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The Gut-Skin Connection: How Altered Gut Function Affects the Skin


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I’m preparing for my talk at the upcoming Wise Traditions Conference in Santa Clara, CA on November 10th. I’ll speaking on the “gut-brain-skin axis”, a fascinating topic that I’ve been exploring for some time. I hope some of you will be able to come to the conference, but I thought I’d share a little slice of my research here for those of you who can’t. (If you don’t make the conference and want to watch my entire presentation, I believe the Weston A. Price Foundation sells DVDs of the talks after the fact.)

I’ve discussed the gut-brain axis several times on my radio show, and I’ve at least mentioned the triangular connection between the gut, brain and skin. In this post I’d like to go a little deeper on the gut-skin connection.

Researchers as far back as 1930 suspected a link between gut and skin health, and modern research has now confirmed the importance of this relationship.

And as a clinician who works with people on these conditions, I’d go as far as to say this:

If you want to heal your skin, you have to heal your gut.Tweet This

Associations between Gut Disorders and Skin Conditions

Epidemiological evidence shows a clear association between gut problems and skin disorders. A recent report indicated that small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition involving inappropriate growth of bacteria in the small intestine, is 10 times more prevalent in people with acne rosacea than in healthy controls, and that correction of SIBO in these individuals led to marked clinical improvement. (1) 14% of patients with ulcerative colitis and 24% of patients with Crohn’s disease have skin manifestations. (Interestingly enough, a study just came out showing that a drug normally used to treat psoriasis is also effective for Crohn’s disease.) Celiac disease also has cutaneous manifestations, such as dermatitis herpetiformis, which occurs in 1/4 of celiac sufferers. Celiacs also have increased frequency of oral mucosal lesions, alopecia and vitiligo. (2)

How Altered Gut Function Impacts the Skin

Intestinal permeability (a.k.a. “leaky gut”) causes both systemic and local inflammation, which in turn contributes to skin disease.

In a study way back in 1916, acne patients were more likely to show enhanced reactivity to bacterial strains isolated from stool. 66 percent of the 57 patients with acne in the study showed positive reactivity to stool-isolated bacteria compared to none of the control patients without active skin disease. 1 In a more recent study involving 80 patients, those with acne had higher levels of and reactivity to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxins in the blood. None of the matched healthy controls reacted to the e. coli LPS, while 65% of the acne patients had a positive reaction. Both of these studies suggest that increased intestinal permeability is an issue for a significant number of acne patients. (4)

Speaking of permeable barriers: most of you have heard of leaky gut by now, but what about “leaky skin”? The main function of the skin is to act as a physical, chemical and antimicrobial defense system. Studies have shown that both stress and gut inflammation can impair the integrity and protective function of the epidermal barrier. This in turn leads to a decrease in antimicrobial peptides produced in the skin, and an increase in the severity of infection and inflammation in the skin. (5)

The gut flora also influences the skin. Substance P is a neuropeptide produced in the gut, brain and skin that plays a major role in skin conditions. An altered gut microbiome promotes the release of substance P in both the gut and the skin, and probiotics can attenuate this response. (6) The gut microbiota influences lipids and tissue fatty acid profiles, and may influence sebum production as well as the fatty acid composition of the sebum. (7) This may explain why a Russian study found that 54% of acne patients have significant alterations to the gut flora (8), and a Chinese study involving patients with seborrheic dermatitis also noted disruptions in the normal gut flora. 2

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Probiotics Improve Skin Conditions

Another line of evidence suggesting a connection between the gut and skin is the observation that probiotics improve skin conditions. Oral probiotics have been shown to decrease lipopolysaccharide, improve intestinal barrier function and reduce inflammation.

