What Causes Diarrhea in Adults and How to Stop It

Diarrhea can take control of your life. I’m not talking about the average tummy bug kind of diarrhea. I’m talking about the type of diarrhea that lasts for days, weeks, months, or even years…chronic diarrhea. 

Diarrhea can disrupt the rhythm of your daily life, and take a real toll on your body. But, the good news is that you do not have to live with chronic diarrhea! Diarrhea is a treatable medical condition. Together, we can uncover what’s causing your diarrhea, help to treat your symptoms, and get you back on the road to good health. 


Diarrhea Symptoms

Passing loose, watery stools three or more times per day is the primary symptom of diarrhea. Other symptoms can accompany diarrhea including:

  • Belly bloating
  • Cramping
  • An urgent need to use the bathroom
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain 

Some people can experience more severe symptoms including:

  • Blood or mucus in your stools
  • Fever or chills
  • Vomiting
  • Light-headedness or dizziness 


What Causes Diarrhea?

There are a variety of factors that can cause diarrhea. Temporary diarrhea, lasting one to two days, can result from a viral infection, the food you ate or traveling. 

On the other hand, chronic diarrhea can indicate a more serious problem. The most common causes of chronic diarrhea include inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), chronic infections, and malabsorption syndromes (cystic fibrosis, Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, etc.)  in which food is not digested and absorbed. 

Chronic diarrhea is a common complaint amongst our patients. Below are seven of the most common causes of chronic diarrhea that we treat including gallbladder removal, IBD, gut dysbiosis or pathogen imbalance, histamine intolerance, gluten intolerance or Celiac, dairy intolerance, and SIBO. 


1. Gallstone or surgical removal of the gallbladder

Frequent loose, watery stools after having gallstones or having your gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy) is common. The gallbladder collects bile to release when you eat aiding in the digestion of fats. Removing the gallbladder takes away the main storage site for your bile acid. Instead, the bile acid is stored in the gut causing it to be less concentrated and drain into the intestines. Once in the intestines, it can have a laxative effect making stools looser. 

GI transit times can also be altered after gallbladder surgery causing transit times to decrease in the small intestine and accelerate in the colon. This impairs the body’s ability to absorb water from your stool leading to looser, watery stools. 

2. IBD

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and other types of colitis (microscopic or lymphocytic colitis), are diseases of chronic inflammation. IBD causes tissue destruction and inflammation of the bowel walls limiting the body’s ability to absorb fluids. This results in loose, watery, or even completely liquid stools. 

Patients with IBD may experience frequent and urgent bowel movements because fluid moves more rapidly through the intestine. You may also see blood in or on the stool and experience extreme weight loss, anemia, fever, and loss of appetite.

3. Gut Dysbiosis or Pathogen Imbalance 

Gut dysbiosis is a generic term for an imbalance in gut flora. Our digestive tract contains a delicate balance of different kinds of bacteria. When one species becomes overgrown or gets wiped out, the balance is thrown off leading to diarrhea along with many other symptoms. 

There are several pathogens known to cause gut dysbiosis including bacterial, yeast, parasites, and viral pathogens.

  • Acute Bacterial Pathogens: The most common bacterial organisms to cause diarrhea include: e coli, shigella, Campylobacter Jejuni, Citrobacter, yersinia enterocolitica, salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Chronic bacterial toxins like those secreted by C Difficile can also lead to diarrhea. Older adults in healthcare facilities, like hospitals or nursing homes, or who have recently been on antibiotics, are more at risk for contracting C Difficile.
  • Yeast and Fungal Overgrowth: Rapid growth of Candida (a yeast) and cryptococcus (a yeast-like fungus) in the GI tract can lead to diarrhea, especially after antibiotic use.
  • Parasites: Intestinal parasites including giardia, entamoeba histolytica, Cryptosporidium Parvum, and Protozoan parasites like blastocystis hominis, Cyclospora, Dientamoeba Fragilis, Entamoeba coli, and endolimax nana can cause diarrhea. Parasitic infections are often, but not always, marked by stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, and watery diarrhea. 

4. Histamine Intolerance

Histamine is a chemical that notifies the brain when to release stomach acid for digestion. And, it is part of our response to injury or an allergic reaction. Histamine intolerance occurs when the body is unable to break down enough of it in the intestines, causing histamine levels in the blood to rise. 

