We have all been going through a stressful time recently, so if your acne has become worse in the past few month, this could be the reason why..
When our body experiences stress, whether that be in the form of worry, work, being too busy, arguments, dehydration, lack of sleep, under / unhealthy eating or trauma, our body produces a stress hormone called cortisol.
The oil glands in our skin have receptors for cortisol, so when it rises in our blood, an increase in the formation of oil on the skin occurs, which can lead to clogged pores and acne.
Stress also has a depressive effect on the body’s immune system, which can effect your body’s ability to fight wounds and inflammation, leading to acne healing slower and it being more inflamed and painful in general.
Stress can also lead us to act differently in the forms of sleeping less, choosing the wrong foods, neglecting our skin care routine and subconsciously picking more at our face or leaning chins on hands.
Meditation, mindfulness, yoga and deep abdominal breathing have all been proven to reduce levels of cortisol in the blood, so they are all good habits to introduce daily to help manage breakouts.
Herbal medicine is also really effective at helping to reduce cortisol levels, so if you do all of the self-care and still feel really stressed with ongoing breakouts please reach out, as your body may just need an extra helping hand.
The OCP reduces your hormones to a pre-pubescent level, so for many of us what they were when we were around 12 years old. This essentially ceases the body's ability to ovulate to avoid getting pregnant.
Many women that I consult with think that because their skin clears up and they get a monthly period when they take the sugar pills that their hormones and period are 'regulated'. Nope! If your period was regulated why does it only come when you stop taking the pills and you can skip it if you stay on them?! It is not a real period that you are getting, it is a drug withdrawal bleed.
Therefore, once you stop taking the pill the body has to wake up and jump from producing 12 year old levels of hormones to the appropriate levels a woman of child bearing age should have. This comes with complications, the common one being acne due to the rapid surge in male sex hormones which regulate our oil gland production and have been suppressed during pill use which reduces acne.
Now you might say, "why don't we just suppress male hormones all the time to treat acne?" Well, because they are really good for women in appropriate levels to feel good!! They help give us a healthy libido, improve mood, motivation and increase muscle strength. That is why libido and mood get significantly impacted on the pill.
The pill is a bandaid and not a solution. Any problems that you had prior to the pill, whether it was acne, irregular periods or bad PMS, it will all come back afterwards, and often worse without a treatment plan.
If you are wanting to come off the pill then book in a consult with me so we can prepare your body prior to stopping and support your body afterwards to avoid post pill acne!
PROGESTERONE is our female feel good hormone!! It helps balance mood, increases libido, boosts energy and helps to clear up acne caused by excess androgens.
It is made when we ovulate during a menstrual cycle so if you are on the OCP you are not making any progesterone.
Even if you have a menstrual cycle it does not guarantee that you are ovulating. The best way to check if you are is by tracking your cycle on an app to record basal body temperature every day. Just before ovulation basal body temp drops slightly and then rises afterwards and stays high until menstruation. If your temperature doesn't change it means you did not ovulate and didn't make progesterone that cycle.
You can also check progesterone levels with a blood test but it needs to be done in your luteal phase, and ideally 7 days before your next period. Levels should be at least 8ng/mL.
Symptoms of low progesterone include:
- pre period anxiety
- spotting before or after your period
- pre period or mid cycle acne breakouts
- breast tenderness
- fluid retention
- low libido
- weight gain around belly
- night sweats
- foggy thinking
- low energy
Ways to encourage ovulation and raise progesterone levels:
- avoid undereating, ensuring that you are consuming a good amount of carbohydrates
- manage stress levels
- don't over-exercise and balance high intensity exercise with lower intensity exercise like yoga, pilates or walking
- make sure you are consuming foods that contain high amounts of magnesium, zinc and B6
- take progesterone stimulating herbal medicine (under guidance of a naturopath)
If you have recently come off the OCP, want to come off it or have irregular periods and think you may not be ovulating book in a consultation so we can get you feeling gooooood! ♥️
With the rise and fall of hormones your skin quality, texture and oil production changes throughout your menstrual cycle.
