[00:00:48] Detective Ev: Hello, my friends. Welcome back to another episode of the Health Detective Podcast by FDNthrive. My name is Evan Transue, AKA Detective Ev. I will be your host for today’s show. We are interviewing a fellow Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, Katie McKersie, about her journey of attacking acne after coming off birth control.
I feel like I say, this is one of my most fun or favorite interviews in a while all the time. Maybe that’s just because they keep getting better and better, or because I believe that every single time. I have no idea. But this one is definitely, truthfully important to my heart, something that I care about very much.
Katie is an Acne Nutritionist based out of Toronto, Ontario. She is someone who has dealt with this stuff as well, not necessarily for 13, 14, 15 years, whatever it was for me (not in a severe way at least). But it came out of nowhere for her. She was on the birth control pill for a while. All of a sudden, she stopped taking the birth control pill, and that is when a whole slew of symptoms began with her.
What I love about Katie is she was highly proactive and just got things under control much faster than most of us do, myself fully included. I think this is a really good sign for the direction that the world is taking. I also think it’s just a huge compliment to her, the fact that she was able to think outside the box so quickly and realize, okay, I need to go do something else.
Important to Share
I need to try something else to really get this under control. Because it really was only a matter of several years before Katie found the functional side and got her health back and got her skin back under control. So, I thought that was amazing. As you guys know, from listening to these interviews, it not only took me over a decade to get this anywhere under control, that’s what it is for most people.
We’ve had people that have exceeded three decades of health issues on this show before they were lucky enough to find the world of functional healthcare. That’s why I can’t stress enough. I will always say it, and I hope that this is not looked at as a promotional thing because yes, it could be that, but it’s a lot more than that.
Please share this. Please leave five-star reviews if you like it. If you get something from this, please let other people know about it. There are people out there that have very serious health issues that are having implications. They’re having implications in their family life, in their friends, in their work, whatever. They need to know about this. Life is way too short.
I say this as a person, who’s actually been through this, the sooner we can know about the information, the better. I am not for forcing anyone to make a choice one way or the other If they want to use just Western medicine or just functional or mix it up together. I think probably the best answer for most people is to mix up both together for at least some period of time on each side. But they have to have a choice.
About Katie McKersie
It’s not fair if they don’t have a choice. If you agree with that, please, a simple five-star review on Apple or Spotify goes a long way. Sharing this with a friend or on social media, it goes a really long way. We’d really appreciate that. I’m sure the people out there who are suffering with the stuff that have no idea that it exists would probably appreciate it too.
So again, just a little summary about Katie. I’ll cover some things twice here. Katie McKersie, founder of Holistico, is an Acne Nutritionist based out of Toronto, Ontario who graduated from FDN in 2020. Since then, she’s already helped hundreds of women all around the world clear their skin from the root cause using nutrition and natural medicine.
She had her own struggles too, with hormonal and digestive related acne after coming off the birth control pill many years ago. She found herself searching for answers that Western medicine could not provide, which ultimately led to her own holistic healing journey. Acne, certainly, as someone who’s dealt with, this is one of those conditions where I’m sorry, Western medicine in general is just not made for this.
The best thing that they can do is mask the symptom, which is, let’s be honest, really ends up happening a lot in the world of Western medicine. But the absolute best-case scenario in Western medicine related to acne is that they mask the symptom. The worst case is it doesn’t work. Your skin gets a lot worse, and you have side effects because of what was given to you.
Acne – Warning Sign from the Body
Acne is the perfect example of the result of what is happening in our modern world. I’m not trying to be ignorant or offensive as someone who’s dealt with this. I do not believe for a second that people should be running around with significant amounts of acne.
It’s a warning sign from the body that we’re pushing a little too hard. Something’s going on. Digestive tracks not functioning right. Our hormones aren’t right. It could be multiple things. And on a side note, it’s really cool how Katie breaks down these different types of acne in the show towards the middle.
Besides the point, it’s one of those conditions where I just don’t see it getting better truly for most people unless they start implementing some of the functional stuff. Not only do we talk about the normal story-based type of thing today, I would actually consider this episode more of an acne intensive because since Katie and I share this, we ended up kind of diverting from the normal route.
Honestly, probably 40 minutes of this show was just questions about acne. What does she think about this? What I think about that. It was really, really cool.
Acne Hurts in More Than One Way
So, without further ado, let’s get to the episode and learn about some acne with Katie McKersie. All right. Hey there, Katie. Thanks so much for being here with us today.
[00:06:40] Katie McKersie: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited.
[00:06:43] Detective Ev: Oh. I am probably, just because of the topic, more excited than I have been in a while. I love all of our guests, that’s not a condemnation towards anyone. But of course, we are all gonna have our bias towards health issues that we’ve struggled with and dealt with.
I know that your niche is literally acne, helping people with that. Oh my goodness. There’s no shortage of a need for that. That is absolutely the case. Also too, I’m so glad to see more people out there serving people with it because it’s one of those things where the aesthetic aspect of it just hurts people so bad mentally that they will end up (and I’ve been here myself), making very poor health choices with how they deal with the acne just to try to feel better, you know, just for the day. Like, I mean, I’m going to go take the Accutane or I’m going to use this really dangerous cream or an antibiotic or whatever. I’m getting ahead of myself for sure.
I can’t wait to dive into that with you. For now, I want to start off with just the same question that we always ask everyone to get these podcasts rolling for the Health Detective Podcast. And what I want to ask is when did your health symptoms start and what did they look like?
Coming Off the Pill – Acne & More
[00:07:45] Katie McKersie: Yeah, obviously a lot, a lot of acne I was dealing with. I think it started a few years ago when I came off of birth control. I just randomly stopped taking my birth control pill because I didn’t have access to get it anymore. Then the acne, like two months after I came off the pill is when I really started to get bad. I remember I lost my period. That was like the first kind of weird thing that I noticed.
I was like, I’m not sure what’s happening here. Then got hit with a ton of digestive issues, like intestinal gas and abdominal pain. Then the kind of crazy painful cystic acne came, and it came with a lot of rosacea as well. So yeah, it was just a few months after coming off of the pill.
When I came off of the pill, I had no idea that it could cause acne or hormone imbalances or anything like that. I was totally uninformed.
