Natural remedies for acne abound and are generally incomplete without an internal component. There are many natural topical treatments that are effective for healing existing pimples and lesions and preventing scars.
Since this is such a broad topic, I’ve split it into 2 parts: internal and external treatments.
I had cystic acne as a teenager and it was very painful, emotionally and physically. Unfortunately at that time, the internet barely existed and local knowledge on the subject was mostly limited to allopathic treatments, though I did try some holistic therapies with little effect. The advice I received was incorrect or incomplete.
Here’s what I tried:
At a Native American pow-wow, I asked the ladies working by the herbs what would help with acne. Unfortunately, they didn’t know and suggested I try urine therapy. It didn’t work very well, though I did faithfully try it for about a month.
My next attempt was with an acupuncturist who taught a Chinese herb class that I attended. I received acupuncture only once and he suggested that I cut out ALL fats. For one, as a teenage girl, my body needed fats for development. Number 2, I was and have always been very thin and metabolize fats very quickly. While I can see what was getting at (cutting out bad fats), I can tell you that after about 1 month or so of a super low fat diet, the acne was still there and I was really craving some food!
I eventually went the allopathic route and when antibiotics didn’t work, went on Accutane, which, with all its nasty side-effects, did work. I do however know that natural remedies for acne work! I just did not have access to the resources and people who could have helped me. Luckily today, we have the internet and access to knowledge is vast.
Had I known then what I know now, here are the natural remedies for acne that I would have done:
Herbal Suggestions for Acne
Focus on supporting the liver and cleansing the blood, and on herbs that are cooling and drying.
Liver Supportive Acne Formula
Burdock root (Arctium lappa) 2 parts
Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) 2 parts
Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus) 1 part
Red clover (Trifolium pretense) 1 part
The herbs can be made into a tincture and taken 3 times daily at 30 drops per dose. Or you can make a tea from them, but you will need to decrease the amount of dandelion and yellow dock roots to make it palatable. You can purchase all of the herbs for this formula here.
Don’t want to make your own?
As an herbalist, I love to craft my own formulas and make my own medicines. However, I realize that not everybody either wants to, has the time or the knowledge. I know how frustrating it can be to hit a wall and not find solutions because of that!
This shop is one of my main go-to’s when looking for just about anything herbal and they carry a Skin Care Extract that is formulated to purify the blood and support healthy liver function, which in turn assists with healing acne from the inside out.
Dietary Suggestions for Acne
1) Real, whole foods diet. My life is so so much different now. Back then I really ate a lot of junk: cookies, processed foods, white sugar, etc. not to mention I was doing a lot of recreational drugs at the time. Diet is best individualized based on your constitution, genetics, seasons and skin condition. That said, acne is a “hot and damp” condition in general and so dietary guidelines energetically address that.
2) Limiting meat. I’m not an advocate of vegetarianism necessarily, but meat a few times a week is sufficient for the body’s needs. Excess meat is associated with heat in the body which leads to many imbalances.
3) Limit dairy to cultured and raw. Particularly in acne, which is a damp and hot condition, dairy can exacerbate it.
So, basically healthy fats including meat, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, organic butter, ghee, avocados and some cultured or raw dairy. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains like rice and oats, legumes, fish and lots of water.
Here are some resources for dietary changes, since it is a huge topic in itself:
The World’s Healthiest Foods
Tea Tree Oil’s Antibiotic Action
Tea tree oil can be taken orally for its mild antibiotic action. Take 1 drop daily applied to the back of the tongue. This should show results in 1 to 2 weeks.
Combine Internal Guidelines with Topical Remedies
For full effect, these natural remedies for acne should be tried along with the outer remedies which can be found in Natural Remedies for Acne Part 2: Topical Suggestions.