This short guide will help you manage your skin throughout the month, understand what changes you may notice and some skin tips to help implement treatments to support your skin health ✨
Now is the time to pamper yourself with a relaxing, hydrating facial
Also make sure you are cleansing every morning and double cleansing at night to ensure bacteria, makeup or sunscreen isn't left on skin overnight
Skin Care Tip: Use a salicylic acid based gel or moisturiser. This beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) clears blockages, kills bacteria and helps prevents future breakouts.
Use gua sha or a roller to massage your face to help
If you care about what you put into your body you should equally care about what you put onto it.
There are thousands of nasty chemicals that can be found in everyday skincare, even in very popular brands, that can negatively effect not only the integrity of your skin barrier, but your overall health.
Below is a list of the most common nasty ingredients to look out for 👇🏻
☠️Parabens (look for words ending in -paraben eg methylparaben) - mimic oestrogen in the body and interfere with hormonal function
☠️Fragrance / Parfum - damage skin barrier, disrupt hormones, trigger allergies
☠️PEG compounds - allows ingredients to be penetrated faster into the skin
☠️Oxybenzone - found in sunscreens, linked to cellular damage, irritation and hormonal disruption
☠️Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) - skin irritant, damages skin barrier, can trigger allergies
☠️ Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP) - cause hormonal disruption
☠️Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA) - linked to allergies and skin barrier damage
☠️Coal Tar Dyes (look for “CI” followed by 5 digits) - contains heavy metals which can be neurotoxic
☠️ Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) - synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives that disrupt hormones and can cause liver damage
☠️Formaldehyde releasing preservatives
- DMDM hydantoin
- imidazolidinyl urea
- diazolidinyl urea
- sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol
If you see any of these on the label chuck it out they aren’t doing you or your skin any good 👋🏻
"In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth returning to"
I love this quote.
I have also loved parts of lockdown. Hear me out.
I have loved that people have been forced to slow down and have time to relax and recharge. I have loved that people have found hobbies that they never would have had the perceived "time" for before. I have loved that families have been able to spend more quality time together (if they live together). I have loved that people are exercising outdoors more and dusting off their pushbikes and rollerblades. I have loved that people are cooking more, or even learning to cook for the first time. I have loved that people are putting their health first and realising the merits of preventative health care. I have loved that communities have come together to support small business and keep them alive. I have loved that we now all have a greater appreciation and gratitude for our freedom.
There has been a lot of sadness during lockdown.
But there has also been many silver linings.
We have been fortunate enough to have the internet which has allowed us to connect in ways we wouldn't have thought to before. Businesses have had to pivot and change the way that they operate, which has forced us to be more flexible and adapt. We have learnt to appreciate human connection and not take things for granted.
As we slowly start to come back to normal, I hope that some new habits from lockdown remain.
I hope that people continue with their hobbies. It is so important to have an activity that you do purely for fun and the outcome doesn't really matter. Making time for play and fun helps to nurture our inner child, which leads to an overall decrease in stress hormones and and increase in gratitude and happiness. You may not have as much time as during lockdown, but put it in your diary at least once a week, to cook, paint, knit, build, whatever you have discovered joy in.
I hope that more frequent family and friend catch ups continue. Personally, I used to catch up with my family once per month, and even then there was usually someone missing due to being overseas or caught up in something. During lockdown we have been having weekly zoom catch ups and even doing some virtual trivia nights which have been a lot of fun. We never would have thought of doing this if it wasn't for lockdown. It can be really hard to get everyone together with lots of different schedules. So hopefully virtual catch ups remain for the in between times, to keep us all connected.
I hope that people continue going on afternoon walks with their partner or friend. As this was the only way we were allowed outside for a while for 'essential exercise' it has become a routine for many. It's such a great habit to get into doing exercise and having a good chat after finishing work before retiring inside to the couch. If everyone maintained this, we would be a much happier, healthier humans!
I hope that people continue to check in on each other. The virus has led people to reach out to friends, colleagues, family members, or even people that they normally wouldn't speak to often, a lot more regularly. This has been a beautiful aspect, and possibly re-ignited some friendships. I hope that we continue to care for each other more diligently now.
I hope that people start to put their health at the top of their priority list. The virus has shed a light on the importance of preventative health care, as seen with the numbers of cases in people with pre existing health conditions.
And finally, I hope that people don't just fall back into cramming as much into every day as possible. Recognise how you have felt incorporating more down time, self care time, relax time into your day. Personally, I have felt amazing! I hope we collectively shift out of the mentality that being busy is something to be proud of. Taking time for self care, spending time with family and doing things that you love to do is something to be proud of.
