Six months ago I began having unusual break outs on my face. A few months ago it went from bad to worse. I spent hundreds of dollars on highly recommended cleansers, toners and moisturizers, but none of it did me any good. Because these weren't 'normal' looking breakouts (they were painful, inflamed and deep under the skin) I thought I might be having an allergic reaction to something I was eating. So after doing a little research I decided to give the 'elimination' diet a shot.
Anyone who knows anything about this particular strategy knows how incredibly tedious and challenging it can be. Basically you completely eliminate specific foods or ingredients from your diet in hopes of honing in on the exact root of the problem. For weeks at a time I stopped eating peanut butter, then salmon, avocados, then nuts, dairy, then eggs, and yet still, my face continued to produce these red, PAINFUL pimples.
I went to see a family friend who is also an esthetician. She put me under the magnifying glass and immediately said, "Oh, Adrian, you definitely have something going on and should see a dermatologist ASAP". She could see even more than what was visible to the naked eye.
A week later I was able to get in with the dermatologist's office. I won't share any names but I will tell you who I went to see is well known and highly regarded here in Dallas. They put me under the scope and instantly, with 100% confidence, diagnosed me with 'Adult Acne'. As soon as they said it, it just didn't feel right. I've never had acne issues. Sure, I've dealt with occasional zits here and there, but for my face to now be constantly pulsating with these red knots? During the handful of minutes it took the dermatologist to fill out the multiple prescriptions I was given, I asked,
"Doc, are you positive this couldn't have anything to do with what I'm eating or with my digestion? I eat a lot of animal protein, ya know..."
The response I got is something I'll never forget.
"Please don't bring that Eastern medicine mentality in here. You've got adult acne. But don't worry, we've have medications that will fix you right up".
I didn't want to believe what the dermatologist said. I also didn't want to flood powerful chemicals and medications into my body. But, I was also absolutely exhausted by my own efforts and frustration. I was tired and humiliated of having to put makeup on everyday before I felt comfortable enough to leave the house. These breakouts were undoubtedly having an effect on my self-confidence. So, even though I was not happy about taking the $300 worth of prescriptions, I was to the point where I was ready and willing to try anything.
Four weeks after walking out of the dermatologist's office, with my lips and eyelids now raw from the chemicals, I stopped taking the medication. Like the elimination diet, the meds didn't do my face any good. I still had the painful, irritated spots continuing to come up across the sides of my face and forehead.
I was at my wit's end. It felt like it was all I could think about, and for as much humility as it takes for me to say this, I had no idea just how vain of a human being I could be. I no longer felt comfortable having face-to-face conversations with people. I avoided talking to people at the gym and grocery store. And when I couldn't avoid interactions, all I could focus on was studying their eyes follow the trail of red drops riddled across my face. It really began to take a toll on me.
I ended up reaching out to a girlfriend of mine living in Thailand who is a holistic nutritionist (http://carlyshankman.com). I sent her a message on Facebook and she instantly replied, asking if I could talk right then. In short, I gave her the lowdown and she asked me if I would be open to a 21-day purification detox. Again, after months and months of frustration and disappointment, I would have been open to washing my face with Thai elephant dung for 21 days if she recommended it.
While completely different from anything I'd done in the past the detox was pretty cut and dry. A box full of purification supplements was delivered to my door a few days later. I was to take those, along with only eating organic fruit and vegetables, for 21 days. You have the option to add wild caught fish on day 11, but I stuck to just fruit and veggies. Carly, my holistic nutritionist friend, also recommended that I do three sessions of colonics while I was on the detox. Another vulnerable piece of this puzzle, but I wouldn't share if I didn't feel like it was extremely important (there is an excellent, family owned, colonics establishment here in Dallas if anyone has any questions about the sessions, shoot me a message. I'd be more than happy to share about my experience. If you're unfamiliar with colonics and its benefits, Google it).
About 10 days into the detox and following my first colonics appointment, my face got worse. I was aware that with any detox that things tend to get worse before they get better, but still, it sucked. Once again, going to such extreme measures to try and get a handle on this, and here I am dealing with even more angry lumps on my face. Though increasingly frustrated, I stayed committed and on course with the detox.
By the end of detox's third and final week I began to see a difference. A major difference. Sweet bejesus, my face was no longer pulsing with pimples! There were no longer cyst-like bumps surging from beneath my skin. If such a positive and drastic result would've happened to someone else I'm not sure I would've believed it. Months and months and months. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Finally, my skin was clearing up. Embarrassingly, there are still scars across my face from me going after the bastards. Everyone I asked for advice told me how important it was to leave them alone, but if I left them alone they festered under my skin for weeks. The obsessive, compulsive competitor in me wouldn't allow them to lay dormant for months at a time. Consequently, I now have dark colored marks to remind me of the process and my impatience. I trust they will fade away with time.
I'm not completely out of the woods just yet. I still have a couple of residual spots that have come and gone. But, I no longer have anything near the painful, boil-like bastards that plagued me for half a year.
Maybe it is some sort of adult-acne. Maybe my liver, kidneys and gallbladder needed a good detox from the constant eggs, chicken, turkey and beef I'd been consuming for years. The exact cause may never be clear. But what is crystal clear is that expensive, chemical 'Adult Acne' medications did nothing for me. The dermatologist was arrogant in denouncing the possibility that it could have anything to do with food or digestion, encouraging me to 'eat as many raw eggs and t-bone steaks as you please'.
That said, it wasn't until I tediously detoxified my body, removing all animal products from my diet, and made the switch to a whole-food/plant-based diet that dramatic, positive changes occurred. How's that for Eastern medicine mentality, Doc?
I'm now two weeks removed from the detox and I've stayed committed to not eating meat. To be honest, and I can't explain it, the thought of meat today turns my stomach. And it's not an ethical move on my part. I actually love the taste of meat. Maybe it's my subconscious steering me away from going back, I don't know. I won't say that I'll never have a steak, a burger, or chicken again, but for now I'm sticking to a plant based diet - and I'm proud to make that declaration. I know that vegetarians and vegans take their fair share of criticism, but consider this, if you loved something (meat in this instance) but it also proved to be the culprit, or at least a contributing factor, to ugly, painful breakouts on your face, would't you be also be inclined to give it up?