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SIGH.....he he, no asking questions is a GOOD thing. I NEVER take anything relating to my health or skin at face value. I listen to people's rants or raves on the product and if I feel it's something that might help me, I research it. I look up articles, look up it's description & ingredients and I talk to those selling the product (could be biased).

You have so many questions I'm not really sure where to begin. ;-) I will start by saying that of course saw palmetto doesn't work for everyone, but WHAT product or supplement has? People immediately jump into taking things and are disappointed when it doesn't work for them and automatically believe it's a useless product. Well, for them it is, BUT for people experiencing certain problems, that product could make all the difference. The KEY is using products that are specifically designed to help YOUR particular problem!

Yes, we all have some form of acne on this board but I guarentee you that we all have dozens of reasons why. For me it is a ongoing hormonal disorder vs. temporary hormonal fluctuations experienced by teenagers and some adults. Therefore, yes I was tested and I was diagnosed PCOS or IR (both have same treatment). I've always known I had a problem and because of my father once being in the military I've been EXTREMELY fortunate to be able to see a doctor whenever I needed to. I'm even more thankful because a year from now, I won't be eligible to claim myself as a dependent so no more free healthcare. However, since I now know what is wrong, I can continue to solve it on my own.

About 5 years ago I was tested (tested 2 years before by an outside endocrinologist but my hospital wouldn't do all the tests) and was put on BC to lower my Free Testorone Level. Within 3 months time, the BC (tri levlen) dropped it by half (it was a 10, went to a 5). A few months later I didn't think it was helping enough so I was put on Spirinolactone to help with my mild hirsutism (no beards or anything) and cystic acne. Wow that really helped. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately ;-) I have a "break out cycle" for 8 months out of the year I break out and the other 4 months (usually end of spring through mid-summer) I have much much fewer breakouts. So the above didn't get rid of my acne 100%.

The reason I took minocycline 2 years ago, was because I went to my hospital's dermatologist so that I could get retinA and Azeliac acid prescribed to me (these were my fav. topicals a few years prior). I tried them and they weren't as helpful as they used to be, so I stopped using them. Meanwhile I was taking the mino (doc just told me it would help) along with some vitamins and herbs, one of which was saw palmetto. Unfortunately my skin started to clear up BUT since it was toward the end of spring...I didn't know if it was due to the end of my break out cycle or something I was taking. Of course considering that I was CLEARER than I've been since childhood, I would have to say it was something I was taking.

The vitamins are great, but I've taken them for years (iodine free) and they don't make THAT much of a difference. The minocycline was very likely to be what helped. I've taken antis before when I was younger (mainly for colds) and I always noticed how beautiful my skin was during treatment. I also know that I continued to breakout after those treatments but I NEVER noticed how badly I did until after I stopped using the Minocycline! Yet I was also on Saw Palm. so I'm not sure which of the two was giving me those results, perhaps it was a combination or perhaps it was the mino, that is what I intend to find out.

In terms of antibiotics affecting one hormonally, I have no idea. All I know is that acne is created topically by a certain bacteria on the skin and that's why antibiotics are prescribed. Or maybe that's not why, but they definately do work (until your body becomes resistant).

Now birth control and spirinolactone and saw palmetto DO affect your hormones. When I stopped taking my BC and spirinolactone last summer (in order to do some clean blood work...hormones needed to be at my "normal" range), I started breaking out more a month after I stopped taking them. Uggh, it's amazing how quickly something you work so hard and looong for can get messed up in just a matter of weeks(ouch). I was diagnosed with what I had previously mentioned, and started taking Avandia and Spirnolactone (no BC because it made me too emotional).

In terms of herbs breaking you out, it depends. If you are allergic to that herb you will know immediately! Otherwise it may take a few days, but if you aren't breaking out more than ususal, I wouldn't stop taking the herb. Some are detoxifiers and may cause you to temporarily breakout so you may want to slowly increase your dosage of those kinds of herbs (to hopefully prevent that). Most herbs take several months to work on problems that you've had for a long period of time (just like prescriptions). Some can work immediately, just like asprin. It just depends on the herb, it's potency, and the problem.

In terms of Saw Palmetto, I've NEVER broken out while taking it or immediately after I've stopped. I've been taking it off and on for the past 2 years, and never had any problems with it. OF course, I get tired of taking things and I get busy and I take so much crap that I have to put them in those daily vitamin containers (so I can carry one days worth in my purse) and if I don't fill them up every week, I'm not likely to take everything for that week....

