Monthly Archives: November 2014

17 Herbal Acne Cures

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Herbal treatments for acne have been very effective for some. Effectiveness likely depends on the root cause of the acne. For instance, if the root cause is a weak immune system, echinacea and goldenseal would help. However, if the root cause of a person’s acne problem is sensitivity to milk products or gluten, these herbs may or may not help. That said, the following is a list of the best herbs to try for acne.

#1:  Echinacea

Echinacea, a flowering plant, is an all-natural herbal product with anti-microbial properties.  It boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation, both very useful in fighting off acne.  Typically, it is sold in capsule form for you to take orally.

#2:  Goldenseal

This herb is an antiseptic and immune booster that is great for getting rid of acne.  It is especially effective if combined with Echinacea.  Like Echinacea, Goldenseal is most often sold in capsule form to be taken by mouth.

#3:  Burdock Root

Burdock root, which you can find at most Asian food stores, is a good cure for acne.  It can be prepared as a tea and drank three times daily or the tea can be applied to the skin.  When drinking burdock root tea, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day because burdock root is a diuretic.

#4:  Cleavers

Cleavers is an herb that can be used to treat acne.  You can make a tea of cleavers by putting one teaspoon of cleavers in one cup of boiling water.  Let it steep and cool for 30 minutes, then apply it to your skin.  In addition to being a great cure for acne, cleavers is also good for eczema.

#5:  Yellow Dock

Yellow dock is often combined with other herbal treatments for acne to boost their strength.  You can drink a tea made of yellow dock root (put a teaspoon of ground yellow dock root in a cup of hot water) to drink or to apply directly to your skin.

#6:  Comfrey Ointment

Comfrey is an herb used in the treatment of acne as part of a topical ointment.  Make sure your comfrey product is made of the plant’s leaves, not its roots.  Applying comfrey to the skin speeds up healing time, so it is especially good for acne-related wounds.

#7:  Chickweed

Chickweed is an herbal remedy that is especially effective for cystic acne.  To use Chickweed, make a tea using one teaspoon of the herb steeped in a cup of hot water.  After it has cooled, use it to wash your face or pour it in your bath.

You can also make Chickweed infused oil, which you can apply to your pimples daily.  To do so, crush some Chickweed, put it in a bottle with about a cup of safflower oil and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks.  After that, you can strain the oil and use it to apply to blemishes.

#8:  Elderflower

This herb, also known as Elder Berry, is used as a treatment for breakouts.  It can be made as a tea and then applied to the skin or you can drink the tea.  If you are drinking it, you should drink three cups per day to see results.  To make the tea, put one teaspoon of Elderflower into a cup of hot water and let it steep.

#9:  Marigold

Marigold leaves, also called Calendula, are very well known for their skin soothing and healing properties.  You can purchase a small amount of calendula tincture, which you can add to any skin care product you like.  This is the best and cheapest way to try Marigold leaves for acne, but you could also buy one of several commercially available products that advertise that they contain Marigold/Calendula.  Yet another option would be to collect a small amount of fresh Marigold leaves and pulverize or blend them.  Then you can apply the crushed leaves to your face as a sort of mask.  Leave the mask on for 10 to 20 minutes and then wash your face.  Inflammation will go down and redness will disappear.

#10:  Chasteberry

It seems people are divided over whether Chasteberry, also called vitex, is effective for treating acne, with about half saying it worked for them and half saying it did nothing.  Although it’s quite possible this herb could improve acne, one should keep in mind that it interacts with certain other drugs.  It interacts with birth control pills and other medications that influence hormones.  It also interacts with medications that affect dopamine and it is not recommended for women who could become pregnant or men who could father a child.  Vitex could be worth a try to treat acne, since many people report success using it.  Just be careful to consult with a doctor before using this remedy.

#11:  Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is an excellent herbal cure for acne, especially if it is caused by hormones.  It works equally well for both men and women.  To use saw palmetto as an acne treatment, take one or two 160 mg capsules per day.

