Microbiomes & Your Skin Health
The microbiome is a term for all the bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic things that coexist in your body.
There are two important microbiomes. The gut microbiome is well known and researched – I’m sure you have all heard about probiotics from Danone / Yakult and the “friendly bacteria”?
However, it turns out there is another microbiome for the skin.
When viewed as a whole these microbiomes act like another major organ in your body. Research now reveals that the health and balance of the microbiomes is essential for the health of your skin.
In this article we are going to look at how the gut and skin microbiomes work together.
Most importantly how they directly affect the appearance and health of your skin and how they could hold the secrets to curing or managing skin problems long thought to be almost impossible to cure.
We have simply grouped the article, in no particular order, by specific skin problems and the connection to 1. the gut microbiome and 2. the skin microbiome.
… the gut microbiome
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. It is a hard to treat because it does not respond well to most know skin treatments.
A study of 50,000 Danish patients with rosacea, showed the that many types of intestinal disturbances were higher in patients with Rosacea.  Furthermore studies found an improvement in rosacea symptoms occurred after eliminating a bacteria known as H. pylori 
One important conclusion of the research was that people with gastrointestinal problems who also suffered from rosacea should be refered for investigation into Helicobacter pylori infection (HPI), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. 
… the skin microbiome
In patients suffering from rosacea the balance of microbiota in the skin has been disturbed.
This imbalance allows otherwise harmless microbes, such as the Demodex mite, to multiply out of control. 
In fact, it has been found that inflammation of the skin in rosacea closely correlates with the density of mites on the skin. 
The Demodex mites may also exacerbate the situation by making the skin more susceptible to common causes of inflammation like sunlight, alcohol, hormones and other bacteria.
It has been shown that regular washing with alkaline soap reduced the Demidex mite population.
.. gut microbiome
The root causes of this life-long problem are rooted in infancy and early childhood.
Not only is eczema closely connected to the correct microbiome development but research is now seeing how it influences other organs, such as the lung, brain, and skin. Possibly uncovering the common link between Eczema and Asthma which often occur together.
Studies found that treatment of the gut with certain lactobacilli in mice significantly changes their overall skin phenotypes – a discovery that may well explain the results of studies into Staphylococcus aureus and Eczema ( see below ). 
Other observations of patients with Atopic Eczema found a correlation between high levels of gut bacteria – Clostridia, Clostridium difficile, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus and lower than normal levels of Bifidobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Bacteroides. 
… skin microbiome
Research in the U.S. uncovered a direct connection between Eczema flare-ups and a skin microbiome imbalance of bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.
They noticed that this bacteria was found in higher than normal concentrations on skin affected by Eczema. They also noted that there were lower concentrations of the cells that assist in building up skin barriers.
By increasing levels of other bacteria on the skin the levels of Staphylococcus aureus was controlled which prevented flareups. 
.. gut microbiome
Studies found that people who have psoriasis of the skin or psoriatic arthritis have a less diverse range of intestinal bacteria. This also appears to be linked to a higher chance of getting irritable bowel syndrome and gut inflammation.
A number of important bacterial types were present in lower than expected levels including – Coprococcus spp. Akkermansia, Ruminococcus, and Pseudobutyrivibrio. 
To test these observations a supplement based therapy using Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 was made on psoriasis patients over an eight week period. 
The results of the study showed an increase in:
- C-reactive protein – produced in blood plasma in response to inflammation
- TNF-alpha – a cell signaling protein involved in systemic inflammation
- IL-6 – an anti-inflammatory small protein
.. gut microbiome
In a 2014 study rats were given Lactobacillus brevis . The study noticed a significant decrease in transepidermal water loss. 
In 2014 a 12 week study was conducted on humans to test the effects of bacteria L. brevis SBC8803 supplements.
At the end of the study they found that participants had significantly decreased skin water loss.
Separate studies also found there were big improvements on skin barrier function. Test subjects who took supplements of Lactobacillus paracasei over a 2 month period had reduced skin sensitivity and water loss. 
Test on bacteria L. helveticus also had very positive effects on skin moisturisation levels.
.. gut microbiome
More than 70 years since dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury suggested the connection between the gut microbiome, emotional states and acne.
A study was made of 13,000 teenagers suffering with acne. Researchers noticed that those with gastrointestinal symptoms and abdominal bloating were 37% more likely to have acne and other skin problems .
The inital observations noted that 40% of those with acne have hypochlorhydria an excess production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. 
This increased acidity level affects the environment in which beneficial bacteria can florish.