Histamine intolerance can result from a multitude of factors including a combination of genetics, and a leaky gut. This leads to decreased secretion of DAO enzyme (used to break down histamine), liver detox overburden, and dysbiosis. 

5. Gluten Intolerance or Celiac 

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, can cause inflammation in the gut and can change the structure of the gut wall. For people with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, gluten can cause chronic diarrhea along with other GI symptoms. 

6. Dairy

Dairy products contain three components that can cause diarrhea: lactose, whey, and casein. 

Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactase, a sugar found in milk products. Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not make enough of the digestive enzyme lactase. This condition is common in adults with a genetic predisposition or after an injury, disease, or infection of the small intestine. Lactose intolerance causes diarrhea by increasing the volume of water in the colon, which in turn increases the volume and liquid content of the stool.

Casein and whey, the two proteins in milk products, can cause an allergic reaction when the body thinks the protein is harmful. Most people with an allergy to casein or whey have symptoms that appear as infants and outgrow them with age. However, patients with gut wall damage can experience dairy protein intolerance with diarrhea and other GI symptoms. 


SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Normally, the small intestine contains fewer bacteria than the large intestine and is focused on food absorption. For many who have SIBO, diarrhea is a common symptom.  

How is Chronic Diarrhea Diagnosed

The key to diagnosing chronic diarrhea is to uncover the underlying root causes so that we can address them and prevent future relapses. Common tests for patients with chronic diarrhea may include:

  • Comprehensive Stool Microbiome Testing – A stool sample can be used to evaluate the root cause of digestive tract issues. Functional medicine stool tests provide information about absorption, digestion, yeast overgrowth, bacterial imbalance, parasite infection, inflammation, metabolic activity, and immune function.
  • SIBO Breath Testing with both lactulose and fructose for best accuracy 
  • Blood Test – Specific blood tests can help identify celiac disease antibodies and yeast antibodies. 
  • Imaging – Imaging can include endoscopy, colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy and is generally used to diagnose or rule out Inflammatory Bowel Disease or structural issues as a driver for symptoms.  


Natural Remedies and Treatments for Diarrhea

The challenging part of treating diarrhea is that there is not a one size fits all treatment plan. Many mild cases of diarrhea will resolve on their own. But, for more severe, chronic cases of diarrhea there are a variety of natural remedies and treatments available.


Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD):

The SCD diet is incredibly effective at stopping urgent, frequent bowel movements. This is for you if you run to the bathroom 10 to 20 times per day. The SCD diet focuses on removing carbohydrates that are not fully digested and remain in the gut leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.  It is particularly helpful for my patients who have Crohn’s disease, celiac, ulcerative colitis, and chronic diarrhea.

Download a free guide to properly starting the SCD diet from the team at Healthy Gut.

Starch and Meat Diet:

A starch and meat diet is an alternative to the SCD diet that works for some people. This whole-food diet is focused on eating foods like white rice, white potatoes, meat, fish, and poultry. Like the SCD diet, this diet limits all processed and canned foods. 

Diet Considerations During Flare-Ups:

Curing the cause of chronic diarrhea can take time. And, flare-ups happen. During diarrhea flare-ups keep these diet considerations in mind.

  • Be cautious with fruit, except for bananas
  • Raw vegetables can be hard to digest and cause GI upset
  • High amounts of fats and oils can be difficult for a sensitive digestive system. Limit high-fat foods like egg yolks, cream, oils, and bacon.

Many other diets (low FODMAP, Low Histamine, Low Salicylate, Low Oxalate, or Autoimmune Paleo) can be useful for the treatment of diarrhea depending on the underlying causes.


Stress Reduction

Have you ever had to run to the bathroom before a presentation or a big event? That’s your gut responding to stress! Increased levels of stress can cause changes to your gut motility, which means that your body can slow down or speed up food processing based on your levels of stress. 

Active stress relief activities are a critical component of naturally treating diarrhea. Try watching a funny movie, taking an Epsom salt bath, meditating, or practicing moderate exercise daily.  



Many of your body’s metabolic processes occur during the night, including digestion. And, sleep provides your body the much-needed energy for digestion to happen.

A few nights of poor sleep might not have a major impact on your GI health. But, chronic insomnia or poor sleep can impact your GI and contribute to your chronic diarrhea.



