Depending on who you believe, sodium fluoride is one of two things. It could be a toxic drug linked to a range of potentially deadly healthy problems like acne which is dumped into US water supplies and forcibly medicating everybody.
On the other hand, it could be a gloriously healthy nutrient that’s keeping teeth and bones strong across the globe. Sodium fluoride is a mineral which was observed by dentists in the early 20th century to be a component of human tooth enamel. By 1951, water fluoridisation, the process of adding fluoride to water to improve the nation’s dental health, was an official plank of US Public Health Service policy.
It’s now the active demineralising agent in most toothpastes. Water fluoridation continues today with roughly 50% of the US population drinking it.
But there is indeed a dark side for your acne and we’re going to discuss it right now. Fluoride is known to be highly toxic to the body in moderate amounts. Furthermore, we don’t fill our water with top-notch pharmaceutical grade fluoride; we use an industrial by-product called hydrofluorosilicic acid.
Hydrofluorosilicic acid is highly contaminated with lead, arsenic, aluminium, and many acne-causing chemicals. It’s shipped over to us by the Chinese as a by-product of their booming phosphate fertiliser manufacturing industry but at the same time, China refuses to fluoridate their own water supply for fears of health consequences.
Studies show problems like cancer, damage to sperm quality and mobility in men, disrupted testosterone and estrogen levels. Fluoride consumption has even been linked to reduced IQ scores and concentration powers in children.
Many countries that once fluoridated their water are getting cold feet; Israel banned the practise in 2014 and consumer campaigns are pushing for the same to happen in America.
Could ingesting fluoride on a daily basis also cause acne?
The answer is a stone-cold yes. There’s an excellent reason why every toothpaste box warns you to only use a pea-sized portion and never swallow the contents. Fluoride causes inflammation, it can displace more important acne nutrients from your body, and it can strongly disturb your endocrine system, which controls the actions and signalling of many acne hormones.
There’s actually a medically recognised term for fluoride-induced acne and it’s called fluoroderma.
Only low levels are deadly. One study on children found that as their daily intake of fluoridated water rose from 0.3ppm to 3 ppm, their average IQ score dropped by a whopping 5 points. Any quantity of water fluoridation is already illegal in Greece, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and many other countries.
Fluoride is an inflammatory menace
- This study found that exposure to fluoride leads to “rapid inflammatory reactions” involving immune system macrophages. This is followed by the creation of acne-causing pro-inflammatory chemicals like prostaglandin PGE2 and thromboxane TXA2. Their conclusion: “The results indicate that NaF (fluoride), even in small concentrations, may induce an inflammatory process”.
- Next we have this study in which scientists analysed the effect of fluoride on human lung cells. They discovered that fluoride triggered the release of two pro-inflammatory chemicals called interkein-6 and interleukin-8. That’s important news because in another study, acne patients were demonstrated to have substantially higher levels of IL8 in their skin. The scientists also commented that workers exposed to fluoride through working daily in the aluminium industry have high rates of asthma compared to average. Asthma is caused by similar conditions to acne; this time inflammation of the lungs. Presumably, if they were able to weaken their lungs by breathing in fluoride, the vapours or gases should easily increase inflammation of their acne.
- Then there’s this study conducted back in 2012, which analysed the effect of fluoride on some seven-week old male rats. Many parameters like inflammatory chemical levels, insulin secretion, and insulin sensitivity, were examined. The scientists found that feeding the rats fluoride substantially increased their levels of two pro-inflammatory cytokines called tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) and resistin. Fluoride also lowered insulin resistance substantially.
Fluoride is so toxic elsewhere in the body that it’s hardly surprising your immune system decides to launch an all-out assault against it. There’s a more specific mechanism according to some; there’s evidence that fluoride can alter the shape of enzymes and proteins in your body. They get morphed into unusable forms which your body doesn’t recognise, treated as foreign invaders, and hence attacked by an immune response.
One such protein that gets warped is collagen, the main structural protein of your skin. Increasing your collagen levels is terrific for all manner of skin conditions including acne; it accelerates the healing of your dying acne and promotes general toughness and resistance to inflammation. Increasing collagen levels is an excellent strategy for any acne patient but according to this study, fluoride does the opposite.
Fluoride depletes your antioxidants stocks!
Even compared to with inflammation, there is a TON of studies demonstrating that fluoride consumption can massively increase your oxidative stress levels. In other words, it melts away your antioxidant supplies faster than snow in summer:
- This large review analysed all the studies performed to date concerning fluoride and oxidative stress. It reached several conclusions which are important for acne patients. Firstly, fluoride strongly depletes your body’s indigenous, non-dietary antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase and glutathione. Acne patients contain lower levels of both of them in their blood stream than average. Secondly, fluoride was found to increase many types of free radicals, but with a particular emphasis on lipid peroxides. That’s dire news for anyone with acne because lipid peroxides require fat soluble antioxidants to deactivate them, meaning that fluoride depletes your stocks of vitamin E, the most important acne vitamin. Finally, the scientists commented that “Antioxidant treatment consistently protects cells from the lipid peroxidation caused by fluoride exposure, suggesting that oxidative/nitrosative damage is the major mode of action of fluoride”.
