When it comes to tests you could really ask ‘how long’s a piece of string?’.
We can find so many things if we go searching for them. When it comes to acne, what are the tests we can really focus on that can help break down the pattern of what’s really happening in our bodies?
Here are a few tests you need to be aware of that you can ask your doctor or Naturopath for:
Blood sugar [you may have to fast before the test]
Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate sugar in the blood stream. Insulin operates like a bouncer to a nightclub. Picture the nightclub as your body’s cell, and the bouncer is insulin that lets the welcomed guests (eg sugar) into the cell to keep it functioning. Unfortunately in the case of PCOS, the bouncer (insulin) is not able to distinguish when to let sugar into the cells. This means the insulin is malfunctioning, or in some cases we may have an oversupply of insulin. With a lack of insulin being able to let sugar into the cells, the sugar roams the blood stream, spiking blood sugar levels (which over time, can lead potentially to diabetes). These blood sugar levels inflame the internal system.
SBHG (sex binding hormone Globulin)
Globulin is a protein manufactured in the liver and acts like a glue that sticks to sex hormones like testosterone. When the hormones aren’t partnered with the globulin they are known as ‘free’ – so a testosterone hormone floating without a partner. When the globulin levels are low, the free hormones go up. When there is a reduction in globulin, these means there are more sex hormones that are roaming the blood stream as ‘free sex hormones’ than normal.
In the case of insulin resistance specifically, globulin levels can reduce. Insulin resistance reduces the liver’s production of globulin, while increasing the production of androgens in the ovaries. The doubling of this hormone production can lead to acne.
In the main, in an overproduction of testosterone from either a hormone imbalance, the testosterone converts itself into DHT – dihydrotestosteroe – in the surface of our skin which has the impact of creating the sebaceous (oil) gland to create more oil. This has a twofold impact:
- The overproduction of oil clogs the pores creating ‘comedones’ – what we know as pimples, pustules, whiteheads and blackheads
- When the pores are clogged, it prevents fresh oxygen to reach the bottom of the hair follicle. We all have a type of bacteria – called P.Bacteria that lives there. Unfortunately when P.Bacteria is deprived of oxygen, it begins to proliferate and grow, causing cystic acne.
Request a “Hormone Panel Test” which will include testing for Progesterone, Estrogen, FSH, and LH (follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone). Our good friends at Women’s Health Network have put this neat little diagram together for us to help understand hormones, and the way they can impact our health and lead to symptoms including acne.
State of your gut
Studies go back to the 1930s on how the gut can impact acne and the quality of your skin. You really are what you eat.
Research published in the Journal of Dermatology in 2008 showed that acne patients are at a higher risk for gastrointestinal distress. In the study conducted, results showed that in over 13,000 adolescents surveyed, those with acne were more likely to experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, halitosis, and gastric reflux.
In a famous study conducted over 70 years ago, researchers John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury discovered there was a connection between gut and skin health. The main findings showed that the imbalance of the gut microflora (ie where the permeability of the small intestine has been compromised) it gives rise to inflammation in skin conditions such as acne.
Some of the tests you can take to measure the quality of your gut include:
- Test for SIBO [small intestinal bacterial overgrowth] https://sibotest.com/quizzes/1
- Test for Candida and parasites include H.Pylori
- Test for food allergies
- There are effective at-home testing kits you can purchase for verifying the quality of your gut health
Thyroid [checks for hypothyroidism]
The thyroid looks like a little bow-tie sitting at the bottom of your neck. It is the master-factory in creating your hormones, so it’s your ‘hormone factory’. It’s a pivotal part of our endocrine system [hormone system].
Dr Ray Peat says that when thyroid hormone is deficient, the body cannot convert cholesterol to the steroids pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA. Of these, progesterone is the most important in the prevention and cure of acne—and thyroid hormone plus natural vitamin A work to ensure its formation.
So testing for hypothyroidism can help ascertain how your hormones are functioning and balancing within your body.
Vitamins & Minerals
Funnily enough, Vitamin D isn’t quite a vitamin itself in the traditional way we think about it. It’s a hormone called calcitriol which is created THROUGH the skin upon consistent exposure to sunlight. It has been shown that small amounts of it can be digested through nutrition eg cod liver and other fish oils.
If there’s a deficiency in the vitamin D ‘hormone’ it can have a bit of a ‘knock on’ effect – meaning that if we’re deficient in one hormone, it can affect the production and impact of other hormones in the body potentially leading to an imbalance. It works also as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune system turbocharger, all of which we need to combat the p.bacteria infection that causes our acne in the first place.
According to 2013 research in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, it was found that zinc can decrease oil production in the skin, and can protect against bacterial infection and inflammation.
According to a study published in 2013 in “Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology” evaluated blood concentrations of zinc, along with vitamins A and E, in relation to acne severity. The researchers determined that lower levels of vitamin E and zinc were correlated with more severe acne. Based on the findings, the authors of the study concluded that zinc plus vitamins A and E could be used as treatment in those with acne.