The first formal case report series on the value of using lactobacilli to treat skin conditions was published in 1961 by a physician named Robert Siver. He followed 300 patients who were given a commercially available probiotic and found that 80 percent of those with acne had some clinical improvement. 3 In a more recent Italian study involving 40 patients, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum in addition to standard care led to better clinical outcomes than standard care alone. (9) And another recent study of 56 patients with acne showed that the consumption of a Lactobacillus fermented dairy beverage improved clinical aspects of acne over a 12-week period. (10)

The beneficial effect of probioitics on skin may explain why pasteurized, unfermented dairy is associated with acne, but fermented dairy is not. I haven’t seen any studies on raw dairy and skin conditions, but my guess is that it wouldn’t be associated either. Orally consumed probiotics reduce systemic markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are elevated locally in those with acne. (11) Oral probiotics can also regulate the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines within the skin. (12) The fermentation of dairy reduces levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) by more than four-fold. (13) This is significant because studies show that acne is driven by IGF-1, and IGF-1 can be absorbed across colonic tissue. (14) This would be particularly problematic when increased intestinal permeability is present, which as I mentioned above is often the case in people with acne.

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  1. Strickler A, Kolmer JA, Schamberg JF: Complement fixation in acne vulgaris. J Cutaneous Dis 1916, 34:166-78.
  2. Zhang H, Yu L, Yi M, Li K: Quantitative studies on normal flora of seborrhoeic dermatitis. Chin J Dermatol 1999, 32:399-400.
  3. Siver RH: Lactobacillus for the control of acne. J Med Soc New Jersey 1961, 59:52-53.
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Join the conversation

  1. I had horrible acne before we switched to Paleo (taking pro-biotics and drinking bone broth) and now I don’t even have to wear make-up! My skin is so clear and I almost never get a pimple and when I do it’s usually just one, not a whole section of my face! Thanks be to God!

  2. Chris-
    Do you feel that raw milk also reduces the levels of IGF-1?Would it also have to be fermented,or would the natural probiotics of the whole milk be sufficient?

    • I don’t know for sure, and I haven’t seen any data either way. But anecdotally many of my patients that get breakouts from pasteurized dairy don’t have the same reaction to raw dairy.

      • I agree with Chris to an extent, I have heard from some people that they can’t even have raw goat milk or raw heavy cream… it can be pretty bad for some. For me, I can tolerate some raw aged cheese now and again and some goat milk, but for some they can’t even have a tiny spec of any dairy related food…

  3. I have had Rocacea (including acne, red skin, huge pores and raised skin) for about 25 or so years. I also have Hashimoto’s disease. I have been putting an antibiotic cream on my face, every day, for most of the 25 years. If I didn’t put the cream on, my face would break out into acne that would take weeks to clear up.

    I’ve been eating the Paleo Auto Immune Protocol diet and taking lots of probiotics for about 4 or 5 months now. Since about 3 weeks after I started, I noticed my face was not so red and that it seemed more clear. So I thought I would try not putting the antibiotic on my face…after day 3, no reaction…one week later no reaction…I have not put antibiotics on my face since, and every day, I notice it’s getting smoother and I think (I’m hoping!) that my pores are getting smaller and that the spider veins are clearing up a bit. Gut-skin relationship is a absolutely true!

  4. I wonder if anyone can comment on my situation. I have had asthma for thirty years, mostly controlled by avoiding allergens (animals, dust, etc.) Since my last pregnancy eight years ago, asthma has been much worse during fall/winter. Also, during this same time I start having problems with the skin on my right thumb and forefinger(same hand every year) It gets very dry, cracks, and bleeds. I have had the skin problem since before the pregnancy, but I wonder if the two are related, and why they are seasonal. I have been using pycnogenol for the asthma since the spring, but now that fall has come, it seems to be ineffective. Any clues?

    • I had asthma from when I was 15yrs. That too disappeared when I stopped the gluten, although it took a while longer – about 2 years. I forgot to say that I take regular probiotics, because they seem to protect my gut if I get some inadvertant gluten from someone else’s carelessness.

      My asthma was both seasonal and stress related – the stress version did not respond to medication at all. It has all gone now, apart from when there are Very,Very high levels of pollen around. Likewise, most of my hay-fever has disappeared.