Depending on the cause of your diarrhea, a variety of supplements may be beneficial to you. I often incorporate the following supplements into my patient’s treatment plans. 

Digestive Enzymes:

After eating, enzymes break down the food so that we can absorb the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Without enzymes, larger food pieces remain in our gut and begin to ferment, feeding the bacteria. This can either slow down digestion or speed it way up. 

There has been significant research indicating the successful use of digestive enzymes to support patients with chronic diarrhea. The key to digestive enzymes is taking enough with the right balance of acidity for them to work. It may take some time, but my patients who use digestive enzymes report amazing results!

I recommend Holozyme by Healthy Gut.

High Dose Probiotics:

High-dose probiotics have been shown to balance the gut microbiome and improve intestinal permeability promoting intestinal barrier functions and alleviating many inflammatory responses.

Depending on the cause of your diarrhea, I recommend a variety of probiotics usually containing 250 (or more) organisms daily to help control diarrhea. Below are a few of my go-to probiotics:

  • S. Boulardii, a probiotic yeast strain, is my number 1 go-to for helping alleviate diarrhea, especially if it was a result of antibiotic use. But, in my clinical experience, patients with IBD should proceed with caution with introducing S. boulardii because Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies (ASCA) have been associated with Crohn’s disease. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (Brewer’s/Bakers yeast) is similar enough to S Boulardii that the immune systems of sensitive individuals can cross-react, potentially triggering a symptom flare.
  • Bacillus Claussi, a spore-forming probiotic, is an effective probiotic for treating diarrhea, preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea, and may be viable as the only treatment in some cases of SIBO where tolerated.
  • Bacillus Subtilis is a multifunctional probiotic ideal for preventing the growth of bacteria and enhancing nutrient digestion. HU58, a strain of bacillus subtilis, is used for the management of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in adults.
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (LGG) is one of the most widely used probiotic strains and it is ideal for patients with histamine driving their diarrhea. In addition, there are many well-documented studies showing that LGG is indicated for the prevention and treatment of gastro-intestinal infections and diarrhea.
  • UltraFlora Intensive contains Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, a probiotic strain of lactic acid bacteria that is naturally occurring in the human gut. This probiotic is excellent at decreasing anti-inflammatory symptoms making it ideal for reducing diarrhea in patients with IBS, C. diff, spontaneous colitis, and high E coli levels. 
  • High-dose lactobacillus, found in TheraLac, promotes healthy, rapid growth of all beneficial bacteria that can boost immune health and promote regularity. 

Immunoglobulins or Colostrum:

Immunoglobulins and colostrum help strengthen the body’s natural immune system. While also fighting bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea. I recommend utilizing a bovine-derived serum that is lactose-free to repair and support healthy gut barrier functions.

Chinese Herbal Formulas:

This is far from an exhaustive list of Chinese herbal formulas for diarrhea, but these are three of my favorites to use with my patients. 

  • Shen Ling Bai Zhu San – Usee for poor nutrient absorption, bloating, and/or loose stools.
  • Raise Qi – Helpful for poor digestion, bloating and gas pain, chronic diarrhea, and loose stools.
  • Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San – Ideal for treatment of acute diarrhea or travelers' diarrhea.   


Short-Term Support in a Pinch

When you're in a pinch, it’s always helpful to keep a few diarrhea treatments in your arsenal. I recommend keeping these on hand: 

  • Bismuth Subsalicylate: Also known as Pepto-Bismol, increases the amount of fluid your intestines can absorb while reducing inflammation and overactivity of your intestines. Note that both liquid and chewable Pepto-Bismol may contain fermentable sweeteners. Follow the label for dosage.
  • Imodium: Imodium works to slow motility for sudden diarrhea. Follow the label for dosage.


I Can Help Identify the Cause of Your Diarrhea and Get You Back on the Path to Good Health

Are you ready to troubleshoot your chronic diarrhea? Get a better understanding of your digestive health and the natural approach to resolving diarrhea once and for all, by booking a free 15-minute call with me. 

If after the call you come on board as a patient, your clinician will order the best tests for your specific situation, and develop a unique treatment plan so that you can get back on the road to good health.



 "Symptoms & Causes of Diarrhea | NIDDK." https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diarrhea/symptoms-causes. Accessed 31 Mar. 2022.

 "GI-MAP® Interpretive Guide - Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory." https://www.diagnosticsolutionslab.com/sites/default/files/u16/GI-MAP-Interpretive-Guide.pdf. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.

