3 Reasons Why Loving Your Liver Won’t Cure Acne

3 Reasons Why Loving Your Liver Won’t Cure Acne

Is the combined assault of processed food and thousands of chemicals in the environment too much for your liver to handle? Could over burdening your liver cause acne? And could you get clear by cleansing and supporting it?

That’s what many alternative and natural health practitioners claim. In this post we are going to examine these claims from a science-based perspective.

The inspiration to write this post came from a question at the Q&A section. Keaton asked if drinking alcohol causes acne. To which I replied that I doubt light/moderate drinking would cause acne. He replied:

I must say that surprises me. For the longest time I’ve read nothing but fear-mongering, people freaked over the alcohol-to-liver-to-acne theory that always comes up.

Once I saw that, I knew that my work as ‘acne myth buster’ was not yet done.

When you Google ‘acne liver’ 9 out of the 10 blue links go to websites that claim your liver is overloaded and probably the cause of your acne. Incidentally, the 1 exception is my post about liver flushing.

All of the pages say more or less the same thing, i.e.:

  • The liver has hundreds of functions, and these include removal of toxins and deactivating hormones.
  • You have basically been a horrible person who has abused yourself with horrible modern food.
  • Collectively we humans are horrible for releasing hundreds of thousands of toxic chemicals that are harming us and destroying the world.
  • All of these toxins are too much for your liver to handle. The liver has become clogged and overburdened and cannot regulate hormones or remove toxins.
  • Now all those toxins have to be eliminated through other means, usually the lungs and the skin. This creates a cozy environment for acne-causing bacteria to multiply and cause havoc on your skin.
  • Since the liver cannot deactivate and eliminate hormones they are recycled back to the body and they have a 2nd go at your skin (making it even oilier).

In this post I want to take a stab at addressing these claims. To see how they stack against scientific understanding of acne.

If there’s no evidence to support the above points, then it’s reasonable to assume that the liver-acne connection, as presented by most websites, is not true.

Do people with acne have impaired liver function?

There’s good evidence to show acne patients in general don’t have any liver abnormalities. In 2006 University of California researchers released an analysis of patient records of 13,772 patients taking Accutane. Among other things, they measured the effect Accutane has on liver function.

95% to 99% of people with severe acne have normal liver function

They showed that before treatment 94.9% of the participants had normal liver function and 4.7% had slightly elevated liver enzyme levels. A Brazilian study from 2012 showed similar results. In this analysis of 130 patients, 98.9% had normal liver enzyme levels before Accutane treatment.

My guess is that if you sample  people without acne, you would get similar results. It’s not unreasonable to assume that a 1% to 5% of population have mild liver problems, perhaps due to genetics, other health problems or exposure to liver-toxic chemicals.

Furthermore, doctors normally prescribe Accutane only to people with severe acne. And if liver problems would cause acne, you would expect people with severe acne to have the most liver problems. Yet, 95 – 99% had normal liver function.

Is the liver really incapable of coping with the toxic load?

What about the claim that we are exposed to so many toxins that the liver just can’t keep up?

Let’s start with something that you probably have experienced, perhaps even recently.


Alcohol is a toxic substance. No doubt about it. People regularly enjoy it in large quantities and suffer the consequences the next day. Despite people quite literally poisoning themselves with this toxic substance the liver eliminates most of it in 12 to 24 hours. And many people repeat this exercise in self-poisoning weekly, some even several times a week!

Does this sound like a liver that’s struggling to cope?

We also have a lot of clinical data on people who have suffered liver injury as a result of exposure to liver-toxic substances; certain chemicals, drugs and even herbs, there are several case reports of people suffering liver damage after consuming aloe vera supplements. So it’s not like doctors wouldn’t know what to look for or hot to diagnose it.

The liver also seems to be amazingly resilient and able to recover even after years of exposure to very toxic chemicals. For example, this study looked at people regularly exposed to toxic chemicals: painters and chemical industry workers. These people suffered liver damage from years of exposure, yet their liver function returned to normal in 3 to 6 weeks after exposure was stopped.

The subjects, 15 chemical industry workers and 8 painters, had disturbed liver tests after years of exposure to solvents, paints and lacquers. Characteristic for the patients was a 2–4-fold increase in serum aminotransferases associated with normal liver or reactive hepatitis with or without fatty liver. AU patients, except subjects with fatty change, had metabolically active liver which was reflected as adaptive and toxic changes in cellular ultrastructure. The biochemical liver tests normalized within 3–6 weeks after cessation of the exposure.

