By: Isabelle Yang
Acne is an issue that almost everyone faces at some point in their lives. Your first instinct to get rid of this acne may be to try a variety of topical agents and prescription medications to prevent breakouts, redness, inflammation, and all that bad stuff; however, these methods may not fully work for you. Instead, you may want to consider holistic forms of acne treatment. In case you didn’t already know, holistic medicine is a whole-body approach to healthcare that aims to improve health and wellness through the body, mind, and soul.
Causes of Acne
From a holistic perspective, acne is caused by many factors, foremost of which are the products we use and reproductive hormonal imbalances. However, there are many other factors we fail to account for like“an imbalance in our blood sugar level, poor gut health, impaired liver detoxification, and high stress levels” according to Holistic Skin Specialist, Julie Doan.
Holistic Approaches to Clearing Your Acne
Change Your Diet
Before we get into the foods you should avoid to improve acne, remember that the foods that make one person’s skin worse may not be the same for another person. Nevertheless, the most common acne-promoting food products are: sugar, dairy products, refined carbs, and red meats. You don’t have to completely stop eating these foods, but you may want to consider cutting down on the amount of each you consume.
Also, there is more research these days on individualistic approaches to diet. Certain foods may irritate some people more than others. For instance, one person may be fine with shellfish and another person not. Certain vegetables, fruit and spices may be more irritating to some people and not to others. Internal irritation can be manifested in the skin as blemishes, eczema or itchiness. There are a variety of food sensitivity tests now available that can help you to avoid foods that can cause reactions and internal imbalances.
Acne is generally caused by fluctuations in hormones. Researchers believe that androgens contribute to hormonal acne. Stress, puberty, certain medical conditions, and certain medications can all raise levels of androgen hormones in your body. Although there is no set diet for people struggling with hormonal acne, some may find the following changes useful.
Cleanse and Exfoliate
Make sure that your skin routine includes the following steps! You may be missing steps in your own routine causing a lack of improvement in your acne.
Cleansing is THE MOST important step in any skincare routine. Skin needs to be cleansed regularly to remove make-up, dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other types of pollutants from the skin of the face. Cleansing helps to unclog pores and prevent acne. For acne prone skin, you need a cleanser that cleanses well without drying. Avoid lotion or milky type cleansers which may not cleanse as thoroughly. We recommend foam cleansers which clean deeply without stripping the skin, like the Face Republic Gold Mineral Cleanser, availablehere.
Regular gentle exfoliation is the second most important step in controlling acne. We recommend exfoliants that remove the top layer of dead skin cells and debris, like our Satin Bright Soft Water Peel for Face. When you exfoliate your skin with this peel, you instantly decongest clogged pores without causing irritation. It’s great because it compliments any skin regimen and actually helps to absorb your other skin products better. Another bonus: it’s been proven to reduce acne bacteria on the skin which is great for acne sufferers - take a lookhere for the clinical photos!
After these important steps, we should also remember to tone, moisturize, and apply an appropriate sunscreen to your skin.
For other skincare recommendations that are not only natural but also beneficial for acne prone skin, check outthis skincare blog post by Mochi Mommy.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese medicine was developed over thousands of years to treat various ailments. The main philosophy is that the body and its internal systems must be in balance to function at its optimal level. Acne is treated holistically and a good Chinese medicine practitioner will assess each individual independently to understand where the body’s internal imbalances are and how to correct them. They may use a variety of methods such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, and gua sha.
Because each individual is unique, we will speak generally of two types of acne and how they may be treated. But for Chinese medicine to succeed, it’s best to visit a qualified practitioner who can make an accurate diagnosis and plan for treatment.
Chinese medicine may categorize acne into two general causes: heat in the lungs and the stomach, and stagnation of phlegm with dampness and blood stagnation. What does this mean? Well, acne from heat in the lungs and stomach is characterized by face acne with oily or shiny skin. In order to treat this, you need to remove this heat. Herbs that could help clear the heat include Scuttellaria (huang qin), Phellodenbrium (huang bai), Rehmannia root (shengdi), and Tree Peony root (mu dan pi). You may also be recommended to avoid spicy or strong foods and to eat cooling foods like cucumbers and neutral meats like pork instead of lamb.
On the other hand, acne from the stagnation of phlegm with dampness and blood stagnation will result in clustered dark red acne. The sores will also last longer than other forms of acne. In order to treat this form of acne, you must activate your blood circulation. TryTao Hong Si Wu tang along with blood-circulating herbs like Angelic root (dang gui), peony root (bai shao), or red peony (chi shao). You may also try acupuncture, cupping and gua sha to improve circulation.
Chinese medicine is one form of holistic medicine that can treat acne, but there are many other holistic practices as well.
Other Forms of Integrative Medicine
Integrative medicine is a holistic medical discipline which emphasizes the lifestyle and habits of a patient. Physicians work to treat the whole person instead of just a disease. The mind, body, and soul are all taken into consideration. There are many different forms of integrative medicine such as ayurveda and homeopathy but they all emphasize a holistic approach to health.
You may not realize that paying attention to your lymphatic system health might actually be a solution to improve your acne. What is it? Well, when lymphatic fluid is congested, it can pile up beneath the skin and the body must excrete metabolic waste products out through the skin. Movement and exercise is necessary as muscles compress on lymphatic vessels, pushing the lymph towards the liver. Drinking lots of water throughout the day and avoiding foods promoting congestion like dairy and wheat can help you as well.
Zinc is one of the BEST minerals for your acne. It can help to reduce androgen production, speed up skin healing, reduce the appearance of scars, balance sebum production, dampen inflammation, and reduce keratin production to unclog pores. You can take zinc supplements or you could integrate it into your diet through pepitas, oysters, beef, salmon, eggs, and vegetables.
Instead of trying all the face cleansers, creams, and spot treatments out there, try to locate the root cause of your acne as it can give you major clues as to how you can prevent breakouts naturally. Successful treatment happens on both the outside and inside of our bodies. We wish you the best on your clear skin journey!
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