Lets be part of the creation of a new and improved normal. Where we can be healthier, happy, less busy and more connected.
Did you know that the Oral Contraceptive Pill can be a major contributor to anxiety? This is due to the way it suppresses hormones, affects neurotransmitter production, alters the gut microbiome and depletes nutrients.
The OCP is a form of contraception that in basic terms ‘switches off’ your hormones that stimulate a menstrual cycle. One major hormone that it shuts down is Progesterone. Progesterone is a neuroprotective hormone and a GABA-A receptor agonist. This means that when progesterone levels increase, so do GABA levels. GABA (Gamma-amino-butyric-acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays a role in promoting calmness, good mood and sleep. Low levels of GABA have been associated with anxiety and an inability to relax and calm down a racing mind.
The OCP also switches off your Oestrogen production, which is a hormone that helps to calm a fear response, regulates serotonin production and stimulates beneficial mood changes in the brain. It makes you feel energetic, outgoing and confident, and without optimal levels can leave you feeling depressed and anxious.
Gut Microbiome Altering
From as little as 6 months of use, the OCP alters both the intestinal and vaginal microbiome, which can lead to candida overgrowth (thrush in both the gut and vagina). Studies have also shown that the OCP changes expression of tight gap junctions in your gut which can lead to dysbiosis and leaky gut syndrome. Along with bloating, fatigue, diarrhoea and headaches, both candida and leaky gut are associated with anxiety and mood changes.
Your gut health and mental health are intrinsically connected as they send messages to each other via the gut-brain axis. If you have been experiencing both gut and mental health issues, the pill could actually be the problem.
The OCP depletes many vital nutrients in the body, including a very important one, Vitamin B6. B6 is required for the production of serotonin and GABA (your anti-anxiety neurotransmitters). Even with supplementing B6 daily, your body will still be depleted of the amounts required for optimal production. The OCP also depletes zinc, selenium and magnesium, which are micronutrients your nervous system uses to regulate your HPA-axis (the network of communication between your hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenals), which control the body’s response to stress.
There is a lot to take into consideration when coming off the pill due to the hormonal changes that may cause acne, sleep problems, mood changes and physical symptoms that occur when your sex organs wake up and start producing hormones you may not have produces for several years. This is why it is so important to work with a qualified Naturopath when deciding to make the change to ditch the OCP so that they can have a pre and post pill plan to make your transition symptom free.
If you are ready to make this change, I would love to work with you!
Ehlen, J. C., Hummer, D. L., Paul, K. N., & Albers, H. E. (2010). GABA involvement in the circadian regulation of sleep. In GABA and Sleep(pp. 303-321). Springer Basel
Hall KS, Steinberg JR, Cwiak CA, Allen RH, Marcus SM. Contraception and mental health: a commentary on the evidence and principles for practice. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015;212(6):740–746. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2014.12.010
Khalili H, Granath F, Smedby KE, et al. Association Between Long-term Oral Contraceptive Use and Risk of Crohn's Disease Complications in a Nationwide Study. Gastroenterology. 2016;150(7):1561–1567.e1. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2016.02.041
Longone, P., di Michele, F., D’Agati, E., Romeo, E., Pasini, A., & Rupprecht, R. (2011). Neurosteroids as neuromodulators in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Frontiers in endocrinology, 2.
Making sure you are getting the right amount of ZZZ per night affects more than your energy levels! Moderate sleep deprivation (less than 8 hours per night) can cause weight gain, thyroid hormone disruption, reduced immune function, inflammation and cognitive and memory decline. During sleep is when our body’s repair tissues and detox baddies out of our system. We have a neuro glymphatic fluid system in our brain that expands by 60% during sleep to allow waste products from the brain to be cleared. In particular, the system helps remove a toxic protein called beta amyloid from brain tissue, which has been found to accumulate in the brain of people who develop Alzheimer’s disease. This system only activates and flows effectively during sleep, so if you want to protect your brain, you need to get the right amount of pillow time every single night.
Below are some tips to help you have a heavier, healthier sleep.