#12:  Turmeric

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  It is an orange spice common in Indian food and is also used as a dye due to its bright color.  Turmeric is not for everyone, though!  If you have light skin, you should test any application of turmeric or a turmeric-based mask on a hidden part of your skin.  For some light-skinned people, turmeric can leave behind an orange twinge.  This cure is definitely worth a try, just be sure to test it somewhere besides your face first to see if it will stain your skin!

Another great way to benefit from turmeric is to add it to your food or take capsules of it every day.  Yet another option is to take capsules of its active ingredient, curcumin, which is even more powerful as an anti-oxidant.  To make sure your curcumin is absorbable, choose a brand of capsule that also contains BioPerine (such as Doctor’s Best C3 Curcumin with BioPerine) or is nano-curcumin (such as LifeExtension brand).  These two types have been shown to stay in the blood much better than plain curcumin.  If it can’t stay in your blood, it can’t work its magic, so this is important!

Curcumin is a very powerful substance.  Many recent studies have proven it to be effective at preventing and helping to treat multiple different types of cancer.  It has quite a few other health benefits as well, especially for mental health.  Because it is so strong, if you intend to take curcumin capsules, be sure to clear it with a doctor and a pharmacist first if you are on any other medications.  Also, check the instructions of all over-the-counter medications before taking them if you’re on curcumin.  Curcumin is considered an MAOI, a class of substances that cannot be mixed with certain other medications.  Any over-the-counter medications will say on the label if MAOI’s are not to be taken with it.  If you are unsure about anything, ask a pharmacist for help.

Such precautions are not usually necessary for turmeric when it is applied to the skin in relatively small areas (i.e., not a full-body application).

#13:  Aloe

Aloe is a top ingredient in skin care for its skin healing and nourishing properties.  There are several ways you can use aloe for acne, and it’s highly recommended that you do!  It is especially useful if you have acne sores that need to heal or if you have any areas of inflammation you’re trying to soothe.

One way to reap the benefits of aloe is to drink it.  In its purest form, aloe “gel” isn’t a gel at all- it’s a liquid thin enough to drink.  Many people think it is very tasty and it is becoming popular as a drink in its own right.  If you happen to not like the taste, it’s easy to hide in a smoothie and drink it down.  In addition to having tons of general health benefits, aloe will promote beautiful, smooth skin.

A more common way to use aloe for acne is to apply it to the skin instead of drinking it.  While some people leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off, many others apply it overnight with excellent results.  You can do this every day to help your skin clear up.  It does not tend to clog pores, although it may feel somewhat sticky when you put it on.  Don’t be fooled by commercial products labeled as aloe gel that are chock-full of other chemicals and irritants.  Aloe should be the first or second ingredient on the bottle, and the fewer chemical additives, the better.  It is very common for aloe gel to contain added alcohol.  You are best off avoiding this sort of gel if you have sensitive skin, as the alcohol can produce some irritation.

The third method is used to physically unclog pores.  This method may not be as effective for cystic or hormonal acne.  After cleansing your face, apply a layer of the purest aloe gel you can find to your skin and allow it to dry.  Make sure it is a gel and not a liquid.  Then take an oil that is good for skin (safflower oil or pure extra virgin olive oil are good choices because of their high vitamin E and anti-oxidant contents) and spread it on your fingers.  Now massage your face.  You may need to massage awhile, adding more oil if necessary, but the substances clogging up your pores will start to come out onto your hands.  You will need to cleanse your face once again when you are finished.

#14:  Mint

Applying mint extract to your face works wonders to neutralize the oily skin that encourages breakouts.  Get fresh mint leaves from the supermarket and rinse them thoroughly in cool water.  Pat them dry with paper towels and then put them (alone, with no water) in a blender or food processor.  You can also crush them with a mortar and pestle.  Squeeze the juice from the solid material.  You will now have a bowl of fresh mint leaf juice/extract. Next, apply the juice to your skin using a cotton ball and leave it on overnight.  Repeat this procedure every night.  Within a week, your skin should be less oily and breakouts less frequent.

