Some recent research provides support for the hypothesis that antioxidant nutrition can help those struggling with skin picking. A study published in July investigated the effects of the antioxidants N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and glutathione on lab mice who had ulcerative dermatitis (UD) from over-grooming. This behavior in mice is a promising lab model for skin picking disorder in humans. We already know that NAC helps some people with skin picking and hair pulling disorders. In the recent mouse study, NAC was shown to help all the mice with UD, to varying degrees and slowly. Glutathione was shown to help only some of the mice, but the mice that recovered fully recovered quickly. (Btw, if reading a scientific research paper is not your cup of tea, but you want to learn more about this study, here’s a nice news article about the study from Stanford’s online medical magazine.)
NAC is a biochemical precursor to the master antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione is needed to keep oxidation in the body in check so free radicals can’t wreak havoc. It is also crucial for detoxification, an all-important function of the liver.
Low glutathione levels are implicated in myriad conditions and diseases. Dr. Mark Hyman calls glutathione the most important molecule we need to stay healthy and prevent disease; he has discovered that nearly all his chronically ill patients are deficient in it. Moreover, he has found that the ability to produce and maintain high levels of glutathione is necessary for recovery from chronic illness. The recent mouse research makes me speculate that those with skin picking disorder are likely to have low glutathione levels as well and that raising glutathione levels could be an important part of treatment for picking.
While glutathione seems not to be well absorbable as an oral supplement, sublingual supplements (under the tongue absorbed straight into the blood capillaries) may be effective. And perhaps intra-nasal delivery, as the mice in the UD study received via a drop on their noses, could prove to be a viable option for supplementation.
But, luckily, glutathione can also be raised indirectly, via actions my clients and I have found to be helpful in reducing skin picking. For example, exercise, yogic breathing, yoga and meditation all increase glutathione and improve the state of oxidation in the body. Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants is also important. I recommend Dr. Hyman’s article for more detailed info on glutathione, including tips on raising your glutathione levels.
Do you have any experience trying antioxidants to combat your skin picking? Did it help or not? Please share in the comments below.
p.s. Have you downloaded my free “Freedom Kit”? It comes with a written and audio report, “Why you pick your skin and how to finally stop,” a video on “how to stop skin picking urges in two minutes flat,” and my “Live Free” newsletter in your inbox each month. Learn more here.