Eero A. Sotaniemi et al. Liver Injury in Subjects Occupationally Exposed to Chemicals in Low Doses. Acta Medica Scandinavica. Volume 212, Issue 4, pages 207–215, January/December 1982

Similarly, all the case reports I read while researching this showed liver function returned to normal after exposure was stopped.

No cleanses or ‘liver support’ supplements required. Just stop poisoning the liver and in most cases it recovers just fine.

So if people with years of regular exposure to highly toxic substances can recover in a month or two, it makes one wonder why acne patients couldn’t recover from their supposed liver damage.

Do acne patients have abnormal hormone levels?

Hormone imbalances are another claimed consequence of the liver overload acne patients supposedly suffer from. This one is a bit more plausible because acne indeed is linked to hormonal abnormalities.

However, the hormonal imbalances in acne are anything but drastic. Most studies show that women with acne have somewhat elevated androgen (male sex hormones) levels compared to women without acne, but the hormones are still within normal ranges. So we are not talking about drastic imbalances, and one could even argue that most women with acne don’t suffer from any hormonal imbalances. I won’t go over all the studies about this, but you can see my reply to this comment for more thorough discussion.

The real hormonal problem in acne has more to do with skin’s sensitivity to hormones than their absolute levels.

Acne-causing bacteria do not feast on toxins

So what about the claim that toxins passing through the skin encourage acne-causing bacteria to grow and multiply?

Current scientific explanation for comedo formation and bacteria growth goes like this:

  • Squalene (a fatty acid found in sebum) oxidizes due to exposure to UV radiation, air pollution, or other forms of oxidative damage and forms a squalene peroxide.
  • Squalene peroxide is highly comedogenic and causes an overproduction of cells in the skin pores and eventually blocks the pore.
  • The blocked pore balloons and is cut off from oxygen supply, while squalene peroxides deplete remaining oxygen. This causes anaerobic (oxygen-poor) and sebum-rich environment.
  • Acne-causing bacteria thrive in low-oxygen environments and consume sebum as food. Not surprisingly, they multiply rapidly in blocked pores.

While formulating the above theory several scientists have examined skin scrapings from acne patients in an effort to understand what happens in the skin during acne-formation process. None of them have mentioned the skin being clogged with toxins.

So while this doesn’t rule out toxins playing a part, we can explain acne formation and bacterial growth without toxins. And currently there’s no evidence that toxins passing through the skin would cause acne.

Wrapping up

The argument that acne is caused by liver overload rests of the following assumptions:

  • Acne patients have an impaired liver function.
  • Impaired liver cannot adequately eliminate toxins that are then pushed out through the skin, which encourages acne-causing bacteria to grow.
  • Clogged liver cannot adequately neutralize hormones, which get recycled back to circulation and cause havoc on the skin.

There is no evidence to support any of the above points. Despite hundreds of thousands of people taking Accutane and going through regular liver function tests, nobody has ever noted anything abnormal.

Data from occupational chemical exposure shows the liver is capable of handling regular exposure to highly toxic chemicals. The liver also seems remarkably resilient. In most cases abnormal liver function returns to normal within a month or two after exposure to toxic substances stops.

Women with adult acne have somewhat higher hormone levels than women without acne, but the levels still fall within normal ranges. The real issue in acne is how sensitive acne-prone skin is to androgen hormones, rather than real hormonal imbalances.

Finally, there’s no evidence that toxins encourage growth of acne-causing bacteria. The bacteria thrive in sebum-rich, low-oxygen environment inside clogged pores.

In the end the ‘clogged liver causes acne’ is yet another evidence-free claim trumpeted by the alternative health industry. It taps into the feeling most people have that eating modern, processed is probably not good for them, and that they should do better. Not to mention the very reasonable concern people have about the amount of chemicals released into the environment. Like many alternative health claims, initially it sort of makes sense, but falls apart with even cursory scientific investigation.

Why I rail against this stuff?

People who buy into this ‘you are toxic and need to cleanse yourself’ often end up worse than they started. To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat healthy or take care of yourself. Quite the opposite. I write a lot about the effect of diet on acne.

