What Causes Acne? Part 3- Digestion

In the herbal field, it's common knowledge that all diseases start in the gut. Our digestive system gives the rest of the body energy for various functions, so if this system malfunctions, it can lead to imbalances. It's beneficial to understand this internal process. Read on to learn more.
What Causes Acne? Part 3- Digestion - Sole Toscana

In the herbal field, it's common knowledge that all diseases start in the gut. Our digestive system gives the rest of the body energy for various functions, so if this system malfunctions, it can lead to imbalances.

If your digestive tract is partially responsible for your acne, it could be beneficial to understand what's going on internally.

How can I tell if digestion problems are causing my acne?

It can be a challenge to be sure whether your gut is causing breakouts. However, the following questions could help you eliminate confusion:

  • Do your breakouts occur with no cyclical pattern?
  • Do you notice breakouts happening a day or so after eating certain foods (red meat, sugar, or butter, etc.)?
  • Do you tend to break out before, after, or during times of gastrointestinal irritation?
  • Do the pimples appear in a specific place, for example, the forehead? 
  • Do you have frequent stomach aches or other kinds of gastrointestinal discomfort?

Can digestive imbalances lead to acne?

Yes. There are various ways that our digestive system affects the skin. Let's take a closer look at the digestive process and its connection to breakouts.


If your diet is high in sugar and unhealthy fats, you're not treating your body well. Such an imbalanced diet can create imbalances within your body. Acne is one symptom of this. 


Next, look at how your upper GastroIntestinal tract (the mouth to the stomach) breaks down food. Digestion starts in the mouth through the saliva. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly to make this process easier.

The food then goes to your stomach, where more digestive secretions digest the food further. However, if you don't have enough digestive enzymes, the food goes partially undigested to the lower GI.


In the lower GI (the intestines to the colon), our bodies sort the digested food into nutrients and waste. If there is undigested food in the lower GI, then this section of your digestive system has to take some of the work from the upper GI. 

The system is overworked and can't carry out the metabolism of fats properly. These fats store toxic waste, hormones, minerals, and vitamins. If your body can't break down these fats completely, undigested fats go to the intestines, liver, and blood. 


Your liver receives blood with undigested fats (without the broken down ). It tries to sort the fat into hormones, toxins, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, but inevitably misses some things in the process.

The liver can't keep up with all the demands, so the body creates "collateral veins". These are blood vessels from the intestinal tract that bypass the liver and deposit unfiltered blood into the general circulation of the body.

The blood in these veins has impurities in it, which cause bodily imbalances- such as acne.

How can I heal acne related to digestive problems?

Just as with other acne causes, this one is multi-faceted. You need to find the root cause of the malfunction in your digestive system. Doing this will help solve the problem better and faster than taking guesses.

Here are some of our top tips for dealing with digestion-related acne. However, we still recommend checking in with your doctor to guide you on the best route to take.

glass of cold water

1. Drink water

This point cannot be overemphasized. Water helps your body carry out various functions, one of them being elimination of waste through urine and sweat. Drinking enough water makes waste elimination easier.

2. Keep a food diary

Changing your diet to improve your skin is challenging. Instead of eliminating foods at random, start by recording what you eat for a full week. Note the effects of each food on both how you feel and the number of breakouts. 

If you notice more breakouts when you eat a particular type of food, it's time to say goodbye to it. Note: this might not solve the problem, but it's an excellent first step towards clearing up your acne.

3. Increase the digestion in your upper GI tract.

You can easily do this by taking bitter herbs such as lemon balm.

Probiotic foods also boost your digestive functions. Try out kimchi, sauerkraut, real yogurt, kombucha, fermented pickles, and ginger beer.

4. Heal the lower GI tract.

When your upper GI and liver are healthy, the lower GI functions more efficiently.

Look into including demulcent herbs such as marshmallow in your diet. They coat the lining of the intestines with a gel-like substance, which prevents corrosion of the lower GI.

Herbs that help the liver include burdock and milk thistle. 

5 Eat the right fats 

The types of fats you consume are as consequential as the number of fats you're consuming. Go for healthy fats, such as coconut oil instead of hydrogenated fats in processed food.  

With love,

​The Sole Toscana Beauty Team