flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Well, wackysauce. After posting about my bacterial friends three weeks ago, I actually got a quite nasty breakout... I got cocky, in part, and ate something with peanuts in it just to see if I could get away with it, and I did this right before getting my period AND as my bottle of bacteria was getting kind of old. So that's four possible factors... sigh. It's so hard to run a good n=1 experiment while also having a life.

More interesting, though, I got a survey from the AOBiome people asking how it was going; so I pasted most of my last blog post in there. Next thing I knew, I got very unexpected email:

Thank you for your interest and support. I am the Chief Medical Officer for AOBiome and I really enjoyed reading about your experience with our products. If you are interested, I would like to schedule a phone call...

What!? WHOA.

So I did spend about 35 minutes on the phone with this guy -- I guess it's a pretty small company -- and he told me some fascinating things I hadn't known before.

  • Ammonia doesn't appear on the skin in a way proportional to sweat. It's related, but is partitioned off from the blood separately (important because these bacteria eat ammonia).

  • A lot of bacteria have a quorum-sensing mechanism that can turn them from symbiotic to a problem. Each cell makes an indicator compound, and when this reaches a certain level, it triggers bacteria to kind of stop acting like individuals and act like part of a mob. And then the immune system will show up there, and if it's p acnes you get a zit. As if that isn't cool enough, one of the ways the AOBs work is to change the sensitivity of other bacteria to their quorum-sensors, so that the same density of them may not trigger a mob in the future. Which is neat.

  • They're going to give me some of their biome-friendly cleanser and shampoo to try out.

In the meantime, my skin's been steadily calming down; maybe the new bottle of bacteria has helped, or maybe it's the cleverly staying off peanuts and dairy. I'm planning to stay the course on this stuff for now, because it's really interesting. And the one time I washed my face for real in the last six weeks (after doing full-face makeup for a fancy anniversary date) felt terrible, all dry and painful.
flexagon: (dooky)
I posted on Aug 12 about this Mother Dirt product, and spraying live bacteria on my face in an attempt to change the whole environment there.

The ammonia-oxidizing bacteria supposedly feed off urea and ammonia in sweat from the skin, turning them into nitric oxide. And I still haven't done my research on nitric oxide, really. But the more these friendly bacteria settle in, the less food and space is likely available for p acnes, right? The kicker is that surfactants (read: soaps) kill the AOBs, which are rather delicate, so you have to stop washing your face -- a detail Mother Dirt is trying to downplay by selling their own AOB-friendly non-soap cleanser.

Anyway, it's been almost four weeks. My skin care takes less time than it ever has, because literally all I do is spray my face twice a day and (some days) (let's admit it) squeeze out glop from my pores.

What's happened? Good things. At first, I got greasier and, not coincidentally, stopped needing moisturizer. Natural skin oils for the win! Pore-squeezing also got easier, which means less disruptive to the skin. I also do it less than before, because I'm not all up against the mirror with clean wet skin twice a day from washing it.

After about a week, my skin seemed noticeably calmer/nicer, and I got my period early -- surprise! -- which led to double surprise, because, wait a minute, that means that week was my pre-period breakout.

Since then, skin has been... interesting. Still better. It seems more resilient, and, again, I've never spent less time on it. Of particular note:
  • The airplanes on Monday and Saturday didn't seem to bother it, which is notable because plane flights usually clog me up horribly.
  • A little bump had hiding way below the surface of my skin, above my eyebrow, I think for well over a year -- for so long I was starting to think it might just be scar tissue or something. But after two weeks of bacteria it came up and popped without fanfare, and now it's gone.
  • I've gotten new blemishes. They just don't seem very dedicated to their jobs. It's like they show up and say "we're supposed to wreak some havoc here? okay... wreak... well, I hope this is enough, because union rules say we take our lunch break now." And they go away, rather than blowing up.

AOBiome, the research branch of all this, has this product in Phase 2 clinical trials for acne, eczema and rosacea -- all of them inflammatory skin conditions. I definitely intend to keep going and see what happens. I'd also recommend this for anyone who doesn't like the smell of their underarms -- it cuts BO considerably when sprayed there.


