Begin Within: Uneven Skin Tone
Dark Spots: What Causes Them?
U.V. Radiation or Sunlight
Your skin cells naturally produce pigment (melanin) to protect your DNA from sun damage and to prevent any possible cancerous changes.
There is a condition called Acanthosis nigricans, where the skin darkens in relation to high blood sugar. Diabetics get this skin condition where the skin is dark and velvety-looking. Acanthosis nigricans is also associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is an interplay of blood sugar and hormones impacting fertility in females. PCOS is a whole other topic and deserves its own post. I have posted some information on my instagram, which you can read right here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
our favourite sunscreens
Hormones & Medications
In a condition called Melasma, the skin darkens through of an interplay of hormones, medications, and sunlight. Studies indicate that this condition is more common in females, but can be found in both sexes. Studies also show a connection between hormone replacement therapy and pregnancy with getting the skin condition. Research also indicates a connection between estrogen and getting this skin condition, where melasma skin has higher estrogen receptors than non-melasma skin.
Other than hormone replacement, phenytoin has been associated with Melasma.
Plain and simple: Reduce high blood glucose. Like what I said before, diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are related to Acanthosis nigricans. So, checking your fasting blood glucose levels and optimizing your intake of simple and complex carbohydrates will become helpful. There are also many naturopathic dietary recommendations that can be done to optimize healthy blood sugar levels. So, make sure you find the correct root cause to effectively treat your skin from within.
There is preliminary data that demonstrates that oral supplementation with glutathione could reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation in women compared to those taking placebo. It should be noted that oral glutathione has low bioavailability, meaning that it is not absorbed well. At Jupiter, we recommend a specific type of glutathione that is surrounded by fat molecules that ensures that the glutathione molecule is more bioavailable. There is also preliminary research being conducted on intravenous glutathione as a method to by-pass metabolism and ensure that higher amounts of actual glutathione are in the body.
If you read my last Begin From Within on Pimples and Acne and follow me on Instagram, you know that I love milk thistle. Not only is it great at helping reduce hormonal acne, but studies show that silymarin (a compound found in milk thistle) can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. In vitro studies have shown that silymarin inhibits the formation of melanin by impacting an enzyme called tyrosinase.
Never heard of arbutin? It's cool. Let me teach you. Arbutin is a hydroquinone derived from plants, and studies show that arbutin inhibits the maturation of melanin and inhibits tyrosinase to help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Our preferred version is mixed with hydrating Hyaluronic Acid.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid interacts with copper ions in tyrosinase to reduce melanin production, which therefore, reduces the appearance of dark spots. Below are some of our recommendations, internal and external. Please make sure to use sunscreen, especially when using vitamin C serum, to avoid damage.
our favourite Vitamins c serums
Micro-needling & Platelet-Rich Plasma (Vampire Facial)
Microneedling is the use of small needles to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, melasma, and hyperpigmentation. Studies indicate that microneedling is especially effective when combined with various lightening agents, such as the two listed above. This procedure is also safe with most skin types, especially those with Fitzpatrick's IV and V skin types since it has a lower possibility of scarring and hyperpigmentation when compared to other skin procedures.
At Jupiter Naturopathic Wellness, we do platelet-rich plasma (PRP) with microneedling to increase facial brightness and facial revitalization. PRP rejuvenation facials (aka vampire facials) is the use of a patient's own blood to make a nutrient-rich serum packed with growth factors and then microneedling the serum into the patient's skin to drive the processes described above.
The steps for PRP rejuvenation facials at Jupiter are:
Filling 2-3 vials with blood
Spinning down the blood to concentrate the plasma
Numbing the patient's face with topical anesthetics
Collecting the nutrient-rich serum
Microneedling the serum into the patient's skin
As with most procedures at Jupiter, patients must first have a naturopathic skin consultation to see if they are good candidates for microneedling with platelet-rich plasma since there are factors that can prevent a person from getting a PRP rejuvenation facial. To find out if you are a great candidate for the procedure and to find out information on downtime, schedule a naturopathic skin consultation with me at Jupiter.
Blotchiness & Redness: What Causes It?
Redness can be caused by many things. Some of the main causes are sunlight, skin sensitivity (i.e. fragrances and cosmetic ingredients), autoimmunity (i.e. rosacea), and diet (i.e. food sensitivities, alcohol, and spicy foods). Redness can also indicate an imbalance that is happening inside your body, and with the use of face mapping and/or functional lab testing, more information can be gathered to understand what the underlying causes of your redness and blotchiness are.
