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Natural Acne Treatment

Following my Bacne article, several viewers requested information on natural supplements and products used for acne treatment.  Acne, something many men, especially young men, deal with – often due to increased levels of testosterone – can be treated with various products and medications.

The pharmacy shelves are loaded with different brands of cleansers, lotions, wipes, and creams that most of us have tried... often without success.  If you haven't gotten the results you're looking for, or would just like to try a more holistic approach to acne control, consider trying some or all of the natural items listed below, which many people get great results with.

Before getting into the natural products, the following lifestyle and diet  recommendations are probably the first place to start when addressing acne the "al natural" way.  Do your best, whether you take supplements or not, to follow as many of these suggestions as possible, in order to reduce and control acne breakouts.

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of quality water a day.  Water, in addition to keeping us hydrated, flushes the body of toxins.  Toxins can and do play a part in acne formation.
  • Eating a high-fiber diet keeps the colon clean and functioning; resulting in toxin elimination.
  • Fast, occasionally, if you like.  The idea behind fasting is to cleanse the body of toxins.  Because the body secretes toxins through the skin, which contributes to acne, doing a fast every few months can help speed the process of toxin elimination; making for a healthier body, as well as skin.  Have you noticed the acne-toxin connection theme so far?
  • Eat as much raw food as possible.  Natural raw foods – vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds – clear and heal the skin more quickly than cooked foods.  They also supply lots of fiber.  Include and focus on eating lots of raw foods containing oxalic acid: peanuts and many nuts (almonds, cashews, hazel, pecans, brazil),  red beets, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, eggplant, broccoli, carrots, green pepper, blueberries, concord grapes, kiwi, raspberries, tangerines, starfruit and the list goes on.  Spinach and rhubarb are two foods high in oxalic acid that should be eaten in moderation because they contain so much.  Additional foods containing oxalic acid can be found online. * Oxalic acid and foods containing it should be avoided by those suffering with gout, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatoid arthritis and some other illnesses.
  • Tea leaves are among the foods highest in oxalic acid, so, drinking tea has found yet another benefit.  However, don't overdo it, since some teas can cause kidney stones.
  • Essential Fatty Acids ( EFAs) are truly essential for healthy skin.  These fats are necessary for countless reasons, and radiant skin is one of them.  Fish, krill, flax, olive, walnut, avocado, etc. are fats not to fear, but to love... like a new suit!
  • Fruits are not only good to eat, but are great to rub on acne prone skin.  The alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) found in fruits like strawberries, pineapples, grapes can be beneficial by exfoliating the dead skin cells that clog pores.  Fruits also provide many antioxidants, nutrients, and water, which are essentials for acne control.
  • Zinc is a mineral that supports many bodily functions, including strengthening the immune system.  A strong immune system will do a better job of fighting acne; plus keep us healthier and sick less often.  Zinc is also an antibacterial agent, and plays an important role in oil-gland health.  Eat foods high in zinc: wheat germ, garlic, dark chocolate, shellfish, sesame seeds, unprocessed soy, chickpeas, whole grains, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and some nuts.  Low intake of zinc can actually cause acne breakouts, so eat those oysters... your prostate will appreciate it, too!  And for those of us dealing with hair loss, low zinc levels can be to blame, so be sure to get your share of daily zinc.
  • Eat a diet high in vitamins A, C, and E since they keep skin healthier and prevent acne.  In addition, vitamin C is needed to build collagen, which helps maintain the elasticity and integrity of the skin, and also helps heal compromised skin tissue.  "ACE" is an easy way to remember these important vitamins.  Some foods containing these nutrients are carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, eggs, calf liver, milk, cantaloupe, green peppers, kiwi, watermelon and citrus fruits.
  • Dairy foods and meat are loaded with hormones and steroids that can upset the body's hormonal balance.  Since acne is often due to hormones, care needs to be given not to throw your body's natural hormonal balance off by consuming too many animal products.  Also, some folks have an allergic reaction to dairy, which causes acne.  Eliminating diary for one month is suggested to see if it has any impact on flare-ups.
  • If dairy is not a problem for you, eat lots of fermented or soured foods, such as yogurt and kefir, in order to provide beneficial and healthy intestinal bacteria.
  • "Down with sugar!"  Sugar can do a lot of harm when acne's a problem.  It not only suppresses the immune system, but it promotes the growth of Candida – a fungus that makes acne worse.
  • Eliminate ALL processed foods.  Not only is there very little nutritional value in processed foods, but they typically contain high amounts of iodine, which can make acne worse.  Onions, fish, kelp and other seaweeds have a good amount of iodine, so avoiding these foods are recommended, too.  Is there anything left to eat?!
  • Avoid all fun food and drinks!  Seriously, foods and drinks we've all heard are not good for us, for one reason or another, should be avoided, or, at the very least limited.  Alcohol, fried foods, hydrogenated fats, sugar, caffeine, soft drinks (soda), dairy products, fatty meats, hot and spicy foods are all on the list of acne triggering foods.  Sorry, guys, don't blame me... I'm just the messenger.

