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Alternative Answers for Acne


Acne occurs when the sebaceous glands secrete too much oil. Normally the oil flows from the glands to the skin’s surface, but if the dead skin cells accumulate, they can clog the pores. The skin reflects our internal health. Acne is sometimes an indicator of toxic conditions. Too much waste product in the kidneys, liver, lungs, intestine or digestive problems can all give cause for breakouts. Allergies, high fat diet, emotional problems, pollution… these are all causes.

Most cases of acne will disappear by themselves at the end of adolescence, but if acne persists or becomes severe, it should be treated more aggressively to prevent scarring.

Sudden appearance of acne in adulthood may be a sign of hormonal imbalance or drug toxicity (usually from steroids). Get a medical checkup to rule out these possibilities.

Clean the skin regularly with soap and water as well as with the special acne formulas containing benzoyl peroxide. This is an excellent cleansing agent and the active ingredient of many lotions and creams, both over-the-counter and prescription varieties.

Herbs used for general detoxification of the liver and bowels assist in elimination and herbs that increase perspiration through the skin are very helpful in treating acne.

Acne that grows into large groups can form sebaceous cysts, carbuncles or furuncles. Boils can be large and inflamed and can be a sign of a staphylococcus or (staph) infection. Weak immune function, diabetes mellitus, poor nutrition and the use of immunosuppresive drugs are some causes. Boils are often an infection that starts at the hair follicle, inflammation occurs and then spreads.

The bacteria in the pus reacts the same as acne in that it is contagious to the surrounding skin. Staph infection is contagious, can contaminate new skin, causing new boils or enter the bloodstream and spread to other body parts. Without treatment, a boil usually comes to head, opens and drains in 10-25 days.

This is something that should be watched carefully. If nausea, vomiting, fever or infection grows, these are signs that these pus and blood filled boils are not acne, but a bacterial infection. Severe cases require, blood test and doctor to prescribe antibiotic and draining incision and bed rest.

Boils are usually treated by lancing the boil to get the pus core out and oral antibiotics are given to get rid of the infection.

Poultices, warm towels on a regular basis will help with pain and drawing it out of skin. Do this 4 times a day for about 20 minutes.

Clean the wound. This is important to prevent infection and to decrease the chance of permanent discoloration, or scarring. Wash the area with soap and water Your own saliva contains many enzymes, which kill bacteria. Use it to clean the area if soap/water are not available. The object is to dilute the bacteria in the wound.

Disinfection is necessary, pour 3 percent hydrogen peroxide into the wound, let it foam up, repeat, and pat dry with a clean piece of gauze or cotton.

Yunnan Paiyao is an excellent Chinese herbal powder, which helps to stop bleeding, close the wound and decreases scarring. This patent formula alone helps the flesh regenerate and prevents blood stasis and infections, which could lead to scarring. It can be used externally and taken internally as well! Excellent treatment for boils and staph infection.

Consider burdock root, which is a natural blood cleanser, red clover to cleanse the blood, along with Chlorophyll and garlic, a natural antibiotic. Take additional Vitamins A, C, E, which are powerful anti-inflammatory and Co enzyme Q10, a fantastic antioxidant.

Herbal Remedies

Calendula is a good herbal treatment for the skin, commonly known as Marigold. (It is not a true marigold.) Calendula is a popular ornamental plant. Try washing your skin with tea made from the flowers or taking the tincture orally.

Basil has been shown to kill bacteria on the skin surface. Apply this tincture directly to the skin surface on a compress. This works to kill the bacteria that forms blackhead and whiteheads. It is also possible to steep two to three teaspoons of dried basil in a cup of boiling water. Allow the herb to steep 5-10 minutes or more in order to extract the healing oils from the plant. Then soak a washcloth or compress in the tea and apply to the areas where acne is most present.

