Complementary and Alternative Acne Treatments

By Kathlene Capelle

While over-the-counter acne treatments and traditional prescription medications are effective for acne, there are other less traditional ways to treat acne. The following provides a broad overview of 7 complementary and alternative acne treatments.

1. Acupuncture. Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been practised for several thousand years. In acupuncture, certain points on the body along the channels of energy (called meridian) are stimulated by the insertion of fine needles. Acupuncture apparently helps to restore health by removing blockages in the energy flow in your body. If you have a blockage in the energy flow, you get disease and illness. The use of acupuncture in the treatment of acne has not been scientifically evaluated. There are however, reports that two acupuncture procedures have reduced the symptoms of acne: auricular acupuncture (acupuncture applied to the ear) and electro-acupuncture (acupuncture using a mild electrical current).

2. Herbal medicine. Some herbs are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and, for that reason, they may be helpful in the treatment of acne. They include Calendula (Calendula officinalis), German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) and flaxseed oil and tea tree oil.

The herbs that help reduce acne inflammation do so by reducing the amount of the P.acnes bacteria produced by the body as a reaction to clogged pores. Tea Tree oil has been favorably compared to benzoyl peroxide in the reduction of P.acnes and is said to have fewer side effects (stinging, itchiness and dry skin).

3. Homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy refers to a system for treating disease based on the administration of minute doses of a drug. In massive doses, the drug is expected to produce symptoms in healthy individuals similar to those of the disease itself. Homeopathic professionals evaluate the individual (their physical, emotional and intellectual makeup) before prescribing a treatment. While homeopathy has not had the benefit of many scientific studies, professional homeopaths have found that certain homeopathic treatments reduce certain symptoms of acne. Homeopathic remedies include:

Belladonna works best for people who are experiencing “hot” areas on their face or those who have pus-filled acne blemishes. Calendula is used to treat pus-filled blemishes or blisters. Hepar sulphur is useful for pus-filled blemishes that are painful. Kali bromatum is used for deep acne blemishes, especially those on the forehead. Silicea is used for deep, pus-filled acne blemishes.

4. Biofeedback and Cognitive Imagery. Biofeedback and cognitive imagery are relaxation therapies used because emotional stress can have an impact on an acne outbreak. Biofeedback techniques train the individual to control some internal processes such as heart rate and muscle tension. Cognitive imagery (also called guided imagery) involves the use of mental pictures to relax and evoke helpful physical and emotional conditions. Together, when used properly by a person who has mastered the techniques, these methods have been shown to lessen the severity of acne breakouts.

5. Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine originated in India. Ayurveda focuses primarily on diet and lifestyle. Each person, as we all know, is unique and Ayurveda treatments recognize this by tailoring recommendations to the individual. Ayurvedistic remedies tend to be herbal. In particular, the one Ayurvedic preparation that has proven best for acne relief is a herbal remedy that is called “Sunder Vati”. This consists of Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Holarrhena antidysenterica and Embelia ribes.

6. Kampo. Kampo is a Japanese version of traditional, ancient Chinese medicine. A Kampo treatment for acne, the treatment called: Keigai-rengyo-to (TJ-50), has proven effective in some cases. TJ-50 consists of seventeen herbs that have combined anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Among there herbs are: Skullcap root (Scutellaria lateriflora), Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Mint (Mentha arvensis), Angelica root (Angelica archangelica), Peony root (Paeonia lactiflora).

7. Nutrition and Dietary Supplements. It has been shown that at least as a general proposition, diet has no effect on acne. However, there are many reports from individual acne sufferers that certain drinks or foods (it seems that nuts are particularly suspect) make their acne worse. To be absolutely sure, pay attention to what you eat and try to see if your diet plays an important factor in your acne.

Kathelene Capelle is a writer for beauty tips and advice. Her blog includes useful information on acne remedy, natural skin care, natural remedies for skin care and anti-aging. She also provides step-by-step recipes for skin care that you can easily prepare from ingredients right out from your kitchen. Get updated on tips and resources for your acne treatment.

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