 

Hopefully, I haven't scared you away!  I'll stop with the lifestyle changes and now list the recognized supplements for acne treatment and overall skin health.

 Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutrients

  • Probiotics – Support healthy intestinal flora, which keeps immune system working and reduces outbreaks.  Use a brand that contains multiple strains of bacteria; including acidophilus.  Take according to manufacturer's directions.
  • Essential fatty acids (EFAs) – Repairs skin, keeps it soft and smooth, and helps dissolve fatty buildup/oil that blocks pores.  It may be easiest to take soft gels of these important oils instead of incorporating them into your diet.
  • Potassium: 99 mg/daily – Deficiency can cause acne.
  • Vitamin A or Provitamin A: 5,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily – Repairs skin tissue, aids immune function, provides antioxidants.
  • Vitamin B: 100 mg. daily – Improves blood flow to skin's surface.  Acne has been associated with a B6 deficiency.
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids: 1,000 mg. 3 to 4 times daily – Choose a buffered or non-acidic variety.  Vitamin C boosts immune function, reduces inflammation, and repairs skin.
  • Vitamin D3: 400 IU daily – Promotes tissue and damaged skin healing.
  • Vitamin E: 400 IU daily – An antioxidant that repairs skin and tissue healing.  Can be applied directly to scars, which softens them and promotes healing.  Use mixed d-alpha tocopherols, since this form is natural and not synthetic, and includes all the components of Vitamin E.
  • Zinc: 30 mg. to 90 mg. daily – Repairs skin and helps prevent scarring, in addition to boosting the immune system. *Do not take more than 100 mg. of zinc per day.  Although zinc enhances immune function, too much will have the opposite affect and suppress the immune system.

All of the above supplements are very beneficial in acne treatment and control; however, not many of us are willing to take so many individual products.  If you find the number of supplements overwhelming, or if cost prohibits taking them all, find a good multivitamin that contains and meets the above requirements.

Helpful

  • Chlorophyll: as directed on label – Cleanses the blood by eliminating toxins and prevents infections.
  • Garlic: 2 or 3 capsules daily with meals – This is nature's natural antibiotic; plus it enhances immune function.
  • MSM: as directed on label – Provides important sulfur, anti-inflammatory action, aids in toxin and waste removal of cells.
  • Selenium : 200 mcg. or less daily – Excellent antioxidant and promotes skin elasticity.

 

Herbs

  • Burdock root, dandelion leaves, milk thistle, and red clover are excellent herbs for acne.  These herbs either cleanse the blood or liver, which aids in acne control.  The liver plays a vital role in breaking down and clearing excess hormones from the body, which is especially important for those dealing with high levels of testosterone.
  • A poultice of dandelion, yellow dock root, and chaparral can be directly applied to acne.  Apply to a clean skin and leave on for about an hour.  It's common to feel slight throbbing, which is the herbs drawing out the toxins.
  • Steam baths or saunas for the face, using red clover, lavender, and strawberry leaves, kills germs and promotes new cell growth.  Use 2 to 4 tablespoons of dried or fresh herbs to 2 quarts of steaming water in either a glass bowl or enameled pot for 10 to 15 minutes.  It may be safest to put the pot on a protected table, instead of standing at the stove.  Draping a towel over your head and the sauna will trap the steam, making it more effective.  Be very careful not to burn yourself, since steam is really hot!  When finished, splash cool water on skin and allow to air dry.
  • Tea tree oil and lavender oil are both antiseptics that have antibiotic action.  They can be dabbed directly onto individual blemishes several times a day; however, use sparingly.  If you notice acne is not responding or is getting worse, discontinue use.  My concern is these are oils, which can cause acne to flair up.
  • Apply raw, unheated honey, which is also a natural antibiotic, to acne.  Spread a teaspoonful or more on acne and remove with warm water after 15 minutes.
  • Balance the skin's pH by mixing 1 part organic apple cider vinegar to 10 parts filtered or quality water, and apply to skin with a cotton ball or soft, clean cloth.

Acne is usually a message or indication that something is out of balance within the body.

The imbalance may be due to diet, hormones, skin care practices, stress, or illness.  Regardless of the cause, living a cleaner, healthier life can only be beneficial to improving acne – not to mention overall health, as well.  Like I said, do your best in making necessary adjustments to increase your chances of ridding acne.  Natural products and supplements are not as strong or fast acting as chemicals and medicine.  Be patient and give these natural therapies time to be effective.  Also, research the topic of natural acne cures, since there are many more available than I listed.  There are countless acne preparations available today, which you can find in most health food stores and online.

Don't despair or panic.  There are many options available for skin health, whether they are natural or not.  It's often just a matter of finding one that works for you.  As always, fellow members would love to hear from you with any suggestions or recommendations.  Now, put down that Big Mac and go grab some vitamin C!

by Aaron Marino

Pete and Pedro

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