Natural Remedies for Acne: Part II

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Natural Remedies for Acne: Part II

Looking Beneath the Surface at Internal Treatments

Acne. The word has a ruthless ring to it. Life does indeed seem merciless when acne flares up on your face. If you're using all the right skin care products, you may feel you're doing everything in your power to banish your blemishes (see "Don't Hide Your Face" in the November/December 1991 issue). If a stubborn case of acne isn't responding to your best topical tactics, maybe it's time to delve deeper into your dilemma and investigate some internal treatments for acne.

Acne, the most common skin disorder, mystifies medical authorities. They claim no cure. Indeed, most medical treatments are aimed at suppressing symptoms instead of determining and eliminating the causes.

Practitioners of alternative and preventative medicine realize that acne often has an internal origin. Factors such as diet, stress, and intestinal health figure into the formation of acne. Most agree that any skin disorder is merely a manifestation of internal health.

The skin is the largest organ and one of its foremost functions is eliminating toxins and wastes from your body. When your other organs of elimination -- lungs, kidneys, and intestines -- fail to fully perform their duties, your skin goes into overtime, processing an overload of waste material generated by your body. Blemishes on your face are simply sign that your ski is doing its job.

Acne is an inflammation of the sebaceous, or oil, glands. In acne, oil glands produce an excess of sebum. As skin cells that line the walls of the pores die and slough off, they stick to the excess sebum, forming plugs that block Pore openings. They swell, attract bacteria, and often rupture.

Many acne sufferers are finding permanent relief for this condition that afflicts a majority of teens and about one-third of Americans between the ages of twenty and fifty. Natural strategies are aimed at discovering core causes and eliminating them in an attempt to restore balance and harmony to the body.

When Stress Strikes

Everyone has stress. Stress aggravates acne. In many cases, it is the primary perpetrator. Reducing stress is the simplest solution, although it sounds easier than it is.

Stress depletes your body's supplies of zinc, vitamin A, and the B vitamins, all of which are essential for clear, healthy skin. Lack of these nutrients leaves the body more susceptible to acne. Add that to an immune system weakened by stress, and your body becomes the perfect target for breakouts and blemishes.

Stress agitates your emotions, too. Billions of nerve endings in the cells near your skin s surface transmit feelings and emotions. Emotional changes trigger the release of hormones such as androgen that can precipitate the production of oil in your sebaceous glands. The result is a flare-up on your face. Stress shines a spotlight on your skin, which becomes a barometer of your emotional environment.

People cope with stress in different ways. Do whatever works best for you, whether it is meditation, visualization, relaxation exercises, deep breathing, yoga, biofeedback, walking, jogging, aerobics or some other form of exercise. Just do it -- regularly. Reducing tension before it settles in your body gives you an upper hand in your battle against acne.

Dietary Disaster -- The Great American Diet

Many members of the medical community maintain that diet has no impact on acne. Holistic health care professionals profess otherwise. The human body, like any machine, will perform according to the fuel it receives.

Neck in neck with the proliferation of the Great American Diet is the rise of health problems, including acne. Fast foods. Fried foods. Junk foods. Our bodies have become receptacles for this non-nutritive trash that mass market merchandisers dare call food.

These "foods" are the norm, not the exception. They have taken over our society and infiltrated our digestive tracts, causing constipation and chronic digestive disorders. Years of ingesting over-processed synthetic substances loads your body with hard-to-assimilate preservatives and additives that congest your organs, including your skin. As a last resort, your body relies on your skin to process and eliminate that garbage from your system.

Hormone levels in animal-based foods have risen drastically over the past decades. Cattle and chickens are pumped up with steroids and growth hormones to plump them up quickly and get them to market fast. Each time you consume meat, poultry or animal by-products such as eggs and dairy products, you get a hefty helping of hormones. These animal hormones can wreak havoc on your own hormones by sending mixed messages to your endocrine system.

The Great American Diet ostracizes fresh vegetables and whole grains. Both food groups furnish vitamins and minerals crucial for clear, healthy skin, and fiber necessary for good intestinal health. Improve your diet by focusing on fresh vegetables and whole grains. Eliminate refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour, fried foods, dairy products and margarine.

Don't overlook food allergies as a contributor to your condition. Wheat, dairy, preservatives, food additives, and artificial colorings are the most common allergens.

Iodides and bromides can aggravate acne. Iodized salt, saltwater fish and shellfish have high iodine contents, while some drugs such as cough syrups, sedative and cold medications have both iodine and bromides. Commercial soft drinks may contain brominated vegetable oils as stabilizers.

What's the Answer?

Many mainstream medical doctors persuade their patients that antibiotics are the answer for treating acne. Though many patients do see their symptoms subside, antibiotics fail to address the source of the problem. This treatment is not without its share of severe side effects, either.

