Dani Ferguson (@detoxingwithdani on Instagram) is a holistic nutritionist and host of the podcast Detoxing with Dani. Her motto is “gut health, glowing skin and a gorgeous you.” Here, she details her long battle with cystic acne and how a healthier gut helped clear up her skin.
Acne is the bane of every woman’s existence. Really, is there anything worse than having red, bumpy blemishes on your face? I was plagued by negative thoughts as an adult battling cystic acne. I wondered if people looking my way pondered why I was breaking out as badly as some puberty-stricken teens. As a 26-year-old woman, I was determined to finally find a cure. I had spent my days researching on Google. (And for the record, no, at-home face masks did not work for me.) It was time to get more serious.
On top of all that, I had just gotten engaged and all I could think of was walking down the aisle with a face full of acne and about 5 lbs. of makeup to try and cover it all up. This impending milestone is what really propelled my journey to find a solution that worked for me.
Putting In Work
I started reading up on studies, books, articles – anything I could get my hands on. I continued my research, but I also started meeting with different doctors. I kept up with my gluten-free diet (I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2009) and also eliminated dairy, sugar and corn in an attempt to help my skin.
I first started with my gynecologist who wanted to put me on birth control. However, at this point in my life I had been on about 10 different birth control pills – some of which did help my acne, but also turned me into a horror movie villain due to the effect they had on my mood. And I was not about to give myself up just to have clear skin.
So, I made a trip to see a dermatologist who prescribed six different products consisting of cleansers, creams, toners and Retin-A to use both on my face and my back. I was only able to use two of them because I couldn’t afford the rest.
I felt desperate and was worried I’d be stuck with this acne forever. I decided to take a break from consultations to continue researching. After about three months, I decided to start from scratch and see a new gynecologist. I made an appointment with a highly regarded doctor in the Orange County area. She had me get my blood drawn, give a urine sample and get ultrasounds of my thyroid and uterus. After about two hours, the tests were completed, and I was told to schedule an appointment for the following week to review my results.
On the day of the appointment, a physician’s assistant explained that all my test results came back normal and that I just needed to control my stress levels. She said the best option for me would be to go on birth control. I walked out of the office in tears. I was frustrated, angry and felt myself losing hope in that moment.
A few months later, I decided to give one last doctor’s visit a shot. This time it was with a naturopathic doctor. My first appointment was on February 21, 2017. We talked for two hours. He wanted to know my entire history from when I was a baby to when I first started to notice my acne and when it really started to get bad. Something about the doctor’s sincerity and willingness to work with me made me feel at peace again. He was upfront about it possibly taking longer than expected to find a protocol that would work. I found this comforting. After about a month and a half of trying the first treatment, the doctor suggested we do a stool analysis to make sure everything in my gut was in balance and to eliminate potential yeast or bacteria.
It took three weeks to receive the results. While my bacteria balance was good, there was a species of yeast living inside my gut that was not supposed to be there. The yeast was emitting toxic byproduct throughout my system that was coming out in the form of acne. I had never been so relieved in my life. Now that the root cause had been discovered, we were able to implement a protocol that would address the issue.
Trust Your Gut
The only thing he put me on was an all-natural grapefruit seed extract, which came in a capsule that I was to take orally. No harsh antibiotics, creams, lotions or potions. The first week of using it, my face blew up even worse. But he told me it could get worse before it got better so I stuck with it. Two weeks later, my skin started to clear up. No more painful cysts or pimples popping up. I started my protocol in May 2017, and a month later I was completely cleared up, just in time for my bridal shower!
It’s not typical to see your face start to break out and immediately think your gut is the problem. However, having been through the process I cannot stress enough how important gut health is for a clear and glowing complexion. In terms of food, I eat very intuitively depending on how my body is feeling. I am always gluten free though, because I know exactly how I will feel if I eat even the smallest bit and it is just not worth it to me. But everything else I keep on the table, not restricting myself from any specific food. I tend to stay more towards a whole-foods-based diet with clean proteins, vegetables and healthy fats most of the time.
To this day, I still notice a change in my skin if my eating habits haven’t been normal or if my stress levels are higher than normal. But instead of focusing on my skin as the problem, I now focus on my gut health. This is why I stress to every single client I work with that gut health is key. It doesn’t matter what symptom you are experiencing; if your gut isn’t working, you aren’t working.