People spend billions of dollars each year in attempts to alleviate acne. Some people seek professional help at dermatologists’ offices. Others turn to everything from over-the-counter topical medications to special skin-care products to dietary supplements. One dietary supplement that people utilize in hopes of combating acne is brewer’s yeast.
Brewer's yeast can be used to make beer. It is made from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a one-celled fungus. It can be grown specifically to craft nutritional supplements as well. Brewer's yeast is rich in two trace minerals. It contains chromium, which is a trace mineral helpful in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. It also has selenium, which helps the body make some proteins that are called antioxidant enzymes. These help to prevent cell damage. Brewer’s yeast has protein and the B-complex vitamins as well, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The chromium in brewer’s yeast makes it beneficial in treating acne, according to “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods,” which cites a double-blind study that concluded some 80 percent of subjects given brewer’s yeast for five months showed either marked improvement in acne symptoms or were completely healed. In contrast, just 26 percent of those who got a placebo saw improvement. UMMC confirms that at least one study shows brewer’s yeast is beneficial in improving acne, and an article by M. Katzman and A.C. Logan published in the journal Medical Hypotheses states that chromium is one of several nutrients that can improve acne symptoms. Others include zinc, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium.
Acne, the term for plugged pores that lead to blackheads, whiteheads and pimples, affects most teens, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Adults also commonly suffer from acne. Acne is not life-threatening, but people can regard it as a nuisance or a condition that is upsetting and disfiguring, especially when the acne leads to scarring.
Brewer's yeast is available in several forms. It comes in flakes, as a powder, and in tablet and liquid forms, according to UMMC, which advises people to take 1 to 2 tablespoons daily. Health911.com advises that taking brewer's yeast after meals helps some people clear up their acne, as the chromium in it helps the body process sugar. This Internet health information clearinghouse also recommends eliminating sugar from the diet to clear acne, as skin glucose tolerance often is impaired in acne sufferers.
Supplements such as brewer’s yeast can interact with medications or have side effects, so they should be used only under supervision of a health-care provider, advises UMMC. People who have diabetes especially need to follow this advice because brewer’s yeast can interact with medication for diabetes, causing hypoglycemia. Side effects most often are mild, such as gas. People who often suffer from yeast infections should avoid this supplement.
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Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.