Have you noticed your skin changing over the years? Oily? Dry? Loss of elasticity? Irregular and rough? Breakouts or acne that come and go? New (and unwanted) hair growth or hair loss?
Our skin gives us clues about our inner hormone health. From our 20’s to 50’s we can naturally see shifts in our skin health but not all of these changes are “just aging.” Often when we balance hormones, we see skin health improve.
Here are a few skin issues I commonly see in my practice and some of the hormones solutions to rebalance your skin:
Reduce “Strong” Testosterone
- Do you have oily skin, breakouts, hair loss and/or unwanted hair growth on your face, chest or back? An excess of a group of hormones called androgens may be at the root of this. Testosterone is an essential and important hormone (for both men and women) but other androgens in excess have been linked to these skin and hair symptoms. We’ll call these “strong testosterone” here. In women, these “strong” testosterones are made by the ovaries due to excess insulin action on the ovaries.Many women with PCOS have a high production of androgens leading to the skin and hair symptoms mentioned above, as well as irregularities in their cycles. When we improve insulin’s effect on the ovaries this helps to regulate the menstrual cycles and improve skin and hair health.
- Spearmint tea One study found that just a couple cups of spearmint tea for 30 days had anti-androgen effects on women with PCOS. There are other herbs like Saw Palmetto that have traditionally been used to reduce these “strong testosterone” effects on both men and women for skin and hair health.I’ve found dietary and nutritional treatment aimed at reducing insulin’s action on the ovaries is the most important part of balancing androgen hormones for women.
- Reduce insulin action Start with reducing sugar and flour intake as much as possible, then move towards reducing dairy and starchy foods. Ask your practitioner if your fasting practices support your insulin health. I have found herbs and nutritional therapies to further enhance this process especially for women with PCOS.
- Breakouts before periods? Large, cystic pimples that can be painful? Progesterone deficiency may be at the root to some of these cyclic issues as well as other PMS symptoms. Botanical medicine like Chaste tree (Vitex) is helpful to help boost progesterone and reduce these symptoms however our main job is to address the cause of the low progesterone. The most common causes I come across are chronic stress and lack of regular ovulation. Women in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s are some of the busiest people on the planet!
- Regardless of how much stress you feel, progesterone deficiency is likely a sign that there’s too much stress. Stress comes in many forms: mental and emotional overwhelm, work and family pressures, chronic “jet lag” (when our sleep-wake cycle isn’t lined up with the day-night cycle) and chronic constant exposure to chemical toxins in our personal care products, household products, food, air and water.
- Although the body has built-in detox functions, we’re now faced with unprecedented levels of toxic exposure (even before we’re born!). To make matters worse, modern diets lack critical nutrients that normally support detox. That’s why I recommend yearly or seasonally supporting detoxification. Earlier this year, I did a metabolic detoxification and I was pleasantly surprised how smooth my skin felt afterwards. A metabolic detoxification combines a nutrient-rich anti-inflammatory diet with nutritional support for detox safely and efficiently removing toxins and resetting hormones. Want to find out more about our upcoming Metabolic Detox program? Click HERE to register for our free webinar Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
- Loss of skin elasticity and plumpness? Drier, rougher skin? These may indicate lower estrogen levels. These changes are commonly seen with menopause but can occur before menopause as well especially after a period of stress. Low libido and vaginal dryness are other symptoms that can occur at the same time. To support robust hormone health, first, look for opportunities to include anti-stress habits into your daily routine (such as gratitude journaling, restorative sleep, hot and cold showers, meditation). In addition, eat a plant-rich diet as many of these foods are high in phytoestrogens like flax seeds and yams. Your practitioner may check thyroid function and recommend herbs to support digestion, stress and estrogen levels.
- Itchy skin? Rash or flushing of the face? These may be signs that histamine levels are behind your skin symptoms. Estrogen dominance (aka relative excess estrogen) can contribute to high histamine levels. An anti-inflammatory plant-rich diet and nutrients to support liver’s detoxification of hormones can be very helpful for improving these skin issues. There are many natural strategies to lower histamine levels in the body as well. Look out for future articles on histamine intolerance.
Your skin tells a dynamic story of your inner hormone balance. And these hormone balances are a result of your nutritional, emotional, mental and physical state of wellbeing. Caring for skin and hair health is not about vanity, it is part of listening to the deeper wisdom of your body.