[00:08:34] Detective Ev: Yeah, that is not the first time I’ve heard that, especially with the birth control causing so many things once people are off of it. Then even worse, most people that are uninformed go back to the doctor and they’re like, okay, no problem. We’ll get you back on the birth control.
It’s like, oh my goodness. That was not the issue my friends. Like holy crap. Or my favorite (not literally favorite) is mid-20-something-year-old women coming off and, oh, I don’t have a period anymore.
Oh, that’s totally normal. Don’t worry, that happens. I’m like, that is not normal folks. You should be fertile. You should not be off the cycle. Oh my gosh. That’s a podcast in and of itself, alright?
Hair Loss & Panic Attacks
Just to be clear, was the acne like a teenage thing? Oh, sorry, you did say a few years ago that just hit me.
[00:09:15] Katie McKersie: I honestly never had any health issues until coming off of the birth control pill. Even when I was on birth control, I was so, so healthy, clear skin, had so much hair, so much energy, everything was completely normal. Then as soon as I stopped taking it, everything just went to like crap basically.
I remember pulling huge, huge chunks of my hair out and just getting full-blown panic attacks. I’ve never had any like mental health issues before in my life. For me, it all correlated back to the pill. Of course, the doctors were like, no, it has nothing to do with that.
[00:09:44] Detective Ev: So, you get off the birth control pill and I’m guessing, especially as someone who just self-described themselves as healthy most of their life, was having these health issues just in general, kind of like shocking? Where do you go next after that? Were you talking to the doctor or what did those steps look like?
[00:10:00] Katie McKersie: Yeah, honestly, I just remember crying. I had no idea what to do. But I went back to the doctor cause I didn’t even know what a naturopathic doctor was or a functional medicine doctor or anything like that.
I had no idea they even existed to be honest. Then I went back to the doctor, they ran labs and stuff and diagnosed me with a bunch of things. At the end of it, I’ve got diagnosed with PCOS, hypothalamic amenorrhea, SIBO, which is small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, IBS, and I think hypothyroidism shortly after as well.
Finding a Naturopathic Path
I got diagnosed with so many different things and PCOS was the first one. That was the one I was doing the most research into. Everything online was like go keto and all that. They really pushed diet culture. It was kind of hard to navigate through that cause I fell into the whole diet culture thing as well. That obviously did a lot more harm than good for me.
[00:10:47] Detective Ev: I guess what I’m trying to get is the transition to even going to a naturopathic doctor. That’s not something that some people, Katie, will ever do. I’ve talked to people who’ve dealt with health issues for 20 years.
This is a really important question for me, because I want to figure out how we can make a society where people are open to these different types of teachings or ways of dealing with health issues sooner. What was it that transitioned you from the doctor that you were using the birth control with?
I mean, you had to stop, you said, not even by choice. It was just like, oh, well, something happened. Now I can’t take this anymore. How do you end up in a naturopathic office though or online with them? Not everyone’s going to take that route.
[00:11:22] Katie McKersie: Honestly, it was just because the doctor gave me no options other than going back on the birth control pill.
I did go back on it for a month cause I was in so much pain and didn’t know what else to do. They just gave me no other option. Then, I found some YouTuber on the internet. They were like, yeah, I see this naturopathic doctor for my PCOS. And I was like, okay, whatever, I’m desperate. I’ll give it a shot.
Strange Naturopathic Philosophy
I remember my first appointment with a naturopathic doctor. She started explaining things like seed cycling, which I’m not a fan of. I don’t recommend it to my clients now, but at the time I didn’t know what was going on.
But she recommended seed cycling and going with the phases of the moon and everything. It was so funny because to me at the time, I was like, that’s crazy. Like what? That has nothing to do with our bodies. But now I’m so into it.
[00:12:02] Detective Ev: Yeah, it’s kind of funny looking back how stuff will transition beliefs I had before.
Then you see certain things work or certain things that matter about health that might’ve sounded kind of woo-woo before. Especially with what we do though, thankfully, it’s so science-based that you could get into different branches of functional medicine for sure. But at the core of what we do at FDN, it’s about as science based as it comes, which I love.
So, that makes a lot more sense though, with the YouTube thing. If you’ve never been on this podcast, you guys need to know this. Go back and listen to one of my episodes. I think it was like in episode 40 or something. It’s pretty far back. I was talking about my cystic acne journey and the health journeys that I’ve had.
That was one of the worst symptoms ever. I started breaking out at nine years old, Katie. It wasn’t until, probably 22 that I really got control over this. It was horrendous at one time, at the level of, I don’t want to leave the house because this is just unlike anything that the people around me have seen before. Really embarrassing.
Dr. Google’s Weird Acne Therapies
My point is, I know what acne does for people. Because yes, is any chronic health issue going to eventually lead to doing online searches in today’s world? I think so. But I feel as if acne was one of the original conditions where people were in these online forums searching stuff. You can read about any therapy, the weirdest things that you’ve ever heard of for people getting a health issue under control, is definitely there for acne.
You could literally go right now on forums and hear people suggesting to take your own urine and make it as a face wash and they are not kidding. They are absolutely not kidding. We’re laughing because we get this stuff, but the truth is it’s very sad that people are that desperate for answers with this condition.
I mean, I want you guys to actually think about how bad of a place you need to be in to say, I’m going to go pee in a bowl and take this as a face wash for myself. You’re at a pretty low point. But it humiliates you. It’s the first thing people see is our face. So, it’s a tough condition for sure.
You’re looking up this stuff on YouTube. You’re going to this person. What was the first thing really that made progress for you where you’re kind of sold now on, wow! Maybe this natural thing actually is working because usually it doesn’t clear up completely. But we kind of get those beginning wins where we say to ourselves, huh, maybe there’s something to this natural thing.
Small Wins, Nutrition, Health Science, and FDN
[00:14:07] Katie McKersie: Yeah. Yeah. Honestly getting my period back. Cause everyone was always telling me at the time, once you get your period back, once you’re ovulating again, all your symptoms will kind of start to kind of level out basically.
I think it took me about a year to get my period back. Knowing what I know now, it would’ve been so much easier to get it back way faster. But yeah, once I got that back, that was the motivation I needed to basically keep going. Then, once I did get that back, actually, that’s when I started studying nutrition schools.
I went to CSNN based out of Toronto cause I live in Canada. I went there and then I did FDN after that basically so I can order labs and stuff for my clients.
