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Are There Benefits of Fasting for Acne?

author image Robyn Hughes
Robyn Hughes has been writing since 2008 about health, nutrition, fitness and botanical medicine. She is a naturopathic physician and freelance writer based in Durham, N.C. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in cognitive science from Indiana University and a doctoral degree from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore.
Are There Benefits of Fasting for Acne?
A woman is looking at her skin in the mirror. Photo Credit DmitriyBezborodkin/iStock/Getty Images


Acne is a frustrating condition that affects many teenagers and adults. Several factors contribute to the development of acne, including hormonal imbalances, clogged pores, bacterial infection of hair follicles and inflammation. Therapeutic fasting may be helpful for treating and preventing acne, when it is combined with a well-rounded treatment plan that addresses acne's fundamental cause. Everyone has unique needs when it comes to fasting, so consult a health care professional who's trained in therapeutic fasting for personalized advice, guidance and monitoring.


Therapeutic fasting is strictly defined as abstinence from all foods and beverages except water for a specific period of time. Some health care practitioners recommend consuming juices, teas, fluids or supplements during a fast; however, this is technically an elimination or restricted diet rather than a true fast. Although they work differently in the body, both fasting and elimination diets may be helpful for treating acne. According to Drs. Trevor Salloum and Alan Goldhamer, a naturopathic physician and chiropractor, respectively, and contributors to the "Textbook of Natural Medicine," during a fast, the body undergoes a period of physiological rest. Rather than expend significant energy on digestion, the body instead focuses on detoxifying and enhancing immune system function. When the body is able to properly filter and eliminate wastes through the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts, the quality of skin secretions increases, which in turn helps the treatment and prevention of acne. In other words, when the body detoxifies through the liver and kidneys, it does not have to do so through the skin.

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Identifies Food Sensitivies

Practitioners of naturopathic medicine contend that food sensitivities can contribute to the development of acne. Drs. Stephen Barrie and Peter B. Bongiorno, naturopathic physicians and contributors to the "Textbook of Natural Medicine," explain that certain foods can cause non-allergic reactions in individuals that contribute to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma and skin conditions like acne. Different people have unique food sensitivities, and because of this determining these reactive foods can prove challenging. During a fast, all foods are cleared from the body. Afterward, different foods can be progressively and systematically reintroduced while noting changes in the skin, body or moods. The period after a fast is a useful opportunity to identify foods that cause changes in the body, including worsening acne. These foods can then be avoided as part of an effort to clear acne and improve overall health.

Implements Healthy Habits

In traditional medicine systems, such as Ayurveda and naturopathy, the health of the skin is a direct extension of digestive integrity. Natural medicine practitioners contend that when the body functions optimally, skin secretions are healthy, pores are clear and inflammation is diminished. Subsequently, acne naturally heals. A healthy diet -- low in processed, sugary foods and rich in nutrient-dense whole foods -- is a mainstay for digestive and overall health. A fast provides an opportunity to diminish dependence on addictive substances like sugar, caffeine and nicotine, as well as an opportunity to start fresh with a commitment to nutritious dietary habits. While therapeutic fasting is not a panacea, it can play a contributing role in optimizing wellness, which naturally includes healthy and clear skin.

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  • “Textbook of Natural Medicine”; Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D., and Michael T. Murray, N.D.; 2006
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