The unhealthy stomach acid production can lead to “small intestive bacterial overgrowth” [ SIBO]. Specific studies into SIBO and acne vulgaris have not yet been made. However, other studies have shown that patients with acne rosacea are 10 times more likely to have SIBO.
They proposed the use of organisms such as Lactobacillus acidophilus c and Bacillus acidophilus with cod liver oil – a probiotic.
.. skin microbiome
Disturbed bacterial colonies in the skin is thought to be the main cause of acne. 
A study of the skin microbiome in healthy patients and patients with acne was made. They found that although the levels of the Propionibacterium acnes were similar in healthy and acne skin that certain “variant strains” were closely associated with acne skin and others with healthy skin. A strain is a “genetic variant or subtype of a microorganism “.|
 Egeberg A, Weinstock LB, Thyssen EP, Gislason GH, Thyssen JP. Rosacea and gastrointestinal disorders: a population-based cohort study. Br J Dermatol. 2017
 Tüzün Y, Keskin S, Kote E. The role of helicobacter pylori infection in skin diseases: Facts and controversies. Clin Dermatol. 2010;
 Horii Y., Kaneda H., Fujisaki Y., Fuyuki R., Nakakita Y., Shigyo T., et al. (2014). Effect of heat-killed Lactobacillus brevis SBC8803 on cutaneous arterial sympathetic nerve activity, cutaneous blood flow and transepidermal water loss in rats. J. Appl. Microbiol. 116 1274–1281.
 Zhang H, Liao W, Chao W, Chen Q, Zeng H, Wu C. et al.Risk factors for sebaceous gland diseases and their relationship to gastrointestinal dysfunction in Han adolescents. J Dermatol. 2008;35:555–61. doi: 10.1111/j.1346-8138.2008.00523.x
 Scher JU, Ubeda C, Artacho A, Attur M, Isaac S, Reddy SM, Marmon S, Neimann A, Brusca S, Patel T. Decreased bacterial diversity characterizes the altered gut microbiota in patients with psoriatic arthritis, resembling dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel disease. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015
 Groeger D, O’Mahony L, Murphy EF, Bourke JF, Dinan TG, Kiely B, Shanahan F, Quigley EM. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 modulates host inflammatory processes beyond the gut. Gut Microbes. 2013
 Gao Z, et al. Substantial alterations of the cutaneous bacterial biota in psoriatic lesions. PloS one. 2008
 62. Georgala S, et al. Increased density of Demodex folliculorum and evidence of delayed hypersensitivity reaction in subjects with papulopustular rosacea. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV. 2001
 Bojar RA, Holland KT. Acne and Propionibacterium acnes. Clinics in dermatology. 2004
Cactus Juice – A Super-Food
Cactus juice is used in traditional medicine around the world and has recently been “discovered” as a super-food by natural health communities.
The fruits are very popular in countries like Morocco and Mexico where they are eaten, used in cooking or made into a juice. Opuntia cacti can be found in many forms including dehydrated sheets, powdered preparations and micro-encapsulated juices.
The health benefits claimed for cactus have been the subject of many studies.
The most popular benefits are for:
– Diabetes – Blood Sugar Control
– Powerful Anti Aging Anti-Oxidant
– Cholesterol level Reduction
– Anti-Inflammatory Effect
|Ultimate Guide to Cactus Seed Oil|
Fruit and juice is rich in many compounds such as polyphenols, carotenoids, flavonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin and taurine.
It is high in fibre and contains a wide spectrum of vitamins including:
Folates , Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, Thiamin Vitamin C, A, E & K.
It also contains electrolytes and minerals such as:
Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium,Manganese, Phosphorus, Selenium, and Zinc.
One prickly pear fruit has approximately 1 gram of fat and protein, 5 mg of sodium, 42 calories, 10 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of fibre.
Diabetes – Opuntia streptacantha / Opuntia robusta Cactus
Single doses of prickly pear cactus was found to decrease blood sugar levels by 30mg/dl in as little as 30 minutes to three hours. [2, 5,6,7]
Regular use of this cactus juice by diabetics was observed to help stabalise blood sugar levels and even prevent type II Diabetes.
The effect is the result of the high fibre and pectin content of cactus juice. The hire fibre content helps slow carbohydrate absorption in the stomach and intestine to reduce postprandial rises in serum insulin and blood glucose in type-II diabetes.
For the study cactus fruits were prepared by broiling prickly pear cactus then .
Notes: If taken with Diabetes medication blood sugar levels should be carefully monitored to avoid hypoglycemia.
A Powerful Anti-Oxidant Drink
The juice of prickly pear cactus is high in anti-oxidants that help combat the aging process.