- Then we have the individual studies. This one examined children with skeletal fluorosis (a skeleton full of fluoride thanks to chronic overexposure). The study was performed on 100 children, 25 from 4 different fluoride contaminated areas with varying dietary intakes of 1.2, 2.4, 5.6 and 13.6 mg/l. Quote: “The study indicated an increasing oxidative stress in cases of fluorosis with increasing drinking water fluoride concentration.” The scientists also found that supplementing with vitamins C and D reduced the harm from fluoride. Vitamin C is an acne patient’s main water soluble antioxidant.
- This study analysed 38 patients aged 41-50 from Tamil Nadu, India. They were divided into 4 groups: 1) no signs of dental fluorosis (a form of fluoride toxicity characterised by white spots on the teeth), 2) individuals with mild signs of skeletal fluorosis, 3) individuals with moderate dental fluorosis, and 4) individuals with severe dental fluorosis. The patients with higher fluoride levels had significantly higher blood levels of acne-causing free radicals called thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS). Furthermore, lipid peroxides were again far higher: “Statistical analysis of all the group data revealed that increased lipid peroxidation and altered antioxidant status induced by fluoride were strongly associated with the prevalence of dental fluorosis.”
It’s pretty clear that fluoride can cause acne then, because you need antioxidants to defend your skin. They’re critical for preventing blocked pores in particular, but they can also protect you against acne induced by air pollution, excessive sunlight, cigarette smoke…
Furthermore, many antioxidants also have other useful powers for clearing acne. By increasing your oxidative stress and depleting your vitamin C levels, for instance, you lose out on vitamin C’s other acne-clearing powers whether it be lowered stress hormones or accelerated collagen production.
The mayhem doesn’t end there
Fluoride is well known for its effect on hormone disruption – see the section on testosterone and fertility below. One other hormone it can strongly disrupt is insulin, the most important hormone for acne. Study number three on inflammation found that “the chronic treatment with fluoride promoted… decrease in insulin sensitivity”. That means that your glycogen stores are less responsive to insulin when they try to shuttle glucose into them.
Furthermore, insulin secretion from the pancreas was also impaired. The result is that fluoride increases your blood glucose levels. This causes acne by 1) making your skin oilier, 2) increasing your dead skin cell turnover, and 3) increasing production of free radicals called AGEs.
As a result of this, fluoride should especially be minimised if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic and have acne, or indeed if you don’t have acne.
Finally, almost all fluoride we consume whether it’s in our toothpaste or in our drinking water is the worst type for acne you can get. Across nature, there are two main forms – sodium fluoride and calcium fluoride. Calcium fluoride has the same remineralising effect on human teeth, but luckily, it’s poorly absorbed into the body. It is 1000 times less bioavailable than sodium fluoride and causes nowhere near the same damage and acne. The Japanese government has used limited water fluoridisation programs in the past, but they’ve always used calcium fluoride, citing its greater safety in humans.
Sodium fluoride has also been shown to help teeth, but it’s cheaper too, and hence that’s the one that the US authorities add to drinking water. But in reality they don’t add nature’s version. As we discussed earlier, 90% of sodium fluoride added to drinking water is actually hydrofluoric acid.
That’s a waste product of not only China’s phosphate agricultural fertiliser industry, but also aluminium, steel, cement and nuclear weapons factories. Across industry hydrofluoric acid has many versatile uses; it is used to make fluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons for freezers and air conditioners, to refine high octane gasoline, and to manufacture fluorescent light bulbs, semiconductors, computer screens plastics, herbicides and pesticides.
Hydrofluoric acid is also added to 40-50% of US drinking water and toothpaste. It’s a no-brainer because it’s a cheap by-product available from many heavy industries worldwide.
The problem? Hydrofluoric acid causes acne. Hydrofluoric acid is commonly contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic, lead and aluminium. All of those are known to cause acne by depleting antioxidants like glutathione in the body during their detoxification. Arsenic is one of the worst heavy metals for acne patients because it dramatically accelerates your skin’s turnover of dead skin cells.
If it’s strong enough to wipe out pests plaguing farm fields then who knows what else it can do to acne prone people. Hydrofluoric acid also has the ability to destroy eyes, burn flesh to the bone, and sear lungs so that victims drown in their own body fluid. Hydrofluoric acid is one of the main ingredients of rat poison and cockroach powder.