Jun. 4th, 2014 01:04 pm
flexagon: (make-everyone-die)
Mid-day Sunday, I screwed up my courage and drank down 25 grams of lactose (in a hazelnut milk / coffee mix). I was concerned that it wouldn't be perfectly clean data, since my skin already wasn't perfect and there was some minor dairy-related slipping up over the weekend (tiny amount of creamy dressing, a small brownie, a bite's worth of cheese they forgot to leave off a breakfast sandwich for me and I couldn't pick out of the bacon).

Nonetheless, I didn't want to keep putting off the science. So, lactose. I WANTED the problem to be lactose, because LactAid is a thing that exists and can help if it's that.

That night I thought my skin was pretty cranky, in a general inflammation sort of way. I thought I had more clogged pores than usual, and pre-existing blemishes seemed redder and more inflamed. I was hoping to wake up with an enormous breakout on Monday, and was annoyed when I didn't.

But... over the next 36 hours, I did indeed develop some of those deep-down zits that nobody likes, including on my neck where I usually don't get them (that was a lactose thing for at least one girl in Spotless) and the soft part of my cheek where I haven't been getting anything lately. So that's of interest. All calming down now.

Most of the trillion articles out there on milk and acne are blaming the hormones in milk... growth hormones, IGF-1, androgen receptors, on and on. And there's no way of knowing the hormone content of the whey, casein and lactose isolates I have. So this isn't conclusive, yet, but I did get some Lactaid and may as well take some before I eat the occasional "edgy" things like non-vegan baked goods.

Remaining experiments: casein isolate, peanuts, Lactaid and lactose drink together. Next period predicted June 10 though, so I think I have to do the casein soon or else wait.
flexagon: (Default)
I had some fabulous news on Wednesday from the lady I pay to be nice to my face every several weeks.

Five weeks ago she said "Yeah, I can see improvement". On Weds the extraction (squeezy) phase lasted almost no time. She squeezed my nose and chin, something way over by my ear... one thing on my forehead... turned my head back and forth, complained that I wasn't leaving her much to do, and moved on to do extra of the nice-smelling, extra-moisturizing stuff instead.

Yay improvement!

The other good (?) news is that whey protein isolate does not break me out. I put a 28-gram scoop of the stuff into a drink on Thursday morning, and (48 hours later) can confirm that nothing awful happened. I might have been a LITTLE clogged and blackheady last night, but might also have just been in a squeezy mood and looking for such things. (Shrug.)

I've been avoiding peanuts, and have added them to the list of experiments. Get in line, peanuts... we're going to first observe the pre-period breakout, and then try casein and lactose, before you get your chance.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Second cycle off dairy. I love getting my period now, because that's when the pre-period breakouts end and my skin is suddenly like "I ain't even mad!" and magically begins to fix itself. This month was different from last month, in that my skin got really angry for two days, but five days before my period. Then it continued grumpily, with one giant forehead zit -- which is already calming down, though -- the day before bleeding. I was going to say this month was not better than last month, but now I think I was wrong... if the breakout stage feels just as annoying but it heals up faster than last month, then it IS better.

Credit, perhaps, to four more weeks of fish oil (which might equal 20% reduction in blemishes, starting from a baseline in mid-March). Or to an extra month of skin getting stronger from general healing up, plus my attempts this month to NOT squeeze the crap out of it before bedtime. Oh, nobody's saying I look like a makeup commercial; I have blemishes that have turned the corner and are healing up, is all, and fewer/better than last month; but improvement is improvement.

This is not the first time I've treated a chronic problem with some success and then noticed a pattern to the part of the problem that remains. It's like a new landscape arising from a lake-bed as the waters recede.

So the issues next are:
  • What is the deal with dairy anyway? I really miss cheese. To this end I have obtained some casein protein powder, and some pure lactose; we already had whey powder; and these I will try one at a time, starting probably in about a week. I really don't know what I'm hoping for with that; if none of them get me, there are more things to try.
  • What is the best fix for what's left? Not sure. I'll keep fish oiling, for sure. This shit's also clearly got a hormonal aspect, so I could see if a dermatologist would put me back on the Pill; or I could try witch hazel toner, or the expensive "Medik8" stuff recommended in this article on monthly breakouts. I could also keep a food diary, and try to figure out if even MORE restrictions around the time of the month could help. Or I could start taking GLAs in addition to fish oil, which nobody in the fish oil / GLA study actually did.

