Herbal Acne Solutions
There are a number of ways to address acne using herbal remedies, many of which are at least as effective as the common over-the-counter pharmaceutical methods. Depending on your preference, herbal treatments for common acne can be used internally--in pill form--or, as you might expect, topically, either as salves or lotions. Different types of herbal remedies address different causes and symptoms related to acne, so you can combine treatments to discover what works best for you.
What Causes Acne
The red swelling, blackheads, and white pus-filled cysts that we generally call acne occur when pores and hair follicles in our skin are clogged with an excessive amount of the protein keratin and subsequently become infected with bacteria. The syndrome takes its name from the bacteria that thrives in excess keratin, Propionibacterium acnes. Exactly why some people tend to overproduce keratin has not been fully determined, but most experts agree that there is no link between diet and acne. It is safe to say that the most effective way to prevent acne is to keep the skin clean so the pores and follicles do not become blocked.
The bacteria P. acnes produces fatty acids that erupt on our skin as pimples and blackheads, irritating the skin and even causing scars. Killing the bacteria is an effective way of stopping pimples and there are many herbs that have antibacterial properties. Perhaps the most useful herbal concoction to have on hand for treating acne and many other skin conditions is lavender essential oil because it is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Lavender oil can be applied directly to any acne blemish with a cotton swab. Australian tea tree oil is another external application that combats P. acnes.
Dr. Linda White and Steven Foster write in "The Herbal Drugstore" that the calendula plant is a traditional remedy for many skin problems, including acne. They suggest steeping a teaspoon of the orange-colored petals in a cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes and applying the cooled balm to your face with a cotton ball. They also recommend a similar tea made from chamomile or dabbing chamomile's essential oil on trouble spots.
If you prefer your treatments to work from the inside out, there's an herb for that, too. Actually, there are several. Dried dandelion root, available in capsule form, may help the body get rid of toxins and excess hormones through liver stimulation. Burdock, a staple of Indian cooking, is also available in pill form, or as a dried herb for tea. The herb Vitex, which is proven to help mitigate premenstrual syndrome symptoms also has toxin-cleansing properties that can thwart P. acnes.
Finding Herbal Treatments
Many of the herbs listed here may be available in a chain pharmacy or supermarket. Always follow the instructions on the container when preparing an herbal treatment. Just because it is natural does not mean it is not dangerous if misused.
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