    • My asthma seemed to be getting worse as I aged, even after eating strict GF and pretty strict Paleo for years. Somewhere I stumbled upon some recommendations for a “low histamine” diet. According to the stuff I read, histamine occurs naturally in food and some foods cause some histamine to be released when you eat them. If you have gut damage from gluten (or something else), you may not produce the enzyme that breaks down histamine in your diet (or much less of the enzyme). After looking into it, I began to become frustrated because I was already so restrictive with my diet – the last thing I needed was more restrictions!

      Then I realized that many of my ‘daily’ foods were on the list of things to avoid, and maybe that is why my asthma was not improving (and possibly getting worse). I tested the diet on myself and noticed a big improvement in about 1-2 weeks. Good Luck!


    • ..Stacie.. I did not ever suffer from Asthma till I was in my late 40’s. It is brought on by heart condition, its known as cardiac asthma. I have NO issues with pets/ dust/ etc. ; however, cig smoke and things like that trigger it. It is also triggered by being’ overheated’, as in overdoing the exercise and indulging in too much housecaring.( known to others as’ housework’ lol ) and is also stress related. I eat a lot of gluten free and this has solved a lot of issues, where as I could ANYTHING before I had this issue with the adult asthma. I also gave up almost ALL dairy, as it is a ‘ trigger’ for those with asthma. ( I cannot give up my cheese and Fage Greek Yogurt, however, lol ) But I use almond milk, no ice cream, no grains if I can help it and I also take a magnesium supplement every other night before bed. Eating a lot of shrimp and other shell fish helps as well. I seldom eat any red meat and prefer fish to be honest. A papaya enzyme after meals will also be beneficial. As will a GOOD Vitamin that has the Omega 3’s..one that has” DHA ” in front of teh ‘ Omega 3 ” statement. I am not a doctor.. but all these have helped me and also helped my skin .

    • Hi Stacie:

      My asthma went away never to return when I moved away from my mother. I went back to visit her about 5 years ago and the asthma came back upon seeing her and my sister.

      Energy sucker people can make you feel smothered. And ironically my x-girlfriend… the spitting image of the shadow of both my mother/sister… would just talk about her mother and it would literally take my breath away. I’d tell her I’d didn’t want to hear anything else about her mother unless it was how she planned to walk away from her and my breathing came back to normal in seconds.

      It is my truth there is an emotional root cause of ailments.

  5. Reading this has made me realise that my constant acne disappeared, when 7 years ago, I realised I was coeliac and stopped eating gluten, and more latterly, all grains. Within 6 weeks of stopping, friends were commenting how well I looked, and still do comment.

  6. I’ve had rosacea since my early 20s — immediately after college. I’m now 37, & after trying antibiotics, sulfa drugs, & every other gimmick on the market, I’ve practically cured my red, inflamed face — & it happened by accident!! I was a vegetarian for all of my 20s and early 30s, but the kind of vegetarian who ate a ton of carbs, cereal, breads, and sugar, and ironically not too many vegetables. About a month ago I decided to eliminate sugar, flour, and most dairy (I can’t give up all cheese! I love it.). I didn’t make this change for my skin, but rather to see if after eliminating these inflammatory foods I’d have improved overall health and lose a few pounds (literally – like 5).
    After a few weeks of this dietary change, I noticed that my rosacea was almost entirely gone. My skin is smooth, with maybe one or two spots. My rosacea was mild at times, and awful at other times. Sometimes so bad that I cried at the thought of leaving the house. And now, with zero western medicine or topical lotions, it is nearly indetectable.
    Oh – one additional I made to my skin regimen was using pure, organic jojoba oil on my cheeks where the skin was often dry and flaky. I highly encourage everyone to look up the benefits of jojoba oil, especially for rosacea.

    More importantly: stop eating crap!! Take out the nutritionally void foods, and within weeks you will see and feel changes that western medicine would have you believe are impossible.

    • Nice to hear that there is a way to get better on rosacea. I Started having symptons only a year ago and so far i have tryed few things like dermatologists and creams and antibiotics and not improvement. I ve also tryed more natural methods like acupunture for a month and probiotics but nothing really. What i havent tryed its a long , steady change of diet and see results. I m going to do a cleanse for a month where i cut all dairy, gluten and dairy and plan to continue eating the best i can anfd for a longer period to see really how diet affect me. I ll try the jojoba too! thanks for the suggestions!