The problem is that the quest to purify and detoxify requires heavy sacrifices. Want to party? Sorry, alcohol and tobacco smoke are too much for your fragile body. Friends asking you out for dinner? Sorry, conventional food is full of horrible toxins – as ‘documented’ by The Food Babe and other scientifically-illiterate ‘food bloggers’. Tight food budget? Avoid ‘toxic’ conventional produce and make sure to spend your money on more expensive organic food (that seems to offer no discernible benefit). You get the picture.

Most people who end up reading those articles are high school and college students, two groups you wouldn’t exactly call wealthy. And, whether we like it or not, social life in college and high school largely revolves around alcohol and parties. Missing out on all the social fun and frolicking isn’t exactly good for your emotional health, not to mention missing out on many connections that could be very valuable later on in life. And all for… what?

The biggest toxin is the ridiculous nonsense masquerading as information.


About Me

Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.

41 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why Loving Your Liver Won’t Cure Acne”

  1. Seppo,

    Totally agree with this article and have always been suspicious of expensive liver cleansing kits. I get annoyed when articles refer to nebulous toxins that cause everything from acne to the plague. One question however. Milk Thistle which has been used successfully to alleviate problems alcoholics have with damaged livers is also thought to have good effects on acne. Is this because of its antioxidant properties, that it may help with acne?


    • I find it ironic that alties accuse doctors and pharma companies of being greedy and trying to milk every penny out of patients. They recommend and sell all sorts of supplements and detox kits to ‘support and detox the liver’ while real doctors say that the only thing you need is to stop poisoning the liver and in most cases it will recover just fine. Not saying that pharma companies wouldn’t be greedy, of course they are – like most profit-driven companies.

      I suspect it’s because of its antioxidant properties. NAC is also used to prevent and treat liver problems. While researching this post I came across some studies that show NAC can prevent toxin-induced liver damage. I suspect milk thistle, or silibinin (the active ingredient), also works the same way.

  2. Thank you for this! I always thought this was wrong. Although, I always notice my skin/acne is worse after drinking alcohol- do you know why this would be? Is it more about sugar levels or gut bacteria?

  3. G’day Seppo,

    Been trying to get onto Q&A but keep being redirected. This was the only way could get onto u for a question. It’s sort of relivent to liver so here goes.
    Just purchased the skin factor tabs from iherb as per your book. Noticed the B3 content is 150 mg.
    After a little research noticed the RDI for men is 18mg. This amount is 750 % more than the RDI. Apparently this can cause a few issues as time goes by especially with the liver. Have send an email to iherb and asked them this but haven’t heard back.
    Could u shed some light on this please.
    Much appreciated.

    Thanx Carl

    • Sorry about that. There are compatibility issues with the Q&A script. I have to take it down.

      B3 shouldn’t be toxic at those levels. There is potential concern for liver toxicity at intakes of 3g/day or more. 150mg is an order of magnitude less than that.

  4. This is interesting. I just read your article about Estroblock and the liver cleanse. I’m glad I didn’t come across these articles earlier b/c reading these, I would have been convinced not to buy estrogen (DIM), and a liver detox program. The thing is, I’ve always had acne, all my life but I’ve always kept it at bay using benoxyl peroxide (from acne.org) on my face. Recently I’ve had the breakout of my life and the benoxyl peroxide just wasn’t effective anymore. I had Acne all over my forehead and cystic acne all over my chin. I started taking estroblock, Liver health supplement and vitex and my face started to clear dramatically after 2 weeks.

    I’m sure there is some truth to what you write but then what would explain what happened to me? I’m just saying, if you suffer from acne like me, there’s no harm in giving it a try. On a side note, I did experience some bad headaches but that was nothing to the pain of acne.

    • I’m glad to hear those things are working for you. I suspect it has nothing to do with liver health though. As I mentioned in my post about EstroBlock, DIM has anti-androgenic properties and it’s very likely that it’s the androgen-blocking effect of DIM that helps with acne. In my post about herbal remedies for hormonal acne, I talked about other things that could help. Herbs that have more scientific support than DIM.

      Sillymarin is another supplement used in liver cleansing regimens. One study actually showed it reduces again, but not because it supports the liver, which for most people doesn’t require any support, but because it’s an antioxidant.

