One of the reasons for acne outbreaks is unbalanced hormones. Hormones Insulin and IGF-1 control the production of sebum and overproduction of sebum is a key part of the acne forming chain. Too much insulin & IGF-1 triggers a release of androgen hormones (testosterone, oestrogen progesterone) which cause our skin to produce too much sebum, which leads to clogged pores which leads to inflamed, cystic acne. Horrible. Balancing your hormones will help keep your skin clear (or at least reduce break-out severity).
Maca root is a powerful adaptogen, which is a fancy word for a compound which helps our body resist the damaging effects of stress. There isn’t much clinical evidence that adaptogen’s have any real lasting affect on the body, but there is a growing body of positive anecdotal evidence & so they may be a good, albeit slow, means of tackling hormone imbalance. How? Well put simply adaptogens encourage your endocrine system to produce the correct amount of hormones your body needs & may combat acne flare ups.
If you’re dealing with imbalanced or low levels of oestrogen and progesterone (such as recently coming off the pill or if you are pre-menopausal/menopausal) then Maca may well be for you as it stimulates the production of testosterone.
However, if you have high testosterone or high androgen levels (if you have oily skin, excess body hair or irregular periods – if in doubt look into a saliva hormone test), step away from the Maca. Why? a potent form of testosterone called DHT gets converted in your body & this is linked to acne formation. More testosterone for you means more chance for your body to convert it to DHT & more chance of acne.
Instead, another acne fighting adaptogen called Reishi may well be your bag. Reishi is a red kidney shaped mushroom & another potent adaptogen with clinical evidence to show it helps lower excess testosterone levels & DHT & boosts the immune system. But, if you’re dealing with imbalanced oestrogen and progesterone stay away from the Reishi, it won’t help you and could make your skin worse.
So how much and how should you try these roots and ‘shrooms? Start small with both, a 1/2 teaspoon (in a smoothie) and work up slowly to about 2 teaspoons over a month, taking time out every week or so.
Maca is sold as either raw or gelatinised. Get the gelatinised as its much easier to digest and absorb the nutrients from.
Remember, none of these superfoods will cure acne alone – you have to tackle each part of the acne formation process not just one bit, but (to quote a supermarket ad) “every little helps”.