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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zinc Zaps Zits

Zinc Zaps Zits
How come it took a hairdresser to cure my sister's acne? How come her many dermatologists couldn't? Zits happened to come up one day as he styled her hair. They had actually been talking about zinc for colds (in my family we're big fans of GNC's Ultra Zinc Lozenges taken once every three hours at the first sign of a cold and kept in your mouth as long as you can make it last, as well as the new Zicam Nasal Inhaler. We've had colds stop dead in their tracks.) When Jonathan said, "Oh well, I already take zinc everyday." My sister asked why. "Oh, for acne." Jonathan has no acne. He has lovely unblemished skin. He takes 50 mg of chelated zinc a day. It has completely cleared up his troublesome zits.
This is so not my sister, nor is it a before and after shot of someone who used zinc. We totally ripped this off from a Proactiv Solution page. I can recommend Proactiv Solution. It's very good quality stuff and it ain't cheap (though not exorbitant). I found it a bit too abrasive for my sweet and delicate skin. I've since been told they make a non abrasive cleanser. I turned a friend on to this. She's very picky, but she likes this stuff. Her skin looks great.
Needless to say, my sister was on the bandwagon. And she figured, hell, I'll take 100 mg. Her acne cleared up in about three weeks. She didn't even break out before her period.
Now DON'T run out and start taking 100 mg of zinc. First of all, we have not in any way made a comprehensive study. And don't start taking any supplements until you talk to your doctor. Some of this stuff will kill ya if you take too much. Your doctor may pooh-pooh something like zinc, but just ask her if she has any reason why you shouldn't take it.
Too much zinc, by the way, will totally make you puke if you don't take it with a heap of food. And this isn't just a "take with milk so you won't have stomach upset," I'm talking "take on a full stomach or you will indeed heave." Use chelated zinc. It's made to do its job better and with less of the puking (that's my definition). I'm told it's pronounced "SUH-late-ed."
This is what we've learned. According to Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. (which, by the way, is an excellent resource to have around the house), "This essential mineral is important in prostate gland function and the growth of the reproductive organs. It is required for protein synthesis and collagen formation and promotes a healthy immune system and the healing of wounds. Zinc also allows acuity of taste and smell and protects the liver from chemical damage. Sufficient intake and absorption of zinc is needed to maintain the proper concentrations of vitamin E in the blood." They do warn that "daily dosages of more than 100 mg of zinc can depress the immune system while dosages under 100 mg can enhance immune response." See, now you don't want go messing with this stuff without learning about it. As my doctor said, when I asked him about some herb: "It's an herb," I said, "not a drug." His response, "Are you putting it in your body? Is it doing something? If it is, it's a drug. If it's not doing anything, than why do you want to take it?" So remember that.
This same book also lists zinc under its recommendations for Acne treatment. It's listed at the bottom of their "Very Important" section - as opposed to "Important" and "Helpful" - they list "Zinc gluconate 30-80 mg daily to aid in the healing of tissue and to prevent scarring."
I asked a dermatologist what she thought of zinc for acne and she immediately responded with "I don't think it does a thing." And then she said something about it never being shown to affect the skin. Well, now, my sister's doctor - a different sister - while she didn't know anything about zinc helping acne, said, "Well, it does have skin healing properties." According to the American Zinc Association, zinc seals and protects skin. "Zinc is essential for healthy skin. As a drying agent and astringent, zinc oxide has been used for generations to soothe diaper rash and relieve itching. And zinc is a natural sun screen, protecting chapped lips and skin from the sun's harmful rays. Zinc sulfate is effective in treating some cases of acne. And in a water-based solution, zinc sulfate helps remedy cold sores. Zinc also improves healing of wounds, like surgical incisions, burns and other skin irritations. Used as an anti-inflammatory, zinc soothes skin and skin tissue. Poison ivy, sunburn, blisters and gum disease are all improved when treated with zinc. It is even a natural insect repellent. And zinc stimulates the transport of Vitamin A from the liver to the skin, helping to protect body tissue from damage."
It's used to repair wounds and help cells reproduce. So how is that not helpful for acne? So, since it won't kill ya, I figured I'd give it a go. I saw my esthetician on the same day that I happened to start with 50 mg of chelated zinc. I saw her exactly two weeks later, and she was shocked and impressed. It's not that I went from zit head to peachy face, more that she saw definite and fast improvement in comparison to what she'd seen in passed months. And I saw improvements, too. I definitely was healing and the breakouts were apparently ending. The thing is, though, this is not a controlled experiment. The esthetician made me go to a dermatologist because of some cysts that needed to be shot up with cortisone. And the dermatologist wanted to put me on Retin-A Micro. She wanted to see some gentle exfoliation going on. That's a newfangled Retin-A that releases its medicine over time so you're are less likely to turn into a a flaky red-faced freak. Now my skin's all wonky again, but is that 'cause the Retin-A makes you worse before it makes you better? We'll see. I've jumped my dosage up to 100 mg because that first sister said it didn't work as well when she went down to 50 mg. She also said just 50 mg didn't make her vomit on an empty tummy.
Now I haven't told you deep details about our acne histories because really, what's the point? My sisters and I range from having moderate to severe acne. But we haven't proven yet that we're cured. And we can't guarantee it will do anything for you. So hell, regardless of the kind of acne you have, I'd give it a go (don't forget to ask your doctor, I don't want you crying to me if you drop dead.)
Now that "other" sister of mine tried this little test too. And she's seen improvement. And she's tried everything but Acutane. She hasn't tried Acutane because it's evil. It's just one hell of a caustic drug. That's the thing. I don't want to take tetracycline to temporarily cure my acne. I don't really want to use the damned Retina I want the zinc to be the end all be all cure. Cause it's just a simple supplement and I need it anyway.
So I'm not saying I've found the cure. There is no sensationalism here. But you know, it might just cure your acne. And it's a simple inexpensive cure. And if it does work, why hasn't anyone told us? And if it does work, by all means, please write us and tell us. Hell, let's do our own study. And in a few months maybe we'll be able to publish results worthy of the New England Journal of Medicine. Wouldn't it be cool if we broke the "Zinc Cures Acne" story?
--Joanna Rubiner 

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