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Herbal Acne Treatments

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Updated February 28, 2013

Acne is a skin condition involving inflammation of the glands in your skin responsible for producing oil. Although acne often appears as whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples, more severe forms can cause painful cysts.

Causes of Acne

Overproduction of oil, bacterial buildup, and irritation of your skin's hair follicles all play a role in the development of acne. These factors may be driven by hormonal changes or imbalances, side effects of certain medications, or your own genetic makeup.

Herbal Acne Cures

The use of herbal medicine in treatment of acne has not yet been extensively researched. Here's a look at several herbs commonly recommended as acne remedies:

1) Vitex

Also known as chasteberry, vitex is thought to treat acne by balancing your hormone levels. But while the herb has been shown to improve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, studies have yet to confirm that vitex can help reduce acne.

2) Dong Quai

In a 2003 study, scientists discovered that dong quai (a Chinese herb also known as Angelica dahurica or Angelica sinensis) had anti-acne benefits similar to that of erythromycin (an antibiotic often used as an acne medication). The same study showed that licorice also had significant acne-fighting effects.

3) Guggul

Guggul (an herb commonly used in ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India) may help relieve acne, especially among people with particularly oily faces, according to a small study published in 1994. The study included 20 people with cystic acne, and found that taking guggul supplements daily for three months led to a progressive reduction in acne lesions.

More Natural Cures for Acne

Tea tree oil (an essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy treatments), a low-glycemic load diet, a dairy-free diet, and zinc (an essential mineral) may help relieve acne naturally. Learn more about using these natural acne remedies.

How To Prevent Acne

For help in stopping your skin from breaking out, try these self-care strategies:

  • wash your skin with a gentle cleanser twice daily
  • shower or wash up after exercising
  • avoid resting your hands on your face
  • Sources:

    Loch EG, Selle H, Boblitz N. "Treatment of premenstrual syndrome with a phytopharmaceutical formulation containing Vitex agnus castus." Journal of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicine 2000 9(3):315-20.

    Nam C, Kim S, Sim Y, Chang I. "Anti-acne effects of Oriental herb extracts: a novel screening method to select anti-acne agents." Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology 2003 16(2):84-90.

    Schellenberg R. "Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study." BMJ 2001 20;322(7279):134-7.

    Thappa DM, Dogra J. "Nodulocystic acne: oral gugulipid versus tetracycline." Journal of Dermatology 1994 21(10):729-31.

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