[00:14:44] Detective Ev: Well, this is amazing. What were you doing career wise before?
[00:14:46] Katie McKersie: Honestly, a lot of different paths. I was into sport marketing for a bit.
I did study Health Sciences at a University called Dalhousie. So I was always into health, but it was definitely more like traditional conventional medicine health not so much like naturopathic health. Yeah, I was doing that sports marketing job, then I became a personal trainer for a little bit.
That’s what kinda got me in the industry a bit more. Then went back to school and became a nutritionist.
[00:15:09] Detective Ev: Okay, cool. I was just wondering because people will talk about, hey, I became an FDN. I’m like, well, what the heck were you doing before that? So, it’s always cool to see how people get into this.
FDN Course & Labs
I just talked to an automotive engineer the other day that just completely switched careers around. Then he called automotive engineering his hobby. Now I’m like, said no one ever. Who has that as a hobby? That was pretty cool. We get some interesting people here at FDN, for sure.
When you’re going through the course, what were you finding on the labs? Because for those that don’t know in the course tuition, we actually include lab tests that we recommend people use and that we teach in the course. So, what were you finding on those? Did you still have a lot of healing opportunities by the time you went through the course?
[00:15:57] Katie McKersie: For the labs that I ran on myself? Yes, yes. Oh my God. I’ve actually ran them a couple of times since the first time that I did it with the course. Cause I honestly do them all.
I do the HTMA, the GI MAP, and the DUTCH test every year on myself, or at least I try to just to kind of keep up with everything. I remember we didn’t do the DUTCH when I was in FDN, but it was something similar like a saliva panel. That one was really low progesterone and very, very depleted cortisol, just no circadian rhythm at all, no CAR (cortisol awakening response), nothing like that.
Then the GI MAP I believe I did as well. I remember H. Pylori there and looked like a lit-up Christmas tree. It was just so much dysbiosis going on and all of that. So, there was a lot for me to work on. The FDN mentors definitely helped a lot in terms of navigating different protocols and everything.
So yeah, it was very useful for sure.
FDN System, Great for Acne
[00:16:43] Detective Ev: Those guys are the best. Listen, FDN is a philosophy intentionally designed to address everything non-specifically, right? I mean, we should be able to handle just about anyone. I’m sure I’m biased here just from having dealt with this myself.
I have to say, I would imagine acne is one of the best things for the FDN system for this reason. You know, you can look so healthy in every other way. You might be fit. You might have normal weight, everything else is going good. The blood work looks normal. But acne could still be there.
I call it one of these primary symptoms. It’s not like a clinical term. It’s just something I’ve made up and noticed in my life where I say like a primary symptom. It just seems if you’re prone to acne, one of the first things that you could get if I’m under a lot of stress still I could break out.
I hadn’t had dairy like for real in years. And my girlfriend and I have been testing stuff. So, I had some cheese, no problems there. This is like a niche product, have you ever heard of the keto brick by the Robert Sykes guy or whatever his name is?
[00:17:45] Katie McKersie: Yeah, I’ve heard of it.
[00:17:47] Detective Ev: Okay. Really great product. I mean, if you’re into keto, I recommend that for sure.
Dairy & Acne
So, I was trying that out, but when we got them in, it was like “crap!” because the only protein source in all the bricks is either a pea protein with brown rice protein, or you get grass-fed whey. So, I was like, all right, well, you know, it’s been years. The cheese went well recently, I’ll try the whey.
Katie, I have not gotten a cyst under my chin and jawline, which is where I always used to get it, in probably a year and a half when I screwed up last time just by doing something stupid. And literally today it came right up, and I had that grass-fed whey two days ago.
How many people have no idea that dairy is doing this to them? Or they maybe only eat dairy like once a week or every two weeks, because they think they’re doing the right thing. But let’s be honest, those cysts last a lot longer than one to two weeks, right? This is going to take like three weeks to probably get off of me. If you keep cheating every now and then, and not giving it an honest shot of abstinence, you’re not going to realize what actually is working and what’s not.
Just for those that are listening, especially if you listen often, I might take a slightly different approach with this podcast. I’m just so excited to talk to someone else who gets the acne thing and is working with people with this. This is amazing.
I’m curious what else you have found to be extremely useful for your clients and like serving them with the acne stuff?
Healing Acne – Support Metabolism
I heard you mentioned HTMA, which is something that FDNs are very big proponents of, but we do not teach that in the main course at this time. What else have you discovered that, I got to use with every client, or use very often?
[00:19:16] Katie McKersie: Yeah. I wouldn’t even say it’s like certain products or anything like that. Like nothing specific. I really try to teach my clients, never go to the extreme with anything. Healing your skin is all about supporting your metabolism. Your body wants and loves balance. Right? There’s not really one supplement, you know what I mean? When people come to me, they’re always taking like a million supplements and nothing’s working. Or they’re cutting out a million foods.
They’re going on diets and everything. What I really want to do is take a big step backwards, avoid things that are going to increase stress, which is going to lead to compensation in the body and end up suppressing the thyroid. So, there’s not necessarily one important thing.
From an HTMA perspective, definitely looking at those tests for over a year now, calcium shells can be a huge, huge part of acne, for sure. Like that’s just patterns that I’ve noticed in my practice. But when it comes from a more overall perspective, I try to look at acne as there’s five main root causes or five main aspects of your health to heal and work on in order to get clear skin.
Main Aspects to Clear Up Acne
I’m actually going to make an acne program around this, eventually. Hopefully we’ll release it maybe next year, later this year. Stress is a big one, like you mentioned. Any sort of like nervous system, blood sugar balancing stuff. Nutrient deficiencies are another big one. Gut health is a huge one. We talk about that lots in FDN. Hormones is another big one and then detoxification as well. Basically, I always tell people this, our skin is basically a direct reflection of our detox organs, like our liver. So, we always want to pay close attention to that.
[00:20:43] Detective Ev: Not that I want to just pick on one point, but I mean, we’ll end up talking about all of them, I’m sure, today, probably. With the detox thing, we don’t want to oversimplify it, right? Detox is incredibly complicated, but at the same time, fundamentally, that is what I’ve seen as well.