#15:  Nutmeg

Freshly ground nutmeg soothes the skin and even improves the appearance of acne scars.  Pre-ground nutmeg is not as effective as fresh, but it is much easier to find.  Un-ground nutmeg looks like a nut and can be grated on the spiky side of a cheese grater (haven’t we all wondered all along what in the world that part of the grater was for?).  To use nutmeg for pimples, put some nutmeg powder in your moisturizer and apply it as a mask, washing it off after 15 to 20 minutes.  Pat your skin dry and apply moisturizer without nutmeg, as normal.

Another great way to use nutmeg to fight acne is to mix a small amount (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon at most) of nutmeg with two or three tablespoons of honey and use it as a mask.  Although it feels sticky going on, honey is amazing for acne-prone skin.  Leave the mask on for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash it off.  Pat your face dry and continue with your normal skin care routine.

#16:  Red Clover

Red clover is a plant that can help get rid of pimples.  You can eat it in salads in relatively small amounts.  You can also brew your own red clover tea to drink.  Purchase some red clover and put about a teaspoon in a cup of hot water.  Allow it to steep and then enjoy!  Drinking one cup per day should be sufficient for an anti-acne treatment.  Red clover capsules are also available, but you should use these with caution, since they can upset your stomach.  Start off slow with these capsules, pouring out ½ a capsule so you are only taking a ½ dose at first.  Work your way up to a whole capsule only if you are not experiencing any stomach problems.

#17:  Licorice Root Extract

Licorice root extract is helpful for those with hormonal imbalances (androgen excess) that cause acne.  A substance in licorice root, called licochalcone-A, is effective not only for acne, but for rosacea and several other skin ailments as well.  Typically, licorice extract is sold as a ready-made product and each product has its own dosage directions on the package.  Be careful not to exceed the recommended dosage, as excessive amounts of this substance can be harmful if you have high blood pressure or certain other conditions.  It is not recommended for women who are pregnant.  If you have any medical conditions or take any medications, consult your doctor before trying licorice root extract.

Other All Natural Acne Solutions

There are not many acne treatments that are all natural and still effective, but one that stands out is cold laser/light therapy. When used correctly, it kills bacteria on the skin and speeds the healing of blemishes. The trick is finding a product that works well for getting rid of acne and improving acne scars. We recommend the RubyLux LED light therapy bulbs as opposed to light therapy devices. The bulbs are the same as light therapy machines, but screw into any standard lamp or light fixture.

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Filed under Acne: Alternative, Natural & Home Remedies, Supplements

What Works for Acne

Woman applying moisturizer cream on face. Close-up fresh woman face.

Home Remedies for Acne: What Works

Everyone’s suffered a pimple before. But sometimes it’s more than one pimple. Sometimes the cause is hard to nail down. In the worst cases, some people are very troubled by their acne and despite all their efforts to get rid of it, it remains.

I’ve got a novel theory about acne. My thinking goes like this: do people with acne really have such different skin? Rationally, one would think that the bacteria on their faces is just the same as the bacteria on everyone else’s (we’re all covered in germs, you know). Many people with acne go to great lengths to keep their faces clean, but even with excellent hygiene, the acne doesn’t go away. What gives?

I think that one common reason for acne is immune system deficiency. Ideally, your immune system keeps all the bacteria in and on your body in balance. It’s when the immune system isn’t quite reacting properly that acne and a host of other problems appears. Although there are definitely other possible reasons for acne, if you have a severe case of acne, you should consider whether your overall health can be improved.

Obviously, even if your immune system is a factor in your skin health, it isn’t the only factor. Let’s get into some of the different categories of home remedies used to treat acne.

Hygiene

You may not realize that you are doing certain things that will encourage the transfer of bacteria to your face. Consider whether any of the following could be contributing to your acne.

Hand Washing

Don’t touch your face without first washing your hands. Many people are in the habit of touching their face throughout the day, not realizing that they could be making their acne worse.

Before you apply any skin care products, be sure your hands are clean. If you might have perfume or hair care product residue on your hands, for example, getting it on your face could just worsen your situation. Washing your hands not only gets rid of germs, it also washes away other substances you have touched.