    • When you say rosacea, are you implying broken capillaries as well? I’m 23 and getting them like crazy. I think it’s because of genetics. But I’m wondering what could possibly stop it?

  7. I have suffered from acne since I was 10. After changing my diet in my 20s, my face has improved a lot. Kefir really really helps-it is not time consuming to make and cheaper than buying probiotics.
    thanks for your post Chris!

  8. I feel as though I have been thrown a lifeline, a possible solution to acne that just … blights one’s life to an extent that I don’t think would be clear to non-sufferers.

    I discovered my celiac because I have DH. The DH is resolved on a GF diet, of course – but I have had acne since I was a teen (now 40). I have also been following a low FODMAP diet because gut symptoms continue; it seems to help, but has not completely resolved things.

    I have known for a while that a SIBO test made sense to help pinpoint the cause (from you; I’ve been reading all I can – and so wishing you were still seeing new patients). This was the kick that says get it done. Maybe I don’t have to live with acne for my entire life. Thank you.

  9. I have definitely experienced a change in my skin health when I changed my diet to a Paleo model. My life-long acne has cleared dramatically and I can honestly say with the elimination of dairy I have not experienced another breakout. I am also 32 weeks pregnant and work full-time, yet the hormones and the stress do no cause my acne. My personal observations have led me to believe dairy has been the cause all along.

    • Going strict Paleo was like a miracle for my skin. I am not super strict any more, about 70%, and I notice that dairy in particular causes acne for me. I have recently cut out dairy again and after 1 week my skin was great. Alcohol also affects my skin, but not as much as dairy.

  10. My skin and scalp become very flaky and the eyelids get red and flaky too… In my last year of being primal and eating clean, I found that dairy is the biggest culprit, but anytime I spike my insulin, like eating popcorn at a movie theatre my whole body heats up and gets puffy. I am about 90% primal and my health is about 80% improved with energy and thinking, etc…

    • that is exactly what happens to me. I swear just looking at dairy makes me feel inflamed. I notice a big difference when I keep my insulin levels under control as well.

  11. absolute sucess here too. 9 months paleo/primal, pretty strict about it, all pimples (were they cystic or was it hydradentitis suppurativa or something similar I don’t know but they were not healing for weeks/months) are gone and healed. my skin is like a baby’s butt at it best again 🙂

  12. Absolutely! My husband has always struggled with some sort of psoriasis/eczema that has never been properly diagnosed or treated by regular MDs. We have both struggled with breakouts, even into our 40s. Our 2 teenagers went from clear skin to lots of acne all over their faces and backs when they were eating a lot of sugar and refined GF grains. In 2011, I put us all on the GApS diet supplemented with therapeutic amounts of probiotics. ALL of our skin conditions cleared up. Now, breakouts and nasty eczema flares ONLY return when we get contaminated with trace amounts of gluten in food, which damages our guts due to the Celiac disease we all have!

  13. I’ve noticed the increased prevalence of eczema among my 6 year old daughter’s peers over the past few years and suspect it is because they all eat a largely wheat based diet. Pop tarts for breakfast, pizza for lunch and breaded chicken dinos for dinner!

  14. As I get farther along in healing, my health seems to fluctuate. My path to well being has not been a straight line. What started with diabetes diagnoses turned into fixing problems in my gut. As of now my face has more of a rash than ever, but I feel like it is probably just a bump in the road to healing since I can tell my gut function is improving. Even if it seems slowly. My next step is going to get off hormonal birth control, maybe regulating my hormones will help my skin and everything else improve. I love your articles and podcasts, you have helped me come this far amongst doctors that want me to take diabetes medications.

  15. I had eczema for over 25 years that my doctor said would never heal, and that I could only hope to keep it under control. Once I started eliminating grains and sugars from my diet, it completely cleared up. It’s amazing to me that so few people talk about the dietary implications of skin issues.