Yes, you need the genetics to be prone to acne to some degree. There are some people that can be sick as dogs. They could have cancer and five different autoimmune diseases, and they’ve never gotten a breakout in their life. I do believe that there is a genetic component to it. But you’re still operating under this truth that genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger.
So, what else is going on to trigger these genes and get that acne going? In the most extreme forums on the acne stuff, I’ve read everything under the sun over these years. I’m not recommending this; this is certainly not medical advice for people. Always check with your doctor if you are going to do something extreme like this.
Seven-day Water Fast
But one of the almost guaranteed ways for even the worst case of acne to clear up is people will do these seven-day fasts, even like a water fast or very limited food fast. Again, I’m not suggesting that, especially if you’ve never fasted before. That’s pretty crazy. You can get yourself in trouble pretty quickly with that.
Toxic Burden from Today’s World
What is actually happening then in a fast that is allowing these people to actually achieve clear skin? I mean, sure, you’re inducing autophagy. Sure, you’re getting into a state of ketosis. But I mean, fundamentally you’re giving the body a break. It doesn’t have to digest all this food. It’s still detoxing. But it has way less to detox. It’s not also dealing with this caloric load.
I just find it ridiculous and almost ironic how so consistently that will work for people. I’ve actually never met someone that didn’t go to those extremes that it didn’t work for. No matter what they tried before and what did or didn’t work for them before that always seems to work.
That’s why I believe fundamentally, there seems to be this overload of toxins from our today’s world. It’s like no surprise there, right? But there’s many things that we can do to improve that detoxification process that don’t have anything to do with fasting for seven days necessarily.
There’s other ways to do it and not get extreme like that. You mentioned those other things too. So what are you typically finding? I’ll just start with the hormones. What are some common patterns that you’re seeing in the women that you work with primarily with these skin issues.
Are there patterns that your noticing?
Possible Hormone Patterns with Acne
[00:22:57] Katie McKersie: So, androgens is the big one for acne, especially cystic acne, jawline acne, like you were talking about. That usually is a big indication that it’s hormonal and there’s a lot of androgen metabolism work that needs to be done. I usually kind of confirm this with a DUTCH test.
Sometimes it could be stemming from low progesterone, and they just have an androgen as well as estrogen dominance picture. Or sometimes their DHEA metabolites are off. Their androstenedione is high or something. They’re eating something or doing something like being stressed out all the time or whatever that is stimulating the adrenal glands to produce a lot of DHEA. Something like that usually is the indication of hormonal acne.
Yeah, I would say androgens is probably the big picture there. But with that, progesterone comes along as well.
[00:23:42] Detective Ev: That’s interesting that you mentioned the DHEA thing. When you go through the course, you’ll remember how we talk about this inverted ratio. You normally see on most people tanked DHEA and tanked cortisol at the same time. It creates this kind of inverted ratio.
Now what most people forget, Reed talks about this phenomenon that he noticed in his practice after running labs on literally 10,000 plus people. He noticed that a small percentage would have the opposite, where the more stress that they’re under, the cortisol tanks, yes, but the DHEA spikes super high.
When I went through FDN five years ago and ran at the time it was the BioHealth 205, my DHEA was five times the upper end of the reference range for a male my age. Just like you said, sure enough, terrible jawline acne. I mean, just acne in general, but definitely the jawline stuff was the worst.
Factors with Acne – Nutritional Deficiencies, Stress, & Gut Issues
[00:24:41] Katie McKersie: Your DHT was probably sky high too. And your aromatase was probably up-regulated as well. I know that exact picture because that’s why I deal with it all the time.
[00:24:51] Detective Ev: And you can be totally correct. The DUTCH is going to cover a lot of this. For those that are trained in it, the DUTCH is a wonderful test to take the hormone stuff to the next level.
We do offer that training at FDN. And especially if you’re going to focus on a condition in your niche, that is so heavily hormone-related for the worst pictures of it. Yeah, you gotta use something like the DUTCH, if you really want to be the ultimate practitioner in that sense, I think. You mentioned some other things too.
We touched on detox. We touched on hormones. What were the other three out of the five things that you mentioned?
[00:25:27] Katie McKersie: Nutrient deficiencies is a big one. Usually not like the whole entire picture, but people with acne do have some sort of nutrient deficiencies and especially mineral imbalances.
That’s kinda what I aim to do with the HTMA test. At least rebalance the first four main macro minerals, like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. But there’s tons of different nutrient deficiencies that can cause acne like Retinol. If you’re deficient in Retinol, that’s a big one that causes acne. Same with vitamin E, a few different ones as well.
That’s another one. Stress, like I mentioned, just your body’s ability to respond to stress. That HTMA kind of covers that as well, the DUTCH also with the circadian rhythm and cortisol pattern, then gut health. We all know that different dysbiosis, gut bugs, all that can definitely manifest in your skin.
Retinol (Vitamin A) for Acne
[00:26:11] Detective Ev: The Retinol thing is such an interesting comment because there might be people listening to this that are like, wait a second. I think I’ve heard of that. Isn’t that a cream? It’s not a cream, it’s something similar.
People don’t realize how important this nutrient is. Retinol is a different form of vitamin A, and you can get that as beta carotene. You can also get it as Retinol. Retinol is so powerful. You can get natural Retinol from beef liver and stuff.
If you ate excessive amounts of that, certain ethnicities could become vitamin A toxic because of the overload of that, if they ate enough beef liver. Now, good luck actually doing it, because those people have the opposite problem.
Some of the most effective treatments for acne out there are vitamin A derivatives. Accutane. Isotretinoin is a vitamin A derivative. It’s a synthetic version of this. What’s the other one? Is it tretinoin?
Katie McKersie: Yes, there are lots of Retinols.
Detective Ev: There you go. It’s just kind of amazing.
There’s always little hints in the pharmaceutical industry what’s really working for them. Go back to nature and figure out what they knocked off from it. Then you can kind of learn from that.
I know so many people love Autumn Smith. She’s an FDN and she owns a business out in Colorado called Wild Pastures. She also owns something called Paleovalley, which many people are familiar with. They sell these organ supplements. Many people take them.
Again, Katie already described you don’t want to oversimplify this by just taking one supplement, but many people do find that it improves their skin. The main reason for that is most likely because of the Vitamin A that’s found in these organ meats.