      I agree with you that there’s no harm in trying different things. But the harm comes from the underlying misconceptions that drive much of the natural health industry. It comes from false beliefs that you have to detoxify and purify yourself before you get clear. It’s these false beliefs that drive people to eating disorders, isolating themselves socially and basically just making themselves miserable.

      • I’m confused.. I thought the conclusion you came to with your post about Estroblock was “At the moment there’s no evidence to show EstroBlock is good for anything.” A bit of a contradiction?

        You wrote these articles to discuss the ineffectiveness of products like Estroblock or DIM and liver supplements but then in your reply to my comment, you say things like

        ” …it’s the androgen-blocking effect of DIM that helps with acne”

        “Sillymarin is another supplement used in liver cleansing regimens. One study actually showed it reduces [acne]”

        And how does the belief of taking Estroblock and natural herbal supplements for my liver harmful? You mentioned in your reply that THESE are underlying misconceptions that that drive people to eating disorders, isolating themselves socially and making people miserable? What research do you have to back that up? I doubt taking Estroblock or liver supplements 3 times a day will lead to this.

        I’m always open to learning though and besides the 2 articles I’ve mentioned, I do find your other articles interesting and educating.

        • I’m confused.. I thought the conclusion you came to with your post about Estroblock was “At the moment there’s no evidence to show EstroBlock is good for anything.” A bit of a contradiction?

          Not at all when you understand how scientific research works. All the ‘benefits’ of DIM I just talked about have been found in test tube studies. And you can never know whether the same thing happens in living humans. Until more human studies are done DIM/EstroBlock remains very much unproven.

          The reason I said DIM has those effects is because you asked me to explain/guess why you got the results you got. The larger point was that it’s possible that those supplements helped your acne without having any effect on the liver. Just because they are, mistakenly, I believe, sold as ‘liver support’ supplements doesn’t mean they have any effect on the liver. Further, there’s no evidence that the compromised or ‘overloaded’ liver is responsible for acne. And there’s good evidence to show acne patients have perfectly healthy livers.

          And how does the belief of taking Estroblock and natural herbal supplements for my liver harmful? You mentioned in your reply that THESE are underlying misconceptions that that drive people to eating disorders, isolating themselves socially and making people miserable? What research do you have to back that up? I doubt taking Estroblock or liver supplements 3 times a day will lead to this.

          I didn’t say that taking those supplements are harmful. I said that the underlying beliefs that drive people to take these supplements is what causes the harm. It’s the idea that you are somehow toxic or broken and need to fix yourself before you can get clear that causes the harm.

          As an example, take a look at Amanda’s comments on this page: https://acneeinstein.com/low-dose-accutane/#comment-3018 (we had a fairly long discussion there). You can see from her comments how the mistaken ideas and beliefs the natural health blogs promote have made her miserable and desperate. She’s riddled with quilt because she believes she’s poisoning herself – despite eating a very clean diet. I also touched on the problem on this post: https://acneeinstein.com/wai-diet-acne-3-things-need-know/

          It’s these toxic ideas that cause the problems. And it’s these very same ideas that the ‘liver support’ proponents spread. They tell you that your liver is broken and that you are toxic and that you need to take these supplements to cleanse and support the liver. And that’s what I was arguing against in this post.

  5. I understand your position but ever since I decided to cut on red meat, dairy products, alcohol and greasy food, my skin improved 97%. My consumption of water also increased and now I have clear skin, without taking a pill of antibiotics. I also augmented my intake of spinach, parsley and green leafy veggies and I now feel great. I get a pimple now and then specially when I drink several glasses of whatever alcohol I want to indulge in or when I eat a great juice sirloin steak. Curiously when I have pork there is no acne afterwards. One last thing: I was taking antibiotics for a long time and all dermatologist told me I was condemned to controlling my acne with such medicine for the rest of my life. Glad I didn’t heed their advice.

    • Glad to hear your skin is doing better. However, I’m not quite sure what this has to do with liver and its connection to acne. That your skin got better after you cut out meat, dairy, etc. doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the liver. For example, dairy products increase the hormones that are linked to acne. So cutting out dairy would be good for the skin regardless of whether it also has some effect on the liver.

      • Fabio could have hemochromatosis. There’s the red meat, liver damage connection right there. So yes, actually the red meat could have something to do with liver damage…

  6. Hi! I would like to know whether alcohol reduces effect of accutane. I’m on a treatment now and I’m taking that medicine three times a week. Thanks!