1. Limit exposure to blue light before bed
Blue light is emitted off computer screens, TVs and smart phones. This light activates the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), which is located in the hypothalamus of the brain. This SCN is responsible for controlling your sleep and wake hormones. When it is activated by light it sends a message to your pineal gland to inhibit production of melatonin (your sleep hormone). Restricting blue light exposure at least 1 hour before bed ensures that you are getting enough production of your sleep hormone to put you into deep sleep. Having orange or red lights on in the evening, like warm coloured lamps or candles instead of fluorescent lights will result in a deeper sleep as well.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise has been shown to reduce time taken to fall asleep. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and breathe out quickly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this at least 4 times.
There are two different streams of the nervous system, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), often called fight or flight, and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS), known as rest and digest. In normal life, we encounter lots of stressors, and this means we are often going to bed in a heightened SNS state. However, to be able to have a restful, restorative sleep our bodies need to be in a PSNS state, and deep, mindful breathing activates this.
3. Reduce high histamine foods in the afternoon and evening
Histamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter that promotes wakefulness (that’s why antihistamine drugs often make you drowsy). Reducing the amount of histamine containing foods that you consume in the afternoon and evening can help to reduce the feeling of wakefulness and insomnia at night. High histamine foods include alcohol, pickled or canned foods, matured cheeses, smoked meats like salami, shellfish, beans and pulses like chickpeas and lentils, nuts and chocolate. If you are particularly sensitive to histamine and suffer from insomnia, you may need to completely remove these foods from your diet to ensure you get a good night sleep.
4. Increase foods that improve melatonin production
Melatonin is your sleep hormone and is produced from the amino acid tryptophan. Incorporating more foods into your diet throughout the day that are high in tryptophan will help improve natural melatonin production at night. These foods include, salmon, chicken, turkey, eggs, spinach, bananas, pumpkin seeds and yoghurt.
5. Lower your body temperature
Sleep occurs when our core body temperature drops, which signals the brain to start producing melatonin. A way that you can encourage a drop in core body temperature is having a hot shower about 1.5 hours before bed. The hot water heats up your skin so when you get out of the shower, the air rapidly cools your body down as it evaporates water from your skin. This rapid cool down signals your brain that it is time to sleep. It is also important to have a cool bedroom temperature and wear light, breathable clothes to bed (or nothing at all).
6. Avoid caffeine after 10am
Caffeine has a stimulating affect on your nervous system that lasts for around 8 hours after consuming. Depending on how accustomed to caffeine you are, some people can still fall asleep after a late night coffee. However, studies have shown us that caffeine use in the afternoon and evening greatly reduces the time spent in REM and deep restorative sleep. This is the stage where your memory formation is occurring, hormones are regulating and tissues are repairing.
Closing your eyes for 8 hours a night does not always equate to restorative, healthy sleep. If you wake up tired then you have not had enough time in deep sleep and could benefit from reducing caffeine intake. You may be extra tired for a few days whilst your body is adjusting, but your brain and body will thank you in the long run.
7. Journal your thoughts
A common cause of insomnia is racing thoughts, overthinking, analysing past events or mentally planning for the next day. Writing out what you are thinking before you go to bed will help clear your mind. Write out your list of to dos for the next day, or things you can’t forget, so your brain can let go of the information as it knows now that if won’t be forgotten. If you are overthinking a situation, write it all out. Seeing it on paper usually makes it seem like a lot less of a big deal than it does in your head. Getting your words and thoughts in order can also help you to come up with solutions easier so your mind can switch out.
8. Supplement if required.
There are certain nutrients like magnesium, zinc and B vitamins that are vital for putting your body into a PSNS and allowing for restorative sleep. When we are under significant stress our body doesn’t absorb nutrients from whole foods properly, so supplementing with nutrients and herbal medicines that are easily absorbed is vital to avoid deficiencies. Supplements help to physiologically reduce stress hormones and inflammation, so that your body is able to have a good nights sleep. As good sleep is required for stress management and stress management is required for good sleep. So having a helping hand through using supplements for a while can help to get you to a place where you are able to manage your stress and sleep through diet and lifestyle practises.
*Always consult your healthcare professional before taking supplements.
Sleep drives metabolite clearance from the adult brain. Science. 2013 Oct 18;342(6156):373-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1241224.