In drinking water, a diluted version called hydrofluorosilicic acid is used. This is turned into a powder and it’s this powder which is apparently safe for acne and is known as sodium fluoride. This isn’t exactly the deadly hydrofluoric acid, but as far as I know it is entirely derived from it.
The conclusion is clear – fluoride is deadly for us acne patients and must not be touched in anything but minimal quantities.
After learning more about this supposedly “safe and healthy mineral” I’m redoubling my efforts to avoid it, both to keep acne at bay and for my health. The studies above indicate that fluoride triggers an inflammatory acne-causing response at even moderate levels. It’s not surprising, given that the “healthy mineral” fluoride we’re being spoon fed is actually an agricultural waste chemical.
I strongly recommend that no matter your specific circumstances with acne, you avoid fluoridated water supplies and grocery store dental products. Doing that will eradicate the lion’s share of your intake. There will still be small quantities of fluoridated water contaminating non-organic crop fields and thus fruits and vegetables, but that won’t give you acne.
Fluoride – not just an acne villain
Even if you didn’t have a single piece of acne I would still urge you to stay well away from fluoride. Minimising your intake could improve your health in other ways, if you’re fatigued all the time, if you’re mentally sluggish and not as sharp as you’d like, or if your sexual performance needs pumping up. Excessive sodium fluoride (not calcium fluoride) intake has been linked to…
Impaired brain function – again, children drinking 3ppm of fluoride have an IQ with 5 less points than average. That’s not all; 24 other studies have made the connection between fluoride exposure and lowered IQ in children. Nine human studies link fluoride to lowered IQ scores at intakes of less than 3ppm (parts per million). There are 100 animal studies linking fluoride to brain damage and there’s a few connecting it to impaired mental development of babies in the womb.
It was known as far back as 1944 that fluoride can cause “mental confusion, drowsiness and lassitude”. Fluoride can damage the hippocampus and increase the uptake of aluminium, which is linked to early onset Alzheimer’s disease, as well as acne due to glutathione depletion. Similarly to the heavy metal mercury, fluoride exposure is even linked to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Thyroid damage – thyroid problems are running rampant in the USA. Just 3.5mg of sodium fluoride per day can reportedly cause altered thyroid activity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American consumes 3mg of this acne-causing monstrosity per day. Many Americans in heavily fluoridated areas consume over 6mg.
Perhaps the most important nutrient for thyroid function is iodine, which is a halide compound. Fluoride is also a halide, and it acts the strongest out of all four of them in the body (the other two are bromide and chloride). Fluoride can thus displace your vital iodine and starve your thyroid of resources. Your thyroid needs iodine alongside tyrosine for the proper production of the hormones T3 and T4.
Furthermore, many Westerners aren’t eating enough iodine anyway thanks to a diet lacking in seafood. We get some from eggs, but it’s dire compared to Japan, where they eat copious quantities of seaweed and kelp every day. Our thyroids are thus especially vulnerable to fluoride.
If you’re experiencing thyroid problems then taking out this acne-causing villain could be the solution you’re looking for.
Reproductive damage – one of fluoride’s most insidious powers is lowering testosterone levels. This study compared men in an area with high-fluoride water to those in a clean-water area. The men with the highest concentrations of fluoride in their bloodstream also had 40% lower testosterone. This study and this study both analysed men with skeletal fluorosis and concluded that their testosterone levels were low.
US health authorities like the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will never admit that fluoride causes acne. They keep insisting that fluoride does cause dental fluorosis but that it has no other documented health risks.
Clearly, that’s not the case. Those are the type of effects that triggered the Israeli Ministry of Health to ban it in 2014. That occurred after years of enthusiastic water fluoridation nationwide; the Israelis first implemented the program in 2002.
You might be terrified by some of the unbelievable truths about this common additive and it’s effects on acne. But if you’re going to be scared of something then fluoride is an excellent candidate, especially if it spurs you reduce your acne inadvertently.
Just search the internet and you’ll discover miraculous stories from both acne patients and clear-skinned people eliminating fluoride. People with thyroid difficulties tend to notice especially massive benefits; many claim to have got their lives back after their energy levels came roaring back. If you’re got a flagging sex drive then the boost in testosterone could get you interested again.
The acne patient’s guide to avoiding fluoride
It’s pretty simple – first you have to stop using commercial dental products. Both toothpastes and mouthwashes are loaded with fluoride, not to mention other acne villains like titanium dioxide and triclosan in the areas where it’s not banned yet. Fluoride has a minor protective effect on the teeth when applied topically, but it’s foolish to say we need it.
There are many dietary tactics you can follow to keep your teeth healthy, tactics which clear acne as a healthy side effect. First and foremost is reducing your sugar intake. This cuts off the fuel supply to bad bacteria in your mouth and prevents them from wearing the enamel down in the first place.