  7. Seppo,
    I just want to say you are wrong about this. ACNE IS caused by toxins in the body and your body being overloaded with these toxins. I don’t want to go into complete detail but I wish you would stop misinforming people based on this tiny amount of research you did, and also the unscientific way you went about this whole thing which is not based on any scientific evidence but just how you “felt.”
    As a sufferer of pretty horrible acne I can completely attest to the fact that damaging my body, primarly my liver, with toxins from drugs and alcohol was the main cause of it. I jusy wanted to write this comment for people to see and not react 100% based on your misinformative article!

    • I don’t want to go into complete detail but I wish you would stop misinforming people based on this tiny amount of research you did, and also the unscientific way you went about this whole thing which is not based on any scientific evidence but just how you “felt.”

      And you fail to see the irony in what you just wrote???

  8. God, you are GOOD.

    Thank you so much for debunking the liver>acne myth!!!

    I’ve been experiencing the most pimples ever AFTER eating the cleanest I have ever eaten – raw green smoothies, healthy lean protein, and mostly raw vegetables throughout the day (with a lot of dark chocolate to take the edge off). I’ve been eating clean for almost 6 months now!

    I’ve stopped eating grains and dairy, and I’ve stopped drinking caffeine (no alcohol because it really is a poison). According to the mythologists claiming that my liver needs detoxing, I should have clear skin right about now. Yet…

    • When you only have a hammer.. and something about every problem looking like a nail. Natural health seems obsessed with the silly notion of toxins and detoxing, and that’s the solution they offer to every problem. I also did my time with raw foods – knowing what I know now, that was a horrible idea.

  9. Hello Seppo,

    I hope you could help me. I have suffered for almost 15 years with varying degrees of acne. Last 4 years are mainly due to hormonal acne (as I approached 30 years of age). I took BCP which helped and my acne were all gone. As they caused me severe cramps and candida I just left them. My skin was clear (almost 95%) for almost 2 years after that and now I have been struggling these severe cysts around my chin and jawline. They are always present irrespective of my period timings. I have always had period cycle of 35-40 days and my doctors felt it was normal for my body (i dont have any sort of hair issues or weight issues or fertility issues but some of my doctors say I have mild form of PCO). I have been tested for several food intolerances and I am avoiding them. As you have such a wide experience on this topic I would request your help to advise me on how much time diet changes take to show effects on acne. My acne are now coming out in bursts after the diet changes. Few days I will be clear and then suddenly one I will have 8-10 cysts in one day. so they are not coming one by one but erupting suddenly in 1 hour all over my face and then taking few days to calm down. I am also on gut healing program as I had severe gut inflammation. DO you think my body is adjusting to positive changes and my body is right now just throwing out all toxins??
    Oh man I need your help. I need to know if I am on the right path.
    P.S. I dont use any cosmetics or so, eat very healthy.

    • Hi Sammy,

      How long it takes to notice improvements after dietary changes? It depends on what causes your acne. For hormone-related problems, it can take 3 to 4 weeks to notice changes on the skin. But if your acne is related to histamines, then you can see changes in just a few days. If your acne is linked to gut issues, it’s something in between, probably 3 to 3 weeks.

      It sounds like you have histamine or other food intolerance issues, because you said that you can suddenly get 8 to 10 new pimples. Histamine and food intolerance related pimples tend to come and go quite quickly.

      DO you think my body is adjusting to positive changes and my body is right now just throwing out all toxins??

      It’s not throwing away any toxins – any more than it normally does. Acne is not linked to toxins and there’s really nothing you can do to ‘boost’ detoxification. Most detoxes are marketing tricks and won’t improve your health in any way.

  10. Thanks a lot for your swift response Seppo!!

    I really doubt if they are hormone related as they are always there irrespective of any specific time of the month.

    I have stopped all the food I am intolerant to and my chin acne went away in 4-5 days. Unfortunately a new acne pattern started back after it on my cheeks and jawline where I would rarely get any before. My pimples come quickly but take ages to go away 🙁 I really look forward to your opinion on this.

    My doctor wants me to re-introduce the foods but I am scared now.

    P.S. I bumped upon your website while surfing for my acne solution and now I am hooked. I have to go through all your blog posts. I agree you are an acne Einstein. Hope you could help me find a solution.

