Herbs for acne: Separating fact from fiction

Does herbal medicine work for acne?

Herbal medicine for acne has been a subject of scientific research for quite some time, and research has shown promising results. Trials have found that certain herbal medicines can safely reduce acne lesions and severity. In some cases, their efficacy was comparable to standard treatments.¹

It’s important to note that further research is needed to conclusively establish the effectiveness and safety of herbal medicines for acne. Each person’s response to herbal treatments may vary, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Consult with a dermatology provider or healthcare professional before starting any new treatment, including herbal remedies, to ensure it’s appropriate for your specific skin condition and overall health.

It’s also worth mentioning that while herbal medicine may have potential benefits, it should not replace evidence-based treatments prescribed by medical professionals. That said, combining herbal remedies with traditional acne treatments under medical guidance may offer a comprehensive approach to managing acne and optimizing your results.

Herbs used to treat acne

There have been studies conducted on various herbs and alternative acne treatments. Let’s explore some of those herbs in more detail.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera has been found to have an anti-acne effect.² One key reason for its effectiveness may be its anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce redness and general inflammation. Further, aloe vera contains six antiseptic agents that help fight various microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and viruses.³

It’s important to note that while aloe vera has shown promise in treating acne, its effectiveness can vary among individuals. Additionally, it’s important to use high-quality aloe vera gel or extracts and ensure proper application for optimal results.

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Calendula officinalis, commonly known as marigold, is an aromatic herbaceous plant traditionally used as a remedy for various skin issues. It has a long history of use in dermatology for conditions such as minor burns, inflamed skin, redness, acne, and fungal eruptions.⁴

A study involving 66 participants with mild-to-moderate maskne (acne caused by wearing masks) investigated the efficacy of a serum containing Calendula officinalis and other ingredients over 12 weeks. The results showed that the serum significantly reduced inflammatory acne lesions compared to a placebo.⁵ Participants who used other acne treatments alongside the serum also experienced similar results. This suggests that the Calendula officinalis-containing serum could be an additional beneficial treatment for maskne, specifically.

While this research suggests its potential effectiveness in managing acne, individual responses may vary.

American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

American witch hazel has been studied for its potential effects on inflammation caused by the bacteria notoriously associated with acne, Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes). Research supports that it has anti-inflammatory effects.⁶

Witch hazel also contains tannins, which are natural compounds found in plants. These tannins have been studied for their potential benefits in reducing acne and exhibiting anti-inflammatory effects.⁷

English walnut (Juglans regia) and Common guava (Psidium guajava)

English walnut (Juglans regia) and Common guava (Psidium guajava) leaf extracts have shown potential in treating acne due to their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.⁸ The extracts of these plants may be beneficial in managing acne by targeting bacteria and reducing inflammation.

Green tea (Camellia sinensis)

Green tea lotion has also demonstrated effectiveness in treating mild to moderate acne, possibly due to its tannins and flavonoids, which possess antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects. One study showed that a 2% lotion of green tea applied topically during six weeks among 20 patients suffering from mild to moderate acne helped improve their skin.⁹

Rosemary gel (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary gel has shown promising results in significantly improving the healing of acne vulgaris symptoms.¹⁰ This suggests that rosemary has the potential to be utilized as an effective agent for treating acne vulgaris, providing an alternative option for individuals seeking natural remedies for acne management.

Conventional acne treatments

Conventional acne treatments encompass a wide range of options, including over-the-counter products, oral antibiotics, prescription-strength creams and gels, and combination therapies. While these treatments have proven efficacy, some people who use them may experience undesired side effects. This has led to an interest in seeking alternative remedies that may provide desirable outcomes while being more tolerable for certain individuals.

The herbs mentioned above can serve as good alternative treatments for acne when used alongside conventional treatments. However, herbal remedies may also have potential side effects like any other treatment. It’s essential to consult with a dermatology provider or healthcare professional before incorporating these herbal treatments into your acne management routine. You should approach conventional and herbal treatments cautiously and under professional guidance. What works for one person may not work for another, and individual responses to treatments can vary.