  16. Thanks for a great post!

    I’ve noticed that breakouts of perioral dermatitis correspond with my digestion disruptions (accidental or intentional slips from a low-FODMAP/paleo diet to treat esophageal thrush, h.pylori, fructose malabsorption, and chronic gastritis). Would be interested in hearing your take about treating PD—I’ve had good luck with diet modifications, but I also know that various sites on the internet recommend cutting out SLS/SLES, cosmetics, and fluoride toothpaste. Any thoughts about what role those external chemicals play?

    • I get perioral derm flare ups when my gut is irritated, too. I avoid chemicals on my skin and hair and I avoid fluoride products. I irritated my gut recently by using too much magnesium for too many days to help relieve constipation. I had the worst face flare up during that time and it calmed down once I stopped the magnesium and drank bone broth. I also used Sibu’s sea buckthorn therapeutic oil on my red patches and that helped a lot too.

      • I’ve done the GAPS Intro Diet twice and each time experienced profound detoxification or “flare-ups” through the skin. The first time I had an angry red scalp rash (luckily, hidden by my hair), and the second time a sudden eczema flare-up on my hands. With GAPS or other gut healing protocols, it’s common to experience a worsening of the “symptoms” that prompted you to do the diet in the first place (a good sign that it’s working and that the bad guys are putting up a fight and releasing toxins on the way out of the body), and that was true for me in the case of eczema. The scalp rash was fascinating when you consider I’m a lifelong migraine sufferer.

        • I should also say that these flare-ups were temporary. The scalp rash disappeared as quickly as it arose.

          I get compliments on my skin all the time and I no longer sunburn or need sunscreen, and I attribute it to eating plenty of traditional fats and oils and getting the harmful, man-made fats and oils completely out of my system. Butter, ghee, coconut oil, lard, tallow and olive oil are now my fats of choice. These and lacto-fermented foods support gut function, and thus skin health, in a big way.

        • Thanks Beth I didn’t realise that was so common with GAPS diet and eczema. My eczema had settled about 95% and then I started an elimination diet (the radical one with no seeds grains nuts beans that I have never done before) 3 weeks and no change and then my eczema has flared right up. I still cant tell if it was triggered by a slip in the diet or just a detox. Crossing my fingers for the detox and persevering. You didnt say how long it takes to pass? Im assuming it did pass?

  17. I wish I could say yes, that improving my gut health has improved my skin, but it hasn’t for me. I’ve always had dry ski and now that I live in a very dry climate, it’s a constant battle. I use pure sunflower and jojoba oils as my daily moisturizer, don’t overdo it with soap and eat lots of fat. I wish I knew what else I could do.

    • Try products from Sibu. It’s sea buckthorn. I’ve been using their topical products with good results and I’m going to try their oral products as well.

      • I put pure seabuckthorn from Russia on my face to assist my oral dermatitis, and had a horrible allergic reaction, it burned my skin and it looked like I took a curling iron to it. I have a strong feeling it was because of my leaky gut, so when my gut is healed and i’m finished the gaps diet, I will put it on my face again (there’s only the one way to test these things!) and see what happens. Sorry I wish I saw this post after I tried this experiment, I hope I will remember to come back and report my findings. It will be another anecdote in support of GAPS, rather than being in support of a topical treatment, although I know that seabuckthorn is a prized oil for skin, since all the women in my family from USSR have been using it. Probably due to their eating grandma’s bone broths, and I grew up in Canada where I didn’t eat enough russian foods and my parents were sold on the theory that antibiotics is the answer to everything. Really messed up my stomach over the years. THANK you Dr. Natasha.

    • How are you cleansing your skin? I’ve had incredibly dry skin my whole life, and the best thing I’ve ever done for it was switching to a combination of oil cleansing (at night) and honey cleansing (morning). No soaps, no “gentle, foaming cleansers”, just oil and honey. The last couple winters have been the first in my life to have come and gone without my skin getting flaky.

      • Kathryn,
        I cleanse my skin with either coconut or olive oil (whichever is handy) with great results but I haven’t used honey yet. Would you mind telling me what you use and how? I’ve heard that Manuka honey is good but don’t know how to use it as a skin cleanser. Do you add anything to it?

