Hi! My name is Seppo Puusa and I’m the person behind AcneEinstein.com: The place for rational advice on alternative and natural acne treatments. On this page I want to briefly introduce myself. I’ll talk about my own struggles with acne, and what I had to do to get over it.
I’m a firm believer in drug-free and natural ways to cure acne. But as you read about my experiences you’ll understand why unguided venturing into the world of natural health is dangerous. Even if it’s not physically dangerous (it can be) at least you’ll end up wasting time and money. 7 years in my case.
That’s why I think there’s an urgent need for rational and level-headed advice on natural and alternative treatments. And hence this site.
My acne history
My acne started long time ago. Can’t even remember when, but sometime during my teen years. At first I didn’t do much about it. I figured it being a part of being a teenager, and since I was a shy and ‘nerdy’ kid anyway I didn’t think my social image could get any worse. So I tried waiting it out.
Growing up my facial skin was never massively bad (keyword massively). I had plenty of pimples on my face, but it was never as bad as on my back. At any one time my back had tens of big and painful cysts. Needless to say, I wasn’t too keen on taking off my shirt in public places (such as saunas, and most college parties in Finland involve going to sauna first).
The pharma route
So when it became apparent acne was with me to stay I did what most acne patients do. I went to see a dermatologist. He prescribed me with Accutane (or Roaccutane as it’s called in Europe).
By and large my experience with Accutane was positive. I got some minor side-effects (dry skin and occasional mild pain in the eyes), but nothing serious. Accutane cleared my skin within a few months. Oh, the joy.
Anyway, like many acne patients, my joy was short-lived. Within a year of stopping Accutane my nemesis returned. I did experience one permanent change, though. I no longer got back acne – instead I started breaking out on scalp. Success, of sorts.
So I went to see a dermatologist again. As she took a bacterial sample from my scalp, trying to cheer me up, she told me to be happy this is not on my face. Hmmm… perhaps they need to include some people skills to the medical school curriculum.
After that she prescribed me with antibiotics and sent me away. And so started the antibiotic rounds. Anytime I visited a derm they just handed me an antibiotic prescription and pretended that solved my problem.
Sure, the drugs cleared my acne. For like 2 weeks, after which it always came back.
And so it went for years. I resigned to living with acne, since it was abundantly clear that visiting derms was just waste of time and money.
Then one day I was browsing the bookstore shelves I found a book called The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity by Daniel Reid (I didn’t pick it up because it said sex in the title, honestly). The book covered the whole nine yards of natural health and treatments. It explained how all diseases are caused by toxin overload. Because of our modern diet and lifestyle the colon cannot eliminate all the poisons we eat. So it becomes toxic pool, and the nasty stuff leaks into the body. It then overloads the liver and kidneys. Finally, the body resorts to eliminating the toxins through the skin, and this then causes acne.
I was reading this like it was New York Times bestseller thriller. Page by page I grew more excited. Here, at last, was an explanation for my troubles. And the solution to this problem was in my hands. I could actually do something about it. You can imagine how hope for better life with clear skin started bubbling inside of me.
The solution was simple: fasting, detoxing and various cleanses (such as colonic irrigation and herbal detox pills).
I started fasting the day I bought the book. As you can imagine, it didn’t go very well. Through sheer willpower I persisted for 3 days. And then I found myself kneeling in front of the fridge eating apples and tomatoes.
Not being deterred by this initial failure, I did the other stuff in the book also. I actually bought myself something called ‘Colema board’ (something I don’t recommend). Basically, it’s a plastic device you can use to do colonics at home. If you don’t know what colonics are, consider yourself blessed and forget I even mentioned them.
Things I’ve tried
Anyway, through the initial years of my natural health exploration I tried things like these:
- Water only fasting
- Other types of cleansing, such as the apple detox
- Organ cleanses, such as liver and kidney flushes
- Colon cleansing (more times than I dare to admit)
- Urine therapy
- Herbal detox products
- Taking colloidal silver (don’t do it)
- Negative ion generators
That’s not all of it, but you’ll get the idea. I was a real believer and did a lot of crazy things. I did all of this because I was convinced there is something wrong with my body that is causing my acne.
I read countless books about natural health and healing. Each promised to have an answer and solution for me, yet none actually did. Ironically, I considered myself as knowing a lot about health and natural healing. Blinded by ignorance, how wrong was I..
Raw food diet is the answer, or not…
Over time I started to wonder why, despite all my efforts, I wasn’t getting good results. Sure my acne got a bit better with every cleanse, but a few weeks after the cleanse I was back at square one.
Then I stumbled across Frederic Patenaude’s website. Compared to all the other natural health gurus, he seemed downright skeptical and rational. He explained how things like liver flushing and colon cleansing are nonsense. He advocated eating raw foods and limited fasting.
Following advice from him and from a book The 80/10/10 Diet by “Dr.” Douglass Graham. Basically, that’s a high-fruit, high-carbohydrate, raw food diet. The way they explained it made so much sense that I was sure I had found the answer.
So for 1.5 years I ate a lot of fruits and vegetables with only little bit of fat. At first that seemed to work fabulously. My skin started getting better and I felt full of energy. My skin never cleared completely, but at least I was getting some results. The reason I didn’t get clear was because I was still irritating my gut with FODMAPs.
About 1 year down the line problems started creeping up. I was constantly tired (sleeping 11 hours a day). I started getting joint pains and other problems. I thought it is just a detox period, and will pass soon. The venerable non-Dr. Graham unhelpfully told me that it was a withdrawal effect from meat.
After the problems persisted for 3 months I figured something is amiss. I checked my blood sugar levels and was shocked to discover my blood sugars clocked at almost diabetic levels. This wasn’t supposed to happen, because all the gurus explained fats cause blood sugar problems – not carbohydrates.
After nearly giving myself diabetes I gave the raw food madness a swift kick to the nuts and resumed more normal diet. I still ate a lot of salads and fresh, whole foods, but in the context of more balanced diet.
Science and rationality as a candle in the dark
Then about 1.5 years ago (at the time of writing (14.5.2012) I started to get interested in skepticism, rationality and critical thinking. The fallacies of my earlier ways quickly dawned on me.
Instead of reading books and relying on gurus, I turned to scientific studies for answers. After all, that’s where the gurus and doctors get their information. I just didn’t want their biases to color what I learned.
I was happy to do this. Because I’m geeky and get thrilled to discover little known gems in obscure medical journals.
Since starting down this path I can say I’m finally learning something useful. You can read all about the things I’ve discovered on this site. Putting to use what I learned I finally found a solution to my acne. It’s not a cure (there isn’t one at the moment). But with manageable diet and lifestyle changes and smart topical treatments I can keep my skin clear.
Rational advice on natural and alternative acne treatments
Despite identifying as a skeptic, I’m all for using natural acne treatments. Because as things stand now most dermatologists aren’t advising their patients properly. Many still utterly discard the role of diet, external irritants and other factors in acne.
But going from dermatologists to alternative and natural treatments is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire – as my experience shows.
That’s why I started this site. To give reliable and level-headed advice on natural acne treatments.