"Histamine: The Stuff Allergies are Made of - MedlinePlus." 1 Apr. 2019, https://medlineplus.gov/medlineplus-videos/histamine-the-stuff-allergies-are-made-of/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.

"Enzyme therapy for functional bowel disease-like post-prandial ...." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6910206/. Accessed 12 Apr. 2022.

"Probiotics for infectious diarrhea - PMC - NCBI." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1773578/. Accessed 19 Apr. 2022.

"Bacillus clausii - The Probiotic of Choice in the Treatment of Diarrhoea." https://www.longdom.org/open-access/bacillus-clausii--the-probiotic-of-choice-in-the-treatment-of-diarrhoea-2157-7595-1000211.pdf. Accessed 12 Apr. 2022.

 "Bacillus subtilis HU58 and Bacillus coagulans SC208 Probiotics ...." 11 Jul. 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7409217/. Accessed 12 Apr. 2022.

"Towards a better understanding of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG - PMC." 29 Aug. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155824/. Accessed 12 Apr. 2022.

The role of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v in supporting treatment of ...." 25 Jan. 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7882405/. Accessed 12 Apr. 2022.



It Takes Two To Tango: Testing Your Household for Candida Overgrowth and Common Bugs

You’ve done a full lab work-up with a functional medicine provider and found out you’ve got an overgrowth of some bugs. Maybe Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), Candida albicans, and protozoan gut parasites like Giardia.   

You follow your doctor’s treatment program to get rid of these infections. The only problem? The infections stubbornly refuse to go away and your health problems continue.

So why, oh why, won’t your tests and health conditions clear up?

The problem could be someone else living in your household. Maybe it’s your lover. Maybe it’s your child. Maybe it’s another relative who shares utensils and dishes with you. 

The point is, they could be infected, too. And even if you follow your doctor’s recommendations to the letter, if the people living with you are infected but doing nothing about it, you could get re-infected over and over.

The key to getting rid of the unwanted organisms in your body and feeling better is to have everyone in your household tested. 

In this blog post I’ll share the story of one patient I’ll call Carla and her boyfriend, Neal.  I insisted Neal get tested to see if he had the same organisms that infected Carla. When he was tested, the results were interesting, to say the least.  


Carla’s Story: Resolving Pain and Other Problems

Carla’s symptoms began more than 10 years ago, although her health problems became extreme a year ago. She complained of excruciating neck and back pain that became worse a week before and during her period.  

She had extreme fatigue and a history of vaginal and urinary tract infections and now felt a frequent urge to urinate. She also struggled with diarrhea and bloating.  Autoimmune disease ran in her family, specifically her mother. 

To find out what was happening to Carla, I ordered tests. These showed she had a mild H. pylori infection. She had low levels of beneficial bacteria like Clostridia and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. This indicated she had gut dysbiosis, a condition where the good bacteria in the intestines are outnumbered by the bad bacteria.  

She also had mildly elevated levels of the protozoan parasite Giardia intestinalis, as well as some yeast.  


The Big Breakthrough in Pain Relief

One of the big breakthroughs in Carla’s case came when we tested her amino acid levels. Her levels of the amino acid homocysteine were very low. Normally, doctors get concerned about high homocysteine levels, since homocysteine is a red flag pointing toward cardiovascular disease risk and inflammation. 

In Carla’s case, since she wasn’t making enough homocysteine that meant she didn’t have enough of the amino acid methionine, which is recycled from homocysteine.

Methionine is essential for a process known as methylation, which regulates many processes in the body. Methylation is involved in the way your body processes estrogen and histamine. It regulates brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. And you need healthy methylation to detoxify those pesticides, herbicides, or pollution you’re exposed to while eating, drinking, or breathing.    

When your methionine levels are low, you don’t make enough of another important substance known as S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe).  

I gave Carla SAMe and guess what happened? Her pain almost completely resolved! The pain now only showed up right before her periods. She was in tears while she was on the phone with me, saying she had “got her life back.”

That was major progress. But we still had to get the pain to go away completely and to improve gut health, because there was likely an autoimmune component to her problems. That’s when I suggested that we order the same tests for her boyfriend. 


Fungi and Parasites and Bacteria, Oh My!

