, I started getting “messages from the universe.” (My theory/definition: A whole bunch of coincidences in which a discernible, although probably random, pattern emerges, and then you start looking/listening for the pattern so it seems like the universe is trying to tell you something. Like my seeing Texas license plates everywhere after visiting Austin. I’m sure there were other license plates, but I was looking for signs that I should be moving to Texas.*)


The messages this time were about Candida.

If you’re not familiar with this little beastie, Candida  is a fungus (a form of yeast) that normally colonizes our guts, along with many other yeasts, fungi, and bacteria. Sexy, I know.

According to many naturopaths and functional medicine docs, however, Candida can get overfed and start proliferating, throwing off the balance in the gut.

I heard about Candida from my boss, on podcasts, through the Sexy Back Summit, on blogs…it seemed like Candida was everywhere.

So I started doing some research. I already knew that there is a correlation between the health of the gut and the health of the skin, and so it stood to reason that something gone awry in the gut, like a Candida overgrowth, could cause the strange new acne on my face.

The list of symptoms ascribed to Candida overgrowth are numerous. It seems like you can pretty much blame anything and everything on too much yeast in the body, so I was a bit skeptical, but that being said, if a Candida cleanse works, then I’m not going to argue.

Especially if that means an end to the fatigue, creeping belly bloat, flare up of depression/anxiety/OCD, digestive issues, sugar & vinegar cravings (in addition to kombucha, ask my office manager how much balsamic vinegar I go through in a week….), and other potentially related unpleasantness…

I also found some blogs suggesting a potential relationship between Candida and low thyroid. Since I’ve had low T3 (and low estrogen) for at least a year, it’s definitely possible that my screwed up hormones left the door open for more imbalances to develop in my body.

So I’m still doing my research, but I’ve begun to undertake a Candida cleansing diet/supplementation protocol in order to rule it out. I can’t afford a functional med doc right now, so I’m using information from Christa Orrecchio’s Sexy Back Summit talk in addition to some seemingly credible Candida bloggers in order to try to treat this thing and at least get a handle on the acne flare ups while I search for other options for healing my hormones.

In last week’s post, I gave you all a peek at what I was doing prior to this new protocol. Here’s an update on what I’m doing now:


I already eat a high fat/protein diet with no grains and moderate fruit, but I have to make a couple of tweaks:

  • Completely eliminating sugars, including fruits. (No strawberries = sad Miss SG, but I’m going to have to live)
  • Completely eliminating starchy carbs. (No carrots also = sad Miss SG.)
  • Completely eliminating Brewer’s Yeast, which is too bad, because it tastes awesome in bone broth. (I had originally started using it because Liz Wolfe recommends it for skin health, but yeast + candida = not ideal.)
  • Completely eliminating vinegars, fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles, and…gulp…kombucha. (This one is the hardest, because I *just* started fermenting my own kombucha after attending an amazing workshop with Lisa Herndon of Lisa’s Counter Culture in Palo Alto.)
  • Increasing the amount of coconut oil in my diet, sticking with anti-inflammatory/autoimmune Paleo principles, and potentially cutting down on my nut consumption…


Per Christa Orrechio:

  • Rotating anti-fungals every four days. That means 4 days each of:
    • Pau D’Arco (3x/day before meals)
    • Oregano Oil (3x/day before meals)
    • Olive Leaf Extract (3x/day before meals)
    • Grapefruit Seed Extract. (2x/day before meals)
  • Mornings: 1 tsp of Diatomaceous Earth, 1 tsp Psyllium Husk, 1 tsp Bentonite Clay
  • Evenings: 1 saccharomyces boulardii probiotic capsule


  • Yogi Skin Detox Tea (1 tea bag in the morning)–Not sure if it works, but I figured I’d give it a try, since I’ve been looking for new teas since I stopped drinking so much green tea (in the amounts I was drinking, I was still pretty caffeinated. Yogi Skin Detox does have 18mg of caffeine, but that’s better than the 30mg in the green tea I was doing about 6 times a day…)
  • Switched from Maca powder to MacaHarmony by Femmenessence
  • Switched from Belle Femme to Vitex (for progesterone)

Even my Yogi tea wants me to be happy!

I’m not sure if any or all of what I’m doing is going to work. I know that things are going to get better when I get my hormones back in balance, but that’s going to continue to be a trial-and-error sort of thing until I can find a way to afford a functional medicine doc who can work with me…

So stay tuned. I’ll keep you updated!