Jars of Cream Are a No-No

I have to be honest, I’m a hypocrite. While I fully recognize that creams packaged in jars are petri dishes just waiting to be filled with bacteria, my very favorite skin care line uses this sort of packaging.

If you are going to use products that come in jars instead of pumps or bottles, you need to be very careful to avoid contaminating your skin cream. Never use your fingers to get the product out of the jar, even if you just washed your hands. Instead, use a clean plastic scoop to get the product out. Do not “double-dip”, either. That defeats the whole purpose of using a sterile scoop/spatula.

Make-Up

If you use make-up of any sort, always remember that contamination with bacteria is a concern. If you’ve been keeping makeup since the beginning of time, maybe it’s time to throw it out. Likewise, if your makeup brushes and applicators are kind of old, it may be best to throw them away and buy new ones. Cleaning them is good, but after awhile they’re just like old gym socks- no matter how much you clean them, the bacteria remains and you’re best off to throw them out.

Just like with the jars of skin cream, makeup can carry a lot of bacteria. If you have acne, it may be worthwhile to be extra careful not to contaminate your makeup. Use clean applicators and don’t put an applicator back into the makeup after it’s touched your face, hands or any surface. Wash your applicators and brushes after each use, or use single-use applicators.

One thing to watch out for as far as cleaning your brushes: harsh chemical cleaners. Many makeup brush cleaners are overly harsh. Check the bottle and you may find a warning not to inhale the vapors or worse, not to use the makeup brush cleaner indoors! Although these chemicals might kill bacteria, their residue remains on your brushes and you will rub it all over your face next time you do your makeup. Even if your brush cleaner is gentle, don’t forget that it could contain ingredients that will irritate your skin and worsen acne. Bacteria is not the only thing that contributes to acne. Irritation and inflammation from chemicals or allergens are also big factors.

Pillow Cases

Most of us forget that our face touches our pillow case every night. Some suffering from serious acne problems have eliminated their problem just by changing their pillow case every night and laundering their pillow cases in ultra-gentle detergent.

Choose a cotton pillow case that is white or un-dyed. Buy several and change your pillow case each night. Your first instinct might be to bleach your pillowcases and load up on strong detergents when you wash them, but you will likely have a better effect by laundering your pillow cases in a natural or gentle detergent, such as plain vinegar or Dreft. Experiment with various detergents and see what works best for your skin.

Irritants

Usually, people with acne don’t realize how much their problem is aggravated by skin irritants. But irritation leads to inflammation and can sometimes be the sole cause of an acne problem.

Skin Care Products

The first place to look for irritants are your skin care products. You have probably purchased products meant to be gentle and non-irritating, or all-natural. Unfortunately, no regulations are in place to govern what products can label themselves as “natural”, “organic” or “hypoallergenic”. And even if the product really is natural or gentle, it still contains ingredients. Since every individual is unique, it’s possible that your skin doesn’t react well to one or more of those ingredients.

Step one is to ignore all advertising. It doesn’t really matter if the package says it’s hypoallergenic or all-natural. You are going to have to look at the facts. Read the ingredient list. Are there ingredients there that you aren’t sure what they are? Are there ingredients that have numbers as part of their name, like PEG-100? Time to hit the internet to find out if those substances are known irritants. Warning: if you’d like a shock day, spend the afternoon Googling all the ingredients in your skin care products.

I’m not trying to say that all chemicals are bad. Some are harmless. However, if you take the time to look for yourself, you will find that even products labeled “hypoallergenic” or “all-natural” are chock-full of ingredients you might not want anything to do with. It is not uncommon for these ingredients to be known skin irritants, hormone disruptors, carcinogens or even toxic poisons. Don’t take my word for it- go look for yourself!

After you’ve scraped your jaw off the floor, you’re going to be on the hunt for new products to try. Finding a non-irritating skin care product is difficult. Your best bet is to look online to find something you believe won’t irritate your skin and won’t cause an allergic reaction.

