In this post, I introduced you to my struggle with acne that started in my preteens and has persisted through my adult life.  Next, I shared the link that I discovered between my acne and the consumption of dairy products.  Today, I am going to offer “the rest of the story.”  At least until my acne rages again and I have to go hunting for more clues about what’s going on with my skin.

After I cut dairy from my diet, my skin was better but by no means clear.  I always, always “enjoyed” at least one cystic lesion, and often suffered from 3-4.

During the late summer and fall of 2010, my second child, whom I had been breastfeeding since her arrival in August 2008, started to cut back on her nursing sessions.  The pregnancy-induced melasma that I had acquired while pregnant with her began to fade.  And oh my sweet goodness, the acne appeared with a vengeance.

I developed horrible, horrible lesions all over my face.  They were huge, angry and ever-present.  It hurt to put my head on the pillow at night.

I used to eye teenage boys in the grocery store and compare my face to theirs.  Usually, they came out ahead.

It was awful.

In addition to the horrific acne, I also experienced other odd symptoms as my daughter’s nursing scaled back.  I was frequently dizzy and began experiencing what I eventually learned were hormonally-induced, asymmetrical optical migraines.  I was also super, super emotional and sad.  It was worse than my postpartum experience with her.

(In my opinion, people don’t talk enough about the side effects that can accompany weaning.  But that’s another subject for another day!)

I spent hour after hour each night on, reading every anecdote and success story.  I tried everything under the sun.  I shelled out serious dough for every possible elixir.  I scoured PubMed for the latest research.

Nothing worked.

In July of 2011 I made the choice to eliminate gluten and grains from my diet.  I wasn’t so much trying to cure my acne problem as I was trying to improve my overall health.  Truth be told, I had largely given up hope that anything would work beyond time and patience.

Not only was my face physically painful, my skin kept me from living life fully.  I declined invitations to events and outings because the idea of trying to hide my reality just wore me down.

Sometimes my children would tell me they didn’t want to kiss my face because of the pimples.

Enter Chris Kresser.  I was fortunate enough to get in as a patient with Chris just before he stopped taking new clients.  In our first phone consultation, we talked about my skin and mapped out a plan of action as far as the tests he would run.  At the end of our call, he told me that in the course of treating migraine patients he had discovered that many of them experienced clearer skin after adopting his anti-migraine diet.  He emailed me a one-pager but you can read a bit about it in the transcript from a podcast with Robb Wolf on the subject of migraines.  (Start at the top of page 4 for the relevant information.)

Chris advised elimination of foods high in tyramine, arginine and histamine.  These include many foods I was already avoiding and some that I wasn’t.  (Use google to explore these foods beyond what was mentioned in the podcast.)

Chris is a leading proponent of the “gut, skin, brain axis” hypothesis.  He believes that “If you want to heal your skin you have to heal your gut.”

Intuitively, this made all sorts of sense to me.  If the money and time I have spent on health and healing was in a pie chart, a disproportionate chunk of that pie would be allocated to my skin and my GI system.

So, I dedicated myself to healing my gut.  That’s when I started consuming bone broth.  I eliminated nightshades.  I played with Chris’s migraine list.  I changed up my probiotics.

To my astonishment, I discovered one of my worst acne triggers is bananas, a fruit I was eating nearly every day.

It’s been about nine months since I started working with Chris.  My GI symptoms are gone.  And while I still get a pimple or two every month, they are never as angry and ferocious as they used to be.

I’ve told Chris that he did more for me in that initial phone consultation than more than twenty years of dermatology appointments had accomplished.  I believe he is on to something important with his work on the gut, brain, skin axis and I look forward to new information he uncovers.  To learn more, you can visit this page on his website.

I’m curious if others have experienced a link between their acne and GI symptoms?  What foods have you found to be your triggers?

9 Responses to “The Last Acne Post, At Least Til It Comes Back Again”

  1. on 18 Dec 2012 at 11:21 pmCarmen

    Since giving up gluten my skin has been clearer for sure but since adding iodine it has been unbelievably clear. Very rarely do I get the hormonal acne now…. Before it was horrible. Hard bumps under my skin and terrible breakouts. I think there is a lot to CK’s gut brain skin connection and I follow his information closely. You’ve always been beautiful Kristine! Acne or not. Thank you for sharing

  2. on 19 Dec 2012 at 8:42 amKristine Rudolph

    What form of iodine do you take? What was the thinking behind that?

  3. on 19 Dec 2012 at 1:04 pmcarmen

    I started with NOW brand 225mcg (potassium and iodine) combination and followed Paul Jaminets recommendations for dosing which are on his supplements page at and moved to Iodoral (Lugols solution is also recommended) after increasing properly. The reason I started it really was to help clear Bromide, Flouride and other halides off my thyroid receptors so I could better receive my thyroid hormone. Halides block receptors all over the body. The bromide caused a detox rash on my skin (acne with cuneiform), but with sea salt flushing and proper companion nutrients that cleared up….the BONUS was that ALL my acne and hormonal cysts and pimples disappeared. I took a break from the iodine to reboot my medicine and track symptoms and it started up again but MUCH less of it and just one or two here or there. Our soil is absolutely iodine deplete and Iodine is one of the minerals our bodies need to thrive and survive.

  4. on 19 Dec 2012 at 1:35 pmKristine Rudolph

    Very interesting. Because, you know, maybe 12 years ago, I had a derm specifically tell me to avoid iodine and kelp in my diet b/c a link to acne. I did, saw zero improvement, so I stopped worrying about it. As I recall, I don’t remember finding much good evidence on a link.

    I do eat a lot of shellfish and kelp, so I figured I had the iodine base covered.

  5. […] worked hard to produce. Liz evidently popped over to the blog, checked out my posts on acne here and here, and asked me if I would like review copy of her book, Skintervention Guide : Purely Paleo […]

  6. on 17 Sep 2014 at 5:33 pmLaura

    Any other suggestions? What finally got you over the hill in to getting clear? I have tried all of this, everything, and seen all types of health care practitioners…. I’m basically now just a broke girl with terrible skin… Still 🙁 Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. on 17 Sep 2014 at 9:45 pmKristine Rudolph

    It’s a constant battle. I had a terrible flare this past month. I am still trying to heal from it.

    Did you read my post about the mercury amalgams? Because I never knew that could affect my skin so profoundly.

    I HEAR YOU on being broke and trying everything under the sun. Honestly? I try not to look in mirrors very often.

  8. on 06 Sep 2015 at 5:12 amMelody

    Very interested in knowing more about the antimigraine diet you mentioned in your article. I know Chris Kresser talks about a low tyramine,histamine and arginine diet as a way to reduce migraines. Is there more info regarding this? Also this is a bit unrelated I have noticed that betaine hcl might be trigger for migraines -wonder if there is a link because I know histamines control gastric acid so if the hcl increases the acid it might effect histamine resulting in migraine? It seems one thing will help one ailment and then exacerbate another. I am speaking personally about my struggle with migraine and severe gerd.

  9. on 11 Sep 2015 at 11:52 amKristine Rudolph

    Chris actually has loads to say about migraines and notably migraines and histamines. Best idea is to google “chris kresser” and “migraines” and you will see everything he has on the subject from Facebook posts to actual blog pieces.

    I am fascinated at the link you have found between taking betaine hcl and migraines.

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