Burdock is a tonic herbs and have been used in the treatment of skin conditions. Burdock is an herb that boosts immunity and purifies the blood. It’s a traditional liver tonic and a mild, natural diuretic. Burdock’s laxative and diuretic properties help remove toxins from the system. The Chinese utilize it against tumors, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections.

It is often recommended for dry, scaly skin. You can take burdock in capsule form (follow the directions) or make a acne fighting tea. Burdock root tincture may be taken in 2–4 ml amounts per day. Dried root preparations in a capsule or tablet can be used at 1–2 grams three times per day.

Yellow Dock is another herb that purifies the blood. It has compounds called anthraquinone glycosides that stimulate bile production, aiding digestion and cleansing the liver. Some herbalists believe that chronic skin problems like acne improve with long-term use of yellow dock. Don’t take yellow dock if you have kidney stones.

Dandelion is a leading remedy for detoxing the liver. It stimulates the flow of bile, a fluid that aids fat digestion, which is why it’s used for liver and gallbladder disorders. Dandelion has scientifically documented potent diuretic properties. It relieves constipation and eases bloating and swelling. Dandelion should be used for 4 to 6 weeks at a time. For it’s liver benefits dandelion is helpful for acne.

Red Clover is an herb suggested for chronic conditions affecting the skin. It is a diuretic, but it’s unknown exactly how it works for skin conditions. Use nonfermented red clover which is safe. Red clover contains a substance called genistein, which has anticancer properties.

Consider using blood purifying herbs such as Pau D’ Arco, Red Clover, Yellow Dock, Burdock, Sarsaparilla, Dandelion, Cascara Sagada & Buckthorn.

Clay Masks – For centuries women and men have known the benefits of natural clay for drawing impurities and extra oils from their skin. Clay, rich in minerals and silica helps to tone skin and preserve its natural balance. Clay is gently massaged onto the skin and as the clay dries it tightens the skin, shrinks the pores and helps to pull out impurities like whiteheads and blackheads.

Clay masks are used for a variety of results – from cleansing, stimulating, assisting anti-aging and improving skin tone. Clay masks can be blended with essential oils and hydrosols to create a highly effective deep cleansing mask. When clay is applied to the skin, oxidation and circulation are accelerated, defensive functions stimulated and body temperature is raised. Clay balances as it revitalizes.

Triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic Indian herbal compound used for constipation and poor bowel tone and is designed to support the body’s natural cleansing process. It is one of Ayurveda’s most important herbal formulas for thousands of years. Triphala is a balanced blend of three Indian Herbal Fruits: Harada (haritaki), Amla (amalaki) and Behada (bibhitaki). Each balanced to vatta, pitta and kapha respectively.

Aromatherapy Remedies

Essential oils recommended are the anti-inflammatory oils that are effective against acne such as basil, eucalyptus, patchouli, lavender, tea tree these oils can ease pain and discomfort and reduce swelling.

Basil Oil Basil essential oil kills bacteria when applied topically to the skin. Bacteria grows around the hair follicles and is a cause blackheads and whiteheads. Add 4-6 drops to 3 teaspoons of 70% alcohol. Massage into the hair follicles and skin of the affected area.

Tea Tree Oil speeds the healing of minor cuts and scrapes. It is good for all kinds of infections, including athlete’s foot and fungal infections of the toenails and fingernails that are resistant to antibiotics. A large study compared the topical use of 5% tea tree oil to 5% benzoyl peroxide for common acne.

Although the Tea Tree Essential Oil was slower and less potent in its action, it had far fewer side effects and was considered more effective overall. For topical treatment of acne, the oil may be used at a dilution of 5–15%.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil helps to clear minor, non-cystic acne problems or skin blemishes by reducing the oiliness of the skin.

Lavender Essential Oil kills germs and stimulates new cell growth. Lavender can be used to treat oily skin and acne and prevents scarring and stretch marks and reputedly slows the development of wrinkles.