This is one of those issues where you might not want to take your doctor’s word for it. If your doctor has suggested specific skin care products, don’t just take her word for it that they’re non-irritating. Look at the ingredients and make your own decision. Sometimes even doctors are clueless about how chemicals and irritants affect acne.

Detergents and Cleaners

The detergents you use on your clothes, the cleaners you use on your makeup brushes- anything that touches the things you touch your face with- could be irritating your skin and worsening your acne. Take the time to look at all the cleaning products you use that might possibly be affecting your skin. It’s not that hard to change these to see if they affect your acne.

Hair Care Products

Your hair care products could be contributing to your acne. Your hair may touch your face, or the product may be sprayed on and end up on your face. Look into the ingredients in your hair care just like you did for skin care. There could be a few ingredients or products you decide to avoid.

Mechanical Irritation

Chemicals aren’t the only irritants that contribute to acne. Physical irritations do, too. If you’ve been using an abrasive cleansing brush or been getting carried away scrubbing your face at night, you could be making your problem worse instead of better. It is important to cleanse your face properly, but the more you rub, the more sensitive you make your skin.

Sunlight

Light can also have an effect on acne. This effect is not clear, though. For some, sunlight seems to clear up acne. For others, it causes irritation and makes the problem worse (especially if you have rosacea). Check for yourself to see if getting some sun or avoiding it could get rid of your acne.

Allergic Reactions or Sensitivities

Many people are finding that their acne and other problems are a result of an allergy or sensitivity to ingredients commonly found in food and cosmetics.

Gluten is high on that list. Usually, people who are gluten sensitive are considered to have Celiac Disease. However, many believe that you can have a lesser sensitivity to gluten, which can cause more minor health concerns, such as acne. If you want to go gluten-free, you’re in for a big change. Gluten is extremely common in processed foods and even in soaps and cosmetics.

MSG, aspartame, sodium benzoate, artificial colors and other food/cosmetic additives can also be troublesome.

The best solution if you believe your acne could be related to food or cosmetic additive sensitivity is to cut the suspected offending substance out of your life. You might also find it useful to keep a journal of what you’ve eaten or what products you’ve used and your skin’s condition. After a few days, you may start to see patterns that show you the cause of your acne. However, it often takes many days of keeping track before such patterns appear. Don’t get discouraged!

Home Remedies for Acne

Tea for Your Face

Brew some chamomile or green tea using water just hot enough to make the tea. Let it cool and then apply to your face in any manner you choose. Chamomile is so well-known for its skin-soothing properties, you will commonly find it as an ingredient in anti-acne skin care. Green tea is also soothing and has tons of antioxidants to improve your skin’s condition.

Apply a Yogurt Mask

Milk solids are popular ingredients in skin care because your skin will feel soft after applying them. Yogurt will not only soothe your skin, it contains friendly bacteria that will counter the bad bacteria that causes acne. Your natural immune system is heavily reliant on friendly bacteria. A yogurt mask replenishes your good bacteria so you can fight off acne naturally.

Many people add other ingredients to their yogurt mask. Honey is a popular choice, because it has long been known for its antiseptic properties.

It is best to choose a flavor-free yogurt, since artificial flavors and sugars added to flavored yogurts could adversely affect your skin’s condition. My favorite choice is Greek yogurt, because it is thicker than plain yogurt and does better at sticking to your face as a mask.

Light Therapy

For some people, sunlight helps clear up acne. But there’s another type of light therapy that works like a charm.

For some time now, it’s been known that blue light kills bacteria. That is why some hospitals use HEPA filters with blue light.

The catch is that the light has to be powerful. A regular light bulb won’t do, and besides, you’ll burn yourself getting super close to one. The best solution has been blue LED lights.

More LEDs is better. You should make sure the LED is really blue, and not just a white LED that has a blue cover. You can tell if your LED is really blue by turning it off and looking to see if it still appears blue. If its shell/cover looks clear, you’ve got yourself a true-blue light.

Turn the light on and apply it as close as possible to the area you want to treat. Hold it there for a few minutes.

