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Acne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands. These lie just under the skin next to a hair follicle. Sebaceous glands produce sebum, an oily substance that protects and softens hair and skin. Zits and pimples are caused when the exit of oil is blocked. Sebum then becomes stagnant causing a build-up of bacteria. Inflammation is quickly established and this forms the beginning stage of zits. Eventually the hair follicle will push the blockage onto the skin as a pimple, usually on the face, neck, shoulders and back. Zits are common in adolescence and deeply distressing for teenagers. The condition may continue into adulthood or re-emerge during hormonal shifts such as pregnancy and the menopause. The main cause of acne is hormonal imbalance from androgen-oestrogen surges. Supporting the liver through diet and herbs is important. Many teenagers are motivated to explore their diets when they have skin problems. Provide guidance so that they learn to choose food that is naturally high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, to support hormone balance as well as liver function. It is the liver that deactivates hormones. Superfood Plus is a fast and highly effective way to achieve this. Strategies to manage stress and lowered body image may also be required.
Skin care is another simple way to empower teenagers. Bacterial overload is seldom the cause of acne but will exacerbate it. Gentle natural cleansers and moisturisers will not strip the skin of its natural defences. Herbal waters are gentle yet powerful and are easily available and at low cost. Scrubbing and stripping the skin with chemicals is counterproductive and worsens acne. Preventing scar formation is important: lavender essential oil can help fight inflammation and infection as well as reduce scar risk.
For the adult with acne, managing stress and adrenal exhaustion will help to balance hormonal fluctuations. Some drugs such as barbiturates and lithium cause acne and this can only be addressed with a doctor.
Foods & herbs for the home
- Limit the intake of sugar as this may contribute to the skin becoming further inflamed. Chocolate with a high cocoa content (80-90 percent) can provide a slightly sweet alternative to sugar but won't cause the sugar rush – followed by further cravings – that ordinary chocolate or sugary foods can. It is also rich in antioxidants.
- Cinnamon is a wonderful food that supports blood sugar levels. You can use it as a powder or chew a dried quill.
- A reliance on denatured (processed) food with heavy fat and sugar content is not helpful for balancing hormones. The emphasis should be on fresh vegetables and fruits, and ensuring variety in the diet.
- Drink herbal teas instead of caffeine drinks and drink plenty of water. Mullein & Star Anise Herbal Tea has some useful properties for sufferers of acne.
- For acne associated with hormone imbalances it is helpful to balance prostaglandins. Essential fatty acids such as evening primrose oil may help, especially when balanced with omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil. Ask your health food store to recommend a good quality omega 3, 6 and 9 supplement that contains both these (vegetarians/vegans can find versions that contain omega 3 from seed oils).
- Skin care products to consider include Lavender Skin Water.
- Many herbs, foods and essential oils can help a person deal more effectively with stress and hormonal imbalance. Have a look at our page on stress for further information.
- If you are unsure where to start you can read Jill Davies’ book “The Complete Home Guide To Herbs, Natural Healing & Nutrition”, which is free to download.
- Daily exercise (whatever you love) and any activity that relaxes and soothes you can help to remove excess stress hormones from the bloodstream.
- A gentle detox can really help acne; in part because detox programmes ensure mineral-rich blood reaches the skin. A few drops of herbal tincture before meals is a good starting point. Phone the product advice line (see below) for a recommendation.
- Hormonal fluctuations can be balanced by supporting the liver, which is responsible for detoxifying circulating hormones. If you would like to read more about liver cleansing and consider whether this approach is appropriate for your situation, a good place to start is Dr Schulze’s book “5-Day Liver Detox”, which you can download for free.
- Teenagers may find the physical and emotional demands of puberty are enough to cope with without a detox. But even adding Milk Thistle Seeds to soups and salads can help to cleanse the liver and offer gentle balance.
Additional help is available by phoning the free product advice line at Herbs Hands Healing between the hours of 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel: 01379 608201.
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Learn more about Dr. Richard Schulze’s Superfood Plus and why we believe this is such a wonderful food by following this link on our website, where extensive information is available. Also please visit our Superfood Plus facebook page for articles and current news.
To learn more about natural healing for this and other ailments, visit Dr Schulze's blog.
If you would like to see videos of Jill Davies showing you plants growing in their natural settings and discussing their medicinal attributes then visit us on facebook. You can also explore additional herbs and their traditional uses by linking to Herbs Info & Photo Gallery and Herb Profiles. Useful additional information can also be found at the Herbs Hands Healing information pages on Detox & Cleansing and Natural Healing.