Acne is purported by doctors and alternative practitioners to come from a variety of sources, though there is little scientific proof as to why some people suffer from acne while others don't. Some alternative practitioners believe that acne, along with many other ailments such as arthritis and impaired immune function, comes from toxin overload in the body. One specific form of toxicity sometimes linked with acne is heavy metal toxicity. Although there is no proof that heavy metal detox can eliminate acne, there are certain dietary guidelines that may help increase immune system function.
Heavy metals are any metallic substance that has a high density, according to Carole Jacobs in the book, "Detox for the Rest of Us." A few of the heavy metals that can sit in the body and cause damage to the system include arsenic, cadmium, nickel, mercury and lead. The body cannot easily release or flush these heavy metals after inhaling, absorbing or otherwise ingesting them. Instead, they accumulate in the tissues, immune system, brain and kidneys, causing mild to serious conditions, including acne.
Acne is one sign of heavy metal toxicity in the body, according to "Brain Fog: Solve the Mysteries of Decreased Mental Capacity and Keep Your Brain Fit and Functional Throughout Your Life" author Binyamin Rothstein. Other signs include brain fog, dark circles around the eyes, headaches, indigestion, arthritis and chronic fatigue. This is due to the ability of toxic metals to impair metabolic processes, which causes problems in energy production and the body's detoxification system. When the body is not properly detoxifying, it often shows up on the skin.
Certain nutrients are purported to help detoxify heavy metals from the system, greatly reducing or eliminating acne. According to Jacobs, calcium and magnesium displace mercury and lead in the body, and good sources of both include greens, broccoli and carrots. Vitamin C is said to also displace lead and mercury in the body, and foods high in vitamin C are citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Chlorophyll, found in abundance in dark, leafy greens, binds to heavy metals. Lipoic acid binds to and clears mercury and lead from the system, and is found in abundance in red meat, spinach, yams and beets.
Proponents claim that a heavy metal detox does more than clear acne from the skin. In Linda Page's book, "Healthy Healings Detoxification: Programs to Cleanse, Purify and Renew," she notes that sensitivities to perfumes and other chemical odors decrease, tolerance to alcohol increases, bad breath and body odor decrease, memory improves and sexual function increases.
Heavy metal detoxification may lead to headaches, nausea, irregular bowel function, dizziness, irritability, anxiety and fatigue, according to Kerryn Phelps in the book, "General Practice: The Integrative Approach." Detoxification should be done only under the care of a licensed health practitioner. There is no scientific evidence to show that heavy metal detoxification is valid, will rid the body of acne or clear any other health ailment.