Calcium Shell Picture with Acne
That’s kinda cool there. Not to jump all over the place, but the one thing that you said regarding the HTMA, which is regarding nutrient deficiency, so I guess it’s on track. You mentioned a calcium shell. For those that are not familiar with the HTMA and a calcium shell thing, could we kind of break that down for them in case they’re a little confused about what those two things are?
[00:28:01] Katie McKersie: Basically, it’s when calcium is accumulating in the tissue, so you’ll see it over a hundred on an HTMA test. Most of your calcium should be in your bones and your teeth. Like 95% of it, I think, should be in your bones and your teeth. But sometimes even things like megadosing Vitamin D can create a calcium picture or showering in hard water or drinking hard water. There’s lots of things that can kind of create a calcium shell picture. Over time, I’ve definitely seen it cause acne for sure, along with other things. But from an HTMA perspective, tons and tons of people with calcium shells have had really bad acne.
Gut Health Picture with Acne
[00:28:35] Detective Ev: Okay. Interesting.
Now let’s move to the gut health thing. I love that you mentioned gut health, but it is not the only thing. I think that’s another problem in the holistic space. People, if they finally can get away from treating their skin, they somehow get away from that paradigm. Because the irony is guys, if you really want clear skin, the skin itself is probably the last thing you need to look at. And that is not a place of ignorance. That is someone who has suffered with severe cystic acne. It’s when I finally went away from the skin, that I started getting results with this stuff.
I think the next thing that we become dogmatic about is the gut health thing and they think it’s only that. Well, no. Clearly from what you said, it’s multi-faceted, there’s many things going on here. However, gut health is still relevant. So same question. What patterns are you seeing with people on like the GI MAP or whatever it is that you run? What’s coming up commonly for these women, with this acne?
[00:29:24] Katie McKersie: Yeah, usually Zonulin is pretty high. With Zonulin it comes with high Secretory IgA, a high Anti-gliadin.
On that last page of the GI MAP, usually that one’s the one that’s really lit up. We don’t normally see a ton of candida with acne. Not to say that it’s not possible, it definitely is. But not really a lot of candida, sometimes H pylori, and sometimes dysbiosis or opportunistic bacteria that’s overgrowing. I would say the big one would be the last page is always the one that’s super high. Like the leaky gut markers.
Leaky Gut with Acne
[00:29:55] Detective Ev: Cool. You kind of beat me to it, at least what it implies. But just to be clear for people, what does that high Zonulin mean? What is that a marker of?
[00:30:03] Katie McKersie: So, it’s a mucosal barrier marker. Basically, your intercellular, tight junctions are going to be a little bit more open. That can allow pathogens to come through easily.
It can create food sensitivities because large food particles are coming in and your immune system’s attacking them. It’s definitely a leaky gut marker. If you have really high Zonulin. Obviously, we don’t diagnose, but it is a good indication of leaky gut.
[00:30:26] Detective Ev: Cool. This is interesting because again, I never really have someone who’s also beat this condition and actually works with this regularly. It’s usually a small thing for people. Maybe they had another health condition and acne’s not the main thing. But clearly for you and me, it was some of our main stuff.
So, I’m more than open to being challenged here. I’m just curious what you’ve seen on your tests. It doesn’t mean that this is the only thing guys, but I would go as far as to say that no moderate case of acne is even possible without an unnatural level of intestinal permeability.
I say “unnatural” because yes, guys, our intestines are always permeable to some degree. I mean, something like leaky gut. I just haven’t even seen it to be possible. Do you think, am I talking outta my butt here or do you agree with this from what you’ve seen?
Acne Medicine – Accutane
[00:31:07] Katie McKersie: For the most part, I would say so.
[00:31:10] Detective Ev: Have you seen someone with decent Zonulin that still had severe acne?
[00:31:13] Katie McKersie: I think I would kind of be like that. My Zonulin wasn’t too terrible, and I had pretty bad acne. But a lot of mine was hormonal acne.
[00:31:22] Detective Ev: Okay. Got it. That’s really interesting.
I’m jumping ahead with this, but I’m excited because I know that you’ve worked with a lot of people. What are some client success stories? Have you had anyone that’s gone the Accutane route and that didn’t work for them, then they came to you?
Katie McKersie: Basically everyone.
Detective Ev: Well then, any story that comes to your mind, because I think that’s so inspiring for people. It’s very sad when someone goes on something like Accutane. I never get on here and bash Western medicine. I never try to speak from a place of ignorance.
But Isotretinoin, which is the generic for what was Accutane, they’ve had so many problems. Accutane is not even on the market anymore. It’s under different things. Isotretinoin was a chemotherapeutic drug. That’s what this was. Then they realized as a side effect, an unintended side effect, that it burns out your sebaceous glands, the things that produce that oil – that sebum – which clogs the pore and then you get this acne.
Now we give that to pimple faced teenagers and make them sign a packet for, oh, I’m not going to get pregnant while I’m on this. Or hey, by the way, this could technically, in theory, kill you. It is a minimal chance, but it could kill you. And we give this to pimple faced teenagers and other people that are very desperate for this.
The Natural Thing for Acne
I don’t think that’s a joke. It’s acne, it’s acne. We need to be doing the other things and not giving people these crazy drugs for this stuff. Let’s not even get started with all the antibiotics. I’m sorry, but I’m so passionate about that because I filled the prescription, Katie. I don’t mean to sound like dramatical, like a movie moment, but this is literally what happened. I filled the prescription. My skin was so bad. It was so, so bad. I’m sitting in the car outside the CVS. I literally popped the one pill out of the thing. I was into the natural stuff at the time, I had just gotten into it, and I knew I was onto something.
I said to myself, you know what, Ev, there is no way that you could be in any more emotional, mental, or even physical face-wise pain that you’re in right now. So, what do you have to lose by trying some nutrition stuff first? You could take this prescription in 30 days. Give it a shot. I went all organic, sugar-free. In 30 days, I lost 70% of my acne.
Now I’m not saying the other 30% wasn’t much tougher, but I never even considered the Accutane thing again. I said, get out of here with that. That was crazy that they were going to give that to me as an 18, 19-year-old guy. Sign this packet, by the way, this could kill you. Unbelievable.
Changing Mindset Around Acne
I’d love to hear some cool stories about these people that were at the end of the rope. You said most of them come after having used Accutane, then you were finally the person that could help them out. Any story that resonates with you or sounds to be in accordance with that’s good.
