More about Acne

The highlight of my recent trip to New York was a talk I gave at Landmark High School, a public high school near Columbus Circle. The students paid close attention. Afterwards, a student named John Cortez told me what he’d figured out about what causes his acne. His skin was clear so I had to believe he knew what he was talking about.

He has three rules: 1. Eat less greasy food. 2. Work out hard. 3. Wash face extremely well, especially after working out. The last rule is surprising because one of Allen Neuringer’s students found that acne got better when she stopped washing her face. John explained his reasoning like this:

When I was little I got something because of the lack of hand washing. Nothing serious — it went away — but it caused me to become sort of a neat freak. When i started to get pimples I thought it was because i didn’t wash my face well. When i started to wash my face better, my acne stopped getting worse. One day i got lazy and from there on I stopped washing. Then I noticed that I was almost covered with pimples. When I got in a gym I realized that when i sweat and as soon as possible, washed my face got less pimples and prevented those nasty huge acne.

Amount JC figured out about acne while in high school: A lot. Amount SR figured about acne while in high school: Zero.

Addendum. Another unexpected aftereffect of my talk was that Shangri-La Diet forum traffic went way up. That evening, at one point there were 307 people simultaneously reading the forums, a new record. The average daily maximum during the days just before was about 150. There were about 50 people at my talk. Go figure.

8 Replies to “More about Acne”

  1. There are two medical things that I know of that are simple and cures quite serious conditions amazingly well but are not well known. One is the shangri-la diet. The other is eating large quantities of vitamin B5 to cure acne.

    I have had acne for many many years, and I have tried many things. Until I found B5 the only thing that worked was an antibiotic, but after I had been on it for over a year my doctor didn’t want to prescribe it to me any more. I searched for solutions online and tried a bunch of things that people were talking about. Nothing helped. I finally tried B5, and it worked amazingly well. I’m not 100% cured, but almost. If I skip the B5 for just a couple of days it comes back though. And sometimes it seems like some batches of the stuff I buy are bad and don’t work as well.

    We’re talking about large quantities, around 10 grams per day. That’s somewhere around a thousand times RDA.

    From what I’ve read on different forums it doesn’t seem to work for everyone, but it works for many. It worked for the only one I recommended it to, but that was a relative.

    This knowledge could help a lot of people. Many years of my life were much much worse than they could have been because I had not found B5 yet. Unfortunately, there is no Seth Roberts to promote it. Even worse, the only one who is seriously trying to promote it have done a study that wasn’t very well made, and he has a theory about how it works that is most likely completely wrong. Instead of pointing to the fact that people seem to be cured by it, he mostly focuses on his theory, and since it’s obviously wrong nobody takes him or B5 seriously.

    Whenever someone looks into B5, all they see is a flawed study and a bogus theory. The fact that there is tons of anecdotal evidence is not enough to compensate. It doesn’t help that the only ones who sell B5 cheaply enough are pretty shady companies, and most of them refer to the flawed study and theory.

    So, even if I know that it works, I can’t really prove it to someone else. I hope the day will come when it becomes more mainstream, it helps more people, and I can start buying it from some more serious and trustworthy sources. It shouldn’t have to take more than a well made double-blind study.

  2. I did a little self-experiment that found that B vitamins — a B-vitamin pill — reduced my acne by about 50%. I can’t remember what caused me to try it. By then my acne was pretty low, which is perhaps why it wasn’t a dramatic effect. What persuaded you to try it initially?

  3. I found that two things significantly helped my skin health (not acne, but they did together reduce the number of spots/pimples to single figures from some amount much larger than that).

    One was flax-seed oil, the other was dropping dairy from my diet.

  4. I can imagine that after sweating, the bacteria on your face would be kind of turned up, and allowed to spread. It might be the most vulnerable time. By cleaning at that point, maybe it reduces that risk (and presumably a person’s immune system is capable of handling at least some of the burden of the bacteria).

  5. Seth,

    People were talking about it in different Internet forums, and many reported success. Much like the way I found SLD.

    The normal dosage of B5 (or Pantothenic Acid, same thing) is 10 grams per day. That’s one kg in three months (and 8 pounds per year). The biggest pills they sell are 1 gram, because it’s too hard to swallow anything bigger. You need ten of these every day. Or you can buy powder to keep the cost down. It’s not something you happen to eat by mistake. 🙂

    When people are discussing this you often see people who claim they didn’t have any effect, and when queried they say that they used B5 found in some multivitamin or whatever, and it says on the bottle it contains 10 mg. mg and g are not the same of course, so they were just eating one thousand of the required dose by mistake.

    So, your B-vitamin results are not the same as this. It might be related though. I wish I knew what makes it work. Maybe there is a simpler way to trigger the same effect without eating these huge amounts of a vitamin.

  6. I have to throw in my 2 cents about B5. Yes, it definitely worked for me, but I stopped using it after some very painful self-experimentation results.

    I’m in my 50’s and have had moderate acne (1 or 2 spots at any given time) my whole adult life. I’ve more or less accepted it now, if people have a problem with my skin, it’s their problem. But I still would rather not have it. I agree with what’s been posted above. Washing makes it worse. Dairy makes it worse (maybe just dairy fat, need more self-experimentation on that). Chocolate has no effect.

    Trans fat makes it much, much worse – I’m thinking of renting out my face as a trans fat detector. When I inadvertently eat trans (eating “home-cooked” baked stuff, usually), I find out a couple days later, big time.

    As to supplements, B5 megadosing worked great for me. I got to the point where I couldn’t even remember my last pimple. But I came down with kidney stones for the first time in my life. Read somewhere online that might be related to B5 megadosing, something about leaching calcium. So I stopped taking B5. Pimples came back, kidney stones went away. 6 months later I tried the B5 megadose again after some bad breakouts. 2 weeks later, kidney stones again! Not a controlled study, but proof enough for me.

  7. For me, the key was coffee.

    I never had a problem with acne growing up, but after a stressful summer when I was 27, I spent six or seven years really suffering from it. Nothing helped except Retin-A, and the side effects were too harsh for long term use.

    I finally removed caffeine from my diet, then one year later removed even decaf coffee (which I drank every morning.) This was the single most important factor in clearing up my skin. I also found a couple other contributing factors, which I’ll mention below.

    Stopping coffee was a hunch based on an Adele Davis book and also some mass media news article on Yahoo!, both of which said that coffee washes vitamin A out of the body.

    I finally solved 99% of my skin problems last October when I made a list of everything I knew contributed to acne and everything I knew cleared it, and did as little of the first and as much of the second as possible. Still, more than anything, the clearness of my skin remains directly proportional to the amount of coffee–decaf or otherwise–I drink.

    Other contributing factors:

    Causes acne: Eating chocolate, falling asleep without washing my face (even if it’s for a half hour on the couch), not washing my hair every day. Also, I suspect a link to sugar, but I’m not sure about that one.

    Helps clear acne: Sulfur pills (“Acne Relief”), washing my face twice every night, using only non-comodegenic makeup, swimming in salt water, spending time in the sun, fish oil pills, a multivitamin, mud face masks (Queen Helene’s and also bentonite powder mixed with apple cider vinegar). Also, coconut oil applied topically may help, but that’s too new to say.

Comments are closed.