Herbal Remedy to Cure Acne
Common acne is an inflammation of follicles. It usually begins and subsides in adolescence, but for many it continues through adulthood. While no empirical link exists between diet and acne, certain hormones, cosmetic compounds and moisturizers have been tied to acne. In addition to the over-the-counter and prescription treatments available, nature has provided several herbs that alleviate the symptoms and signs of common acne.
What is Acne
According to the Merck Manual, the root cause of acne is excess production of keratin, a protein, that leads to blocked hair follicles and skin pores. When the sebaceous glands in a hair follicle become blocked with keratin, the growth of bacteria is stimulated, which creates free fatty acids that our bodies attempt to contain in cysts. Open cysts, where the surface is exposed to the air, are commonly called blackheads, while their closed counterparts are whiteheads.
The key to treating acne is to ensure pores and follicles remain clear and unblocked. The most effective preventative measure regarding acne is washing your face with cool water to rid the skin surface of oil, dead cells and bacteria. "Any good toilet soap may be used," according to the Merck Manual. "Antibacterial soaps are of no benefit, and abrasive soaps will make it impossible to use ... benzoyl peroxide." Dr. Linda White and Steven Foster in "The Herbal Drugstore" caution against too much face washing, however. "Washing the skin's surface doesn't rid the follicles of bacteria and excess oils," they write. "It's better to wash gently with a mild cleanser." Grapefruit seed extract fights bacteria and is useful as a face wash.
Most remedies for a skin condition are external and topical. However, the herb burdock is a diuretic that promotes sweating and urination. A common plant found throughout the Western Hemisphere, burdock root contains chemicals that attack the bacteria that cause acne, White and Foster write. Taken in the form of a pill or as a tea, burdock can help reduce acne. Because burdock is used in Indian cooking, you can probably find it in Indian groceries as well as health food stores.
Essential oils are distilled concentrations of herbal oils and are usually strong. For this reason essential oils frequently must be diluted before being applied to the skin and should not be taken internally. Certain essential oils have antibacterial properties and are useful in treating acne. Lavender is an anti-inflammatory astringent that is useful for many skin ailments. Use a cotton swab to dot lavender essential oil onto affected areas as needed.
Aloe is an antibacterial plant that is useful for soothing irritated skin. White and Foster recommend using only pure aloe gel and avoiding skin creams that contain aloe along with other chemicals. Rosewater made from the essential oil of roses has an antiseptic value and can be applied through a spray. Chamomile contains an anti-inflammatory essential oil and when diluted with hot water, can be applied to blemishes.
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