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Melissa is currently in her early 20’s and when she came to see Higher Healing she suffered with acne and migraines as her main symptoms. This started with acne at around the age of 14, which was mainly on her cheeks and forehead (usually indicative of digestive issues). At 16, after being prescribed different antibiotics and contraceptive medication she was put on accutane (a very high dose synthetic vitamin A medication for acne).
Her acne cleared from age 16 until age 21 when it flared again, triggered by stressful issues in her life and incorrectly adopting a vegan diet (very high carbs); getting progressively worse over a 2 year period. Melissa then went onto accutane for the second time and following the second round her skin flared within a few weeks of stopping the medication with inflamed itchy skin. This can often be the case with medications like accutane, they treat the symptoms of acne but do not get to the root cause (whilst potentially causing imbalances to the gut microbiome and liver). Over time, the acne starts to reappear (usually with other symptoms), whether triggered by emotional and physical stresses due to an unresolved root.
With the migraines, Melissa noticed the same foods that aggravate her skin also contributed to her migraines. The accutane medication would have been a contributor to her migraines due to the high dose of vitamin A. She experienced retro-orbital pain in both her eyes but more so in her left eye, with nausea and sensitivity to light. These symptoms interfered with her work for over a year and made it hard for her to sleep as the pain did not reduce with her eyes closed. A recent eye test showed her eyes were healthy and that she did not need glasses.
Melissa chose to work with Higher Healing because she wanted to get to the root cause of her symptoms and support her health through a holistic approach exploring the emotional and physical elements to her symptoms.
Here is a snapshot of Melissa’s skin prior to working with Higher Healing:
Initial Root Cause Consultation: Healing the gut to support acne and migraines
Through a ‘Holistic Health – Root Cause Consultation’, Melissa’s health journey was explored holistically, looking at the systems of the body that required balancing and emotional themes connected to her symptoms.
Melissa’s main aims were to stop the migraines she was experiencing and clear the acne. From a physical perspective, there were several systems of the body that were under significant stress, which would require support. It was clear to see that the gastrointestinal tract was under stress and was a contributing factor to her acne and migraines symptoms and that sex hormones were out of balance.
Based on the Root Cause Consultation, the following aims were established:
Nutritional Support: Supporting the gut, driving down inflammation and balancing hormones
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition. It typically occurs when hair follicles under the skin become clogged. Oil and dead skin cells clog the pores resulting in outbreaks of lesions. It tends to affect sebum-rich areas, such as the scalp, face, upper chest, and back.
Melissa was already aware that her skin worsened with sugar intake, stress, lack of sleep and she had also developed a comprehensive list of foods that she knew didn’t agree with her. Keeping a food and symptom diary can be very useful in a case like this. Despite avoiding these she was still getting acne symptoms and flare-ups.
Being on antibiotics and accutane will have impacted on the gut, causing the gut to become ‘leaky’ and potentially impacted the liver’s ability to detoxify toxins. As a result toxins which are meant to be contained in the gut enter into the bloodstream and can cause inflammation in other areas of the body, they also create a toxic burden. Research also highlights that migraine symptoms can be attributed to leaky gut symptoms.
A gut healing protocol was adopted over a 3-4 month period which looked at rebalancing the gut microbiome, lowering inflammation and strengthening the gut wall to prevent toxins leaking into other areas of the body. The use of high-quality supplements at therapeutic levels was key to this process.
In her first follow-up session, Melissa commented that her migraine symptoms had massively reduced and also she immediately began to see improvement on her acne. She still felt like her skin was textured (smaller spots) and there was acne around her cheeks, but she was pleased with her progress. As we embarked on the gut healing protocol, we continued to explore other systems of the body that needed supporting too.
Supporting Female Sex Hormones
Working on female sex hormones was a important next step as Melissa had acne on her jawline and also experienced significant premenstrual symptoms too. Imbalanced female hormones can often be a key dysregulation when it comes to acne. Through a functional test – the DUTCH COMPLETE – a full overview of all the key sex hormone levels was obtained.
Some of the key findings were:
5a-DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) is an androgen three times more potent than testosterone. It causes sebaceous glands in the body to produce oil which contributes to hormonal mediated acne symptoms in an individual.
Estrone (E1) and Estradiol (E2) are two of the three main types of oestrogen in the body. E2 is the strongest form of estrogen with Estriol (E3) being the weakest. The rise and fall of estrogen through Mellisa’s menstrual cycle would have contributed to headaches/migraines and pms symptoms.
Armed with this key information we got to work on lowering estrogen and androgen levels whilst ensuring efficient detoxification to clear excess hormones and toxins from the body. This was done through supplementation and nutritional changes to the diet.
Lifestyle Support: Promoting Good Sleep Hygiene Habits
When we are stressed, our bodies send blood to our sense organs and muscles to help best prepare for the threat we are currently dealing with. In doing so blood flow goes away from our digestive and reproductive organs, and as a result they no longer function optimally.
Melissa experienced anxiety regularly due to her skin condition and events in her life caused her to become anxious. From a lifestyle perspective, in order to support Melissa, it was key to help her bring her stress levels down (both physically and emotionally).
Focusing on introducing more ‘me’ time for Melissa and making gentle shifts in the way she was living her life really helped. This included adopting breathwork techniques, introducing gentle exercise changes to her daily routine to support a reduction in the day-to-day stress Melissa was experiencing.
In follow up sessions, we introduced simple and clean skincare habits to ensure efficient circulation, promote lymphatic drainage and detoxification around her face to help prevent any future breakouts which lead to further improvements in her skin. Melissa found this really beneficial as a way to connect with the skin and heal scarring.
Here’s what Melissa had to say about the Naturopathic Nutrition experience:
Emotional Support: Managing Anxiety and Stress
Emotional links with physical symptoms are often to do with trapped emotion/pain that a person has been trying to avoid, escape or suppress within them due to significant/traumatic events in their life.
Acne from an emotional perspective is often linked around low self-esteem and how the person feels about themselves. Acne physically is the representation of trying to distance yourself from others so you won’t be looked at too closely. There can frequently be themes with family, often with pleasing parents and around protecting oneself.
Melissa was introduced to emotional freedom technique (EFT), which is a tapping therapy which helps clear trapped emotion in our meridian (energy) system. This helps bring down emotional energy or pain quite quickly. We were able to tune into the energy of the anxiety she was feeling and bring this emotion down, releasing those feelings from her body.
Key memories around anxiety were also identified and cleared through another technique known as Matrix Reimprinting which Melissa found very beneficial.
Here’s what Melissa had to say about the Emotional Therapy - EFT experience:
Progress To Date - Migraines have cleared, Acne cleared- skin looks great, PMS symptoms reduced
Melissa hasn’t experienced a migraine again since she started her healing journey with Higher Healing. Her skin is clear and feels in a really good place with her skin. As we work together, we continue to build Melissa’s confidence that her acne is a thing of the past. She has also noticed that she is less sensitive to foods since working on healing the gut too.
Melissa has been able to establish a great routine, integrating all the advice and recommendations in a way that makes sense for her. She has become more aware of her body, and more aware of not only the physical triggers but also the emotional triggers.
Successfully adopting all the nutritional and lifestyle changes helped bring about this shift. They allowed Melissa to stay in a parasympathetic state (rest and repair) which allowed her body to bring itself back into homeostasis (balance).
Melissa has commented on how better she feels with her skin now and that she feels in a better place emotionally which is great.