        I went off of VSL#3 for just a few days and pimples started popping up on my back and face. I have “IBS”, ha! The reason I went off of them is to get another stool test to see where I’m at with re-colonizing my gut ( I only had bifidum & E. coli, absolutely no lactobacilli). Seems like checking my skin reactions would be a lot cheaper than the stool test. Do you think that IBS patients can ever stop probiotics or is it something that we’ll just have to do? Or could we get away with just eating some fermented foods? What do you think of using S. boulardii to clear out the bad guys?


        • Not sure what VSL#3 is but I too did a stool test and had absolutely no lactobacilli and only bifidum and e.coli. Naturopath had a hard time explaining as I had been taking probiotics for close to 2 yrs. My stomach showed malabsorption and leaky gut. My stomach was a disaster and it seemed everything I ate gave me gas and discomfort. I recently changed to a powdered probiotic and berberine supplements and my stomach while not perfect is better. My skin however has only showed a slight improvement. I have rosacea and dry hard skin that seems to close over my pores and the sebum gets stuck inside them. Its like its oily & dry and dehydrated at the same time. I oil cleanse with products by Garden of Wisdom which are great but I cant seem to get my skin calm and moisturized. Ive tried fish oil and strict dietary changes and while thats healthier and I lost weight it did zero for my skin. Ive even thought of demodex infestation and tried a product from china called ZZ cream. Many rosacea forums recommend it but it has not stopped the random lesions I get. They are also not in the typical rosacea areas so Im not sure what the heck they are. Sometimes they appear on the very top of my cheekbone practically on my temple and some are on my jawline under my neck. The ones here seem to re-inflame as they are always in the same spot. Its like its a hot spot or something as they can be itchy as well. I wish I knew what else to change or try because its very hard to continue living this condition and putting on a brave front and watching everyone around you eating and drinking what they want.

          • hey dee,
            Sounds like you have facial keratosis pilaris. Ppl most often get it on the backs of their arms…bumpy “chicken skin”, red spots, can be dry and itchy too, I think. Maybe google it? Knowing what ur dealing with is always a good beginning, right? Frm ur description it really sounds like KP.

            • Bee
              Thanks so much for your advice. Its actually something that has crossed my mind and since you’ve mentioned it I’ve been doing some research on the subject. while I’m not sure its exactly what I have, there are symptoms that resemble what I’m going through. I can most often extract a small hard plug from these under the skin bumps in my chin and Im looking into whether or not this can be the case with KP. Maybe this is why diet has never worked for me…thanks again

          • Apple cider vinegar. Bath in it every night. Organic coconut oil. Melt in microwave and cover everywhere. Borax in bath helps as well. Hope this helps you.

            • Hi sorry to interrupt but just a tip on coconut oil- don’t microwave it as microwaving destroys the healing properties, so its best heating over the stove (i put it in a bowl, then put the bowl in a pot of warming water t melt it)


            • I have folliculitis on scalp and thighs and some dishydrotic eczema on the backs of my hands.. I started putting 4 oz of organic balsamic vinegar in my bath every day, and it seems to be helping. It’s a little to early to tell, though. Do you think apple cider vinegar is better?

      • I would also recommend an enzyme for the skin twice a month. Papaya, Pumpkin or Pineapple. Enzymes are more beneficial than scrubs because they attach themselves to dead skin cells rather than scrubbing off surface skin cells. Finish with a hydrating moisturizer containing hylaronic acid. It binds eight times its weight to water… the most hydrating thing you can put on your skin. Also, have you considered checking the Ph of your water? If it is acidic, you may not be absorbing it thus causing dryness. Just a few thoughts…..

      • Try high doses of fish oil. Every winter my hands an forearms would crack and bleed and my face would flake from being so dry. I used to take one or two 300 mg fish oil a day and now I take four on average and my dry skin had disappeared.

      • I am going totally chemical free since I have been paleo. I water wash my body only to keep my ph and oil barriers. I stopped using soap April 22 and shampoo may 17, 2014. I don’t stink and my scalp is calming down. My skin isn’t chapped anymore. I do battle keratosis pilaris. Paleo hasn’t fixed that. Perhaps it’s nuts or coffee causing the problem. Anyway, other keys to keeping sebum on skin is avoiding HOT water showers. Use warm then cool. Don’t use vinegars or exfoliating acids, no chemicals at all. The body adapts.

