Adult Acne, Water and Milk Thistle

A reader writes:

I suffered from moderate acne as a teen, which continued well into my adult years. In my early forties, I sought help from a dermatologist, hoping that progress had been made since my teenage experience which included tetracycline and sunlamp therapy to induce drying and peeling. I was disappointed to have this doctor recommend basically the same treatment twenty five years later. I declined.

Fortunately, a friend recommended drinking lots of water, and I began doing so, attempting to drink eight glasses a day. This was in December. The acne actually got worse . . . but I received a Brita water filter pitcher for Christmas and began drinking filtered water. Within a week my skin was totally clear, and remained so with minimal exception thereafter, even when my water consumption waned over the years. I was delighted and grateful to have found such a simple and healthy solution, and annoyed that no doctor had even suggested it.

But about 15 years later — about a year ago — I began to experience significant breakouts again, this time confined largely to my nose. I assumed that I needed to simply up my water intake again. This time it didn’t help. Maybe the filter was overdue for a change, I thought (we’d long since upgraded to a reverse osmosis filter), so I had it changed but still no improvement in my skin.

I began cutting out various foods, eggs, coconut oil, whey protein, things I was eating lots of, thinking maybe I’d developed a sensitivity. Nothing worked, although I did see immediate improvement when visiting family in the states, which made me wonder if it was the change in the water. So  back home I tried to drink bottled water or club soda exclusively and it seemed to help maybe slightly.

I continued to search for a more complete solution. While perusing several online blogs devoted to acne treatment, I read a comment from a self-described longtime sufferer who claimed to have recently discovered a cure for his acne — milk thistle and NAC [n-acetyl-cysteine]. I got some milk thistle, took a few capsules a day for maybe three days, and voila, clear skin again. I never had reason to add NAC since the milk thistle worked so well.

I have reduced water consumption to normal levels (meaning I try to drink several glasses daily but don’t bother to track), take a few milk thistle capsules a week (don’t track that either), and only start to get breakouts if I happen to miss taking any for about a month, which I did just recently over the holidays. I still don’t know what causes the acne, and I don’t know why the milk thistle “cures” it, but it works wonderfully for me.

Here is more evidence for the effectiveness of milk thistle for acne.

8 Replies to “Adult Acne, Water and Milk Thistle”

  1. The milk thistle helps the liver, which removes toxins from the body. When the liver is overloaded, toxins will also be removed via the skin.

  2. and………….. our cells, bodies and brains have memory. Once an avenue is established for the excretion of waste products the liver and kidneys cannot process, it continues to use that outlet. Should one outlet be eliminated, as in the removal of the tonsils, then a new outlet would be established.

    I Found in my own life, that water fasting made a life changing difference. Many toxins in the body are the residues of past pains whether real or imagined, especially the hurts we collect as children. The water fasting cleared much of this for me and released the liver and kidneys to do their normal functioning once again.

  3. I had awful adult acne, hideous cystic lumps that left scars. My college pictures are hard to look at. This continued into late twenties.

    It was a food allergy, but took forever to figure out: black tea. Especially Oolong. My face would begin to itch within minutes of drinking, and the breakout came the following day. But it took years to notice the connection, I’m embarrassed to say.

    The allergy — if that’s what it is — is highly specific. Green tea is no problem. Coffee is no problem. The only offender is black tea, especially Oolong. Even now, in my late forties, I break out if I drink two cups of black tea. The effect can be mitigated by drinking a ton of water.

  4. “But about 15 years later — about a year ago — I began to experience significant breakouts again, this time confined largely to my nose”

    makes me wonder if your water supplier made a change…something that your water filter could not block/clean.

    Adding Chloramine comes to mind (
    I read somewhere this has become more common in recent years…’chlorine on steroids’ perhaps.
    As far as i know only Vitamin C type filters remove/negate this stuff (or adding Vit C to drinking water & bath water).

    You should be able to find out what’s in your water by checking info on the suppliers web site. It still doesn’t change anything i guess…but would be interesting to know. (pls post up if you find they do use chloramine)

  5. Milk Thistle is good for psoriasis too so it must hit a common cause.

    By the way I discovered that soluble barley drink (tries to imitate Coffee) in the evening improves sleep, especially when you had a active day.

  6. Good to know about milk thistle. In case anyone cares, I’ve had great success with taking 100 mg zinc picolinate daily. I recently started applying apple cider vinegar (1 part ACV to 2 parts water) to my face 1-2 times daily. It seems to have worked really well, though this could be a coincidence. I’ll keep observing for a few more weeks before concluding anything.

    I think I got both these suggestions from the SLD forums.

  7. The Vitamin C trick to remove chlorine works. It only takes a pinch per five gallon bucket. I used to do this for my plants. If you have a white bucket try it. Add a pinch then stir. Look in the bottom and you will see a small grain in the middle. That’s the chlorine. The info comes, if I remember correctly, from the San Fransisco water department.

  8. I recently started taking D3 4000iu a day, just because there’s no sunshine here in England. A pleasant side effect was that 4 persistent spots on my forehead have disappeared. Medication wouldn’t shift them but now they’ve gone. A quick search pulled up the same experience for other people.

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