Understanding the link between the liver and hormonal acne problems can totally transform how quickly you clear up your skin.
The fact is this: getting rid of hormonal acne is an inside job.
And if your liver isn’t in tip top shape, then eliminating acne becomes a slow, painful and emotionally draining task.
So, in this post we’ll look at the connection between the liver and hormonal acne.
Then, I’ll share some practical steps to boost liver health so that you can say adios to hormonal acne.
Note: this post contains some affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you use them.
HOW DOES THE LIVER AFFECT THE SKIN AND HORMONAL ACNE?
The liver is our largest internal organ and some of its main functions include:
- Producing cholesterol and triglycerides (which are used to make sebum and hormones).
- Converting thyroid T4 hormone to T3.
- Storing vitamins and minerals that the body uses for various purposes.
- Making bile which is used to breakdown fats from our diet.
- Breaking down alcohol.
- Eliminating excess hormones and other toxins from the body.
As you can see the liver doesn’t just detox the body.
The liver actually makes a lot of raw materials that affect the skin and hormones.
So, this means that if the liver is facing toxic overload, then it becomes sluggish and unhealthy.
Ultimately, this increases inflammation and inflammatory conditions like acne.
Here’s a closer look at how the liver and acne interact together:
- Let’s say the liver is overworked and overloaded with toxins. This means liver functions, such as making bile, become impacted.
- Without bile, the liver cannot break down fat. So, the fat ends up circulating through your bloodstream. That fat also ends up being used by the sebaceous glands to make sebum (your skin’s natural oil).
- Since the fat contains toxins, those toxins end up making the sebum much thicker than it needs to be. As a result, that thick sebum has a greater chance of clogging up your pores
- If this cycle of toxicity and improper fat breakdown continues, you end up with sebum that is very thick and this means your pores are clogged/inflamed.
What this demonstrates is that sebum, by itself, is not evil.
What matters most is the quality of the raw materials that are used to make sebum.
Toxic raw materials lead to thick and toxic sebum that absolutely wrecks your skin.
Which Hormones Cause Acne?
Many of the toxins that we are exposed to these are xenoestrogens.
Basically these are artificial estrogens that mimic and disrupt the function of your natural estrogen.
One of the most common sources of xenoestrogens is the pesticides in food.
Yes, pesticides are estrogen-based toxins.
So therefore, long-term exposure to pesticides contributes disrupts the natural progesterone-estrogen balance and also contributes to estrogen dominance.
Now, as if that’s not enough, pesticides can also increase androgen levels.
Yep, you read that right.
Estrogen-based pesticides also raise androgens like testosterone (which is known to worsen acne).
But how exactly does this happen? Here’s a quick break down:
- Normally, the female body makes androgens and converts them to estrogen.
- An enzyme called aromatase does the conversion.
- However, when we eat estrogen-based pesticides, those pesticides interrupt aromatase.
- So, when aromatase function is interrupted, you end up with higher-than-normal levels of acne-causing androgens.
Now, if you’re thinking that this is a vicious cycle, you’re right!
But don’t despair because the fact is you have absolute control over all of this.
It’s a matter of making food choices and lifestyle choices that support the liver.
So, let’s go ahead and look at the 6 steps you can take now to change the liver and hormonal acne connection.
LIVER & HORMONAL ACNE: 6 STEPS FOR NATURALLY CLEAR SKIN
The 6 steps outlined in this section are a combination of dietary and lifestyle choices.
If these steps seem overwhelming at first, remember that reversing acne is an inside job.
By re-nourishing your body and supporting your detox pathways, you eliminate the toxins for good (and prevent them from ever getting to the surface of your skin).
1. Eat nutrient-rich, whole foods for the liver
In order to detox the body, the liver needs raw materials like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
The best way to get these raw materials is to eat whole, unprocessed fruits, veggies and grains.
When choosing fruits and veggies, it’s a good idea to choose a wide variety of colors.
Why? Because there’s a strong connection between color and nutrient content.
For example, red foods like tomatoes and watermelon contain the antioxidant lycopene.
As for orange foods, like papaya, they contain immune-boosting beta-carotene.
Lycopene and beta-carotene are part of a family of compounds known as phytonutrients (or phytochemicals). Some reports state that there are anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 phytonutrients in our foods.
So, the more you mix up the colors of your food, the more good stuff you’re giving your body and skin!
2. Consume herbs and foods for the liver
Herbs like milk thistle, oregon grape root and fennel seed are excellent for nourishing and supporting the liver.
You can usually find all of these in the form of a supplement (capsules) and/or a tincture.
Another herb that is great for liver and hormonal acne is turmeric.