        • hello guys, i am a chiropractor, naet and gaps therapist.
          for most of you guys and gals still having flare-ups in skin and bowel disorder, DENTAL issues is the clue.
          cavitations, root canals, wisdom teeth badly extracted or still in place and last but not least, mercury fillings, all summed up become a source of deadly toxicity that our regulatory system can’t cope anymore.
          get as many info u can, watch dr. mattew carpenter videos, read toxic dentistry exposed by munro-hall, and then take action!!
          since i apply the three togheter, gaps, naet and dental issues, i see so called “miracles” in my practice.

      • Just want to comment on this. I tried the tallow cream after seeing the mommypotamous post too…it didn’t do anything for my eczema/dry skin. Nothing except topical steroids helped, and I didn’t want to use chemicals indefinitely. I went on a fruit and veggie diet because I couldn’t take the itchy skin/scalp. Nothing changed until I went low histamine, and now it’s slowly getting better. Only time will tell, but it’s worth looking into histamine intolerance!

    • Try high dose fish oils. The good kind from the nutrition store– not the kind you get at Costco or something. You will see an instant improvement– i was in your boat for a long time!

      Hope it works!

    • I was on high dose fish oil for another reason- about 6-8 grams a day, and my skin got much oilier. Keep gradually increasing your dose of fish oil until your skin changes. Maybe you would need more in winter thans summer.

  18. Hi Chris I am 65 with ulcerative colitis , had it for about 20+ years. When I get stressed and the stomach gets worse , my face breaks out in dry scaly skin and goes very red all round my nose and my eyebrows and of course through my scalp. When the stomach calms down so does the skin.

  19. I’ve been doing the paleo thing for close to 6 months now and I push the probiotics pretty hard. I can count on 2 fingers the number of pimples I’ve had since starting this diet, which is a major improvement. I also had frequent eczema flare ups on my left hand and I can only remember 1 flare up in the last 6 months. As it gets cooler I am seeing the usually fall dryness return though and I was hoping that I would avoid that this year.

      • Hi Jennifer,

        What if you have soft skin on your body but dry skin on your face? I have dry skin with rosacea on my cheeks.

        But the rest of my body is smooth/soft. Would bile thinning supplement help in that case? If so, do you have a recommendation? Thanks.

        • Please someone answer Andrea’s question, I have EXACTLY the same thing! Generally healthy and soft skin all over, but my poor cheeks are rough and sore, dry and flaking. I have stopped exfoliating by the various products or methods as it seems to make it worse, and the beautiful natural creams from the health food store, not even essential oils like helichrysum and german chammomile are helping. (As a gluten sensitive, dairy sensitive person I just removed all the GF foods with gums in them and went on the GAPS intro diet for the last week.) Is there anything more to help it along besides sticking to the GAPS diet?

          • There is a chance you might have an infestation of demodex folliculorum in your hair follicles. There are a lot of unknowns about Rosacea, but there is a large correlation between infestation with these mites that are normal components of the skin flora. If eliminating your trigger foods isn’t working then this might be the case. I would also look into the products you put on your skin (lotion, soap, detergent) and see if any of those might be the reason the rosacea is sticking around. Obviously these are just suggestions from a medical student, so I would definitely recommend consulting your doctor/dermatologist.

          • Try raw, must be raw and non processed, organic coconut oil for dry patches on your face, it’s brilliant stuff.

          • Try washing your face with honey, preferably raw instead of using soap or a moisturizer. Honey has both humectant (moisturizing) and antibacterial properties. Also, the pH of honey is similar to the skins own acid mantle so you are not disrupting your skins own protections against bacteria. A study has show honey is more effective than a conventional treatment for seborrhic dermatitis on the scalp. I have been washing with honey for a couple months now and notice it reduces my acne and keeps my skin very soft.