So why did I insist Neal get tested? It’s because not everybody who has an infection with a pathogenic microbe actually has symptoms. It’s a concept called, “asymptomatic carrier.” People can have H. pylori or Candida and because they have no symptoms, they would never know they had it- until they get tested. 

Whether or not a person has symptoms from a pathogenic bug is determined by a few factors. It has to do with how robust and resilient our immune systems are and how a bug interacts  with our genetics and our health history. Someone who has leaky gut or autoimmune issues from other causes is going to have a much higher tendency to be symptomatic.

Likewise, someone who has any microbiome destruction is less resilient. It’s like an equation. It depends on how resilient we are versus how pathogenic is the bad microbe.

If you’re sick and your sexual partner isn’t, that can still mean that they have  Candida or H. pylori. Candida can be a reservoir for H. pylori, which is why H. pylori is known to be sexually transmitted. H. pylori can live vaginally inside the Candida.

So, if you have oral sex (blush! blush!), guess what?  Your partner has Candida in their mouth and now they  give it to you after you’ve finally gotten rid of your vaginal yeast problem. Or you could give your partner H. pylori. Not the kind of gifts you want to give each other!

H.pylori infects at least 50% of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. Although it can be asymptomatic, it causes so many problems in so many people that when possible, especially when treating kids, I make sure we do our best to get rid of the infection.

Carla’s boyfriend Neal didn’t have any specific H. pylori or Candida symptoms but he did have some health problems that served as red flags.

He had colon issues including diverticulitis. In this condition, pouches in the colon known as diverticula become inflamed and sometimes infected. This leads to abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and changes in bowel habits.  

He’d also had his gallbladder removed. The gallbladder produces bile, which kills bacteria and fungus.

So it wasn’t surprising that his tests revealed some problems.


Testing Carla’s Partner for Intestinal Pathogens

It turns out Neal and Carla had a lot in common. Neal’s test results were similar to Carla’s. He had Giardia. He also had a moderate amount of yeast. In addition, he had a protozoan parasite known as Endolimax nana

Like Carla, he also had H. pylori. And like Carla he had low levels of beneficial bacteria in his GI tract. At the same time, he had high levels of opportunistic bacteria that can lead to an imbalance between the good guys in the gut and the bad—in other words intestinal dysbiosis. We see this a lot in people who have had their gallbladder removed because they lose the protective effect of bile against infections.


Treating for H. Pylori and Parasites

Based on their test results, I treated Carla and Neal in much the same way. Their H. pylori wasn’t particularly pathogenic, meaning they had less harmful strains. Their symptoms also didn’t match what I might see in someone who has a bad H. pylori infection. 

So instead of treating it like an H. pylori overgrowth, I took a more proactive stance. I had them take PyloGuard probiotic to stop H. pylori from going out of control and causing more problems. When H. pylori is left unchecked it can cause gastrointestinal inflammation and symptoms like reflux, gastritis, ulcers, and more. 

PyloGuard is a specific probiotic called  Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17648 known to inhibit H. pylori. It’s an easy-to-take H. pylori treatment—just open one capsule per day in water and sip it. This approach will help you reduce  H. pylori naturally.   

I also treated both of them for parasites, giardia, and yeast. 


Looking to the Future

We’re not done with treatment yet, but we’re seeing a lot of improvement. Carla says her energy is much better and her brain fog has decreased. She had more improvements in her pain after she started taking progesterone. She is a different person.

Prior to beginning the parasite program, Neal complained that his respiratory tract seemed congested. He noticed less congestion after beginning the program.

When Carla first arrived in my office, she was a mess and was at the end of her rope. Now, she’s feeling so much better, which gives her hope and motivates her to take further steps. When you feel even a little bit better you want to keep going. 

As treatment progresses with Carla and Neal, stay tuned for more updates on their progress. 


We’ll Help You and Your Loved Ones

If you’re feeling sick and not getting any better, it’s a good idea to have your household members and sexual partner tested and treated, too. You don’t want to keep getting re-infected.  Book a free 15-minute troubleshooting call with me to find out the best course of action. 

If after the call you come on board as a patient, I’ll order the right tests for you and your loved ones, check for common parasites, Candida, and H. pylori if warranted, and get rid of the root cause of your health problems. That way, we’ll restore your energy and make you feel like yourself again. Your loved ones will also reap the rewards of this approach.


