Begin Within: Pimples & Acne
Cover digital college courtesy of Marina Molares
Pimples and acne can impact all levels of a person's health - biological, psychological, sociological, and even spiritual. It has always been a goal of mine to help people with reach their aesthetic/skin goals naturally since it has been a battle of mine as well. When I was a teenager, I had severe cystic acne that was treated with Accutane. It did help reduce the severity of my acne, but it did leave acne scars - constant reminders of that past. With pimples and acne, naturopathic medicine really shines when compared to conventional/pharmaceutical medicine since natural therapies have less side effects. Naturopathic medicine also shines compared to conventional medicine since it identifies and targets the root causes of acne, which are usually hormones, diet impacting hormones, and eat impacting the quality of a person's natural oils.
Do know that naturopathic acne care does take a while to take effect since herbs act subtly and gently. But, with patience, you'll definitely reap the rewards of natural care. My naturopathic acne treatment plans, as with all of my naturopathic skin care plans, combine oral and topical prescriptions. Why? Oral prescriptions target root causes for deep-seated and longer-term effects while topical prescriptions relieve symptoms in the meantime. Basically, think of topicals as band-aids to the situation while oral medications go to the main issue. Scroll down to find out the ones that I've found to be the most effective for my clients.
Oral Acne Supplement Ritual
The goal of naturopathic oral supplementation is to control inflammation, modulate the body's natural oils, and tame acne-inducing hormones. Why? When your body's oils are high in inflammatory compounds or are produced more than normal, bacteria (Proprionobacteria) found in pores can cause pimples and acne. Also, hormones can increase the amount of oil the body makes, which can aggravate the whole acne picture when combined with inflammatory oils. I always let me clients know that it may take up to 4 weeks for them to start seeing any changes to their skin. Remember, natural medicine works subtly!
Milk Thistle to Tame Hormonal Acne
In traditional western herbalism, the liver has always been associated with the skin. When you are able to promote liver function, you are able to revitalize the skin. Why? Toxins and hormones could negatively impact impact the appearance of a person's skin through the manifestations of eruptions, like acne. With that, my favorite liver herb is Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum). Studies show that the main compound in Milk Thistle that aids in liver function is called silymarin. Silymarin has been shown to protect the liver from free radical damage and has the potential to reduce the damaging effects of alcohol, environmental toxins, and some liver-damaging pharmaceutical. So, get on that Milk Thistle vibe.
Chaste Tree berry & Vitamin B6 on Hormonal Acne
Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex Agnus-Castus) and Vitamin B6 have been traditionally used together by naturopathic doctors to successfully quell hormonal acne. To support this, a German study revealed that Chaste Tree Berry could be effective in moderate hormonal acne. However, a study comparing Chaste Tree Berry and Vitamin B6 revealed that Chaste Tree Berry was more effective than Vitamin B6 in helping those with symptoms of PMS. So, if you're a female, consider Chaste Tree Berry.
Back to Methylation: Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, and Folic Acid
Homocystine is an inflammatory marker that can be associated with genetic variations in enzymes related to methylation. What's methylation? Click here for a crash course. Studies show that high amounts of inflammatory homocysteine are correlated to more severe acne. Ways to target high homocysteine are by taking vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Inflammation
Case studies and a randomized-controlled trial showed the potential impact of omega-3 supplementation on acne. These studies showed that it has the ability to reduce the severity of acne when taking daily for at least 10 weeks.
Zinc: an Anti-inflammatory?
A study revealed the correlation of zinc levels to acne severity, showing that lower levels of zinc are related to more severe cases. Literature shows that zinc can act as an anti-inflammatory with other nutrients and vitamins that may help reduce inflammation seen in acne.
Topical Acne Skincare Routine
While you're waiting for you skin to heal from within, you can simultaneously nourish you skin with natural and non-toxic topicals. I always recommend doing both oral and topical rituals to help support skin so that long-standing healing can occur from within while targeted and focused healing can take place as well.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginana) has been commonly used for acne and eczema due to its anti-inflammatory properties. A compound called hamamelitannin provides antioxidant properties while other compounds in the plant provide antibacterial properties. This herb is basically a great addition to an acne-focused skin routine since it targets one of the root causes of acne while soothing the skin.
I'm super into Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annum) right now. Why? First, I'm super into the blue hue of the oil. Second, I have seen a difference with it on my own skin with less redness and pimples. Studies show that Blue Tansy essential oil is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. Research also indicates that Blue Tansy has anti-oxidant capabilities due to beta-eudesmol found in the plant.
Vitamin A has been shown to reduce immune response and inflammation against Proprionobacteria, one of the players in the development of acne and pimples. Vitamin A also helps increase cellular turnover so that your skin always looks fresh and replenished, and so that your pores are not clogged. Why care about clogged pores? Clogged pores basically act as a safe house for acne-causing bacteria. And, when you combine that with copious, inflammatory oils, that's a recipe for major acne. It should also be noted that Vitamin A, can cause redness and peeling of the skin. So, since cells are constantly being turned over, it should be advised that you use a mineral sunscreen.
White Willow Bark
White willow bark (Salix alba) naturally contains salicin, which is a salicylate that acts as an anti-inflammatory. Salicylic acid has been shown to be helpful for reducing the severity of acne and pimples. But, if you have an aspirin allergy or are sensitive to salicilates, do not use white willow bark.
Fruit Enzyme Mask
Pumpkins, pineapples, and papaya are naturally high in enzymes that help resurface the skin. Why care? Clearing the skin of impurities and helping slough-off dead cells could helps reduce acne and pimples. So, get on that fruit enzyme feel. Check out my instagram post for a DIY pumpkin mask.
Shop Dr. Bryant’s Recommendations
Remember, these are just the basics and that every person's health is individual. Most of these have worked with my own clients, but I also deviate from these basics for some people since other naturopathic approaches would work better according to their lifestyle, beliefs, and budget. Beyond those listed, there are other naturopathic modalities that can help reduce the severity of acne, such as therapeutic nutrition, detoxification of hormones through biotherapeutic drainage, and hyper-personalization of treatment plans through advanced functional lab testing and bioenergetic muscle testing. All of these can be completed at Jupiter Naturopathic Wellness! So, make sure you book an appointment with me at Jupiter so that you can get the most effective treatment plan made just for you and your body.
About the Author
Dr. Bryant Esquejo is a California-licensed naturopathic doctor practicing in the Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. You can book an appointment with him here and follow him on social media here.
He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from San Diego State University in 2012 and his naturopathic medical degree from the National University of Natural Medicine in 2016. In his practice, he aims to help patients achieve optimal health and wellness by focusing on hormonal and thyroid health; adrenal dysfunction and stress-related chronic fatigue; gastrointestinal health; anxiety and depression; and nutrigenomics. He uses a variety of integrative modalities to assess and treat patients, such as bioenergetic muscle testing; advanced and basic functional laboratory assessment; therapeutic nutrition; lifestyle medicine; nutraceutical, vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplementation; intravenous micronutrient therapy; and energetic medicines, such as constitutional homeopathy and flower essences.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. There are no financial ties to any supplement companies, pharmaceutical companies, or to any of the products mentioned in this post. This post is not meant to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose conditions or diseases and is meant for educational purposes. As always, please consult your doctor before trying any new treatments or supplements.
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