I wouldn't expect many pharmacists to approve of saw palmetto, but I'm surprised that the herbalists didn't acknowledge it's potential. I say potential because it won't help acne directly, but indirectly! If you have testosterone/androgen sensitivity this could help you, hence helping your acne. I own several books on natural treatment methods, vitamins, and, herbs, plus a book on PCOS and they all say the same thing. I've also researched this on the web and the information is consistant!

Saw Palmetto, is an anti-inflammatory so it could help with cystic acne in that manner. People on Icompact and Soul Cysters have been using this with mostly postive results. Like I've mentioned on other posts this is an alternative to Spirinolactone. It's useful because it's a mild anti-androgen, mildly estrogenic, and a DHT blocker. Therefore it could help decrease unwanted hair growth, acne breakouts, prostate problems, etc. This herb is very useful in reproductive disorders, diabetes, hormonal regulation, etc. Therefore there isn't much of a problem with overdosing (although you can with some herbs). I personally wouldn't know what an overdose amount would be, but because potency (mg and extract%) varies from brand to brand, you should take at least a 400 mg capsule 3x a day (not equivalent but 20 - 30 drops of tincture 4x a day). If you are taking less than that, I'd be surprised if you saw results (some have). Since, it's only a mild anti-androgen you will take more of this herb than you would of the actual drug. That's why I want to take it 6x a day and then I may decrease (just like those who take high amounts of B5 and drop to a maintainence dose)but also, because your body will only digest so much so 6 capsules could be waste.

The ONLY problem I've come across is that in a SMALL percentage of people, this can cause stomach problems. Um not neccessarily pain but like a grumbly indigestion type noises or feelings (used to take Black Cohosh and I always sounded hungry, wasn't extermely effective at relieving my menstrual pain so I stopped). However I haven't heard anyone report on this personally, nor have I experienced it. Hey everything can have a side effect, compared to other drugs or herbs this one is pretty harmless.

I will say that I also take other herbs that are useful for females. When I take them, I take each 3x a day (most herbs are taken that often). So it may also be a combination of the 4, BUT saw palmetto is specifically defined to help those with excess testosterone/androgen levels. These additional herbs are:
Wild Yam (estrogenic, blood purifier, helps with female problems, helps stomach problems)

Fennel (anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, estrogenic, source of Vit. A, aids digestion)

Fenugreek (good for diabetics/lowers blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, good for stomach irritation--could interfere with effectiveness of other drugs).

Herbs have a WIDE variety of uses and sometimes they are better at some things than others. If you find that you are allergic (Don Quai helped my cramps but gave me a rash) or it doesn't work for you, move on to the next one. Herbs that will help acne are those that are tonics, purifiers, anti-inflammatories, anti-biotic, anti-microbial, estrogenic, regulates hormones, and possibly others. Just in that list alone you already have 100s to choose from but these are also disignated to help acne (directly or indirectly):

Garlic
Guggulipid (guggul)
Grape Seed Extract
(Lactobacillus Acidophilus)
Aloe extract
Dandelion Root
Burdock
Bayberry
(zinc, vit. A, C, E, & B5, B6, selenium, niacin, folic acid)
(Chromium GTF polynicotinate & CLA)
(GLA, DHA, Alpha Linoleic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid)
Tea tree oil (external)
Neem Oil (external)
Lavender oil (external)
Calendula
Vitex/Chasteberry (could produce opp. results)
Echinacea
Goldenseal & Oregon Graperoot
Chamomile (internal or external as a toner)
Rose (as a face spritz)
Cabbage (yes this may come in capsules)
(Brewer's Yeast)
(Lecithin)
Stinging Nettle (may be more powerful than Saw Palmetto, lowers blood sugar)

The list goes on, but remember that a change in diet can also play a positive role. Also herbs are usually taken at a minimum of 2-3x a day and some vitamins are taken at min. of 2-4x the normal dosage.

In response to your other question, I absoultely reccommend that if you have insurance you get your hormones tested!!! It's IMPORTANT for you to know if there is truly a hormonal disorder behind this(so you can work on finding appropriate treatments). Acne can be a superficial symptom of a much larger problem and the sooner you find out what it is, the healthier and safer you may be. Testing is interesting though. I had over 30 blood samples drawn, and several urine samples (some were collected at home)in about 3 months time, and I'm actually due to get my blood checked to make sure those meds aren't causing problems. While I don't feel sick, Avandia can cause problems and you would not now it (metaformin made me feel sick after a few months).

My final words...I noticed that about Custom Probiotics too. Both they and Friends For Life offer much higher CFUs than Natren. Please let me know how effective it is for you. =)





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