Self-Regulation of Breathing as an Adjunctive Treatment of Insomnia
Ravinder Jerath, Connor Beveridge, Vernon A. Barnes
Front Psychiatry. 2018; 9: 780. Published online 2019 Jan 29. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00780
The recent outbreak of coronavirus has caused widespread panic and fear mongering. Getting unnecessarily worried or anxious will only make things worse. So here are some practical tips you can implement that will actually support your immune system during this time.
1. Increase your vegetable intake
It is important to increase the amount of colourful vegetables that you are having daily to help boost your immune system. Beets and carrots are high in antioxidants and improve blood cell health. Greens like kale and broccoli promote liver detoxification. Capsicum and sweet potato are high in vitamin C which supports immune cell production. Put them in salads, make a stirfry, or throw a bunch into a one pot soup, just make sure you are having LOTS!
2. Stay well hydrated
Water, water, water! It is important to be drinking at least 2 litres of filtered, room temperature water per day. Staying hydrated helps your lymphatic system (the detox channel that is right under your skin) work at its best to clear toxins out of the blood stream quickly. Dehydration causes this system to be sluggish, which impacts how well your immune system can function. If you get sick of straight water, mixing it up with some high antioxidant green tea is a great option!
Exercising boosts lymphatic function and causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells, which are what fight infections. Aim to move for at least 30 minutes per day.
4. Stress less
When we are stressed our body goes into sympathetic nervous system dominance (fight or flight) which increases our stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels cause immune suppression, so it is important to actively do stress reducing activities daily. Things like yoga, meditation, reading, writing, painting or walking, are all activities to calm your nervous system down and boost immune activity.
5. Get Some Sun
Vitamin D is a super important nutrient for immune health, and a lot of people these days are very deficient due to increased time indoors. To get a good daily dose of Vitamin D you just need 15 minutes in direct sunlight without sunscreen, exposing as much skin as possible.
6. Spice It Up!
Incorporate as many spices as you can into your cooking. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon all have potent anti inflammatory and anti bacterial actions, which help support antibody production and a fight off infections.
7. Cut The Sugar
Remove high sugar foods from your diet. This includes pastries, pasta, white bread, chocolates and candy. Sugar is highly inflammatory and suppresses the immune system. After eating sugary foods, the immune cells that attack bacteria are actually weakened for a few hours afterwards, leaving your body more prone to infection.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water to help boost your immune system. Having alternating hot and cold showers stimulates fresh blood circulation, boosts lymphatic function and increases antibody production. It is also a great way to start the day with a boost of energy. Start on hot and alternate as many times as you like, but always finish on cold.
9. Get Some Rest
Making sure that you are getting restorative sleep is super vital. During sleep your body produces cytokines which help to fight any pathogen or bacteria. Lack of sleep also reduces antibody production and increases your stress hormone cortisol (leading to a suppressed immune system). To optimise your sleep ensure that electronics are turned off at least an hour before bed. This is to ensure that your sleep hormone melatonin is sufficiently produced, as blue light from screens blocks production. Swap screen time for a relaxing activity like reading, yoga or meditation.
10. See Your Naturopath
Book in to see your local Naturopath. It is important to be supplementing with the right products along with eating right and supporting a healthy lifestyle. Gut health is extremely important to address during viral outbreaks, as 70% of your immune system is produced in the gut. Naturopaths have the tools to determine what your therapeutic needs are, and can provide you with high quality, scientifically researched products to keep you and your family healthy.
**Please note: if you do start to feel ill, with symptoms such as sneezing, fever and a cough, please CALL your local GP to get advice. Please stay home, do not continue to go to work/school and avoid as much human interaction as possible. We all need to do our part to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Sending healthy vibes out :) xx
DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR ANXIETY AND BLOATING ARE LINKED??
Two of the most common complaints I see in clinic are bloating and anxiety, and they actually have an intrinsic cause and effect with each other.
Here are the multiple ways they are linked.
What can you do to help yourself today??
These lifestyle changes can have a really positive effect on symptoms, however depending on the number of weeks, months or quite possibly years that you have been experiencing issues, you most likely will need additional support in the form of high quality probiotics, nutritional supplements, digestive enzymes or herbal medicine. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution, so tailored treatments are required to provide the best results for your unique situation.
If your gut and brain are telling you this sounds like something you need to address, then I would love to work with you! Let's get you feeling great :)