    • I don’t know what kind of food intolerance test you’ve taken, but elimination diet combined with rechallenge (eat the food you suspect you have an intolerance to) is the only reliable method. None of the other ones have been validated in studies and haven’t been shown to be reliable – in fact, most have been shown to be unreliable. The thing is that most of them tell you to eliminate the most common problem foods, which explains why some people see benefits with them.

      Earlier you mentioned that you have gut problems. You probably have to deal with them before you can clear your skin. In most cases, that requires limiting fermentable carbohydrates to kill off excess bacteria in the gut and the small intestine.

  11. Though I think that maybe they are not hormonal, I get completely clear on birth control pills. Its just that my body doesn’t agree with them over long time (I get severe cramps, painful periods and candida). SO i dont want to go back to birth control pills again.
    Some forums suggested taking DIM supplement which I am not at all sure of. Coming from a family where everyone has a flawless skin (even if they eat junk) I look like an odd one out when I try to achieve it by eating and staying healthy 🙁

    Thanks again for being such a helpful human being. We need more out there.

    P.S. SOmehow I am not able to reply to your reply so everytime I have to add a new one. Please bear with me.

    • Period pain could also be a sign of histamine intolerance. And histamine intolerance has also been shown to cause skin problems (including acne).

  12. Just wanted to add. I have always taking really good care of my skin & use treatments by dermatologist but experienced hormonal & cystic acne. I used Thorne S.A.T & my skin got way better with hormonal acne issues. So there is something?

  13. Dear Seppo,
    I disagree with you whole heartedly. I have struggled with cystic acne from coming off of birth control. I never had acne before in my life. After taking birth control for over a decade and quitting, i had deep cystic acne on my jawline or lower cheeks. As most of us say, i have tried everything: creams from dermtaologists, cleanses, and an extensive elimination diet. I even tried accupuncture. I am 90% dairy and gluten free. I hardly eat any animal protein. Nothing worked. After listening to Tracy and Fran who truly are experts in female hormonal acne, i started taking Estroblock and a liver supplement. Nothing else changed and my acne improved and continues to improve. You simply dont have all the answers when you have not experienced it the way others have. You don’t know what it’s like to be on birth control and coming off of it. I would hate for others to lose hope because of your articles.

    • I’m glad to hear you found something that works for you. But what you wrote really has nothing to do with the liver. EstroBlcok most likely works (remains to be seen whether it does) by blocking androgens. Liver supplements usually contain milk thistle or N-acetylcysteine. Both are strong antioxidants and have been shown to reduce acne because they reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

      They are sold as liver support supplements because some studies show they protect the liver when it’s under unusual stress (such as detoxing from real poisoning). This does not mean they would support or cleanse the liver that’s not under such a stress. And there’s really no evidence that people with acne would have liver problems, nor is there any reason to think that.

      > You don’t know what it’s like to be on birth control and coming off of it.

      Given that I’m a guy, that’s obviously true. That being said, in the Clear for Life Facebook group there are plenty of women in the same situation. And I advice them what they can do to counter the hormonal havoc that happens when one stops the pill.

      And besides, my personal experience (or yours) is in no way relevant to whether acne patients in general have liver problems or whether ‘supporting’ the liver helps acne.

      • I understand what you are saying about how liver cleanses are sold and marketed. I get that 100%. But don’t you agree that years – over a decade of birth control (which has been proven to have a variety of negative affects on various parts of the body) can cause some problems in the liver? If the liver cannot process excess hormones they stay in the body. Estroblock helps to detox and remove the bad estrogens. I realize you don’t “believe in this”, but it works for people. A lot of people! How else can you explain this?

        • But don’t you agree that years – over a decade of birth control (which has been proven to have a variety of negative affects on various parts of the body) can cause some problems in the liver

          While writing a serious of article about hormonal acne that will be published soon, I also looked at birth control pills and the risks associated with them. All the reviews I read showed them to be remarkably safe. They may very slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, but we are talking about a minute increase in risk. They may also somewhat increase the risk of heart problems, but, again, the increase in risk seems very small. I have never seen any credible evidence to suggest they would in anyway affect the liver. Given how many women take them every day, I think scientists would have noticed should bc pills cause liver damage.

