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How My Anti-Acne Journey Led Me to Gut-Healing Bone Broth

*Disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, therefore this information should not be treated as medical advice. This is simply what worked for me. 

As I trotted to the checkout at my local grocery store juggling five packs of beef bones between my hands, I blushed when the friendly store employee asked, “That’s a lotta bone! How many dogs do you own, hon?” 

To spare her the details, I said, “Two.” 

*Disclaimer: I don’t own any dogs. 
After all, it’s not like the poor lady had all day to listen to the tale of my skin-gut-journey that led me to the practice of making a skin-saving elixir known as bone broth. As I stir away, hovering over my mighty crockpot, I often feel like Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus, concocting her secret youth potion. Except in my case, I’m sharing all of the details of my magic broth with you and will explain how I got here.


via GIPHY

My Acne Journey 

Bouts of terrible stomach pains began to plague most of my days. Then, there was the chronic fatigue and brain fog. Just sitting through one lecture would tire me out completely, forcing me to drive back home and sleep until my next class. By that point, I had already given up on my skin, accepting the defeat that I may have inherited some type of “acne gene.” I was prepared to be the “Bumpy-Skinned-Girl-With-Chronic-Fatigue-and-Belly-Aches” for life. 

Then, the long-awaited miracle arrived a year later via my computer screen.

 I stumbled upon the microbiology journal Frontiers in Microbiology – let’s just say that my acne journey helped to fine-tune my research skills, insofar that reading medical journals became therapeutic. One article, “The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis”, by Iman Salem et. al mentioned the two words that every acne sufferer should know: 

“Gut-Skin Axis”

Upon the first read, I understood about 10 percent of what the authors were describing. Though it was a taxing undertaking, I began to read anything I could about the gut-skin axis. Today, I will share everything you need to know:  

According to their research issued in 2018, whatever is going on in your gut, whether good or bad, will show up on your face. Signs of an unhealthy gut may not always appear as acne, although it did in my case. Many skin conditions can arise because of gut imbalance, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Even worse, gut issues also present themselves through symptoms like brain fog, chronic fatigue and muscle aches, poor mood and headaches, according to Dr. Michael Ruscio. Spooky, right? 

 

So, How Does Gut Imbalance Arise? 

I was curious as to why this happened in the first place. After all, I considered my diet to be the epitome of healthy: very little gluten, no dairy and lots of fruits and vegetables. However, despite a good diet rich in fruits and vegetables, imbalances in the gut can arise due to food allergies and heavy antibiotic use, according to an article published in 2018 by the Gastroenterology Review. 

I believe that my case of gut imbalance arose after consuming doxycycline, an antibiotic prescribed for acne during my teens. The doxycycline essentially eradicated all of the good bacteria in my gut – and yes, you read that right. There are good bacteria that our bodies need oh-so-heavily. Unfortunately, I was treading on pretty unhealthy waters when it came to my gut health, and with that in mind, it became my goal to rebalance my bacteria and nourish my way back to clear skin. 

What Can You Do? Hint: Start with Probiotics


Unsplash/ Freestocks.org

My first step of recourse was to replenish my gut with the good bacteria that it so desperately needed. This led me to discover probiotics. 

Probiotics are live microorganisms that assist with the digestive system and gut performance, according to “Probiotics: What You Need To Know” on the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health’s website. I made sure to purchase a high-quality brand, which meant spending those high-quality bucks. If you’re skeptical about splurging $50 or more on probiotics, just think that you’d easily drop that on foundation or concealer, both of which will certainly not help your skin long-term. In the words of the Bible via Bible Hub, “your body is a temple.” (!)

I digress – after three months of consistent probiotic use, I began to wake up to a smoother complexion, fewer pimples and cysts, and a better feeling in my gut. My daily episodes of bloating and stomach discomfort were finally subsiding, and I no longer experienced chronic fatigue. However, there was still something missing.
 

Why Bone Broth? 

Enter bone broth: Bone broth contains collagen, protein and minerals that all contribute to stronger intestinal permeability. When your gut has experienced harm, it is essential to rebuild intestinal permeability, says Dr. Kara Fitzgerald from the Institute for Functional Medicine. The body’s competence for producing collagen, an essential factor that makes for good skin along with elastin, is aided by the gelatin and collagen that are easily digestible through bone broth, according to BEAUTY by BUFORD. The flexibility and laxity of skin can drastically improve with regular broth ingestion, says Dr. Gregory A. Buford. 

 


Mirepoix
Shun Matsuhashi / Spoon

How Do I Start?

Making bone broth may seem tedious, but put on an apron, play your favorite podcast and pretend that you’re Martha Stewart, or…a witch. It’s all fair game. It’s ideal to use a crockpot but any pot can work! Gather your bones, add enough water to cover the bones and throw in vegetables of your choice – I like carrots and celery. My bone broth essentials are salt, pepper, turmeric, ginger and some thyme. I’d suggest adding these spices as this prevents the broth from tasting like beefy-water…yikes!!

I let mine sit in the crockpot overnight or at least six hours before straining it and storing it in jars for long-term use. Storage methods, such as whether you should keep it in the fridge or freezer, depend on the frequency of consumption, so research wisely!

As a result of regular bone broth consumption, the suppleness of my skin is undeniable. I truly haven’t had a “bad stomach day” in years, and it has even improved my digestion beyond my own expectations. Even better, as the weather gets colder, a cup of broth in the morning has become a warming gesture to my gut – though I always risk being labeled, “The Soup Lady,” by my mother. 

Rhea Kumar

Ryerson '22

Rhea is a Master's of Journalism student who can often be found practicing yoga, watching the Criterion Channel, or reading anything written by Joan Didion.
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