It is commonly accepted in the Naturopathic community, that the cause of Acne is rooted in the gastro-intestinal tract. I recently found via the Auricular Assessment, that another root cause can be contributed by the Central Nervous System which affects the GI tract.

In a research study by Colins and Bercik titled The relationship between intestinal microbiota and the central nervous system in normal gastrointestinal function and disease, they write:

“Although many people are aware of the communication that occurs between the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the central nervous system, fewer know about the ability of the central nervous system to influence the microbiota or of the microbiota’s influence on the brain and behavior. Within the GI tract, the microbiota have a mutually beneficial relationship with their host that maintains normal mucosal immune function, epithelial barrier integrity, motility, and nutrient absorption. Disruption of this relationship alters GI function and disease susceptibility. Animal studies suggest that perturbations of behavior, such as stress, can change the composition of the microbiota; these changes are associated with increased vulnerability to inflammatory stimuli in the GI tract. The mechanisms that underlie these alterations are likely to involve stress-induced changes in GI physiology that alter the habitat of enteric bacteria. Furthermore, experimental perturbation of the microbiota can alter behavior, and the behavior of germ-free mice differs from that of colonized mice.

In another study titled Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future, the authors conclude (and I love that they quote the brilliant Goethe):

“The scientist and philosopher Goethe is quoted as saying ‘everything has been thought of before, but the difficulty is to think of it again’. It seems much of the recent scientific endeavors in the area of the gut-brain-skin axis, in the broad sense, have been thought of before. The difference, of course, is the degree of scientific sophistication with which we can now see an undeniable link between these major organ systems. The lines of communication, as mediated by gut microbes, may be direct and indirect – ultimately influencing the degree of acne by a systemic effect on inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control, tissue lipid levels, pathogenic bacteria, as well as levels of neuropeptides and mood-regulating neurotransmitters. There appears to be more than enough supportive evidence to suggest that gut microbes, and the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract itself, are contributing factors in the acne process.

While the GI tract is still very much linked to skin health, the central nervous system plays a role in balancing the GI tract; the gut flora, integrity, cell communication, elimination, assimilation, and immunity. What we have here is scientific evidence supporting what I found in my office, using the Auricular Assessment; that balancing the central nervous system helps to treat acne at the causal level. I love knowing that I can honour the body’s wisdom, in my office, everyday.

Gastroenterology. 2009 May;136(6):2003-14. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.01.075. Epub 2009 May 7.
Gut Pathogens 2011, 3:1 doi:10.1186/1757-4749-3-1