[00:33:55] Katie McKersie: I think they’re all very similar in terms of a lot of people that come to me do still think it’s a topical issue. They’re still putting topical antibiotics on their skin disrupting their skin microbiome. They’re just basically pulling apart their skin barrier so their skin can’t even hold in moisture anymore and sebum is just so completely dysregulated.
Changing their mindset is honestly the coolest thing and teaching them, hey, no, it’s actually all internal. What you put on your skin can make things worse or better for sure. But I really try to stay away from adding a bunch of stuff to our skin.
Most of my clients that come to me, the first few months of us working together are we’re not washing our skin at all. We’re really not touching it. We’re not putting anything on it. I think just seeing people’s reactions to that, it’s crazy, but then seeing it work after time.
Of course, the first couple of weeks are going to get some detox reactions, just like when we’re supporting their liver and their lymph and their bile flow and everything. Basically, the acne’s been built up and it’s just chilling under the surface of your skin, it’s going to need to come out. Once you get rid of that first detox – die off reactions – then honestly your skin starts to repair. Seeing that transformation and they’re minds blown, it’s really cool.
Caveman Regimen for Acne
[00:35:08] Detective Ev: I’d like to dissect that a little bit, just to be clear about what we mean here. Are we talking about a no water thing? No cleanser? I’m not asking you to give away your secret sauce. Obviously, there’s a lot more you do than this. But just for the audience to be clear, what is a general regimen you’re recommending? Is it no water, no cleansers? What does this mean?
[00:35:27] Katie McKersie: Just for the first couple months, if they’re one of those people that have tried every single topical thing and spent tons of money and wash your face three times a day, their skin needs a break, and their skin barrier needs some time to heal, especially people with rosacea.
I work with a lot of people with rosacea. That’s something I dealt with for many, many years as well. You can never heal it if you’re constantly cleansing your face. You’re not giving your skin time to repair. So yeah, for the first few months we put nothing on our skin, just filtered water. You can just rinse it off if you’re sweating or something like that. But other than that, nothing.
[00:35:57] Detective Ev: Amazing. I had heard about that probably even before I got into FDN. It wasn’t the caveman diet because obviously that’s paleo, but they called it something else, like the caveman facial routine or something similar.
It just shocks the paradigm so much because again, we’re like we need to treat the skin. I’m deficient in Clearasil, aren’t I? It’s like, I’m not supposed to wash my face at all? And it’s like, guys, you have to think about this. Do you believe that tribes were running around with faces filled with cystic acne?
Our Ancestors’ World and Their Skin
I don’t think you would believe that. I certainly don’t. Well, do you think they had 30-minute skincare routine before bed? Do you think they had that, guys? No. They probably had better skin than half of us.
There’s many factors there because there is the natural food. There’s the fact that they’re living out in the sunlight. There’s a different level of stress. I’m not saying that their lives were fun, but there is a chronic stress that comes from our modern world. It’s ironic because we have it better than ever before in terms of medical care and all these essentials that we have met.
Yet, ironically, we’re more stressed than a lot of our ancestors because of certain things that we do in our modern world. The body’s perfect. The body is made perfectly, and there’s a whole skin microbiome, like you talked about. When we’re constantly washing our face and doing this stuff, that can be an issue.
When you’re saying this to them, are they like, okay, I’m going to trust you, Katie? I’m at the end of my line. Or did you really have to get into it with them to get them to do this?
[00:37:25] Katie McKersie: They’re scared. It takes a lot of life education and really breaking it down for them. We’ll never make anyone do something that they’re not comfortable with. But yeah, they’re usually terrified. Then as soon as they see the first detox reaction where they do get an increase amount of acne just for the first couple of weeks, they try to give up. And I’m like, no, push through it cause it’s going to get so much better in a few months. But that’s like with all holistic healing. It definitely takes time for sure.
[00:37:51] Detective Ev: Yeah. I’m sure they just use that as the excuse. Right? Like, Katie, it got worse! You’re crazy. I’m going back to all my creams and potions and all this crap!
Yeah. It’s cool to see what you’re doing. It’s exciting for me. I hope people out there really take this kind of seriously. I’ve never had a podcast like this where I resonated so much with the condition, and we haven’t had someone else to talk about acne yet. So, I love how this has transitioned almost like into a quickfire, rapid question thing in an acne intensive of sorts. I think I’m going to continue that theme and I hope people appreciate this.
Dairy. What do you think about that? Or is that something universally that you’re telling people to give a little break too? Or do you find that’s case-by-case?
[00:38:29] Katie McKersie: I kind of have like a bit of a different opinion, I guess, on dairy.
I think it definitely causes acne for some people. If one of those people come to me, I’m like, okay, let’s take a break from dairy in a few months. We’re going to work on your gut health and we’re gonna work on rebuilding your metabolism. Then we’re going to try to re-introduce dairy again in a few months, because I do think dairy has a lot of benefits.
I know it’s kind of demonized, especially in the acne world, but I think that’s got a lot of benefits. It’s got lots of Retinol. It’s balanced macros, balanced carb, fat, protein. Lots of saturated fat, which is the more stable fat, for sure. It’s not going to oxidize in your body as easily.
It does have a lot of benefits and I want to teach people’s bodies how to utilize dairy and how to digest dairy. Once we can get them to that place, which I’ve seen it happen with tons and tons of my clients, then we’re able to slowly start re-introducing dairy again. Maybe starting with some raw cheeses or some A2 dairy or the proteins are a little bit easier to digest.
Then we kind of build up that way. That’s kind of what I do with dairy. But yeah, it is very common for people, their skin, not be able to tolerate it.
Different Components of Dairy
[00:39:29] Detective Ev: Very cool. I kind of had a universal reaction to all forms of dairy before. We also need to remember, folks, there’s different parts and components of dairy and one person might have a lactose intolerance, which has nothing to do with the other, like that’s not even a sensitivity necessarily. That’s a literal intolerance because maybe you don’t have enough of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose.
You could be sensitive to whey. You could be sensitive to casein. That’s probably my case now, as I think, based on what I’ve seen. It’s probably only the whey for me that’s the issue, because I saw that, I paid for that with the keto brick thing. But the cheese with my girlfriend, because she’s definitely into the stuff that I’m doing, but she’s never had a reason to be into the functional medicine side.