Patchouli Essential Oil rejuvenates skin cells, so it’s used on mature, aging skin and also treats dry skin prone to acne problems. It is also antiseptic and antifungal on skin problems


Hydrotherapy has a number of uses. Warm water will relax spasm; thus, hydrotherapy has been useful in treating such conditions as muscular strains and sprains, muscular fatigue, and backache. Heat is often used in conjunction with massage or other manipulative or stimulative treatments, such as the whirlpool bath. Sitz baths (sitting in hot water) are effective in the treatment of many disorders.

Water is also useful in physical therapy because patients who exercise in a buoyant medium can move weak parts of their bodies without contending with the strong force of gravity.

Steam treatments and hot baths have a cleansing effect on acne and oily skin. Instructions for a warm bath: Fill your bathtub with water slightly warmer than body temperature, around 97° to 101°F (You can check the temperature of the water with a regular thermometer. ) As the tub fills with water add 2 spoons of Sea Salt to the bath water for a soothing, skin cleansing soak. Submerging as much of your body as possible, stay in the bath for at least 20 minutes, adding water as needed to maintain the temperature of the bath.

Steam your face by boiling water first. Remove the pot from the stove. Add a few drops of lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree oil to the water and then with a towel, make a tent over your head and steam your face for 10-15 minutes.

Consider a relaxing bath with the cleansing anti-bacterial effects of Lavender and Tea Tree essential oil, makes this bath wonderful for creating clean and bacterial-free skin.

Nutritional Advice

Water should be a very important part of any nutritional program. Distilled water is best. 6-8 eight ounce glasses a day. Diet is not the major determinant of acne, but it is important to avoid high-fat, salty and fried foods including foods with iodine (found in shellfish and iodized salt).

Wash or pat with lemon juice 3 times daily.

Increase your intake of vegetables.

Avoid alcohol, butter, cream, caffeine, cheese, chocolate, eggs, fat, fish, meat, poultry, sugar and wheat.

Do not use any dairy products for a month. Acne may develop due to an
allergic reaction to dairy products. The fat content of the dairy products ca worsen the condition. Add one dairy product at a time to see if the acne returns. See the Allergy Ellimination Diet.

Several studies indicate that zinc supplements reduce the severity of acne. In one study, zinc was found to be as effective as oral antibiotic therapy. Nutritional doctors sometimes suggest that people with acne take 30 mg of zinc two or three times per day for a few months, then 30 mg per day thereafter. It often takes twelve weeks before any improvement is seen. Zinc gluconate 30-80 mg daily, helps in healing tissue and helps to prevent scarring.

Vitamin A—such as 25-30,000 IU per day for females and 30–50,000 IU per day for males—have been used successfully to treat severe acne. Too much Vitamin A can be toxic. Only use the recommeneded daily dose. Vitamin A and 400 IU vitamin E, (use emulsion for easier assimilation) , strengthens the protective epithelial tissue.

Vitamin B6 at 50 mg per day may alleviate premenstrual flare-ups of acne experienced by some women. Vitamin B complex (high potency) with extra B6 and pantothenic acid, take 50 mg 3 times a day, is important for healthy skin tone.

Chromium (GTF) used as directed, aids in reducing infections of the skin.

Gerovital H-3 face cream (GH-3) used as directed on the label, relieves inflammation. (Used in Europe with good results).

Lecithin one capsule before meals, needed for better absorption of the essential fatty acids.

Primrose oil used as directed on the label, supplies the essential gamma-linoleic acids needed for healing. Unsaturated fatty acids one tbsp. cold-pressed sesame or flaxseed oil (linseed oil) or take in capsule form, needed to keep the skin smooth and soft, and to repair damaged cells.


This medical system uses infinitesimal doses of natural substances to stimulate a person’s immune system and body’s natural defenses. Homeopathic remedies are named for the plant or animal ingredients they are made from.