          To be honest, that smells to me like ideologically driven scare mongering the alternative and natural health industries produce constantly. However, if you can point me to some evidence to show that bc pills do harm the liver, I’m more than happy to take a look at it and update my posts if necessary.

          Anyway, your argument rests of several unproven assumptions.

          1. BC pills damage the liver
          2. Damaged liver cannot adequately eliminate estrogens
          3. ‘Toxic’ estrogens accumulate on the body and cause acne
          4. DIM and liver support supplements can fix the problem

          I know this is a compelling narrative, but I’m 99% sure that it’s wrong. I’m the first one to admit that we don’t understand the role of estrogens in acne well, but all the evidence we have points to estrogen protecting against acne. For example, women with acne tend to have lower estrogen levels than women without acne. Women tend to get acne during the part of the cycle when estrogens dip. Estrogen therapies tend to reduce acne.

          It strains credibility to breaking point for naturopaths and other alternative health practitioners to claim estrogen somehow causes acne.

          I haven’t looked into this in detail, but the studies I have read show that taking DIM can affect the ratio of certain estrogen metabolites (or byproducts), and women with breast cancer have been shown to have somewhat different ratio of those than women without. I presume that this is where the story of ‘toxic estrogens’ got started. Again, it’s a simple and compelling narrative.

          I’m not aware of any evidence to show these estrogen metabolites would be linked to acne. Or that changing them by taking DIM would reduce acne or breast cancer.

          I realize you don’t “believe in this”, but it works for people. A lot of people! How else can you explain this?

          It doesn’t really matter what I believe. My belief does not alter the fact. What matters is what can be shown to be true.

          You say that this works for many people. But how do you know this? By reading reviews and forum postings online? The company that sells EstroBlock is known for “encouraging” people to write positive reviews of their products. I regularly get their spam on my site.

          Humans have practiced medicine by anecdotes for thousands of years. It got us many wonders like the 4 humour theory, blood letting, traditional Indian and Chinese medical systems, homeopathy, etc. The vast majority of which, when tested scientifically, have been shown not to work.

          It’s only when we started testing our assumptions that science and medicine started really progressing.

          But let’s grant that taking DIM reduces acne, which, as I’ve stated many times, is plausible. It still doesn’t mean that it would have anything to do with the liver. There are some test tube studies that show DIM works as an antiandrogen. If it does have this effect in living humans, then it’s plausible that DIM supplements could reduce acne.

  14. Seppo I think you give a alternative viewpoint just for the sake of doing so. I get your point for how extreme it is to not drink or eat certain types of food do to toxin overload which I agree with but to say that acne is not a result of impaired liver function is retarded at best not to say that liver has to be severely impacted and also liver function may not come back as impaired but a cleanse is focuses on gall stones which modern or westernized medicine states comes from the gall bladder which isnt true since the gall bladder can be removed and gall stones still form.. The cleanse is exactly as it states is a cleanse to cleanse of blockages in the liver which may not even be detected by tests on the liver. So in conclusion you dont have to be extreme which is the only thing I agree with you on because yes the liver is definitely resilient and able to regenerate itself in a short amount of time and also to agree an expensive cleanse is just purely taking advantage of peoples eagerness and ignorance on acne … but foods that cleanse the liver such as grapefruit or olive oil have been proven to improve liver function so stop with this nonsense. You are putting out a very absolute point of view on certain things you barely understand yourself or have even attempted to use yourself.

  15. Dear Seppo,

    From my experience, the liver had little if anything to do with my skin problems. And anyway, why isn’t it the case that everyone who has liver issues gets acne? As you say, acne prone individuals have a problem with skin follicles reacting abnormally to hormones and sources of inflammation.
    What I do think happens, at least for me, is the more you stress about any issue, whether diet, cleansing regimes, detox systems etc., the more likely you will get an acne outbreak. The state of the mind is as important, if not more, than the state of the body.

    Beating yourself up gets you nowhere in life

    Michael C

    • Thanks for the rational comment, Michael.

      The liver-acne connection is just one of the myths the alternative health industry peddles. In a superficial way it makes sense. Nobody can deny that the planet is polluted, and it’s not totally farfetched to claim this would put too much burden on the liver. But just because something makes sense does not mean it’s true. I just think that’s the reason why this particular narrative has stuck.