The World Health Organisation recently stated that eating sugar as less than 10% of total calories reduces the incidence of cavities substantially.Avoiding sugar will clear your acne superbly since eating white refined sugar can spike inflammation by 100%. Grains like wheat and corn are also notorious for eroding teeth as they are highly acidic and they contain a specific type of acid called phytic acid which is notorious for eroding enamel. Wheat also causes inflammatory acne.
Here’s a fact that anyone striving for cavity-free and blindingly white teeth should know. Excess sugar and excess grain consumption are by far the biggest causes of cavities in the Western world. Nuts are also full of the wrong acids, so you shouldn’t go mad with them either (although they are acne-friendly in moderation).
Eating a nutritionally varied diet full of many vegetables, herbs, spices, grass-fed meats and raw dairy will supply all sorts of building blocks for your teeth and provide plenty of acne nutrition. Plant foods will also provide prebiotics to feed health bacteria in your mouth and keep the corrosive strains at bay. That’ll feed acne friendly bacterial strains in your gut as well.
Omega 3 fats are especially important; they’ve been shown to protect against cavities and gum disease. Deficiency in omega 3s is rampant, so eating more oily fish will work wonders. Omega 3 supplementation can also reduce acne by 42%.
Finally, there are plenty of natural and acne-friendly toothpastes you can use. My preferred option is to combine baking soda and coconut oil into a paste. Baking soda is strongly alkaline, and will thus neutralise any excess acids in your mouth.
Coconut oil has anti-bacterial properties and will also act as a carrier to make the baking soda less abrasive to your enamel. I use this formula every day and my teeth are as healthy as ever.
Another strategy I’ve been using for about a year now is so-called “oil pulling”, an ancient form of mouth washing. What you do is put a table spoon of coconut oil in your mouth, wait for it to melt, and swish it thoroughly around for 15-20 minutes. The antibacterial powers permeate every corner of your mouth and leave you with an excellent fresh feeling.
If you google “oil pulling” then you might hear that the rebalancing effect on bacteria can spread to your whole body and heal endless different problems ranging from autoimmune diseases to migraines, and indeed acne. That’s nonsense but it’s great for your teeth and just as effective as any fluoride-laced mouthwash in my reckoning. Especially seeing as there is no chemical aftertaste and no inflammatory acne from those chemicals either.
My favoured online brand of coconut oil is this Viva Labs Finest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and you can buy Dr Oetker’s bicarbonate of soda from a store near you.
There are also many natural foods available which can help your teeth, like high cocoa dark chocolate, which contains the caffeine-related stimulant theobromine sourced from the cocoa powder. This is an excellent acne-friendly option if you buy a high cocoa, low-sugar version; theobromine was shown in this study to increase the size of apatite crystals, a key mineral in your enamel. Just remember, wherever you are – always look for sodium fluoride on the label.
The second big strategy is to avoid fluoride through drinking water and to achieve this you can start by googling your area and determining whether your water is fluoridated.
In 2012, 65% of US citizens received fluoridated water. 10% of the UK receives fluoride, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Australia are some other countries receiving it. It’s banned in most of Europe including countries like Austria, Belgium, Sweden and Finland.
If your water is fluoridated, then get a tap filter! This Instapure Brands Faucet Water Filter is dead cheap and furthermore, dirty tap water is full of other contaminants that cause acne. As well as removing fluoride, you’ll also avoid arsenic, mercury, herbicides, and many other inflammatory ingredients.
Alternatively you could buy bottled water. Many plastic water bottles contain phthalates, which leach into the water and cause acne, but if it’s properly sourced spring water it will at least be better for acne than the fluoride. The ultimate acne-clearing option is to buy glass bottled spring water, if your bank account is bursting.
Also note that in a few countries, certain brands of table salt are fluoridated and are known to cause acne. These include France, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
Fluoride is the bogeyman of just about every illness as well as acne in the natural health community; you see some especially insane claims about removing fluoride to awaken your third eye and gaining unheard of vision, insight and clarity into life. Some claim that detoxifying fluoride can increase your generation of a psychoactive compound DMT and put you into a constant psychedelic state.
It would be nice if all that was true and I’ll be monitoring whether I start hallucinating, but the reality is that there’s not a shred of evidence supporting those claims. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet about fluoride.
Nevertheless, what we have in this article is very clear scientific evidence that fluoride affects the two main factors behind acne. It can deplete your antioxidants and add to your inflammatory burden substantially. Seeing as there are sources of inflammation flying into your body left right and centre these days (trans-fats, sugar, pesticides, BPA, phthalates in plastic), you should eliminate all the big sources like drinking water and toothpaste in almost all possible acne circumstances.
You might not clear your acne overnight, but nevertheless, it’s yet another weapon for your acne-clearing war chest.
Thanks for reading!