Acne

A holistic approach to Acne based on good nutrition, natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle.

Acne is an inflammatory condition of the skin characterised by blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. If these become infected with surface bacteria, the skin can become red and inflamed and also form pustules. The areas commonly affected are the face, back, chest and thighs. While acne is almost exclusively an adolescent phenomenon and usually subsides in later years, it can also affect adults. One form which often affects adults is Acne rosacea which is characterised by an “orange-peel” texture of the fleshy areas of the face such as the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead.

The exact causes of acne are uncertain, but some eighty per-cent of teenagers are affected by acne to some degree; and thus it is associated with increased sex hormone activity occurring around the time of puberty and the years immediately following it. The sebaceous glands are stimulated giving rise to an over-production of sebum which hardens, blocking up the pores which then become infected causing the unsightly blackheads and pimples to form. The condition can be aggravated by attempts to squeeze the spots with the fingernails which can cause permanent scarring.  Acne rosacea is often accompanied by chronic indigestion and may be caused by a variety of factors including an inadequate diet, poor absorption of nutrients, low stomach acid and over-consumption of alcohol.

The skin

The skin is not just the outer covering for the body – it is in fact the largest organ of our body and is one of the four main organs of elimination, the others being the bowels, the kidneys and the lungs. The skin acts as a safety valve in case the other pathways of elimination are not functioning properly. It stands to reason that if the elimination processes are working normally, this will ease the burden on the skin, and this is achieved through a good high fibre diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Good skin hygiene is of primary importance – and a good cleansing lotion containing natural ingredients like essential oils should be used in preference to soap and water or the heavily advertised mass market chemical- based cleansers which may damage the skins acid mantle.

Most cosmetics, soaps, creams and lotions should be avoided. A range of suitable cleansing products is available at your local IAHS store. There are many ways to improve the vitality of the skin. Alternating hot and cold showers followed by a brisk rub-down with a coarse towel or loofah will improve the circulation and help eliminate toxins.

Diet

Even though acne is thought to be caused primarily by hormonal imbalances, diet is of critical importance and a good diet is a crucial part of recovery. Most skin problems of this nature are better treated from the inside-out rather than relying on topical treatment creams and lotions. Diet affects the skin in two ways :

  1. It provides the nutrients which are needed by the skin and,
  2. It helps eliminate toxins from the system and pre vents them building up again.

While a poor diet alone may not be a direct cause of acne, a typical teenager’s diet consisting as it does of chips, burgers, minerals, sweets, cakes, biscuits, crisps, buns pastries chocolates etc. is certainly not designed to help the condition. The high fat content of such a diet causes abnormal development of the sebaceous glands, exacerbating the problem. Also, red meat and dairy products (particularly cheese) tend to further increase inflammation for the acne sufferer.

Any dietary changes should be undertaken gradually. Start by adding plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic) to your diet. This would include plenty of raw vegetable juices, non-citrus fruit juices, salads, cooked vegetables, vegetable soups, nuts and seeds (e.g. pumpkin). Increase your intake of wholegrains (e.g. brown rice) and pulses (e.g. lentils, beans), and gradually cut down and eventually eliminate from your diet all the confections and junk food mentioned above. Drink large amounts of a good quality mineral water. It is very important also to cut down on all saturated fats (e.g. milk, cheese, butter) and high fat meals such as fries etc.

Take your time while eating – meals should never be rushed – and always chew well.

Your local IAHS store can further advise you on an appropriate diet for the acne sufferer.

Lifestyle

Make sure you take plenty of regular physical exercise – brisk walking, swimming, rowing, sailing and aerobics, as well as all the usual sports, are excellent for the acne sufferer by encouraging blood flow, getting oxygen into the tissues, and stimulating the eliminatory process.

It is well-known that stress can aggravate skin conditions, and the teenage years can be one of the most stressful phases in life, and breakouts of spots only make matters worse by undermining confidence, thus creating a vicious circle. Stress can be relieved by a number of measures such yoga, meditation, deep-breathing, exercise, sport, hobbies, music etc., and it is well worth pursuing one or more of these options. Teenagers require adult guidance in helping them to achieve a balance between work and leisure.

Supplements

Some people find that certain supplements or vitamins may help. All are available at your IAHS store whose staff will be able to advise you on their correct use:

  • Vitamin A: Known as the skin vitamin. Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
  • B Complex: Good skin conditioner and par ticularly useful if under stress.
  • Vitamin C: Antioxidant. Supports the immune system.
  • Vitamin E: Anti-oxidant. Helps to promote healing.
  • Zinc: Supports the immune system and aids healing.
  • Agnus castus: A useful hormone balancer.
  • Aloe Vera: Anti-inflammatory topical agent in gel or cream.
  • Echinacea: Immune enhancer, blood purifier and anti-bacterial (tincture or tablets). Cream useful for topical application.
  • Garlic: Blood purifier.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Anti-bacterial topical agent.
  • Evening Primrose Oil: Helps to regulate hormonal activity.

There are also a range of homeopathic and traditional herbal remedies which may be useful. Ask at your local IAHS Store.

Summary

Most of the skin blemishes associated with acne take about three months from their invisible beginnings, to becoming visible, to healing. Therefore patience and perseverance are essential in treating acne.

The key to successful management of acne lies in a three-pronged approach:

  1. Good wholesome diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  2. Vigorous outdoor lifestyle combined with stress relieving measures.
  3. Good skin hygiene using natural cleansers and body scrubs.

Further Reading

  • Raw Energy by Leslie and Susannah Kenton
  • Skin Diseases by Jan de Vries
  • Better Health through Natural Healing by Ross Trattler
  • Skin Troubles by Leon Chaitow
  • Eczema Relief by Christine Orton

This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a healthcare professional.

Partners & Patrons