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Flax Lignans for Acne

Flax Lignans for Acne

Millions of people suffer from acne, a condition affecting the pilosebaceous units of skin (see figure 1). While the cause of acne is not completely understood, heredity, hormones and bacteria all play a role. During puberty, the production of adrenal androgens is increased in both boys and girls. The elevation of androgens can cause an increase in sebum production, particularly in the face, chest and back (sebum is a waxy substance that helps the skin retain moisture). Excess sebum can lead to acne; the level of sebum excretion has been shown to correlate well with the severity of acne.
Some people are more prone to develop acne than others and family history and lifestyle can play a role. For instance the use of anabolic steriods taken by bodybuilders can lead to severe outbreaks. Generally, mild acne is treated by topical therapy. Moderate or severe acne may require topical therapy combined with oral therapy. Treatments are targeted to reduce sebum production and bacterial growth.
Since androgens (testosterone) play a role in the development of acne, hormonal therapies may be useful alternatives or adjuncts to traditional treatment. The beneficial effects of oral contraceptives on acne have been noted for several years. They are thought to exert anti-acne effects by decreasing the amount of circulating androgens. Recent research points to flax lignans as a natural alternative for the treatment of acne. Lignans have been shown to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase, an enzyme involved in the conversion of testosterone to DHT (its more active form). Inhibition of this enzyme shows promise in the treatment of a number of androgendependent disorders, including acne. Therefore flax lignans are of interest in the possible treatment of acne, although additional research is being conducted to confirm these findings.

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