Your pimple won’t immediately be gone, but within 12-24 hours, you should see a great improvement. You can treat the pimple every 4 to 6 hours if necessary.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apply some apple cider vinegar to the affected area. Don’t wash it off. The acetic acid in it is a natural antiseptic.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a natural astringent and can help dry up a pimple. Beware, though: lemon juice can also be an irritant and may make your acne worse if you have sensitive skin. If you use lemon juice, wash it off before going in the sun or you might have skin discoloration from the reaction.

Honey + Cinnamon

Mix up a paste of ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to 1-2 teaspoons of honey. Apply it to the pimple and leave it for 20 minutes. Wash it off. The antibacterial qualities of honey and cinnamon will help get rid of acne-causing bacteria.

Aspirin

Aspirin and the willow tree bark it comes from are extremely popular ingredients in skincare products because they soothe inflammation so well. You’ll usually see them listed as “salicyclic acid”.

Dissolve some aspirin tablets (about 5 or 6 will work) in ½ Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or water, if you have no apple cider vinegar). Then mix the liquid with 1 or 2 Tablespoons of honey.

Apply the aspirin-honey mixture to your face like a mask. Do not get it in or near your eyes. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and then gently wash it off.

Some are more direct with their aspirin approach. They just grab a tablet of aspirin and rub it on the pimple. Extreme home remedy!

Witch Hazel

Apply witch hazel to your face as an astringent. This helps clear up acne and keep it from coming back.

Aloe

Fresh aloe vera juice is great for your skin and for healing. Snap a leaf off of an aloe plant and rub the goo on any pimples you have. This will speed up healing.

Mint

Take clean, fresh mint leaves and crush one or two between your fingers. Then rub the residue on your zit.

Cabbage

Mince up some cabbage, or even better, put it in your food processor. Apply the juice to your face and leave it for 20 to 30 minutes. Then wash it off gently.

Nutmeg

Take ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg (preferably freshly ground, if at all possible) and mix it with just enough milk to form a paste. Apply the paste to the areas where you have acne and leave it on for 2 hours or overnight. Then wash it off gently.

Orange Oil

Take an orange peel and twist, pound or muddle it until you’ve gotten some of the oil out of it. Rub the oil on your acne.

Turmeric and/or Neem

Warning: turmeric is commonly used as a yellow dye. Be sure to test out an application of turmeric on an inconspicuous area of your skin to see if it will stain. This seems to be an individual issue- even some people who are very light find that the turmeric doesn’t stain them, while others do. Make sure you find out before you apply it all over your face!

Take turmeric and/or neem powder and add enough water to make a paste. Apply the paste to your face and leave it for 15 minutes. Wash it off gently. Turmeric and neem are both strong antimicrobials and promote healing. They also reduce inflammation.

Fresh Tomato Juice

Tomatoes are great for your skin. Extract the juice from a tomato and apply it to your skin for 30 minutes to an hour. Then wash it off.

It’s best to use organic tomatoes for this, to reduce the chances of pesticides ending up in your tomato juice.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is naturally a strong antimicrobial. Don’t make the mistake of applying straight tea tree oil to your skin! Tea tree oil must be diluted. You should purchase tea tree oil that is already diluted to a 5% solution or you can dilute it yourself: make a solution that is 5 parts tea tree oil to 95 parts water.

Apply the solution to your face. Tea tree oil solutions are very effective against acne, however, you may need to give it a bit more time to work than conventional anti-acne products, such as benzoyl peroxide. It’s worth the wait, though, because it has far fewer side effects and doesn’t cause the dryness and irritation some other products do.

Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin A and Vitamin E

Take zinc supplements to boost your body’s natural healing power.

Niacin, Vitamin A and Vitamin E are all associated with healthy skin.

Cucumber Juice

Cucumber juice is very popular in skin care because it is so gentle and soothing. You can get the benefit of fresh cucumber juice by grating a cucumber or putting it in a food processor to extract the juice. Apply the juice to your skin and let it soak up all the vitamins. No need to wash off.

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