Homeopathy not only offers relief from temporary disorders but, can provide long term healing of a person due to its individual and “wholistic” approach. This often leads to a complete recovery from the dis-ease, as well as, providing an improved understanding of the patient’s situation.

This type of healing makes it easier and possible to avoid recurrence or relapses in the future and homeopathy stimulates the body’s natural defense system by reestablishing normal immune system and cell functioning.


Arnica This is a valuable first-aid remedy to help reduce pain and swelling and prevent the onset of shock after any injury. Another remedy that is more specific to the burn should be considered after Arnica.

Pulsatilla can be helpful if acne is worse from eating rich or fatty foods, and aggravated by warmth or heat. It is indicated especially around the time of puberty, or when acne breaks out near menstrual periods. The person often has a fair complexion and is inclined toward soft emotions and moodiness, feeling worse in warm or stuffy rooms and better in fresh air.

Silicea can help a person with deep-seated acne along with a general low immune resistance, swollen lymph nodes, and a tendency toward fatigue and nervousness may benefit from this remedy. Infected spots are slow to come to a head, and also slow to resolve, so may result in scarring. A person who needs this remedy is generally very chilly, but inclined to sweat at night.

Sulphur can help with itching, sore, inflamed eruptions with reddish or dirty-looking skin often indicate a need for Sulphur. Itching may be worse from scratching, and worse from any form of heat—especially bathing or washing. Individuals who need this remedy are often inclined toward convoluted mental notions and tend to give order and neatness a low priority.

Managing Your Acne

*All cosmetics should be water based, do not use oil-based products.

*Blackheads should be removed only with a specially designed instrument.

*Picking or scratching may cause scarring.

*Shampoo hair frequently with plain soap.

*Keep hands clean and avoid touching the face.

*Keep the affected area as free from oil as possible.

*Long-term treatment with Tetracycline and other antibiotics should be avoided.

*Highly effective drugs, derivatives of Vitamin A, are available. Tretinoin (Retin-A) is a topical preparation, while isoretinoin (Accutane) is for internal use. These drugs are safe when used under the supervision of a dermatologist but should not be used casually because they can be irritating and toxic. Successfully used by dermatologists to treat acne. (Caution: Do not use if pregnant. May cause birth defects).

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the oldest, continually practiced, and professionally administered health care system in the world. It is a documented medical system spanning over 2,500 years based on comprehensive philosophies, rational theories, clinically tested and empirically verified by over 100 generations of highly educated practitioners.

Chinese Medicine is a total system of internal medicine, which is comprised of a diagnostic procedure based on signs, symptoms and treatment styles including acupuncture, herbal medicine, exercise, diet and meditation. It’s foundation is based on the principles of balance; the interdependent relationship of Yin and Yang. Through this balance, health is achieved and maintained.

Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies acne into three different types:

1). Wind-heat effect in the lung channel. Wind heat in the lung can stimulate the skin and cause acne. Main symptoms & signs: There are red papules and tubercles with inflammatory infiltration around them, accomp-anied by a burning sensation, red tip of the tongue with thin and yellow fur and slippery rapid pulse.

2). Damp-heat in the spleen and stomach. Main symptoms & signs: Acne, indurative acne and cystic acne are mainly characterised by skin lesion, yellow and greasy fur coating on the tongue and soft and rapid pulse.

3). Disharmony of Chong & Ren channels. Main symptoms and signs: This type of acne changes according to the menstruation cycle. It is usually worse before menstruation, accompanied by irregular periods or period pain. The tongue is dark red with yellow coating. Taut, thready and rapid pulse.

Which ever path you choose to treat your acne, experimentation and persistance will pay off. Give your treatments enough time to make a difference. Do not simply discard a natural remedy just beacuse it does not happen in the time you wish it so. Natural remedies often take longer time to work and work well…simply because they are natural! Keep this in mind. Pay attention to subtle changes.

About the author

Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac – – Therapies for healing mind, body, spirit

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