Acne is a common skin condition which affects the skin pore or pilosebaceous unit. Factors that contribute to the development of acne include:
1. Increased production of oil by the skin
2. Increased production of androgens (male hormones)
3. Increased inflammation in the skin
The complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine treatments for acne can be divided into the following categories:
1. Diet therapy
2. Supplement therapy
4. Herbal medicine
5. Stress management
Diet Therapy for Acne
Probiotics for Acne Treatment
Low Glycemic Index Foods for Acne Treatment
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that a low glycemic index (GI) reduced the symptoms of acne (2). This finding is attributed to the fact that high GI foods like cakes, pasta, and breads made from white flour raise blood sugar levels which results in the pancreas producing more insulin. The increased insulin levels then stimulate oil glands on the skin to produce more oil which clogs the pores and causes acne breakouts.
Foods with GI of less than 70 do not cause these blood sugar surges and are therefore beneficial for persons with acne. Examples include vegetables like broccoli, cucumber, and spinach as well as fruits like apples, pears and cherries.
Supplement Therapy for Acne
Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Acne Treatment
Aromatherapy for Acne
Tea Tree Essential Oil for Acne Treatment
A study which compared the effects of 5% tea tree essential oil with 5% benzoyl peroxide found that both were effective for treating patients with mild to moderate acne (4). Though study participants who used tea tree essential oil were found to develop fewer side effects, persons withhigh-riskk factors for tumors that require estrogen in the body like some breast cancers should avoid using it since it has effects which are similar to those of this hormone.
To make your own 5% tea tree remedy mix 5 ml of tea tree essential oil with 95 ml of organic aloe vera gel in a dark jar since light and heat reduce the potency of essential oils. Tea tree essential oil can also be mixed with argan oil which does not clog the pores to make an acne treatment oil. These tea tree gels or oils should be applied to the affected areas after cleansing.
Herbal Therapy for Acne
Green Tea for Acne Treatment
A study found that applying a 3% green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract on the skin reduced the production of sebum by the skin (5). Two other studies found that a lotion with 2% green tea extract reduced the symptoms of mild to moderate acne in adolescents and young adults.
To prepare your own green tea acne remedy, steep 2 tablespoons of green tea leaves in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain the tea leaves and use the cool tea to cleanse the acne prone areas.
Vitex for Acne Treatment
Vitex agnus-castus is used to treat hormonally induced acne (6).
Stress Management for Acne
Meditation for Acne Treatment
Emotional stress has been linked to more severe acne in a study that evaluated adolescents with mild to moderate acne (7). This link is thought to be due to the stress hormone cortisol.
Effective stress management is should, therefore, be a key component of any acne treatment program. This can be achieved by regularly practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and abdominal breathing during high-stress periods.
An integrative medicine acne treatment model is, therefore, the best way of managing this common skin disease since the complementary therapies cover the bases missed by conventional medications. A good example is meditating to reduce stress since acne prescription medications cannot help a person relax.
In addition, the benefits of managing stress effectively and adopting a low glycemic index diet are accrued not just by the skin, but by the whole person and they can thus help prevent stress and diet related illnesses.