Q. I’m a woman in my mid 40s and I’ve suffered with acne since my early teens.
I’ve tried everything from allergy testing, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, homeopathy, antibiotics (including Tetracycline), Biomycetin, the contraceptive pill, facials and Roaccutane. It’s now mainly on my chin and there’s certainly a hormonal connection as it worsens mid-cycle and with my period. Have you any light to throw on this?
A. It must be must be frustrating to have tried so many different remedies without success. I hope the following herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes will improve your longterm condition.
It helps you have noticed the acne to be linked with your hormonal cycle, as this is a significant link. Agnus castus (Vitex agnus-castus; also known as chaste berry and Monk’s pepper) is often used to balance hormones in women by reducing the conversion of testosterone (present in both females and males) to dihydrotestosterone. Acne sufferers have been found to have higher levels of dihydrotestosterone, so reducing these levels will almost certainly help with your skin.
Gut health and skin health are very closely linked, so it is important to optimise your intestinal functioning. One study showed 50% of individuals with severe acne had gut issues, causing an increase in the levels of toxins in the bloodstream. If you are not already, you would benefit from taking a high quality probiotic supplement.
I highly recommend Dr Ohira’s OM-X, Threelac, or Solgar probiotics. OM-X can be more difficult to find locally, but the other two are widely available.
If you choose Threelac then the following routine works well: take four sachets per day for one month, and then reduce to two sachets per day until your skin begins to clear. Continue the two sachets for a full month beyond this point and then reduce to a maintenance dose of one sachet per day.
Including a daily juicing routine may also help — Michael van Straten suggests a blend of carrots, apple, parsley and kiwifruit to treat acne in his book, Superjuice.
Calcium and zinc are useful minerals to help treat Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne. Seeds and nuts, green veg and shellfish are great sources of these two minerals.
It is often the case that unfermented dairy products exacerbate acne conditions and intestinal problems, with traditional yoghurt and kefir being a great way to take gut-friendly dairy.
Sleep is important to cellular repair and hormonal regulation. Quality is more important than quantity with the most important hours to catch your 40 winks thought to be between the hours of 10pm and 2am.
Q. My husband and I are currently trying for a baby. I was wondering if there were any natural remedies that will help with his sperm count?
A. Infertility is considered more likely to be an issue with sperm health than it is with female fertility — and in my experience it can take a lot more effort to get men to see a specialist about their health. I assume that your husband has already had a semen analysis test if you are specifically looking to increase his sperm count.
First things first — if your husband smokes, drinks, or is on any medication, these things will all impact the quality and quantity of his sperm. A well-balanced diet is also important and should include plenty of whole foods (vegetables fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, etc) and contain minimal processed foods, junk foods, and unhealthy fats.
Low levels of zinc can lead to decreased testosterone levels, fertility and sperm count. Vitamin C (1000mg daily) improves sperm quality by protecting it from oxidative damage and reducing agglutination (when sperm stick together).
Other vital nutrients for sperm health include carnitine, arginine, selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10.
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