Antibiotic therapy, to be fully effective, may take months, even years. Meanwhile, antibiotics can destroy beneficial bacteria, cause yeast infections, and weaken immunity. Candida albicans -- a chronic yeast infection throughout the body that often occurs as a result of prolonged antibiotics therapy -- can worsen acne. Besides, extended use of antibiotics renders them less potent, requiring stronger doses or different medications. When treatments cease, acne frequently recurs, sometimes worse than before the antibiotic approach.

Frequently acne will respond just as well with natural approaches, using vitamins, herbs and homeopathic remedies.

Are You Getting Your Vitamins?

Vitamin deficiencies prompt a host of health problems, including acne. Zinc, and vitamins A, D and E are traditionally associated with clear, radiant skin. How do you know if your body is getting all the necessary vitamins, even if you are taking supplements? Unfortunately, your body doesn't always absorb and assimilate all the nutrients you feed it.

To overcome this obstacle, Earth Science, in Placentia, California, has developed micellized vitamins, including a skin formula. These water soluble vitamins are ready for use by your body, without interference from fillers, binders, or excipients. Vice President Michael Bathledge explains: "Most of the fat soluble vitamins -- A, D, and E -- pass through your system unused. When your body does absorb them, it must micellize them first. In their micelle form, more vitamins get into the blood stream and are better absorbed. If you are deficient in important nutrients, micellized vitamins are the best way to get them."

In clinical experiments, doctors found zinc to be as effective as tetracycline in treating acne -- without side effects. Zinc, alone or in conjunction with vitamin A, is proving effective in clearing acne. Theories about zinc's actions: It may induce the release of vitamin A in the body; it may bring an anti-inflammatory response; it may counteract enlargement of sebaceous glands caused by a zinc deficiency.

"Our philosophy is to choose nutrients that will work synergistically to support particular body functions," says Karolyn Gazella, marketing director at Enzymatic Therapy, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Derma-Klear Akne-Zyme nutritional supplement contains vitamins A, C, B12, B6 and niacin. It strengthens all body functions, with the B vitamins offering stress-related support. "An internal approach combined with proper eating habits and hygiene offers you an excellent chance to rid yourself of acne," summarized Gazella.

Overconsumption of hydrogenated fats can cause a deficiency of linoleic acid. Studies show that the levels of linoleic acid found in the sebum of acne sufferers is lower than that of people with clear skin. Edible oils containing gamma linoleic acid (GLA) such as borage and black currant oils are beneficial for treating acne because they replenish linoleic levels.

How About Homeopathy?

"Because everyone is individual, symptoms have slight variations. What works well for one person may not work well for another," comments Forrest Murphy, president of NuAge Laboratories in St. Louis, Missouri. "Some acne lends itself beautifully to home treatment."

His recommendations: Luyties #94, a combination of arsenicum, sulfur, echinacea, and Berberis, designed to clear skin and prevent future pimples, or NuAge Tissue D, an acne formula consisting of Kali mur, Kal sulph, and Calc sulph. "Tissue D helps your body recognize and correct whatever it is doing to cause acne," Murphy adds.

"ClearAc tablets, a combination of echinacea angustifolia, berberis vulgaris, sulphur iodatum, and hepar sulph, help stimulate the body to combat conditions that allow acne to occur," states Mark Phillips, pharmacist at Standard Homeopathic in Los Angeles. "Strengthening the body's defense mechanism prevents the proliferation of skin eruptions."

Herbal Help Is Here

Daniel Mowray, author of The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, recommends dandelion root, yellow dock root, sarsaparilla root, echinacea, licorice root, cayenne, and kelp to purify and detoxify the blood. In addition, he suggests chaparral and burdock root for skin disorders.

Rob McCaleb, president of Herb Research Foundation, in Boulder, Colorado, speculates: "Since acne is characterized by oily skin, lowering serum lipid levels may reduce that oiliness. Certain herbs such as garlic, ginseng, black and green teas, hawthorne, evening primrose oil, black currant oil, and Reishi mushrooms are helpful in doing so."

Getting Your Beauty Rest

Don't overlook the importance of getting plenty of rest. Not only does sleep recharge your emotional battery so you are better equipped to deal with stress, it lets you recuperate physically. During sleep your body repairs itself. The more sleep you get, the more it will mend.

Water for Health and Beauty

Drinking lots of water -- eight to twelve glasses of distilled water -- every day purifies the cells and tissues of your body. Water transports toxins and wastes from your cells out of the body via the skin, lungs, intestines and kidneys. Water helps these organs of elimination flush out wastes more rapidly. Wastes don't have the opportunity to build up in your body. Replenishing your water supply makes elimination more efficient.

In How to See Your Health: Book of Oriental Diagnosis, Michio Kushi diagnoses acne by pinpointing the locations of pimples on the face. He correlates breakouts in certain areas to internal organs that may not be performing optimally: Forehead -- intestines; cheeks -- lungs; nose -- heart; around the mouth -- reproductive organs; jaws -- kidneys.

If, despite your best efforts, your acne condition doesn't clear up, consult a dermatologist or other health care professional to treat it.

Island Publishing Company, Inc.

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By Roberta Wilson

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