Face mapping. Did that catch your attention up there? I'm sure you're wondering what it's all about. It's a diagnostic system used in Chinese medicine that looks at facial details to determine disharmony in a patient's body. With face mapping, certain parts of the face correlate with different organs. For example, the cheeks are associated with the lungs; the chin is associated with hormones; the area under the eyes is associated with the kidneys; and the forehead is associated with the intestines. These are just some examples, and there are many more aspects of the face that are associated with the heart, liver, stomach, and bladder. So, how does face mapping tie in with redness? Well, in Chinese medicine, redness is seen has having too much heat. And, by combining that knowledge with face mapping and other systems of Chinese medicine diagnosis, a Chinese medicine practitioner is able to get more information on what organs have too much heat.
Internal U.V. Protection
Astaxanthin has been deemed as "internal SPF" by some since studies show that is has the capacity to prevent damage from ultraviolet rays. Science demonstrates that astaxanthin can prevent the death of skin cells exposed to UV and can also help prevent any inflammation due to UV exposure. What is astaxanthin though? It's a carotenoid naturally found in algae. Gotta love nature, right? Astaxanthin would also pair well with all of the science described in the first Begin From Within post.
Certain foods can trigger redness. There's the obvious ones, such as spicy foods and alcohol, but there is also the possibly of food sensitivities that can trigger skin symptoms. There are many ways to approach this dietarily, such as through an Anti-inflammatory Diet or through an Elimination Diet. I like to think of the Anti-inflammatory Diet as a blanket that covers all of the dietary triggers while the Elimination Diet helps you identify specific foods that can trigger symptoms. Both are effective means at treating the root cause of diet-caused skin symptoms, but they do take time. People who want faster results might just prefer to do lab testing to see what foods they react to, and we use Genova Diagnostics' food allergy testing at Jupiter that covers dozens of different foods. From the results of this advanced functional lab test, diet is then modified to help reduce severity of symptoms.
The gut is a big thing with redness and blotchiness (not like you already know from our diet discussion above). Studies show that chronic bacterial infections of the gut are associated with rosacea (an autoimmune condition that causes facial redness). The most common bacterial infection that occurs in patients with rosacea is Helicobacter pylori - the bacteria known to cause stomach ulcers. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has also been seen in patients with rosacea. Easy testing can be done to determine the root cause, and there are naturopathic solutions to help bring the gut back to working order. For both H. pylori and SIBO, naturopathic protocols involve herbal antibiotic therapy, probiotics, and therapeutic diets. Initial round of treatment can last for 4-6 weeks before second testing is completed to evaluate the efficacy of treatment. Afterwards, gut health maintenance is done if retesting indicates that the bacterial infection has resolved
Plant-based anti-inflammatories are a great topical solution to help reduce the appearance of redness. Some of my favorite natural anti-inflammatories are Blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum), Marigold (Calendula officianalis), and Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). Studies show that both blue tansy and chamomile both contain chamazulene, which has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory agent. In addition to chamazulene, chamomile also contains α-Bisabolol, which is also anti-inflammatory, but also anti-microbial in nature. As for Calendula, research shows that the triterpenoid faradiol monoester found in the plant's flowers is the most anti-inflammatory compound from the plant. Beyond those three plants, I sometimes use topical Boswellia serrata for its anti-inflammatory properties.
our favourite topical anti-inflammatory serums & oils
That was a lot, eh? Remember, these are just general naturopathic methods to help reduce the appearance of uneven skin. There is even more that could be talked about, such as topical prevention of uneven skin, but this post is getting way too long, and I don't want to lose your attention. To get more info on prevention, the therapeutic dosages of nutrients and herbs, and the best naturopathic dietary options for your health, body, and skin goals, come to Jupiter for a naturopathic skin consultation.
At Jupiter, we can identify the root causes of your skin issues and proactively heal your skin from within with a robust naturopathic treatment plan composed of hyper-personalized herbal formulas, targeted nutrient supplementation, lifestyle-focused dietary recommendations, and a tailored microneedling protocol. Book your naturopathic skin consultation with me at Jupiter today.
You know you deserve better skin. So, heal it from within.
About the Author
Dr. Bryant Esquejo is a California-licensed naturopathic doctor practicing in the Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. You can book an appointment with him here and follow him on social media here.
He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from San Diego State University in 2012 and his naturopathic medical degree from the National University of Natural Medicine in 2016. In his practice, he aims to help patients achieve optimal health and wellness by focusing on hormonal and thyroid health; adrenal dysfunction and stress-related chronic fatigue; gastrointestinal health; anxiety and depression; and nutrigenomics. He uses a variety of integrative modalities to assess and treat patients, such as bioenergetic muscle testing; advanced and basic functional laboratory assessment; therapeutic nutrition; lifestyle medicine; nutraceutical, vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplementation; intravenous micronutrient therapy; and energetic medicines, such as constitutional homeopathy and flower essences.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. There are no financial ties to any supplement companies, pharmaceutical companies, or to any of the products mentioned in this post. This post is not meant to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose conditions or diseases and is meant for educational purposes. As always, please consult your doctor before trying any new treatments or supplements.
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