          • For over 2 years I had terrible red, crusty, flaky dermatitis on my face that was really ugly and painful. Paleo diet helped but didn’t get rid of it completely. Only after I worked with a naturopath and took good quality probiotics, vitamins and treatment to heal my gut. After 3 months of treatment, my skin is finally clear.

          • I have managed to control my Rosacea and have been redness (and bump) free for years. It took long term use of a a topical antibiotic and moisturizing religiously with a sensitive skin moisturizer. When the skin gets dry and damaged, the Rosacea tries to come back.

        • Try Kefir and a good probiotic. I’ve had bad rosacea, breakouts et al for several years. Have been on antibiotics and creams, nothing helped. Then I started taking magnesium. There was an improvement, with breakouts once a week, but very red most days.

          A friend gave me some kefir starter (I rarely drink milk) and started drinking a glass every morning, with a good brobiotic. Guess what! I’m holding my breath, but the redness has definately clamed down, some days I have a normal coloured face, plus there are no more breakouts.

          I didn’t know there was a connection between gut and skin, but after some days of improvement, I mentioned to my family that I think there may be a connection here. I’m HOPING that this will be the cure I’ve been longing for. I think it’s as simple as red face = inflammation of the gut.

          For a soft skin, I’ve found plain Nivea cream has been fantastic.

          • Eat fermented veggies like raw sauerkraut and take Oil of Oregano orally. This along with IntestiNew and barley grass juice healed my oozing yellow crusts quickly. I eat sauerkrant, just a 1/4 c. before lunch and dinner and take a probiotic capsule with breakfast.

    • Jason,
      What exactly do you eat on a daily basis? I had horrible adult acne for 2 years and hand eczema for about 12 years. After going to a dermatologist (which messed up my system even more with antibiotics that didn’t solve the problems) and trying various things I found on-line, I decided to talk to a naturopath and found out I have many food allergies which most likely led to leaky gut. I started taking probiotics 10 months ago along with avoiding dairy (I also don’t eat wheat). I saw HUGE improvements after about 6 months with my skin. I go back and forth with skin issues if I do eat some dairy or wheat, but I get sick of eating meat and vegetables all the time. Just wondering what you eat to stay healthy and keep your skin clear.

      • This sounds exactly like me. What response did you get for this please?


        • I had small patches of eczema on my fingers each year during the summer for about five or six years. Then a couple of years ago it started spreading over my hands and up my arms. When it got to my elbows, I went to an NAET practitioner. She put me on a cleanse diet and did the NAET protocol. The eczema cleared up completely within a couple of months and hasn’t been back. I had been eating a high carb/vegetarian diet for about 25 years, and I loved baked goods and chocolate. Since then I’ve cut WAY back on grains/sugar. I do still eat them, but much more selectively and infrequently. And I eat fish sometimes.

        • Is there a response to this. I can’t have any dairy at all, even raw. I get huge painful pimples for it.

      • Kind of funny, I too do have found dairy does not work for me, I used to have really dry skin, I forgot the scientific name for it but I would get it on my hands and feet, the sores would crack open and bleed and weep a clear fluid, and it would itch, so I would scratch it until it hurt. Tried all kind of doctors things when I was younger and just figured I would have to live with it.
        I have been low carb for about 10 years, but I was having blood sugar issues and gaining weight for about the last three years, I could not figure it out. I cut out dairy and ALL my skin issues went away as well as my blood sugar issues are coming down, and so it the scale. Really stinks, I only used high fat dairy but it is not obviously for me. Even cream does it for me. I am happy I finally found my answer, I hope in the future I will be able to have dairy but for now I have to give it up.

        • Have you tried kefir? I get acne when I eat dairy and also general aches and pains that are a sign of systemic inflammation, plus gas and stomach pain. For years, it just got worse to the point where I thought I couldn’t eat even tiny amounts of dairy. Then I started having homemade kefir regularly (to combat a breast feeding related thrush infection) and I noticed my reactions to dairy calming down. After several months drinking a kefir smoothie every morning I was able to enjoy even commercial ice cream occasionally with no bad effects. For me, the probiotics in kefir have been a big help, but my reactions were not as severe as what you describe.