How to Naturally Slow the Aging Process and Get Glowing Skin

One of the most common questions I get is “What do you do for your skin?” And while I have a lot more to share than just “beauty secrets,” this question never annoys me, because truth be told… I am incredibly proud of my skin!

My skin didn’t always look like it does now. This is me at 22 - when I went from clear skin to horrible acne. At the age when most people’s teenage breakouts were ending, mine were just beginning. 


Let’s skip to the good part - here I am today: 

photo of brie photo of brie

So how did I get here? It wasn’t one special product, a miracle facial, or just “growing out of it.” I learned quickly that glowing, clear, youthful skin starts internally. 

Yes, products can be fun (I love my nighttime routine) - but if you want gorgeous skin, you have to start on the inside. 

What finally worked for me was a combination of:

  • Addressing hormone imbalances (I have PCOS)
  • Switching up my diet (I was eating way too many carbs and not enough protein as a vegetarian)
  • Healing my adrenals and gut
  • Using Chinese medicine to speed healing and prevent long-term damage

(Learn more about acne and PCOS here.)

These principles not only helped me clear my skin back then - but now more-years-than-you’d-probably-guess later, they're the same principles I use to keep my skin youthful and glowing. 

Yep - the real “beauty secret” has nothing to do with fancy products, lasers, or needles. It’s all about what’s happening inside! Let’s dig into what really matters for beautiful skin - and how you can achieve it. 


6 Factors that Actually Matter for Naturally Youthful Skin

How our skin ages is about both our genetics and the environment in which those genes exist. That means having good genes isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for caring for your skin - and it also means even if you’re genetically predisposed to less-than-perfect skin, you’re not a lost cause! 

If you want to change the look or feel of your skin, there are 6 factors to focus on:

  • Gut health
  • Oxidative stress & inflammation
  • Hydration
  • Omega 3 & 6 balance
  • Liver health
  • Hormone balance

Let’s go through each of these and explain it a bit and I’ll offer some easy, right-now things you can do to optimize each one.


Factor 1: The Gut

Younger skin literally starts in the gut. As you probably know, the gut isn’t just where food is digested - it’s home to the gut microbiome, a stronghold of beneficial bacteria that play a massive role in the proper function of almost every aspect of the body. 

Research has shown that various species of probiotic bacteria found in the gut impact everything from UV damage and repair to acne. Skin barrier function, hair growth, oil production, and the acidity of skin are all impacted by the bacteria of the gut microbiome. 

A healthy gut - meaning a diverse, healthy microbiome, healthy gut cells, and intact, tight junctions (no leaky gut) - has been proven beneficial in the prevention or treatment of:

  • Inflammatory skin diseases
  • Acne 
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea
  • Aging skin changes
  • Hair loss
  • Some pigmentary disorders

If you have any history of gut symptoms or digestive issues, or a history of skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, or acne, I recommend starting with a comprehensive stool test like GI Map and a Parawellness parasite and pathogen test. With my clients, these tests are often the first step in a customized gut-healing protocol.

If you don’t have digestive symptoms, or have already resolved your digestive issues, the Biome Fx test by Microbiome Labs is a great way to better understand the bacteria living in your microbiome so that you can strategically supplement to tweak and optimize your microbiome for overall well-being, longevity, and glowing skin.


Factor 2: Oxidative Stress & Inflammation

Oxidative stress is what literally kills us all. Oxidative stress occurs when unstable molecules called free radicals outnumber stabilizing antioxidants, creating a state of inflammation and “cellular aging.” Free radicals are created both by your body (as a result of normal metabolism) and are found environmentally in things like pollution and UV light from the sun. 

Research has shown oxidative stress plays a major role in the skin’s aging process both internally and externally. Sun spots, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation are all a direct result of oxidative stress. 

To assess oxidative stress levels in my clients I rely on the ION Panel and Organix Organic Acids testing to assess antioxidant and nutrient levels. 

The best defense against oxidative stress is to minimize free radicals and increase antioxidants. Some easy ways to do that are to:

NAD+ is especially important - it's a coenzyme essential for cellular energy and mitochondrial health, two key factors of anti-aging. If you’ve heard a lot of buzz lately about niacinamide as a skincare ingredient, here’s why: it converts to NAD+ down the line! NAD+ levels naturally decline with age, so supplementing can be especially helpful. I like a liposomal NAD+, which is the best absorbed. 