It is rich in vitamins C, E and A, iron, calcium, carotenoids and quercitin – a group of antioxidant nutrients that in combination have a more powerful effect than vitamin C alone.
The juice also has a rare antioxidant called Betalain which helps counter damaging free radicals in the body. 
A 2001 study using an ethanol extract of cactus Opuntia ficus-indica found that it showed potent anti-inflammatory action. and that “an active anti-inflammatory principle has been isolated and identified as beta-sitosterol”.
Another research project in June 2015 also concluded that: “The fruits of Opuntia produced analgesic and anti-inflammatory action in a dose-dependent manner.”  This may be due to the presence of betacyanin and/or other phenolic compounds.
Nopal cactus plants were tested for their anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties by the University of Las Palmas in Spain. The study also identified a pain-relieving effect of the prickly pear cactus juice. 
Cholesterol & Cardiovascular
Cactus juice is a rich source of soluble fibre, which is found to reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the body. It also reduces the oxidation of fat, helping to combat atherosclerosis.
A French study in 2007  using a dried cactus leaf powder found “significant increases in HDL-C levels” and “decreased triglyceride levels”.
They concluded that taking Opuntia in dietary supplements and foods could improve blood lipid parameters associated with cardiovascular risks.
Another medical study in 2003 asked subjects to eat prickly pear cactus for six weeks. They found that regulation of LDL cholesterol by these patients was significantly better.
How to Prepare your Own Cactus Juice
You can make juice from the pad vegetable part and also the cactus pear fruit.
Cactus fruits are best made into juice when they are a dark red to purple colour.
Carefully remove all the spines. Next remove the outer layer of the skin on the top and bottom of the fruit, cut it open, and put into some water to boil.
When the pulp has become very soft take the fruits out to strain the seeds and pulp to extract the cactus juice.
Recipe: Prickly Pear Cactus Juice Smoothie
½ cup prepared nopal cactus fruits
Juice if 1 lime
Cup of water
Prepare the fruits by removing the spines and washing.
Blend all the ingredients adding water to create the desired thickness.
Cactus juice / smoothie is best drunk first thing in the morning.
This way it works to boost metabolism, help flush toxins from the body, hydrate and boost fibre levels.
The juice is often used as an ingredient with grilled peppers, onions, soups, stews and salads.
 Castaneda AI, Gonzalez SJ, Frati MAC. Hypoglycemic effect of an Opuntia streptacantha Lemaire dialysate. J Prof Assoc Cactus Dev. 1997;2:73–75.
 Hegwood D.A. Human health discoveries with Opuntia sp. (prickly pear) HortScience. 1990;25:1515–1516.5. Livrea M.A., Tesoriere L. Antioxidant Activities of Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus indica) Fruit and Its Betalains, Betanin and Indicaxanthin. In: Packer L., Nam O.C., Halliwell B., editors. Herbal and Traditional Medicine: Molecular Aspects of Health. Marcel Dekker; New York, NY, USA: 2004. pp. 537–556.
 Livrea M.A., Tesoriere L. Antioxidant Activities of Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus indica) Fruit and Its Betalains, Betanin and Indicaxanthin. In: Packer L., Nam O.C., Halliwell B., editors. Herbal and Traditional Medicine: Molecular Aspects of Health. Marcel Dekker; New York, NY, USA: 2004. pp. 537–556.6. Ibanez-Camacho R., Meckes-Lozoya M., Mellado-Campos V. The hypoglycemic effect of Opuntia streptacantha studied in different animal experimental models. J. Ethnopharmacol. 1983;7:175–181. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(83)90019-3. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]7. Trejo-Gonzales A., Gabriel-Ortiz G., Puebla-Perez A.M., Huizar-Contreras M.D., Munguia-Mazariegos M.R., Mejia-Arreguin S., Calva E. A purified extract from prickly pear cactus (Opuntia fuliginosa) controls experimentally induced diabetes in rats. J. Ethnopharmacol. 1996;55:27–33. doi: 10.1016/S0378-8741(96)01467-5. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
 Fernández M.L., Lin E.C.K., Trejo A., McNamara D.J. Prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) pectin reverse low density lipoprotein receptor suppression induced by a hypercholesterolemic diet in guinea pigs. J. Nutr. 1992;22:2230–2340. [PubMed]9. Munoz-de-Chavez M., Chavez A., Valles V., Roldan J.A. The nopal: A plant of manifold qualities. World Rev. Nutr. Diet. 1995;77:109–134. [PubMed]
 Park E.H., Kahng H., Lee S.H., Shin K.H. An anti-inflammatory principle from cactus. Fitoterapia. 2001;72:288–290. doi: 10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00287-2. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
 Effect of prickly pear (Opuntia robusta) on glucose- and lipid-metabolism in non-diabetics with hyperlipidemia–a pilot study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12503475
 Prickly pear induces upregulation of liver LDL binding in familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14600931
 Nutritional components and anti-oxidant capacity of ten cultivars and lines of cactus pear fruit (Opuntia spp.) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096399691100144X
TOP 10 Fruits and Vegetables You Should Be Buying Organic
A recent documentary revealed that breast milk still contained traces of DDT, a pesticide, 30 years after it was banned!