Turmeric is a fantastic anti-inflammatory herbs, which makes it ideal for internal and external inflammation.
Whether you use fresh or dried turmeric, it’s an easy herb to incorporate into your life.
For example, you can add turmeric to soups, veggie dishes or your morning smoothie.
Or for real convenience, you can simply grab a turmeric supplement.
Gaia’s Turmeric Supreme happens to be my fave for 2 very important reasons:
- It is a whole herb supplement which means you get all the good stuff in the herb (not just one extract from the herb).
- This particular supplement is a liquid formulation, which is sooooo much easier for the body to absorb. With traditional, hard capsules, it’s not always easy for the gut to breakdown and absorb everything. With Gaia’s formulation, the gut doesn’t have to work nearly as hard since the herb is contained within a liquid that is inside the capsule!
Healthy Fats and “Bitters”
Avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), nuts and seeds are great ways to nourish the liver and skin.
These foods all contain healthy fats that build up the body.
This is in stark contrast to processed fats which break down the body and can actually raise estrogen levels.
Another group of foods that benefits the liver is bitter foods.
Here we’re talking about things like dandelion greens, endives and green tea…these are all great for liver health.
3. Minimize exposure to xenoestrogens
As we talked about earlier, one of the things that can amplify the liver and hormonal acne connection is xenoestrogens.
Some predominant sources of xenoestrogens are:
- Cosmetics and personal care products that contain ingredients like parabens or phthalates.
- Commercially raised meat and dairy products.
- Food additives.
- Tap water.
- Personal hygiene products like tampons (which release the byproduct dioxin).
- Food additives like MSG.
- Processed foods that use a lot of unfermented, soy-based additives.
The best way to minimize exposure to xenoestrogens? Follow these 7 basic guidelines:
- Eat more organic, non-GMO produce.
- Reduce the number of cosmetics and personal care products you use. Whenever possible, make your own beauty products or buy brands that don’t use toxic chemicals.
- Eat mainly wild-caught fish and game. When buying animal products, stick to organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free varieties.
- Choose whole, homemade food over packaged/processed food.
- Use a water filter.
- Buy tampons and pads made from organic cotton.
- Eat mostly fermented soy products (tempeh, miso, fermented soy sauce).
4. Avoid alcohol
In small amounts, alcoholic drinks – like red wine – can provide some health benefits.
But long-term, excessive consumption of alcohol ultimately increases estrogen levels.
This is because the liver has to use up it stores of antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients to breakdown alcohol.
The more alcohol we consume, the more those liver stores are used up.
In the long run, the liver becomes nutrient-deficient, and that means you have less nutrients available to your skin.
Alcohol also disrupts blood sugar levels and this can worsen the inflammation that causes hormonal acne.
So, if you want to break the liver and hormonal acne connection, then it’s best to keep alcohol consumption low.
5. Find ways to minimize (and manage) stress
When the body is stressed, blood flow to the liver goes down.
With less blood supply, the liver is not able to perform all of its functions optimally.
You can imagine how this can ultimately affect the liver and hormonal acne as well.
In addition, when the body is faced with stress, higher quantities of the stress hormone, cortisol, are released.
Now, here is where things get interesting.
Cortisol and progesterone are made from the same main hormone (pregnenolone).
This means whenever the body needs to make more cortisol, it will make less progesterone.
This is all fine when we’re talking about short-term stress.
However, when we’re faced with long-term stress, that means we are permanently sacrificing progesterone production.
Ultimately, this sets us up for estrogen dominance (we keep coming back to this, don’t we?)!
So, it’s important to make lifestyle choices that reduce the impact of stress in our lives.
This means performing activities you enjoy (like walking, dancing, gardening, journaling, etc.).
In addition, you also want to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you and make less time for the toxic people 🙂
6. Do a liver and hormonal acne detox
When you hear the term “detox,” you might think that you have to eat nothing but rabbit food.
But, have no worries because that’s not what I am talking about!
A liver detox is actually about eating nutrient-dense foods that do 2 things:
- nourish the liver.
- support all the detoxing that the liver has to do.
A good liver detox means eating whole foods as I mentioned earlier, as well as using herbs and supplements for liver and hormonal acne.
Here are my personal faves and recommendations:
- An easily digestible turmeric capsule.
- A multi-herb, liver tincture that combines amazing liver-friendly ingredients like dandelion, milk thistle and oregon grape.
- This detox tea from Traditional Medicinals, which contain liver-friendly and hormone-balancing schisandra berries. The berries also give the tea a very unique, mild fruity flavor!
Now that you have the scoop on the liver and hormonal acne, which one of these steps do you plan on using? Share your thoughts (and questions) in the comments section!