Acne is caused by an inflammation of the skin when a
sebaceous gland, located at the bottom of each hair
follicle, becomes trapped with natural oils, causing
bacterial buildup and inflammation. Acne may be worsened
at adolescence, during the pre-menstrual and/or mid-menstrual
cycle due to hormonal action, and when under stress,
eating a poor diet, or on contraceptives. Symptoms of
acne include blackheads, whiteheads, and/or inflamed
spots or elevations either on or under the skin.
What To Consider
Blackheads can form when the oil combines with skin
pigments and gets trapped. Blackheads may suggest the
need for better hygiene, or magnesium and vitamin A.
Chronic, numerous whiteheads can also form during acne
outbreaks, suggesting vitamin B1 deficiency or absorption
problems. Consistent raised spots on the outside of
the arms and sometimes even the thighs, resembling "chicken
skin," may suggest need for magnesium, vitamin A, or
essential fatty acids or the need to avoid foods that
inhibit the absorption of these nutrients, such as trans-fatty
acids found in margarine and hydrogenated oils, such
as cottonseed oil and palm kernel oil.
Food allergies, allergies to facial creams, soaps, shampoos,
makeup, and excess intake of refined sugars, can all
cause or contribute to acne. Certain foods can also
aggravate acne conditions, especially chocolate, fruit
juices, carbonated beverages, caffeinated beverages,
and milk products. Excessive long-term intake of seafood
or other high iodine foods may also cause acne in some
Coexisting gum problems suggest the need for folic acid.
A separate acne condition may occur in women 30-40 years
old due to physical exercising or working all day with
face makeup, lowered resistance due to stress, or hyper-response
to bacteria or hormone problems. Another acne problem,
acne rosacea (reddish spots in a pattern over nose and
cheeks), may be a sign of low B vitamins or low hydrochloric
acid in the stomach.
It may take up to one year to eliminate skin problems.
They are some of the slowest conditions to respond to
natural therapies, but the response is often more complete
than with drugs.
Practical Health Hints
Expose your face to sun and air for at least 30 minutes each day,
but take caution not to sunburn. Fresh air and daily
exercise are very important.
Be sure to get sufficient
relaxation and sleep.
Do not squeeze pimples or whiteheads,
as this may lead to infection.
Use non-oil-based makeup
and wash off thoroughly each night.
Avoid cosmetic products
containing lanolin, isopropyl myristate, sodium laurel
sulfate, laureth-4, and D and C red dyes, as they may
be too rich for the skin and cause blackheads.
eight glasses of water a day.
Use 100% cotton clothing
and bed linen.
Whole foods diet with special emphasis on vegetables (four
to five servings per day, try to eat half of servings
raw) and whole fruits (one to three times per day).
The more severe the acne, the more you should reduce
fats. Reduce especially animal fats (saturated) and
also cut down on vegetable fats. Some people get acne
in response to stressor foods such as caffeine, refined
sugars, and alcohol. Processed foods such as colas,
candies, and frozen and processed foods may also be
a problem. Be sure to increase your intake of pure water
and eat more fiber foods.
Mono-cleansing diets for one to two days per week for
several months may be helpful in people who are not
hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), debilitated, or require
food to keep up strength for working. An example of
such a diet include steamed vegetables and brown rice
without any animal products. Fasting one day a week
may also be helpful.
The following nutrients
are all useful for treating acne and can be used in
combination with each other: vitamin A (10,000 IU daily
for two weeks), beta carotene (50,000 IU for one month,
then reduce to 25,000 IU), vitamin B complex (two to
three times daily), vitamin C (1,000 mg three times
daily), vitamin E (800 IU daily), and zinc, which helps
prevent acne by regulating the oil glands (20-60 mg
Other useful supplements for treating acne include essential
fatty acids (one to two daily for one year), since acne
may be a symptom of an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency;
Brewer's yeast; chlorophyll; and pancreatic enzymes
with meals (three times daily). Vitamin B6 may also help for acne due to the premenstrual or mid-menstrual cycle.
Massage affected areas with bergamot,
camphor, geranium, juniper, lavender, or neroli essential
Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine recommend applying
tumeric and sandalwood paste (1/2 teaspoon of each and
enough water to make a paste) to pimples, and drinking
half a cup of aloe vera juice twice daily until acne
Add 3-5 drops of Crab Apple essence to pure water and
drink throughout the day. This will help detox and purification
and alleviate feelings of attractiveness. Rescue RemedyÒ
should also be used if your acne leaves you feeling
When used with appropriate nutritional support, herbs
may be helpful in the treatment of acne. Combine the
tinctures of sarsaparilla, burdock, and cleavers in
equal parts and take 1/2 teaspoonful of this mixture
three times a day. An infusion of nettle can also be
drunk two or three times a day. Tea tee oil is another
effective acne solution that can be applied topically.
Also helpful is an infusion of calendula mixed with
equal parts of distilled witch hazel may be applied
topically as a cleansing wash. Forsythia works against
bacteria by removing skin toxins. You can also use a
steam sauna for face with red clover, lavender, and
strawberry leaves. Place these herbs in a pan of boiling
water, then allow the steam to cover your face as you
face the pan, with your head covered with a towel to
keep the steam concentrated in front of you.
Pulsatilla, Silicea, Berberis, Ledum, Sulfur, Arsen
alb., Belladonna, and/or Carbo veg are all
useful remedies for acne.
Taking hot Epsom salts baths two to three times a week can be very helpful
in helping to draw out toxins from the skin that are
associated with acne.
Drink two glasses of raw juice daily. Carrot, beet,
and celery juice is particularly helpful, as is carrot,
cucumber, lettuce (not iceberg), and spinach juice,
with carrot predominating (50% of total juice content).
A study of teenagers taught methods of relaxation showed
a marked reduction in acne outbreaks in severely affected
individuals. Those who continued to practice at home
maintained the progress they had made.
Improvement may be hastened
by a proper facial hygiene. Washing the face three times
a day with a soap made with the herb Calendula officinalis
(marigold flowers) can be very effective in keeping
the face clean and the cyst-forming infections minimized.
You can also wipe your face in the morning and evening
with vitamin A-E emulsion, liquid chlorophyll, and aloe
vera gel, or with cider vinegar and a dash of cayenne
pepper. Vitamin A and tea tree oil can be used topically
to decrease skin outbreaks.
Gently wash face with mild soap and water two to four times daily. Alternatives
to soap are milk, diluted lemon juice, or a solution
of one part rubbing alcohol to ten parts water. Rinse
face with warm water and pat dry. Try to keep skin free
of oil and use water-based products.
The following foods may be applied
to the cleansed skin as a facial mask for 30 minutes
before rinsing off with warm water: cooked and mashed
carrots (let cool first), grated cucumber or sliced
cucumber soaked in rum, whisked egg yolk, and oatmeal,
cooked in milk until thick and then cooled. Or apply
baking soda and water mixture to face, rinse immediately
with water, and then rinse or spray with apple cider
vinegar, plus do a final rinse with filtered water.
A bentonite clay mask, left on the skin for 15-20 minutes,
is also very useful for helping to draw out inflammatory
by-products of acne. Or try a compress of goldenseal
If your symptoms persist despite the above measures,
seek the help of a qualified health professional.
Back to Health Conditions A to Z