Scientists opinions differ. One side independant studies offer strong evidence for links between chemical contamination and diseases – particularly for children.
On the other side studies industry funded groups and government departments usually conclude there is no evidence!
It is a huge subject which is well outside the scope of our article.
Here are 3 of the suspected risks with links to the full studies given below.
1 Increased Cancer Risk Risk of Childhood Cancers in Agriculturally Intense Areas 
2 Reduction of IQ in children 
3 Impaired brain and nervous system functions and pesticide exposure during development .
Important note about baby food preparations.
There was an incredible variation in the levels of toxins in baby food preparations.
The following flavours were tested and the result are shown here:
- Pear – 26 pesticide & chemical residues
- Apple Sauce – 19 pesticide & chemical residues
- Peach – 22 pesticide & chemical residues
- Sweet Potato – 1 pesticide & chemical residues
- Cabbage – 11 pesticide & chemical residues
- Mushrooms – 11 pesticide & chemical residues
- Carrot – 3 pesticide & chemical residues
- Green Bean – 9 pesticide & chemical residues
Please note that data was based on U.S. data. Data from the E.U. is expected to be considerably lower and result for E.U. foods will be added shortly.
Natural Ways to Support Healthy Eyes for Better Eyesight
Skin is not the only concern as we age.
Another serious side-effect of the aging process is deterioration in the quality of vision.
Blurry vision, increased long and short-sightedness, poorer night vision.
All of these are symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration known as AMD.
This is a deterioration is a loss central vision.
There are two types of AMD.
1. Dry AMD
– Needing more light for close-up work
– Blurring of vision
– Reduction in intensity of color
– Blurred spots in the centre of your field of vision.
2. Wet AMD
– Distortion of Straight lines that may appear wavy
– Object size and depth perception problems
– A partial loss of central vision and blind spots
Your optician will probably tell you there is nothing you can do about this. However, many studies show that there are Herbs, Juices and supplements that can help improve and sustain eyesight. These herbs and foods that be be taken as delicious Herbal Teas, fresh Juices, Foods or supplements that help maintain healthy eyesight.
Here is our list of the top 9 herbs and foods to get into your diet to help strengthen your eyesight.
First a Note About Making Fresh Juices & Herbal Teas
Regardless of health benefits, which are many, making fresh vegetable, fruit or wheat-grass juices and drinking herbal teas makes a great alternative to coffee and black tea.
There are two points to note.
1. Only use Organic foods or herbs where possible. Foods that have been grown with fertilisers and pesticides take up these chemicals. By juicing you may be concentrating these into higher doses.
2. There are two types of juicers. The cheapest and most easily found is a centrifugal juicer. However, for better results, higher juice extraction and the ability to juice super foods like wheat-grass or greens you should look for a macerating juicer. They will usually yield around 20% more juice.
#1 Bilberry & Berry Fruit ( Vaccinium Myrtillus – Vaccinium Australe )
Bilberry is rich in anthocyanidin and can help improve vision at and in the dark by boosting regeneration of the purple element of the retina.
Studies concluded that they can improve night vision by boosting retinal pigments by increasing blood circulation in the retina.
This also means they are benefit in treating diabetic retinopathy, and improving or even preventing glaucoma, cataracts and retinitis pigmentosa. 
To use Bilberry to help strengthen eyesight eat about half a cup of ripe bilberry fruits a day or enjoy a Herbal Bilberry tea.
Other berry fruit such as, black current, blue berries, raspberries, also have high levels of flavinoids and anthocyanidin that help to strengthen eyes.
It is also interesting to not that studies of 90 000 women in the UK found that women eating 3 or more portions of berry fruit a week had a 32% lower rate of heart attacks.
NOTE: Do not use Bilberry or Grape seed without consulting your doctor if you take blood thinners or any medication that decreases blood clotting or if you suffer from low blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or blood clots. You should also not use Bilberry if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Suggested Supplement Dose
160 mg of standardised bilberry extract two times a day around twice a week.