Vitamin C can be used internally and topically - this one absorbs well through the skin and results show in a matter of weeks.

Because many people have genetic SNPs that impede the transformation of beta carotene (found in plants like carrots) to bioavailable forms of vitamin A, I use a product like Acnutrol or Hi-Po Emulsi D3. (If you’re wondering if this or other genetic SNPs are impacting your health, I can help - book a call to learn how we use data from over-the-counter DNA tests like 23andMe to unlock the next level of health.)

Finally, be sure you’re eating plenty of foods high in antioxidants like:

  • Fatty Fish
  • Avocados 
  • Organic nuts and seeds - especially walnuts and sunflower seeds (for healthy fats, vitamin E, and zinc) 
  • Tomatoes, which contain lycopene
  • Blueberry (and other berries like pomegranate and raspberry)
  • Spinach and other leafy greens
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Green Tea
  • Bone Broth
  • Lemon
  • Turmeric

And don’t forget to make sure you’re getting adequate protein! Proteins are needed to regenerate the skin, protect skin integrity and prevent sagging.


Factor 3: Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!

Almost everyone I work with is chronically dehydrated. Dehydration isn’t just about a lack of water - it’s also about a lack of electrolytes and minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, chloride, and phosphate. Electrolytes help draw water into the skin, deeply hydrating the aquaporins, the intricate system of channels in the skin that control hydration. Without adequate hydration and electrolyte levels, skin becomes dehydrated and looks dull and lifeless.

What can you do about this? Simple: go refill your water bottle! It’s essential that you’re drinking clean, filtered water - I highly recommend a home filtration system like Berkey, which is what I use personally. 

Also consider adding a pinch of natural mineral sea salt or an electrolyte product like BodyBio Electrolytes to your water. 

You might also see skincare products infused with electrolytes, but it’s actually much more efficient to balance electrolytes internally by consuming them. Remember, your skin is an outward expression of your internal health!


Factor 4: Omega 3 & 6 Balance

Omega 3 and 6 are two types of essential fatty acids that can have major impacts on your skin.

Omega 3 regulates the skin’s oil production, balances hydration, and minimizes breakouts and signs of aging, and soothes skin irritation. Research has shown that taking fish oil, a potent source of Omega 3, can help protect against skin cancer and UV damage.

Omega 6 improves skin moisture, firmness and elasticity. It can reduce transepidermal water loss and improve the skin barrier, making it especially beneficial for eczema and dry skin. Research has also shown its anti-inflammatory qualities can help clear acne. 

While Omega 3 and 6 both have benefits, for maximum benefit they need to be in balance. Most people have far more Omega 6 than 3, and need extra support getting balanced. The ION Panel can show you where you are, and 500 mg of Omega 3 or 2 servings of fatty fish per week can help bring balance. If you’re supplementing, I recommend a purified, tested fish oil like Microbiome Labs.


Factor 5: Liver Health and Detox

When you think of skin health, you probably don’t think of the liver - but you should! The liver and the skin are both part of the body’s larger detox system. When the liver becomes overburdened, it often presents through the skin as rashes or eczema, acne, premature or accelerated wrinkling, brownish “liver spots”, and lack of youthful tone and elasticity. 

The liver’s main job is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract to obtain nutrients and remove toxins and waste products from the blood, detoxify chemicals, and metabolize drugs that are secreted into bile for elimination. Today, our livers have to work much harder than they ever have before to detox the slew of chemicals, pesticides, solvents, and plastic-related compounds present in the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, foods we eat and personal products we use every day. Skincare and beauty products in particular often contain estrogen-mimicking chemicals that must be metabolized and eliminated by the liver.

In addition, I see many people struggle with toxins generated from internal pathogens like candida overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, mycotoxins from mold, and viral pathogens. 

Using the ION Panel, I can actually see exactly how my clients’ detox pathways are functioning. Two markers I look at are antioxidant status and organic acids. Having looked at thousands of these results with my clients, I see a direct correlation with antioxidant status and external signs of aging. Those who seem to “not age” usually have the highest antioxidant levels, and those with early signs of aging have the lowest. 

Eating lots of antioxidant-rich foods (see the list above) can help protect your liver cells from damage and allow for completion of phase 2 detoxification by a series of enzymatic pathways in the liver. The antioxidants also help to protect your skin cells from free radicals, and therefore premature aging. 