Topical acne treatments

When seeking acne treatment, your provider will likely recommend proven topical options that have been extensively researched. These may include topical retinoids, which work by unclogging pores and reducing inflammation; benzoyl peroxide, which kills acne-causing bacteria and helps to clear blocked pores; and azelaic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.¹¹ These treatments have shown efficacy in managing acne and are commonly prescribed by healthcare professionals.

It’s important to follow your provider’s guidance regarding proper application and any potential side effects. These evidence-based treatments effectively address acne and can be integrated into a comprehensive management plan.


10 Herbs to Help Treat Acne

Acne is a long-term skin disease that occurs when hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin. It affects as much as 85% of teenagers in globally. Acne primarily affects areas of the skin with a relatively high number of oil glands such as the face, upper part of the chest, and back. Acne prone skin can have a combination of blackheads or whiteheads, pimples, oily skin, and possible scarring. There are ways to treat acne with a combination of Chinese medicinal herbs, facials, and diet modifications.

Acne Facial

There are different causes of Acne but can be divided into the following:

  • Food

  • Dirt

  • Stress

  • Heredity

  • Drugs

  • Occupations

  • Cosmetics

6 Reasons for Acne according to Chinese Medicine

  1. In traditional Chinese medicine, we contribute the cause of Acne to “ heat”. It can be heat in the lung organ. Patients with lung heat, besides having acne, will experience other respiratory problems such as asthma, food allergies or seasonal allergies.

  2. It can also be heat in Stomach. Patients with stomach heat usually have acnes in their forehead. Acne can get worse when they have spicy foods or deep fried foods which in Chinese medicine are heat type of foods. They will also have digestive problems such as constipation, acid reflux, and indigestion.

  3. It can be Toxic Heat: This type of patients usually have severe acne, strongly inflamed with pus-filled nodules and much reddening of the skin around the lesions. This can be caused by polluted foods we are eating nowadays and also pollution in the environment.

  4. It can be Damp Heat: Symptoms include acne composed of deep, pus-filled, inflamed nodules. The skin usually is oily.

  5. It can also be Blood Heat: Symptoms include acne that is accompanied by a flushed face. The patient may complain of thirst, dark urine, and dry stools.

  6. Also emotionally disturbances can be a contribution factor for flare up of acne in Chinese medicine.  There are many herbs including Chinese herbs and natural methods to help you prevent or treat acne skins. In this article we will mainly talk about 10 herbs that are commonly used and highly effective.

the  top 10 Herbs to include in your Acne Treatment are;
  1. Tea Tree Oil

  2. Willow Bark

  3. Neem

  4. Aloe vera

  5. Cucumber

  6. Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion)

  7. Jin Yin Hua (Honeysuckle)

  8. Lian Qiao (Forsythia Fruit)

  9. Ye Ju Hua (Wild Chrysanthemum flower)

  10. Huang Qin (Scutellaria)

Diet & Lifestyle Changes to Treat Acne

Besides herbal remedies, diet change is also a big part to prevent or treat acne skins. Stay away from processed food such as fast foods, deep fried foods or spicy foods and also avoid process sugar such as all soft drinks, sodas and many sugar laced cookies and deserts. When you eat refined carbohydrates and sugar, your body surges with insulin and insulin-like growth hormone which promotes the release of male hormones that cause your pore to release sebum where bacteria grow and lead to clogged pores and inflamed skin. Besides your diet change, lifestyle change is important as well.

  • Regular exercise can flush the toxins out from your body through sweating.

  • A good night sleep can let your body to rest, rejuvenate and heal;

  • Build up proper bacteria balance in your gut which associates the bacurateria on your skin as well by taking probiotics supplement and also naturally fermented foods;

  • Enjoy sunshine, the natural way to provide you with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for our immune system and also has control over all type of infections.

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