4 Herbal Home Cures for Acne
All-Natural Skin Remedies
“I’ve tried everything for my acne!”
This is a phrase I hear all the time in my holistic dermatology practice. On further questioning, I discover that “everything” often turns out to be nothing more than a couple of chemical creams and pharmaceutical medications.
For moderate to severe acne, I prescribe customized Chinese herbal teas to be taken internally.
For milder cases, simple herbal home treatments are all it takes to eliminate acne. Here are some of my favorites.
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1. Green Tea
There are two great properties of green tea that make it a great choice to fight acne. First, it is high in antioxidants and eliminates free radicals.
This both reduces inflammation and helps to protect against the bacteria associated with acne. Second, it reduces sebum production, making the skin less oily and less prone to breakouts.
I recommend green tea both topically and internally.
Steep a nice big mug for yourself every evening. While you are enjoying your cup of tea, allow another mug (with two or three teabags) to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Use the strong tea as a wash or compress.
2. Willow Bark
Willow Bark is a natural source of salicylic acid, an ingredient found in most over-the-counter acne creams.
While salicylic acid can be successful at reducing inflammation and exfoliating the skin, it can also cause irritation and redness in some people.
Willow bark is a natural, gentler alternative. The tannins in willow bark make it anti-inflammatory and a good choice for reducing facial redness.
It is also an astringent, helping the skin shed dead cells and clearing the pores. Make your own toner at home with 1/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of willow bark extract.
Like green tea, chamomile is an effective anti-acne ingredient when used both internally and topically. Chamomile tea works on two fronts.
The active ingredients inhibit the release of histamines, preventing and reducing inflammatory acne lesions and facial redness. In addition, the anxiolytic and antioxidant properties are calming, which helps prevent stress-induced acne.
Enjoy a cup (with a little honey) while steeping a stronger cup to use as a face wash.
Some suggest saving the used tea bags to use directly on red, inflamed pimples.
4. Tea Tree
Tea tree is perhaps the most widely researched anti-acne herb. It has strong anti-bacterial properties and has been shown to be effective against P. acnes and Staph aureus, the two strains of bacteria seen in acne.
An Australian study showed tea tree to be equally as effective at healing acne as benzoyl peroxide. Results were slower with tea tree but also had fewer negative side effects than the benzoyl peroxide treatment.
I recommend using tea tree at a five percent concentration. Simply mix tea tree essential oil with 95 percent of a non-comedogenic oil (such as argan or safflower oil).
One thing to remember is that everyone’s skin is unique. What may be a miracle cure for one person’s skin may cause irritation and redness in someone else.
Treatment with herbs tends to be gentler than using harsh chemicals. But it’s always best to spot test on a small area before putting anything all over your face.
Experiment with these ingredients to find out which will be most effective for you.
References and Resources
“Green Tea Linked to Skin Cell Rejuvenation,” Science Daily, 4/25/03
Srivastava, Janmejai et al. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future.” Mol Med Report. 2010 November 1
Bassett, IB et al. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust. 1990 Oct 15;153(8):455-8
Mahmood T et al. Outcomes of 3% green tea emulsion on skin sebum production in male volunteers. Bosn J Basic Med Sci. 2010 Aug;10(3):260-4.
Pazyar, N et al. Green tea in dermatology. Skinmed. 2012 Nov-Dec;10(6):352-5.
Raman, A et al. Antimicrobial effects of tea-tree oil and its major components on Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes. Lett Appl Microbiol. 1995 Oct; 21(4):242-5.
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