The Mind-Body Connection in Action: How a Single Psychotherapy Session Cured My Cystic Acne

“If your acne was a cartoon character, what would it look like?”

I was at another lymph drainage session with my therapist, Mya Breman (LCSW, LMT, CST-D) of the Upledger Institute.  Frustrated with the fleeting results we were seeing, Mya decided to make use of her licensed psychotherapy skills to try and get at the root of the problem.

‘This is silly,’ I thought.  ‘Okay, stop thinking. Just say the first thing that comes to mind.’

“If my acne was a cartoon character, it would be an oil drop,” I answered.

“Oh, very interesting,” Mya mused.  “Like a teardrop.”

‘No, an oil drop,’ I repeated to myself.  ‘Because my skin is oily. Get it?’

“When did this oil drop form?” she asked.

My instant response:  “seventh grade.”

“No, I think it’s been around longer than that.”

In true psychotherapy style, I was soon answering questions about my deepest childhood fears.  I continued to respond with the first thing that popped into my mind.  I was most afraid of the dentist.  I laughed it off at first, but then realized how real the fear actually felt as a child, especially the time I had four of my baby teeth extracted.  I could still hear the sound of each tooth cracking as it loosened from my jaw.  I was petrified for weeks leading up to the appointment, but my mom said I didn’t even cry.

I continued to ponder this unearthed childhood fear over the next few days.  I thought about how angry the dentist made me –what dentist pulls out baby teeth?  Don’t they fall out on their own?  I thought of all the other things I hated about going to the dentist.  The smell of latex.  The uncontrollable drooling.  The fluoride trays.  My dentist even made me take fluoride pills, which I later learned is the reason my teeth are slightly discolored –a condition called dental fluorosis and a common indicator of fluoride toxicity.

As I reflected on my disdain for all things dental, I had an “aha! moment,” as Oprah would call it.  Could this early fluoride poisoning still be affecting my lymphatic system? Is that why my skin goes haywire when I live in areas with fluoridated water?  A quick Google search soon revealed that “fluoroderma” –i.e. acne caused from fluoride ingestion –is a confirmed medical condition although I had never heard of it from the countless doctors, dermatologists, and aestheticians I had consulted over the years regarding my recurring problems with acne.

It took several months to figure out how to avoid fluoride enough to relieve the fluoroderma.  After dumping this chemical into half the public water supply for the past fifty years, high amounts of fluoride are found throughout the food chain.  As I continued to limit my fluoride consumption, the painful cysts that had been emerging all over my face steadily faded.   I still have problems on occasion, especially when traveling, but it’s satisfying to know that by avoiding fluoride I’m treating the problem at its root cause instead of covering up the symptom with medication or a miracle skincare product.  I did find products that effectively “treated” the acne over the years, but I wouldn’t recommend them.  More on that soon… [Update: see Proactiv Has Its Side Effects].

*This post is part of Fight Back Friday hosted by Food Renegade.

photo credit

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo PicassoJoin the Cause

Start healing your cellulite right now by visiting our Cellulite Treatments page.  Please come back and let us know how it’s going along the way!

Or to make the most of your time and effort, why not first take a few minutes to get smart on cellulite theory by reading Cellulite 101?

*Signup to receive email when we announce a breakthrough in the case.


By submitting a comment below, you agree to abide by our comment policy

Anonymous says:

What kind of effect, if any, do you think fluoride has on cellulite?


That's a really good question. I wish there was some solid research on this. All I can attest to is my personal anecdotal evidence. I know that ingesting fluoride causes congestion in the lymphatic vessels in my face and neck. I wonder if it causes congestion in other areas of my lymphatic system, as well. If cellulite really is a lymphatic condition, then it makes sense that all those years of fluoride consumption might have had a toll on my legs as well, where lymph can have a harder time circulating against the effects of gravity.

Anonymous says:

I've been avoiding Fluoride for a few weeks now based on reading your blog. It's amazing how quickly my acne has disappeared in response! I can't thank you enough for this! In the past 3 or 4 weeks, I've had two flare-ups, both occurring after I'd gone out to lunch for work, where I drank fluoridated water. What do you do about public water situations? These restaurants weren't fancy enough to offer a long list of bottled water options, and so many bottled waters still have plenty of fluoride in them. Any suggestions?


Yeay!! Your comment makes me so happy! That's the whole reason I wanted to start this blog.

Going out to eat is tricky. I order a glass of water (because it looks weird if you don't order anything) but I don't drink it. Usually, I bring my own water. I know it's a bit tacky, but my friends and family all know about my fluoride "allergy" and most servers don't even seem to notice. If it's a nicer restaurant, I'll order an organic wine or a Belgian beer. I know I'll be safe with either of those choices. I've only been stuck without a good fluoride-free option a couple of times, in which case I took my chances with mineral water or sipped the bare minimum from whatever the waiter brought. I've found that avoiding a week's worth of cystic acne is a powerful motivator for squelching thirst (and it's good for digestion not to drink much with a meal).

If you are up for it, I would love to feature your story in an upcoming blog post (you could still remain anonymous if you prefer). Please email me at if you're interested. Thanks so much for making my day!

Alex says:

Would a Brita water pitcher that filters tap water filter out fluoride? I usually drink city water, which I assume is fluoridated.


Hi, Alex! Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Brita uses a small carbon filter which isn't known for filtering out fluoride (although it probably does catch some of it).  I installed a reverse osmosis drinking water filter under the sink. It comes up through a separate faucet next to the regular faucet.  Reverse osmosis systems filter out 95% of the fluoride and a lot of other chemicals. I bought mine from a great little company in Texas called Pure Water Products. I went with them because they have good prices and great customer service. Their website was very informative as well.

It's smart to have an effective drinking water system even if your water isn't fluoridated, especially if you saw Dr. Oz's recent show about our country's drinking water (I wrote about it here: Dr. Oz's Toxic Water Alert). But it's pretty easy to find out if your water supply is fluoridated. Most public water utilities have this info on their website, or you can simply call and ask. About half the public water supplies in the US are currently fluoridated.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your question!

Maria says:

What kind of water do you drink now?

E says:

I’m wondering if it would help you to get tested for iodine deficiency? Obviously, speak with a doctor before doing anything, but have you read about how flouride can replace iodide in the body?


Oops!Please fill out all required fields