She’s very open to it and just curious as anyone would be. But she’ll eat the cheese and stuff. So, I’ve cheated with her a few times. I’m like, okay, cool. I’ll try this out. Honestly the cheese just had no bad effect. It was freaking tasty, I loved it, and I got that nice little opiate effect that the casein gives. I just felt great. I was like, all right, cool cheese. I can live without the whey protein, that’s for sure.
Another one I want to go to is, again, kind of rapid firing here, like a gluten type of thing. Pretty much every FDN for the most part is going to universally recommend that no matter what the condition is. But have you found that to be a big thing contributing to people’s acne? Or is that not as big of a deal?
Gluten or Chocolate – Cause Acne?
[00:40:42] Katie McKersie: If it’s digestive related for sure. I don’t usually recommend people eat a lot of gluten, period, generally. But I think fermented gluten helps people a lot, like sourdough bread. I think most of my clients can tolerate that now after working with me for a few months. Most of the gluten is basically fermented out of that.
But yeah, if they have a high Zonulin marker or disrupted mucosal barrier, basically any sort of gut issue that’s causing them acne, we definitely got to stay away from conventional gluten, at least.
[00:41:07] Detective Ev: Very cool. Then my last one, not that every food doesn’t get demonized in the acne community depending on how deep you go, but you know the other one I’m going to have to list is, drum roll please… chocolate. So, what do you think about that? Can people eat the chocolate if it’s dark chocolate or do they have to limit it a little more for acne? Or do you think that’s a total myth?
[00:41:26] Katie McKersie: No, I don’t think it’s a myth, but it just depends, case by case. I can have chocolate perfectly fine. It does not cause me acne. There’s a few of my clients that it still does. But I do think that one day, once they’re in a calm state, their nervous systems calm, their whole body’s in balance, they should be able to tolerate all foods.
Even if it’s like crap, like pizza and chocolate, every once in a while, our bodies shouldn’t have a horrible reaction to it every single time. We should be in a healthy enough state. That’s my goal with all my clients. I definitely don’t like demonized sugar a lot.
Blood Sugar Balancing
I know a lot of people are freaking out because the insulin response and blood sugar issues from sugar and stuff and not causing acne. I think, again, we got to teach our bodies and teach ourselves how to utilize glucose because glucose is our primary source of fuel basically. So, we got to teach our body how to digest carbs and how to properly use glucose as fuel. I think that’s a huge part of it.
Then obviously rebalancing your minerals because potassium and sodium and even magnesium have a huge part in blood sugar balancing. Then also pairing it with protein, pairing any sort of carb or sugar with protein is a good idea as well for people with that.
But yeah, I definitely don’t really demonize any food to be honest.
[00:42:35] Detective Ev: I just kind of feel like we have the exact same philosophy on all those things. My whole thing is I try to anticipate what the audience is going to ask. And I feel like if you’re an acne sufferer clicking on this for the first time, you’re just hearing about myself or even maybe just hearing about Katie. You’re like, okay, cool, I want to get her expertise and listen to her podcasts. That’s going to come up. They’re going to be thinking that way. It’s cool to get to hear your perspective on these things.
Again, we record for around 50 minutes. We try to do that. So, I want to make sure we’re getting everything in, where people can find you, stuff like that. That’ll come up in just a moment.
Categories of Acne
I think the thing I want to finish on is (I’m just saying it this way because some people don’t agree with this, although I personally do for whatever it’s worth), you’ve made it very clear multiple times by alluding to hormonal or digestive, or if it’s hormonal. You do believe there’s different types of acne, it seems at least. So, what are those different categories of acne for you?
[00:43:25] Katie McKersie: Do you mean like, in terms of like where on your face it would be?
[00:43:28] Detective Ev: Well, you had described like, if it’s hormonal acne. I mean, listen, I agree with that. Not everyone agrees with that in our space. They’ll kind of call acne, “acne”, and you just need to do certain things and no matter what it is, it’ll go away.
I think that’s oversimplified. So, I’m just curious what categories you’re dividing it into because I know a lot of people do relate to that where there’ll be like, oh, I have hormonal acne, but they don’t actually know what they’re talking about. I feel like, you know what you’re talking about when you say this stuff.
Symptoms Tell the Category Story
[00:43:52] Katie McKersie: You can tell by symptoms. If they have period problems, have like the typical estrogen dominance symptoms, like PMS, all that stuff, and they have acne to go with it, and it’s like that deep cystic jawline acne, a hundred percent. A lot of that is going to be hormonal.
If it’s more like surface level acne, it’s probably a little bit more related to stress or it could be something they’re putting on their face.
It could be gut health as well. But usually gut health is blackheads, whiteheads, and like the deeper cystic stuff, just maybe not on the jawline. There’s just like different little ways like that to tell.
Detoxification, if they just have really bad detoxification pathways, like they’re just so overburdened, you’re going to see almost like fungal acne on the forehead. I don’t know if people know what that looks like, but it’s basically like little dots or like little pimples covering your whole entire forehead. That’s usually a big sign that your liver needs some work.
It can be different in everybody, again, like FDN teaches all the time, symptoms can be far removed from the cause a lot of the time.
But that’s just usually what I see in my practice.
Patience Needed When Clearing Acne
[00:44:55] Detective Ev: Well, the one thing all of those categories had in common for the most part is none of them have anything to do with the skin, guys. You know, it’s not like your skin’s messed up. There’s other things going on that lead to these things being manifested.
I get what certain people are saying, but I also get a little confused when they can’t acknowledge that there’s any difference between these acnes. You can see the difference. There is clearly a difference between a white head and a cystic acne type of pimple, like I told you I got from the whey protein. I just don’t get those.
I’ve been highly stressed the last year or so and I get what you called surface level acne. It comes and goes quickly. The cystic stuff lasts for weeks to heal. The only way you’re healing that quick is by doing that seven-day water fast.
Once the acne is there, it takes time to heal the current pimples that we have. We got to give everything that we’re doing an honest shot whether it’s stuff that we have tried online or stuff that we’re getting as a direct recommendation from a practitioner, such as Katie or myself. We need to be really giving that an honest effort for some period of time to see if it made a difference in the skin.