(Want to learn more about detox? Make sure you’re subscribed to my email list to receive my upcoming deep dive article on detox! Sign up for emails here.)


Factor 6: Hormone Health

This topic is one close to my heart. Your skin health is often a direct expression of your hormone health. One of the most common things I see is a correlation between PCOS and acne, like I experienced personally. You can learn more about PCOS and acne here

But acne is not the only way hormones can affect your skin! Both estrogen and progesterone impact skin integrity as we age. Low levels of these hormones can result in dryness and the appearance of premature signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of tone. Estrogen and progesterone can also impact hyper and hypopigmentation. Low DHEA is another hormone issue I keep an eye out for, as it can slow skin repair.

For suspected hormone issues, I always start with a comprehensive hormone test. My favorite is the DUTCH panel, which gives a far more in-depth and comprehensive look at hormone levels than a typical blood test can. Once we know exactly what the imbalance is, I create a customized protocol to return your hormones to harmony. 


Do This Now For Better Skin

Keeping in mind all the factors discussed, there are some simple steps you can start taking today for better skin:

#1 Optimize Nutrients

Vitamins A, C, D, E, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), calcium, magnesium, biotin, selenium and zinc are some of the most important nutrients for skin health. Vitamin C, zinc, copper, manganese and silica are cofactors for the production of collagen and keratin, which help keep hair and skin supple and strong. Eating a diet with lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies can help provide many of these essential nutrients. 

Two other supplements I recommend are fish oil for Omega 3s and a collagen supplement, paired with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for the best results.

#2 Add Probiotics

Multiple studies have found that specific probiotics can help protect the skin from sun damage. In one study, the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus johnsonii NCC 533 (La1), provided protection from UV rays. In another, probiotics actually reversed existing sun damage.

This is my favorite targeted probiotic for skin health— I take this daily 

#3 Try Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbal formulas have been used to slow aging and stimulate repair for thousands of years. General beauty and anti-aging herbs include goji berries, tremella fungus, green tea, Dong Quai (Chinese Angelica), He Shou Wu, Ginseng (Asian Ginseng), Schisandra, and Pearl Powder. 

For best results, Chinese medicine formulas need to be personalized for your skin conditions and your constitution. A trained Chinese herbalist will assess your skin - is it dry, and easy to wrinkle? That’s a sign you need to nourish Yin. Do you have sagging? That tells us spleen Qi will need support as well. Rashes and redness? Clear heat. This is how custom formulations can be made. (Need help with this? Book a free consultation with my team here.) 


What About Products?

I love skin care products as much as the next girl - but the truth is that products simply aren’t as important as what is going on internally. Products and external practices like microneedling should always be a compliment to what's going on inside.

That being said, here’s some of what I use and recommend:

  • DRMTLGY Needle-Less Serum - this is wonderful for fine lines and collagen! Studies have shown it produces a 15% reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and volume in only 2 weeks and 190% increase in elastin production after 11 days. 
  • DRMTLGY Vitamin C E + F to reduce fine lines, decrease hyperpigmentation and provide strong antioxidant protection. 
  • Skin Saint Tretinol .5% Renewal Serum and The Dream Eye Cream include safe and effective levels of retinol plus vitamin C to reduce dark circles, promote collagen production, and improve fine lines 
  • Anything by Biologique Research - but these products should be prescribed by a licensed esthetician trained in the use of the products. 
  • A high-quality sunscreen (I like Supergoop).
  • I also love microneedling, facial gua sha and cupping. A microneedling tool like this one makes it easy to get started and this is the cupping and gua sha kit I use.

Need more guidance on cupping and gua sha? Watch my three how-to videos below to get started:

Health Looks Good On You

Good health glows - it shows in your hair, nails, mood, and of course, your skin. If you want to look better, you need to start with feeling better!

So if you’re looking in the mirror and not loving what you see… don’t go spend a fortune on new products. It’s not the answer! Instead, consider booking a no-obligation consult with my team. Let’s uncover what isn’t working in your health, right the wrongs, and get you that glowing-from-the-inside look you really want!

>>> Let’s talk! Book a free consult here

Modern medicine does a great job of healing acute diseases, but a poor job of looking at the bigger picture and helping you optimize your health so that your most vibrant version of you can shine. That’s where I can help. Book your free session now to learn more!