Medicinal herb for acne should aim to treat the underlying causes such as hormonal imbalances, poor digestion, sluggish liver, abnormal bowel function and nutritional deficiencies
Topically, herbs for acne treatment mainly involves using antiseptic herbs that are applied to clean skin in order to keep bacteria at bay and reduce inflammation and infection.
Internal use of herbs for acne treatment should address hormonal imbalances by improving liver function and improve the body´s natural elimination of toxins by improving digestion and as a result, make the skin more clear and healthier.
Which medicinal herbs to choose will depend on the underlying cause, and most skin specialists will agree that there is no one specific factor that causes acne.
What is know, is that androgen hormones at puberty increase the production of sebum in the adolescent skin.
Combined with a bacterium that naturally occurs on the skin, the increase in sebum can lead to increased bacteria, and inflammation and infection of already blocked pores.
Medicinal herbs for acne probably work best when combined with a high fiber, low allergy diet, lots of water and supplements containing zinc, vitamin C and E, preferably in a formula designed for skin complaints.
Common Medicinal Herbs for Acne Treatment
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
In the formation of acne bacteria plays a certain role and of those bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis are the most studied.
Both of these occur naturally on the skin, and neither has been shown to be the cause of acne. But when sebum production changes, or it becomes inflamed, these bacteria often multiple and may aggravate the inflammation.
Tea tree oil is one of the best available herbs for acne with anti-bacterial properties. The tea tree oil can be diluted with jojoba oil (25 to 50%) before it is applied directly to the acne, usually 2-3 times daily.
Jojoba oil is often used because it is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Tea tree oil should not be used internally.
Mahonia or Oregon Grape (Berberis aquafolium)
This herb has traditionally been used as an internal medicine for treating acne. However, one recent study, using Oregon grape topically showed this herb to decrease sebum, reduce infection and inflammation.
The antibacterial compounds in this herb are berbamine and berberine, which are also believed to reduce sebum production and kill bacteria when used topically. When used internally, these compounds are liver tonics that improve bile flow, stimulate digestion and act as a tonic on the bowel wall.
Golden Seal (Hydrastis Canadensis)
Topically, golden seal is an effective antibacterial, mainly due to its berberine content.
When used in combination with marshmallow to soothe inflamed skin it will reduce redness and eliminate bacteria causing infection.
Internally, golden seal has historically been called the “King of Tonics”, and is used as an antibiotic, liver tonic, and will increase bile production which in acts to detoxify the body by increasing elimination.
Together, these herbs work as what once was referred to as “blood purifiers”. Today these herbs are used to improve digestive function by increasing the output of bile from the gall bladder into the small intestine.
Many traditional herbalists will prescribe these herbs together as an overall tonic for the liver and gall bladder.
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea)
Echinacea is also one of the herbs for acne with antiseptic properties. It can be used as a tincture mixed with 50% water and applied directly to the skin. Echinacea may also be used to strengthen the immune system and in turn cleanse the skin from within.
Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)
A scientific study from 2003 strongly indicated that dong quai may have a positive effect as an herbal remedy for acne. The scientists discovered that the herb had a similar effect to that of erythromycin, an antibiotic often prescribed as a medicine for treating acne.
Indian Madder (Rubia cordifolia)
Indian madder, also known as manjistha (Sanskrit), is a perennial plant that is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine.
The herb is believed to enhance and support the lymphatic system and thus contribute to a more healthy skin.
Studies have confirmed that Indian madder does have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and could be helpful as a remedy in preventing and treating acne.
Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Neem is another medicinal herb that has its uses in Ayurvedic herbal medicine.
The neem oil contains substances that have antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Traditionally, neem has been used as an herbal remedy especially for ailments related to the skin such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Studies have shown that the herb does have antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus, a bacteria often associated with acne.
Other Medicinal Herbs for Acne That Have Been Used Either as Treatment or Prevention
- Cowslip – (Primula veris)
- Elderberry – (Sambucus nigra)
- Juniper – (Juniperus communis)
- Anise – (Pimpinella anisum)
- Black Walnut – (Juglans nigra)
- Agrimony – (Agrimonia eupatoria)
- Lemon Grass – (Cymbopogon citratus)
- Lavender – (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Calendula – (Calendula officinalis)
- Borage – (Borago officinalis)
- Common Mallow – (Malva sylvestris)
- Bergamot – (Citrus bergamia)
- Biting Stonecrop – (Sedum acre)
- Bletilla – (Bletilla striata)
- Bog Myrtle – (Bletilla striata)
- Camphor Tree – (Cinnamomum camphora)
- Lady’s Mantle – (Alchemilla vulgaris)
- Fumitory – (Fumaria officinalis)
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