Out, damned spot! Out, I say!

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 12.34.41 PM

Picture: Into The Gloss

What if your body had an amazing system of pinpointing inner health issues? Like an accurate map of your insides, that somehow was on the outside for you to see? And what if the more urgent this problem became, the more it showed up boldly on this map? In a way that was impossible to ignore, and an imperative to treat?

Welcome to the wonderful world of  Ayruveda face mapping, where spots, lines and marks, such as moles, show a much more serious body system issue inside.

“So hold up there, little lady,” I hear you cry. “What’s the meaning of frightening the good people of the internet like that?” Well, in mitigation, it’s not just me, or the millennia-old classical Indian medical system of Ayruveda that holds this view. Traditional Chinese Medicine also states that the place of your spots / moles / wrinkles shows which body system is weak.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 12.34.24 PM

Photo: skinacea.com

I found this article on TCM’s view of the hows and whys of acne beyond fascinating, but then I’m like that. There’s a cool interactive map that shows all the zones and where the problem might be lurking, deep, deep down inside. If you are thinking of going the TCM way, a recommendation from someone is the best way to find a practitioner.

Going back to Ayurveda for a second, the maxim is:

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”

What worked for me, to get rid of the amazingly unattractive “acne beard” I had, was to stop eating dairy products. Basically, I found that I’m allergic to cow’s milk and the conditioner I was using. So now I’m pretty much vegan (I could only do it with a lot of help from this book and the Good Eating links on the right sidebar of this website) and I wash my hair and condition it like this.

If you have ever read any post on Lotusforest, you will know that I am convinced that there is a link between lower intestine health and hormones. Without going into indelicate details, I know this from personal experience. Meanwhile, Berkley’s Ohlone Herbal Center has this to say:

“In female-bodied people, there is an important interrelationship between the levels of reproductive hormones and the behavior of the intestinal tract.”

I love that: “female-bodied people”. The rest of the article details medical research that shows how the menstrual cycle and the lower gastrointestinal system are linked, which helps us understand why we get spots before, during and after a period, and during a time of hormonal churning, for example pregnancy as well as puberty, which includes male-bodied people too, one supposes.

But what happens if you have spots pretty much all over your face, chest and back, but you are not particularly hormonal, say, in your mid-twenties or thirties?

Making a connection between spots and nutrition, Dr. Mercola points out that there could be two main causes for cystic acne:

“Just like other chronic diseases running rampant in Western society (like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity), acne is primarily a disease of the Western world.i

More proof is continuing to emerge that the root cause of acne is not bacteria or genetics, but environmental factors—particularly your diet. Acne is much less of a problem in non-Westernized societies, where refined carbohydrates and sugar are consumed in much lower amounts. Solid evidence exists that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates are the primary CAUSE (his capitals) of acne.

We now know that a low-grain or no-grain diet will very likely clear up your skin, permanently! […] After diet, the other major factor is stress.

Part of a holistic plan for preventing acne flare-ups is managing your stress. We know that stress is a major factor in infections of any kind.”

The full article is HERE and is scary and informative at the same time, about the topical and internal medicines that are routinely prescribed for acne. Brrrr. Chilling, but not in a good way. The irony is that the more stressed you are about your skin, the more your skin reacts badly to the stress. For meditation, read my article on Meditation – for people who hate the whole idea of it.  Try affirmations – they work in a surprisingly effective way! “My skin is clear. I feel good about the way I look.” Meanwhile, it’s probably also a good idea to think about the possibility of yeast over-growths like candida that can cause all manner of problems, all over the place.


Picture from an article on How Stuff Works about the 40 uses of aloe

Which brings us to what you are using on your skin. If your skin is suffering, inflamed and in a sad and sorry old state, it doesn’t make sense to put harsh anything on there, or use face scrubs or acids to burn it. It does make sense to be as gentle and loving with your skin as you can. Some people recommend aloe vera juice to take away the pain and inflammation of spots. Having tested this myself, it’s an amazingly cooling and effective anti-inflammatory, both topically and internally. No need to buy aloe in a tube, just  cut or pull one of the big fleshy leaves off a live plant, then pulp it up and carefully dab it on.  As a plant-lover (and I mean that in a Cleve Backster way) please ask the plant first, and point out your need.

When you come to clean your face – and I’m guessing if you have cystic acne that would be twice a day, yes? – use olive oil or apricot kernel oil as they have large molecules that sit on top of the skin, pick up the dirt and dust from the day, and then you wipe it off gently. You can also use milk – cow or vegan – to do the job. Wet a hand towel or a flannel with lukewarm water and carefully wipe off all the remaining oil. Wipe away 3 times with 3 different parts of the warm, wet towel, then put the towel in the wash. Your skin will be very clean, not irritated, and ready for a light moisturiser. But what to use?

When you’re buying products, remember that “Hypoallergic” and “suitable for sensitive skin” mean strictly NOTHING, they are nothing more than marketing terms. And a lot of what is sold as acne treatment is downright dangerous – see ewg.org and check if the products you use are on their danger list.

But why use fancy-shmancy products when pure jojoba oil is an amazing moisturiser. It’s better than cream as it doesn’t clog up pores because it has the same-size molecular structure as skin, so is easily absorbed. It’s also a light golden colour so you get a beautiful, sun-kissed glow, too. There are many, many books and websites that advise what essential oils to use for acne. As essential oils are expensive and potentially dangerous, take great care with that. I’ve used helicrysum and yarrow for acne, as they are anti-inflammatory and healing, but what suits some people might not suit others.

Another couple of things you could consider:

  • Fermented foods, in all their forms, help to maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora. That means: sauerkraut, dill pickles in brine, yoghurt (from cow, soy or almond milk), home-made ginger beer, miso and kombucha. Read all about it at Cultures for Health. If like me you live in Japan include more nuka-miso pickles, takuan, natto and shio-koji tofu.
  • Apple cider vinegar has also been mentioned as a topical and internal remedy. I tried it topically on a friend and it totally stank. But why make yourself smell like vinegar when you can use it in dressings? Mix up a big jar-full every week and leave it in your fridge. Include olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice, fresh ginger and a slosh of apple juice and use it for marinades and salad dressing, or mix a table spoon of it with white clay (Kaolin) and spread it on your face as a face pack – avoiding eyes, of course.

Do you have an occasional spot when you are feeling stressed? Or is your skin making you stressed, to the point where you don’t even want to go outside? Please help other readers by letting us know what worked and didn’t work for you, either here or on the Facebook page. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.