3 years ago, I started getting cystic acne – painful, red, deep zits that lasted for months but rarely came to a head. Just like icebergs, even with the smallest cysts, the real deal was under the surface. Because I couldn’t leave them alone, I would try to pop them, which spread the bacteria to the surrounding pores, often causing more cysts and leaving dark spots behind when they finally healed weeks later. I had one on my left temple for over 3 months.

The breakouts got so bad that I started expecting them. I would run my fingers over my forehead first thing in the morning to see if any of them had formed overnight. I thought the cysts were hormonal but they didn’t always come around my period; I was truly at a loss. My good friend and “hormone guru,” Peter Gordon mentioned the link between gut health and cystic acne and a lightbulb went off. Years before these cysts started, I had fewer and fewer bowel movements, sometimes only twice a week and they drained my energy for hours after. I would have to drink a ton of water, do extra cardio and massage my stomach to get things moving and even with extra fruits, veggies and grains, I would still only go 3 times a week at best…and it was still taxing. I was literally full of shit.

I immediately started researching and it turns out that 70-80% of your immune tissue is situated in your digestive tract. I tried several elimination diets through the years, I ate clean enough – I refuse to measure or track my food anymore – I cut dairy and drank plenty of water, I exercised daily and had a medicine cabinet stocked full of skincare products for exfoliation, toning and cleansing plus a list of DIY recipes on standby. Nothing worked to consistently clear and prevent my cystic acne and the more I stressed about it, the worse it got.

William Cole, Functional Medicine Practitioner said in his article entitled Why You Should Health Your Gut If You Want Clear Skin, “{For example} your gut system affects the health of your brain, and there’s also exciting research that’s examining the gut-skin axis and how the health of your microbiome will determine the health of your skin. Because of this, functional medicine sees acne and many other skin conditions as inflammatory disorders of the autoimmune spectrum.”

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My mom drinks 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in 16oz of cold water on an empty stomach every morning. I took 2 sips years ago and couldn’t stand the taste. I told her about the gut health cystic acne connection and she suggested (again!) that I give it another try. I had no idea that it would take less than 2 weeks to see major changes in my skin.

ACV is made from apple cider that has been fermented to form health-boosting probiotics, enzymes and friendly bacteria – that’s the mixture of murky stuff known as the ‘mother’ at the bottom of the bottle. Drinking ACV has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels, reduce the appearance of rashes, acne and scarring, ward off the common cold, tame seasonal allergies and reduce the severity of tension headaches. 1 to 2 tbsp per day offers you all the benefits above and some you might not see listed but will notice for yourself…like how my nails are stronger and have much whiter tips!

So, what makes this stuff so magical?! ACV helps naturally fix an imbalanced pH level in the body. Our bodies are always striving to reach a state of equilibrium and one way of doing this so by keeping our pH balance, the acid-base balance, within a normal range of 7.35-7.45. ACV helps the body maintain a healthy level, which is different for everyone. Higher acid levels – lower pH levels – lead to lack of energy, higher incidences of infection – both internal (common cold) and external (skin acne and rashes) – excess mucous production and a host of other not-so-good side effects in the body.

Many of the causes of an imbalanced pH are also the causes of general icky feelings we’ve all experienced at some point. Causes include a lack of water, taking medication, smoking, lack of sleep, unmanaged stress and overworking. However, health issues frequently occur when your diet consists of acid-forming foods that aren’t then balanced by water and alkaline-forming foods like fruits and veggies.

Below are some of the benefits I experienced in the first 2 weeks of drinking 1tbsp of ACV in 8oz of cold water on an empty stomach every morning –

  • Smoother, plumper skin and minimized appearance of my pores.
    Before I added ACV to my morning ritual, I would use a towel to squeeze oil from the pores on my nose every night. Little crinkles of built up oil would come out of my skin and leave a residue on my towel. I felt like my pores were sitting wide open all day collecting dirt and dust.

2 weeks later! No filter but the sun shining on my happy skin 🙂

  • Brighter complexion and reduced appearance of acne scars
    Years of picking and trying to pop the cysts left dark scars on my face, mainly on my forehead and chin. The combo of drinking ACV and using almond oil topically at night helped greatly reduce the appearance of my old acne scars.
  • Reduced facial swelling
    I still get bags under my eyes from staying up late on the computer and needing more sleep but the overall facial swelling I used to experience is gone. I’ve gone from researching ways to adjust my pillow to prevent my face from swelling to waking up refreshed with “tighter” skin.

2 weeks later and I’m a believer! Maybe I’ll get a small pimple here and there, who knows, and no this isn’t a quick fix. I’m still on top of my nutrition, staying hydrated and exercising and it feels so good to look good and know I cleared my skin and improved my gut health with a natural remedy. And I’m happy to report that I am no longer full of shit 🙂

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So many people had great testimonials of how their health and skin has changed since drinking ACV. You can see those comments here on my Instagram page. I’d love to hear from you, too!

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