      What I do think happens, at least for me, is the more you stress about any issue, whether diet, cleansing regimes, detox systems etc., the more likely you will get an acne outbreak. The state of the mind is as important, if not more, than the state of the body.

      Agree, and this is what I try to stress (no pun intended) in Clear for Life. To learn to accept yourself even with acne. If you can’t do that, then you’ll never be free from acne – even when you get clear, you’ll be afraid of acne coming back.

  16. Not sure I believe there is no relationship between liver function and acne. Have dealt with acne for 50 yrs. 3 mos. ago I started taking silymarin for elevated liver function. My acne has disappeared about 99% for first time ever. When I ran out it reappeared and then disappeared when I resumed taking again. Don’t know why, but don’t care as long as it works. Only time will tell if it continues to work.

    • I’m happy that you found something that works for you. I strongly suspect it has nothing to do with the liver. It’s a myth that sillymarin somehow boosts liver function and detox. There’s data to show it can protect the liver in people who are poisoned and undergoing heavy detox, but this doesn’t mean it would do anything for people with healthy livers – and there’s no evidence to show people with acne would have any more liver problems than other people.

      Sillymarin is also a strong antioxidant, and its acne-reducing effects are likely due to this. I wrote covered sillymarin and other antioxidants and why they reduce acne earlier.

  17. Hi Seppo,

    Came across your blog and was intrigued in your comments, I have been suffering breakouts on and off for many years and just recently I thought it could be my liver but after reading your article, I am interested to hear what your think of my situations, I was a big time sugar eater and would always breakout , when I stopped sugar over 5 years ago skin cleared up and was looking awesome, then I did a gut cleanse suggested by my integrative doctor and that is when my skin went crazy again and now since then I suffer it again constantly, now couple weeks ago I did intermittent fasting for 6 days straight with only water and herb teas, my breakouts disappeared, then I was told to have lemon water in the mornings then celery juice well I did this yesterday morning and bang the breakouts came back a whole heap of them at once, now is this really the liver or what or I am just confused and have been searching for answers for a long time , I would be very much interested in your thoughts on this and how can I be rid of them once and for all, Thank you.

    • Hard to comment based on what you wrote. Gut issues are frequently linked to skin problems, so it’s possible that whatever gut cleanse you did caused more problems than it solved (quite likely, the gut does not need a cleanse).

      I highly doubt that lemon juice and celery in the morning has any real effect on the liver. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that your acne came back at the same time as you started having lemon juice and celery in the morning and the two aren’t linked at all.

  18. Seppo,
    i know this post is old but i would still like to say thank you for this eye opening article.
    I spent so much money going to holistic doctors and it’s always the same song: my liver and bowels are not working properly, causing toxin to eliminate through the skin. So here comes the inevitable black radish supplements and bowel cleanse. It NEVER worked.
    Your argument about accutane and liver function is mind blowing. What an excellent point. Also, i have always found it strange that a 20 year old who eats normally , who does not smoke and does not drink should have such damaged organs. AND if i am eliminating all those toxins through my skin, why is it only coming out on about 2 square inches on my cheeks and not all over my body?
    According to the liver-acne theory, my healthy 20 year old self would look at all those 40 year olds who drink, smoke and take blood pressure and cholesterol medication, and scratch my head why i have acne, and they have clear skin. Wouldn’t their liver be more damaged than mine?
    I would always come out of the appointment feeling ashamed of my dirty, malfunctioning organs! Also, if my organs are so dirty and damaged, shouldn’t i have much more serious health problems other than a few pimples on my cheeks?

    Thanks for letting me rant!
    Great article!!

  19. I used to buy into the “I’m toxic” thinking when I was in my late teens/early 20s. It led to me buying neem and other supplements ($50+ irritating fiber supplement from the Amazon rainforest lol), water fasting, trying out enemas, and avoiding dinner sometimes (excessive fear of foods). Smh

    I think the words “toxins” and “toxic” and “detox” are getting thrown around way too much. It’s really hard on an acne sufferers already fragile self-esteem to now believe that they are toxic. I thought I was disgusting and broken and everyone else with the clear skin was healthier with stronger bodies.

    With all the information I now know, managing acne is a lot easier. No random supplements or other pricey things required. It’s more just daily lifestyle habits. Also trying out gluten/dairy free and it’s pretty easy.

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