Reversing the damage of Antibiotics on your Gut Microbiota

People with acne are intimately familiar with gut microbiota.  Having severe or moderate acne probably means you have cycled through tetracycline, minocycline, Azythromycin, and doxcycline, among others (these are the ones I have used)…

Unfortunately for us, research in the past decade is indicating that these bacteria are pretty damn important for our systemic health.  I have gone down the rabbit hole of gut testing–I have already used Ubiome (many times), American Gut (once), and the more comprehensive Genova Stool Test (results already posted).  I am not going to fool you into thinking that these are diagnostic or incredibly actionable at this point.  Most of it has been interesting, but it is still somewhat preliminary.  Have I been able to ‘target’ and change these things?  Not really.  I have been messing around with DIY fecal transplants, which I will do a blog post about soon (yes, fecal transplants are a thing but the FDA only allows it to be performed clinically for a very small number of conditions, unfortunately).

As a general rule of thumb, I always participate in research.  I recently participated in Ubiome’s mental health study.  I was very impressed and look forward to seeing the results.  I also received a free gut kit from it.

Another company that I have been really impressed with, and testing with of recently, is The Biocollective.  Martha Carlin, the CEO is awesome.  Her TED talk about the gut microbiota of Parkinson’s patients is here:

Martha is  dead set on figuring out how the gut microbiome interacts with human health.  To get your gut sequenced, check out the website.  You can get the basic bird’s eye view of your gut bacteria done for free.  To get fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria checked, you can use the code word CAND50 for 50% off–this brings the standard kit’s price to $275– a good deal in this world.  And I am sure the price will drop in coming years as the price of sequencing continues to drop.  So if you take a shit–get tested.  It isn’t tough, the data benefits us all as we learn about us–the super-organisms that we are.


Acne and Intestinal Dysbiosis (Urinary Organic Acid Test)

Organic Acid Nameless

Above is the urinary organic acid test.  Urinary organic acids are measures of metabolites of intestinal bacteria that are released into the bloodstream.  There are several other urinary markers as well, including urinary neurotransmitter metabolites.

Relevant to acne, there is a vitamin C deficiency (vitamin C excretion = 0).  Vitamin C is important for collagen formation and skin structure.  Collagen/gelatin supplementation is an interesting avenue for healing acne scars.  Elevated cortisol (the stress hormone) causes a breakdown of collagen into amino acids, thus leading to a loss of skin structure.

There are markers for bacterial dysbiosis.  Arabinose is elevated, which is a marker for yeast overgrowth.  Acne patients tend to have dysbiosis.  This may be due to the traditional route of using antibiotics for acne (very short-sighted approach!), or it may have something to do with lack of essential fatty acids allowing for intestinal permeability (which wouldn’t inherently cause bacterial overgrowth AFAIK).  Either way antibiotics should not be prescribed anymore for acne.  If you want to go the antibacterial route, use coconut oil for caprylic acid and lauric acid, or ideally get your fatty acid profile done and get them into optimal zones, and the problem may resolve itself.

I used to look forward to not having acne due to this:, but now I realize how silly that is when you could simply take coconut oil and over time reap the benefits of the systemic effects as well.  A lot of these researchers are more interested in making $$ by formulating patentable compounds, so keep that in mind when going through research articles and constantly try to figure out the integrative approach.

Also, as far as neurotransmitters go, I had high levels of dopamine compared to norepinephrine.  Norepinephrine is the downstream metabolite of dopamine (by the enzyme dopamine decarboxylase).  Copper is needed for this conversion.  I had low plasma copper levels, due to long-term zinc supplementation.  Zinc in high doses is recommended by many acne sites and practitioners, but be vigilant to not overdo it in either direction.  Keep a 15 mg to 1 mg Zinc to copper ratio through supplements AND diet.  Ideally, TEST TEST TEST.  That is the best way to know what your levels are and avoid problems downstream.