I suppose that what feels good is my new sense that there is hope; that at least one thing actually works, so maybe there is some other thing that actually works, and if I keep paying attention and collecting data I might find it. Also, to state the potentially obvious: while I remain interested, I'm not miserable about my skin anymore. I can live with a monthly breakout.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
I'm continuing dairy-free though my next period (due next Friday 4/18), to see if the pre-period breakout is any better after a whole cycle off dairy.

But: on Saturday I absentmindedly put a single half-and-half creamer into my coffee. They'd had to brew it for me (hazelnut coffee) and I didn't want to be a pain over what really should have been a trace amount. So I drank it and it called it an experiment. That was probably between 11:30 and 12:00... that night, at 1AM, what appears on my left cheek but a new whitehead? GRRRR!

It calmed down right away, and since then, no new blemishes.

So, I'm pissed off. I don't think there's any question now that my skin is sensitive to milk intake. I've been okay with eating some baked goods that contain dairy (a croissant, for example), and trace amounts of hard cheeses, but actual milk is not my friend. So, what the hell is in the milk?

Mark's Daily Apple has a blog post about different intolerances to dairy things, and there's some stuff out there about casein sensitivity. Clearly, the biggest identifiable offenders are lactose, casein and whey; these are the things to test for after next week.

  • Lactose? Usually intolerance here is associated with GI issues, of which I have none. Plus, I am not genetically lactose intolerant according to 23andme tests. The best test for it (after taking 30 days off dairy, which I've basically already done) is to make a drink with 25 grams of lactose powder and see what happens.
  • Casein? Intolerance here is usually associated with stomach issues and brain fog. Foods high in casein (but low in whey) include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and casein protein powder. The good news here is that non-cow dairy is often okay, because there are different types of casein.
  • Whey? This damn well better not be it for me, because whey gets added to TONS of processed foods. Luckily, it is a rare intolerance. Ricotta cheese, whey protein powder (which we already have at home).

You know what doesn't sound like any fun? Drinking a series of weird-tasting shakes, just waiting to break out, knowing that SOMETHING is going to get me. That's what.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
I've settled into the no-dairy thing pretty well, over the course of three weeks. Here's how I'm doing it:

  • Coffee creamer -- unsweetened almond/coconut blend from Almond Breeze, or So Delicious unsweetened coconut stuff

  • Hot chocolate -- either the above or hazelnut milk (highly recommended, tastes like Nutella)

  • Triscuit toppings for late night worky snacking -- smoked oysters or kippered herring

  • Scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, burritos -- daiya

  • Frying eggs -- Bacon grease (delicious, and a legit reason to buy bacon every few weeks!)

  • Sandwiches, which I haven't been eating anyway -- avocado, hummus, olive paste, mayo or just deal with dry sandwich

I miss cheese. :-( I've lost some weight though, and am back to just under 127 after a while in the very low 130s. Can I thank the missing cheese? The way I don't eat enough in general, when stressed? Either way, I do prefer to be under 130 and will not complain at this small development.

As for acne, I broke out a bit over the course of about two days this week (Weds/Thurs). I then got my period on Friday, confirming my suspicion that this was (likely) a very typical hormone timing thing and not (necessarily) a reversal of this month's trend toward clearing up. Today, progesterone production down, estrogen production up, skin is calming... and none of the blemishes were the really honking kind that I've been hoping to target with the dairy elimination, so I'm calm and I think I'm still winning.

If I pay attention and continue with no-dairy and yes-fish-oil, I'm curious to see what next month's pre-period flare will be like. The fish oil study showed people's acne decreasing pretty linearly over the course of 10 weeks and then the study ended, and it's not clear how long it takes a dietary change to take full effect, so I'm inclined to be patient.

I bought Elaine Mummery's book Spotless, mostly in thanks because she's the first person I saw commenting explicitly on "dairy spots" and I will never, ever make it to her clinic in Glasgow. I haven't read it yet... much too busy reading Becoming a Supple Leopard. Mrowr!


flexagon: (Default)

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