Because sometimes the activities that we engage in today lead to acne three days later. And that acne we get three days later might take three weeks to heal. So, we don’t necessarily realize that what we’re doing is actually working on our body, but we needed to give it some time. I think that’s just a very confusing and intimidating part for people.
How Long Before Acne Clears
If this is even possible to answer, because I know everyone’s different, but is there a general amount of time that people that work with you can expect to be seeing some pretty solid results?
[00:46:39] Katie McKersie: My programs are four months. My one-to-one membership type things, four months long. Then they can continue or cancel after that. And usually after the four months you do see some good results.
But I would say like minimum, minimum, three months for your skin. And a lot of the time, my clients are feeling a lot better, digestive wise or hormonal wise. For example, their period cramps are gone, or they don’t have any bloating anymore. We’ll usually see that kind of stuff before their skin improves. But they’re good markers either way. We know we’re heading in the right direction based off that.
[00:47:11] Detective Ev: I’ll put it this way, guys. I had chronic sinusitis, Meniere’s disease, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, GERD. I’m trying to think of the list of stuff. My point is all of that went away before the acne went away. All of that.
I mean, symptom-free a hundred percent, no Meniere’s disease, no GERD, whatever. And I can still get some acne to this day. So, give yourself some grace. Again, kind of categorize it non clinically as one of those primary symptoms. It’s just one of the first things that comes up for those who are prone to it as a warning sign, that there’s something going on in the body.
Being Grateful – Keeping the Scars
You know what I think? And I don’t mean to be just cheesy, I really do encourage people that I talk to, to take this philosophy – I would be grateful for that, because is acne embarrassing? Yes. Is acne tough psychologically? Absolutely. But you know what? There’s a lot of really beautiful looking people out there that their first symptom was an autoimmune disease.
There’s some people where their first symptom was a freaking cancer or a heart attack. I would rather have a few pimples and my body let me know that that’s what’s going wrong with my body and I need to change something, versus having one of those kinds of wake-up calls. So I’m actually very grateful for me that this is kind of my genetic, how should I say that? The primary symptoms that my genetics show. I’m actually thankful for it in a way if I’m being honest. For sure.
[00:48:23] Katie McKersie: Me too. I even have some acne scars still from my years of horrible acne and I refuse to get rid of them. Like I don’t want to. Cause it just is a huge part of my journey I honestly don’t want to forget.
[00:48:34] Detective Ev: Wow! What a great way to put that because I still get embarrassed about some of the ones that I have depending on how much sun I get or if my beard’s grown out a bit, you know, it’s still pretty obvious. Actually, after six years, I just finally started working on those a little more.
Red Light Therapy and Lerosett
I have a light therapy studio that I’m opening up locally. So, I’ve been using red light panels, shameless plug. I’m not affiliated with these guys in any way, but guys definitely check out Lerosett, the wonderful organic company for skincare. I’m using the regenerative serum right now. That seems to be working great.
My mom’s using that as well because yes, she also had terrible cystic acne. Like I said, there is a genetic component, guys. But there’s also more to it than that.
Yeah, time flew. I expected that to happen today, so wonderful. And if you guys want Katie back on, please, you know where to find me. Leave us a comment on Podbean and get us checked out there. We will get her back on and tell me what you want me to ask her next time. But Katie, I got two more things for you.
Where to Find Katie
One is the obvious one. Where can people find you? If they are finally ready to clear up their skin and they want to work with you?
[00:49:31] Katie McKersie: Instagram is probably the best way to get in contact with me. My ad is holistico.katie. That’s where I write posts – the most amount of information. Then my website, as well as holistico.ca. So, I have lots of information about my services on there and then lots of blog posts as well.
Magic Wand – Signature Question
[00:49:47] Detective Ev: Cool. Now my final question for you is the signature question on the Health Detective Podcast. And we might go a little more general right now, of course, outside of just like acne. It could be anything. But my question for you that I want to finish up with today is if I could give Katie in this case, a magic wand and you could get every single person in this world to do one thing for their health, whether that’s literally do one thing or stop doing one thing, what is the one thing that Katie would get them to do?
[00:50:14] Katie McKersie: Stop eating seed oils and vegetable oils would be a big one.
Help People Learn About Acne
[00:50:18] Detective Ev: All right, folks. Well, that is it for our interview with Katie McKersie. I hope you guys liked the way that this episode went. It kinda ended up being an acne intensive of sorts.
I thought that was fun. I really hope that there’s someone out there with this condition that learns something from this episode. I know as someone who, again, 13, 14 plus years of relatively varying severities during those 13, 14 years, I had no help. Like I didn’t know what to do. That’s really what the scary part was.
I’m not saying my skin’s perfect now. I can get a breakout under stress. It happens quite frequently actually. But I know what caused it. I know how to resolve it. I know how to keep it under control, and I know how to not let it get to a certain level. That’s already kind of sucky when you know that this can happen from just kind of working too hard that week or something like that.
It really stinks when we are breaking out and we have no idea why it’s occurring. So, I hope someone got something from this episode today, and I really hope that you’re smart enough to apply this stuff. I know it’s easy to get lost in all the information and I would never be so arrogant as to say, oh, well you want to listen to us and check this out.
Well, the one thing I’ll say is if you’ve seen my transformation photos, I did not use Accutane for that. I didn’t use any cleansers at all. Actually, I stopped using them. I think this is one of the few things that I can speak pretty confidently on that I know a good amount about. Katie certainly knows what she’s talking about too.
So, listen to at least the main idea and get this under control, man. Life’s too short to be living with health issues, let alone ones that make us embarrassed and not feel good about ourselves. We shouldn’t have to feel that way. Honestly, life just gets so much better when we get this stuff under control. I cannot stress enough that’s what it does to people. It really can affect all areas of your life. So, let’s get it under control. Let’s start feeling better and let’s get back to living.
If you guys liked the information that we’re sharing, just another quick reminder, please consider leaving us a five-star review on Apple podcasts and or Spotify. It helps this information get out to people who need to hear it. It really is just to get this information out there. So, thank you guys so much for listening and I’m looking forward to talking to you guys again soon. Take care.
[00:52:55] Intro/Outro: Thanks for tuning in to the Health Detective Podcast. If you are finally ready to work with a real health detective on your health journey so that you can get well and stay well naturally, visit us at fdnthrive.com and click the button to schedule a Free Health Review.