Have you ever dealt with a Candida overgrowth? How did you work to eliminate it?

Until next time,

Stay hungry,


PS, on an unrelated note, I really needed this post from the Bloggess today.

*I’m not moving to Texas. Unless you know of someone in Austin who wants to hire an awesome copywriter/journalist/social media nut. In that case, I’m all ears.

14 thoughts on “Can(dida) I Beat Acne?

  1. Interesting, I’d never heard of Candida in relation to possible skin issues. I did notice one dietary “thing” though, the elimination of vinegar. What is the reasoning for eliminating vinegar for fighting yeast? Yeast prefers high pH, and bacteria prefer low pH. Vinegar is acidic with a nice low pH, so wouldn’t it reason out that it’d be more beneficial to consume a bit more vinegar?

    As for acne directly, I had TERRIBLE TERRIBLE acne in high school. I figured out a way to minimize the scarring that might at least be of some help. Use a needle for all of your whiteheads and “bumped up” pore clogs. Prick the center and then just gently drain. I took a “no squeeze” approach and instead of lasting for a week+, red spots would only last a day or two. Big internet hug! 🙂

    • Per, “Vinegar is made in a yeast culture, depletes the stomach of acids and can also cause inflammation in your gut.” I guess since it needs yeast to ferment, the yeast in your gut go to town on it. The site does suggest that apple cider vinegar is an exception and has been shown to be potentially beneficial for an anti-Candida diet, but I have a sensitivity to apples, so it’s out of the picture for me for now…

      And thank you for the acne tips! It’s good to know that a) I’m not alone, and b) there are ways of dealing with it!!

      Sending you big internet hugs back! Hope all’s well on your side of the interwebs 😉

  2. You might be totally against this as it is very controversial….but, a few years ago I went on Accutane. It made my life so much better. It is not ideal but, I couldn’t cure my bad skin no matter what I did. Now I keep my skin stable by keeping my hormones stable. I’m on the pill and thyroid meds. I really believe in trying everything natural that you can. I hope you find a solution!

    • I’ve tried a lot of medications, although I never had the courage to touch Accutane. I don’t do well with allopathic remedies–I’m the poster child for side effects, so something as strong and potentially as deleterious as Accutane always just frightened me off…I am so glad that it helped you though–acne can be so emotionally debilitating, and when you’re dealing with body image issues, it just amplifies everything until it feels unmanageable. I’m glad that you’re able to find some stability with your hormones and thyroid too. I’m going to talk to a new functional medicine doc on Wednesday, and hopefully I can afford his services so I can start working toward a solution…Wish me luck! 🙂

  3. After two months of Paleo, and seeing little improvement to my cystic acne, I decided to give up nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, paprika, etc.). A month later my skin is much improved – clearer and less inflamed. I hope you find what works for you.

    • Yes, autoimmune can be GREAT! Unfortunately, even when I was 100%, it didn’t work for me. 😦

      I’m still searching for the answer, but I’m hoping that I can find a functional medicine doc who can work with me, because, as much fun as it is to experiment, I’m ready for some answers!

      • Sorry to hear. And yes, I totally understand your desire for answers. I’ve been hearing more and more about fecal transplants, so maybe you can look into that.

  4. You’re already turned on to Liz Wolfe and her Skintervention Guide, so I don’t need to tell you about that. Just wanted to send lots of gentle hugs as I have no other advice. Keep us posted!

    • It’s so funny…I tried EVERYTHING in the Skintervention Guide–some of which I tried even before I’d ever heard of Liz Wolfe…But I’m hoping that once I get my hormones back in balance, I’ll be able to use her recommendations to keep my face acne free naturally going forward. And hugs back to you!!

  5. so sorry to here that your suffering so much ive had candida or years i make my own goats kefir and eat raw sauerkraut anorexic for years with . Try the collloidal silver on your face vitc helps and vit d if you have candida you need to eat well butter goats and zinc yes if you add more probiotics it may get worse for a start but it will go magnesium oil is great too bot alot of the time when ive had acne i was malnourished
    love and hugs louisa

    • Thanks for the tips, Louisa. I’m doing a protocol with my functional medicine doc now–I don’t have candida, but a related fungal infection, and we’re doing a lot of supplements to deal with that…

      Nothing’s worked so far, but hopefully we’ll make some progress soon…

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