One of the most embarrassing symptoms for a woman at any age, let alone in her 40s is the sign of unwanted acne. Such a simple symptom can have flow on effects towards confidence, social interaction and often leading to depression.

Women are also so desperate to find a solution they are left taking a cocktail of harmful drugs just to manage the symptoms, but in reality often contribute to the underlying causes compounding the chronic nature of this condition.

Adult acne is a complicated condition because there are often multiple factors contributing to the final symptom of acne. Hence why a solution to a problem is often not singular and needs a comprehensive approach to treatment. The chronicity of the condition also hampers improvement with inflammation triggering further inflammation and deep seated causes which take time to respond.

Often in complex and difficult to treat conditions the best solution is to simplify the approach and take it back to basics. Here is a solution that works in most cases. If you can make these changes you will definitely see and improvement in your acne and over a time period of 3 months have vastly improved skin which should only improve over time. There will always be the odd breakout but this protocol is designed for adult acne which has been present for many years.

GUT health

Its often said that all health starts and finishes in the GUT but for adult acne this is particularly true for three reasons;

  • Hormones are metabolised and excreted in the GUT. Sluggish digestion leads to resorption of hormones and compounds an existing hormonal balance
  • The GUT closely relates to food intolerances and adult acne is very closely linked with IBS and food intolerances
  • The digestive system links with the lymphatic system with food intolerances congesting the lymph system leading to congestion in the skin.

So working to balance the GUT ecology is an important first step in treating adult acne. Here there are two steps that need to be addressed.

Firstly is eliminating foods which trigger inflammation in the GUT and congest the lymphatic system. These common foods are dairy, wheat and gluten along with sugar. These 3 food groups found in most processed and commercial foods must be eliminated.

I commonly hear, “oh I tried stopping dairy and it had not effect”. The mistake here is often the time stopped and not stopping the other common food intolerances. It really requires all 3 to be removed for a minimum of 3 months. And only after 1 month to 6 weeks will you start to see and improvement because it takes time for the digestive inflammation to subside and then the lymph system to clear.

Second is to rebuild the GUT ecology. Our beneficial bacteria are under constant assault from antibiotics, GM foods, sugar, alcohol and processed foods. There are many forms of probiotics on the market however in my experience fresh, live ferments are a much more effective way to restore the right ecological balance. Now a days there are a wide range of ferments available and information is freely available how to make your own ferments inexpensively.

European countries have known about the benefits of ferments for many years as a method of storing foods as well as getting vital nutrients during colder months when fresh fruits and vegetables where not available. Sauerkraut is a common example. Asian cultures have also been fermenting for centuries with fermented soy such as miso and also kimchi which is fermented vegetables.

We recommend the coconut water kefir as one of the easiest ways of getting beneficial bacteria that is inexpensive and easy to make at home. Another example of a fermented drink is REJUVELAC. Both these recipes are in our free 8 week program.

After regular consumption of fermented foods and drinks over at least a month the bacterial microflora change and start to work for you rather than against you. Also understand our bacterial balance is determined by what foods we feed it. Feed it sugar and processed foods and bad bacteria develop. Healthy, fresh and live foods leads to a health GUT ecology, reduces inflammation in the GUT wall, reducing immune response and thus reducing food sensitivities as well.

Lymph congestion

We have discussed already the significance of lymphatic congestion in the development of mature acne. When the lymphatic system is congested, then the skin needs to take over as a mechanism of detoxification and cleansing. This leads to the skin becoming congested which leads to the development of the acne.

To improve lymphatic congestion obviously digestive health and diet is important, paying special attention to avoiding dairy and gluten products.

The lymph system can be stimulated via regular steam and saunas, skin brushing daily, hot and cold showers, regular exercise, especially jumping on mini trampolines, drinking enough water during the day and limiting diuretics like tea, coffee and alcohol. Having a green juice everyday is also a wonderful way to get the lymphatic system clearing.

Hormonal health

Hormones clearly play a role in the development of adult acne as seen with breakouts and exacerbation of symptoms around ovulation and prior to the period. But is it the cause? Its part of it. Its digestive, its lymph and its hormonal.

Hormones cause an over production of sebum in the skin which then easily gets blocked in congested skin and acne results. We often see with just Happy Hormones (HH) alone that the skin clears. Without treating the underlying causative factors however then any improvement is fleeting once you stop HH. This is because we are only dealing with one part of three.

Happy Hormones works by regulating hormone levels in the brain. Not by raising or lowering hormone levels but via the hypothalamus/pituitary axis in the brain. So the body actually does what it needs to balance itself. We call this adaptogenic herbs. It’s the ultimate in personalised prescription because the body knows what it needs to do. HH just acts as the catalyst.

Finally a couple of other supplements can assist in the recovery process. Zinc is essential to modulate testosterone levels and boost immunity and improve healing time. Silica helps to bring out the toxins and bring cysts to a head. Evening primrose oil is specific for hormonal conditions and helps to reduce inflammation along with turmeric as a good all round tonic. And lastly Vitamin B6 can help with further hormone modulation specific to the skin.

You may be wondering about skin care and I have deliberately left it out because I believe that the cause of the problem lies internally and any external treatments will only ever be temporary. One consideration however is your skin ecology is just like your GUT. Don’t get over zealous trying to kill bacteria externally as you only create an environment for bad bugs to grow back. Use a gentle non toxic cleanser should be enough externally.


If you really want a beat adult acne then here are the guidelines. Everyone is a little different and I actively encourage you to experiment with different approaches but make sure its not fleeting and you give it the time to work. The above protocol will actually work for many conditions as its a basic cleansing and rebuilding protocol. This in turn cleanses the system which removes the acne. Its definitely not the easiest protocol to follow but the results will follow if you can stick with it.

For more discussion make sure you join our Private Facebook group with thousands of real women having supportive and open discussions about hormonal issues and topics. And if you are wondering if hormones may be your issue we also have a free online symptom profile assessment you could try.

About Jeff Butterworth:

Jeff Butterworth B.App. Sc, N.D is a Naturopath with over 20 years experience specialising in treating hormonal disorders. Jeff developed the Happy Hormones program after discovering a unique way of treating hormonal disorders - by focusing on endocrine balance rather than hormonal levels - which gives long-lasting and dramatic results.