#2 Carrots, Beta Carotene & Vitamin A
Even your optometrist will probably agree that ensuring a good supply of Vitamin A will benefit your vision.
Your body uses beta-carotene from foods to make vitamin A. It is vitamin A is central in helping your eyes to convert light and send that information to the brain. It is present in many foods such sweet potato, sweet red peppers and greens and in supplements. The most pleasant and easy way to ensure a good extra supply is probably by drinking fresh carrot juice.
Use a centrifugal juice extractor or better still a macerating juice extractor to juice about 2 medium, organic, just as din and can help improve vision at and in the dark by boosting regeneration of the purple element of the retina.
Studies concluded that:
Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) enhanced intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) ( Omega 3 Fatty Acids ) and reducing dietary glycaemic index (dGI) ( carbohydrate foods that affect blood sugar levels ) will be of good effect protecting against age-related macular degeneration.
#3 Lutein and Zeaxanthin & Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Many studies have shown that getting high levels of nutrients Lutein and Zeaxanthin in your diet is essential and will have a strong effect on preventing macular degeneration.
The best sources include dark green, leafy vegetables. For juicing leafy vegetables a macerating juicer is the best choice.
Good sources for these nutrients are kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, Swiss chard and Spirulina.
Zeaxanthin gives colour to paprika saffron and many other plants and was found to have a string positive effect to prevent loss of eyesight due to age. It can also help with general eye problems such as cataracts.
A study on a group of 23 70 year olds suffering from poor vision was undertaken in in Italy. Participants took 20 milligrams of saffron each day for just 3 months. In this short time researchers found an improvement in visual sharpness and doubling of photo-receptor response.
#5 Chicory (Chihorium intybus, Cichorium endivia)
Chicory root is widely recommended as an excellent natural treatment for problems with your eyesight and especially blurred vision.
Although we were unable to find any specific studies into this it is suggested the best way to use Chicory is to combine with other juices.
In addition Chicory is highly beneficial as a natural Diabetes treatment. This is because contains inulin and this helps maintain blood sugar levels. It also reduces levels of bad LDL cholesterol levels in blood.
#6 Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo is known to improves circulation and eye blood flow and is rich in flavinoids which may also help AMD.
This herb also helps protect against glaucoma and may also benefit people with retinopathy. 
Around 80-mg standardised extract if ginkgo bilboa 2 to 3 times a day.
NOTE: Do not use Ginko Bilboa without consulting your doctor if you take blood thinners or any medication that decreases blood clotting .
#7 AREDS formula
This is a supplement formula produced by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).
They recommend taking:
Vitamin C (500 mg per day)
Vitamin E (400 IU per day)
Beta-carotene (15 mg per day, or 25,000 IU of vitamin A)
Zinc (80 mg per day)
Copper (2 mg per day, to prevent copper deficiency that can occur when taking extra zinc)
This combination of vitamins was found to help slow the progression of intermediate to advanced macular degeneration. The National Eye Institute recommends that “people with intermediate AMD in one or both eyes or with advanced AMD (wet or dry) in one eye but not the other” take this formulation each day.
They also state that this combination of nutrients did not slow prevent early signs of AMD.
#8 Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Studies show that Omega 3 play an important role in preventing AMD.
People who are one portion or more of oily fish per week had a 50% reduction of the risk of AMD. 
#9 Milk Thistle
In natural medicine your eyes and liver health are linked. Milk Thistle is one of the best herbs to support your liver function as it is rich in Silymarin.
Add Milk Thistle to your diet as a supplement as teas will not contain enough active ingredient.
This herb is said to improve liver function and boost glutathione. Studies show that a low glutathione level is linked with AMD. 
NOTE: Milk Thistle affects the liver function. Consult your doctor if you are taking any medication, have any history of hormone-related cancers. Do not take milk thistle if you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow, or daisies.
Do not use Milk thistle if your are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Take 150mg 70% standardised extract 2 to 3 times per day.
 Camire, M. E., Bilberries and blueberries as functional foods and nutraceuticals, in: Herbs, Botanicals & Teas, Technomic Publishing Company, Lancaster, PA 2000, pp. 289 – 319.
 Fies P, Dienel A. [Ginkgo extract in impaired vision – treatment with special extract Egb 761 of impaired vision due to dry senile macular degeneration]. Wiedn Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):423-6.
 Evans JR. Ginkgo biloba extract for age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jan 31;1:CD001775. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001775.pub2. Review.