“Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” – Francis Bacon
Acne is everywhere! As a society, we’ve learned to accept it. Like the figurative elephant in the living room that no one mentions, the world pretends we don’t have a serious problem. We’ve somehow reached a point where we accept it as a normal part of life. Millions of people walk around every day, resigned to their fate of wearing a disease on their face. Hopeless, depressed and defeated, they don’t know what to do. A person with acne will try to act as if nothing is wrong at all. After all, it seems an enormous goliath of a beast to slay.
We like to act like acne is a normal way to live. We embrace acne and tell each other “It’s ok. It will pass. Here’s what I do to keep mine minimal blah, blah, blah”. This is stupid. It’s as ridiculous as believing that obesity or diabetes are normal and they certainly don’t pass if you don’t do anything about them. Managing a disease doesn’t hold a candle to eliminating it’s cause.
How bad is it?
Here are some fun facts from the American Academy of Dermatology about our close friend Acne Vulgaris:
- Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting approximately 40 to 50 million Americans annually.
- Acne usually begins in puberty and affects many adolescents and young adults, but can occur at any stage of life.
- Approximately 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne.
- Acne often causes significant physical and psychological problems such as permanent scarring, poor self-image, depression, and anxiety.
- Costs associated with the treatment of acne exceed $3 billion. (source)
Why? What is going on? Disease on this scale obviously means something is wrong. If 85% of all people had diabetes in their lifetime, we would have to admit that we were doing something seriously wrong. What else could we do with $3 billion if we weren’t using it to treat pimples?
You think acne is normal? That lots of people should experience it to some degree? Then why is it called a disease? Webster’s Dictionary defines disease,
“a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms”. (source)
Why do 40-50 million Americans have impaired normal functioning?
Doesn’t that seem a little broken?
Let’s look at groups of people who don’t suffer from acne:
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2002 titled “Acne Vulgaris: A Disease of Western Civilization” (source) examined people who live on the island of Kitava in Papua New Guinea and the Aché hunter gatherers of Paraguay. The study involved doctors examining the skin condition of these people. At the end, they concluded,
“The astonishing difference in acne incidence rates between nonwesternized and fully modernized societies cannot be solely attributed to genetic differences among populations but likely results from differing environmental factors.”
When they examined the Kitavan people they found ZERO incidence of acne. None. Equally as impressive, when the Aché were examined,
“Not a single case of active acne vulgaris (mild, moderate, or severe or grades 1 to 4) was observed in all 115 subjects over the 843-day study period by any of the 7 examining physicians.”
If you read further into that study you’ll come across this,
“Prior to World War II, Okinawa was an isolated island outpost in the South China Sea, and its native inhabitants lived a rural life with few or none of the trappings of industrialized societies. Extensive medical questionnaires by US physicians administered to local physicians who had practiced from 8 to 41 years revealed that, “These people had no acne vulgaris.”
To summarize it, doctors and scientists found zero acne among these remote, isolated, indigenous, non-westernized peoples. They weren’t using special acne treatments. They were not visiting the dermatologist. They were living like prehistoric human beings and had NO ACNE.
Does this strike your interest? A zero percent rate of acne in these 3 groups of people? Why do people in modern, industrial, western nations like us suffer from red bumps all over our faces at a rate of 85% while these people living in the jungles exhibit absolutely none?
Probably the same reason Westernized people are fat and diabetic and hunter gatherers are not. All of these groups of people have or had one thing in common. They ate their traditional diets.
As much as everyone wants to ignore the obvious, we are clearly doing it wrong. We are screwing up. We are giving ourselves disease.
To quote the article again,
“[…] other South American Indians and Pacific Islanders whose ethnic backgrounds are similar to the Aché and Kitavans but who live in more westernized settings maintain considerably higher acne incidence rates than those we report“.
So essentially, modern-day, westernized indigenous people spontaneously develop acne. Do you think the Okinawans today also suffer acne? Of course they do. What’s the difference? Did their genetics change? Is their skin dirtier? No and no. They’ve become westernized.
What is the #1 way people become “westernized”? How do people become unlike their ancestors?
The Okinawans were doing just fine on fish and pork and whatever else they were eating and then some guy on the island thought it would be more convenient if they imported some of those fancy canned foods the white people were raving about.
The Aché and Kitavans simply haven’t allowed much (or any) Western food into their diet, even to this day. They still primarily collect their food from the earth by themselves. This is the reason they stand out among all the other people of the world and exhibit NO ACNE.
Acne is a glitch. It is not a rite of passage or a necessary part of growing up. It is a fully preventable, modern disease of civilization. Isolated, remote hunter-gatherer people (and all of your ancient hunter gatherer ancestors) do not/did not suffer from acne! It is not due to genetics or bad luck any more than obesity or diabetes is. Can a fat person slim down? Of course!
Acne is just another unfortunate side effect of the way we live in 2015. You can probably thank the agricultural and industrial revolutions for it’s prevalence. Acne is a disease of civilization. Acne is a disease of convenience and modern foods. Acne comes (somehow) from using foods that are pre-prepared, packaged, and distributed to us by other humans.
There’s absolutely no reason you should have to suffer acne. It is not something everyone has to deal with. Why should you be a sufferer? Remember, the JAMA article states that the difference in acne between Westerners and hunter gatherers cannot possibly be attributed to genetics alone.
Still not convinced?
We can also look at Inuit or Eskimo people. In an article titled “When the Eskimo comes to town” published in 1971 in the magazine Nutrition Today,
“the author describes changes in eating habits and type of foods consumed when the Eskimos gave up their previous nomadic existence to live in settlements.”
“Increase in other “civilization diseases” like cholelithiasis, gall bladder and acne vulgaris.” (source)
Up until 1955, these Inuit people lived their prehistoric, nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle. After they become westernized, living more like the white man, they developed a bunch of diseases, including acne.
So, when people in Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Okinawa, and the Arctic Circle are studied in their original, isolated, hunter-gatherer state, they are found to have zero acne. When their genetically identical, civilized, Westernized counterparts are examined, they have as much acne as we do in the rest of the world.
(July 22, 2015 update: Even more supporting evidence in the news today. This article talks about a remote tribe living on an island off the coast of India in the Bay of Bengal. The article is about how murderous the tribe is but you’ll note at the end they mention how healthy the inhabitants are and what their diet typically consists of.
“India has since established a 3-mile exclusion zone around the island to protect both outsiders and the natives from disease. Survival International argues it’s all for the best as the natives are “extremely healthy, alert, and thriving.” They have fire and are believed to dine on fish, fruits, tubers, wild pigs, lizards, and honey.”
I’m also going to take a really wild guess here and say they probably don’t suffer from acne.)
If you are serious about ending acne then you must remove any possible source of acne, which in our case means doing our best to live like a hunter gatherer human. You must in as many regards as possible become more like your ancestors; more like an isolated human.
The sooner you unplug yourself from the lies, the sooner your disease will disappear. You are not a helpless victim. You are a willing participant in perpetuating your acne.
Acne is not something we should be concerning ourselves with today. The reason you suffer is because you live the way you were taught to live, not the way nature intended you to live.
Anyone familiar with Weston A. Price will understand that isolated, primitive humans are always of superior health to modern humans.
In order to reverse a disease of civilization like acne, we must attempt to return to the lifestyle of a primitive human as much as possible while still maintaining the benefits of an advanced society. Clearly, we will not return to living in mud huts or chasing down every meal but we can do other things…