Friday, July 25, 2014

Treating Cystic/Hormonal Acne with Herbs from your Backyard


 Severe Acne is Curable!

 You might be surprised to learn that cystic acne is a condition that can be controlled rather easily without the assistance of dangerously strong medication. I have learned from firsthand experience and want to share with you here how to treat yourself at home using readily available herbs. It is a difficult journey and I want to share how I overcame my issue so that others might do the same. Don't be disheartened! 

I believe the reason our society can't handle this condition is because our medical system is focused on treating symptoms and not the cause of the problem within the body.

For example:

About.com lists the following as causes of severe acne:
  • overactive oil glands
  • excess dead skin cells within the hair follicle (pore), and
  • a large number of acne-causing bacteria, Propionibacteria acnes
Therefore doctors treat only these issues and most patients never see relief from their condition without intense medication. That is because these symptoms are a result of internal imbalances in the body. Most doctors treat the things on the surface not the origin of the problem.

The truth is, some people are just genetically predisposed to acne. There are many toxins in the food we eat and the environment around us that our bodies must deal with on a daily basis. Some people's systems just can't handle these as well as others and as a result, one exhibits symptoms that seem to have no root cause.

What I Learned in the Struggle

I have battled with cystic acne myself and it has been painful, embarrassing, and overall an emotional roller coaster. I've tried a multitude of products, home remedies, alternative treatments, diets, and medications as most other people probably have as well. All of the searching was expensive, time consuming, and frequently caused other negative side effects.

However, after my search I finally found a solution to my acne utilizing local herbs and could not be more pleased and surprised with the results! I want to share this with others so they might find a way out of a seemingly hopeless situation as well. I initially got the idea from an apprentice of Susan weed on this message board.  However a lot of the herbs she used were hard for me find. I was convinced I could do this on my own but with plants that were easier to locate. 

In order to better understand how this herbal approach works, I first want to explain the imbalances in the body that lead to my cystic acne in particular. Upon studying herbalism online, I observed that my body is imbalanced because it has excess heat, mild dryness, and weakness in the lower GI or reproductive regions. My symptoms were severe acne that flared during PMS and the presence of excess energy that resulted in frequent anger.

Herbalism teaches that in order to restore balance to the body, treatment must be opposite of the body's constitution. Since I run a bit hot and dry, I needed to use herbs that were cooling and moist in nature. Using proper herbs and some topical treatments I have managed to control my acne to a reasonable level now. I feel much more confident and relieved. Here's a bit of a timeline in snapshots:


 This is the beginning. You can see my face was pretty rough here. These were average days, it flared up worse sometimes. All of this made me really self conscious and I constantly felt embarrassed.
 

At this point I was drinking chickweed tea on a daily basis and supplementing with red clover every now and then.


At this point I had started taking plantain tincture on a regular basis three times a day. This was much easier than making a huge jug of tea to last only a couple of days. And it seemed to work better because compliance was simpler.


 

















This is currently. You can see a huge reduction in the amount of acne on my chin which is where it predominantly resided. I still have the occasional bump, but I don't get more than one or two a week and they are easily managed. The scars are taking a while to recede, but I feel like they are going away pretty well with the help of MSM cream.

 

How to Start Working With Backyard Herbs


I have experimented with many local wild herbs and found that several of these taken internally helped relieve my symptoms. The herbs I list below are VERY EASY TO FIND! Many of them probably grown in your own yard or an abandoned nearby field. In addition they worked great for me and were also free! What an awesome bonus! Here is a list of useful herbs to treat cystic acne starting with the best first:

Red Clover



Taken internally as a tea, red clover provided immediate reduction of swelling in my acne. When nothing else worked for my face, red clover took care of the problem. Look for this plant in open sunny fields. Tolerates drought pretty well. Easy to spot when in bloom. Stores well dry. Do not use if stored plant has molded.
Dose: steep 10 flowers in warm water until the color has leached from them. drink twice daily.
Plant Profile: Very drying may aggravate those whose body lacks moisture.
Other notes: Tincture is ineffective on my acne. It seems the dry or fresh tea is required.


Plantain


Taken internally as a tincture, plantain is my go to for acne prevention. I love the tincture because I don't need to drink a large glass of tea for the effects. However, plantain is even more potent as a tea if you are looking for something strong. Be aware that it is also a nervine, so the tea tends to make me sleepy :)
Look for this plant in very sunny and moist areas. I use black seeded plantain, but I assume all types of plantain will have a similar effect.
Dose: three or four leaves as a tea x2 a day or one Tbsp tincture x3 a day
Plant Profile: Cooling, neither dry nor moist, mild relaxing nervine
Other notes: Holding your nose makes the tincture go down much easier. The plant is quite bitter.

Chickweed


I am very fond of chickweed as it is the first herb I learned to identify and use medicinally. Look for this herb in cool areas such as under bushes. Chickweed doesn't like the heat.   
Plant Profile: Cooling, neutral, has high water content
Dose: drink a strong tea throughout the day. I usually use about 1/2 cup of loosely packed fresh plant per liter of water. I have no experience with the tincture.
Other notes: Chickweed has a very mild taste and is fabulous when brewed with some lime juice and thyme!

Wild Violet


I love the taste of violet, primarily because it really doesn't have one (Some herbs taste pretty rough :p). I use it frequently in salads too. Look for this herb in shady moist areas. Again I don't use this herb much because it makes me  a bit drowsy. This plant will work best for those that have a dry constitution. It make not work for those that are damp. Everyone is different so don't be discouraged if one solution doesn't work for you.
Plant Profile: Cooling, Moist, slight relaxing nervine
Dose: Strong tea throughout the day. Use the same amount as chickweed.


*keep in mind all of these dosages are relative. This is just what works for me. You might need a larger or more frequent dose if you are heavier or if your condition is more serious. Take what you feel you need as all plants are safe for consumption.


Other potentially useful (and available) plants I have yet to experiment thoroughly with include:
Dandelion - bitter and neutral all around

Chicory - similar to dandelion

Other Useful Tools For Getting Started


I assume that not all cystic acne has the same root cause as mine. It is important to identify your constitution type in order to get good results! Take a tongue test here to find out your bodily deficiencies (hot or cold, dry or damp): http://eagleherbs.com/self-tests/tongue-diagnosis-38

For a tutorial on making tinctures see my other post here: http://sparrowchef.blogspot.com/2014/02/simple-winter-healing-herbal-tinctures.html

If you would like to learn more about other herbs (useful for things beyond acne) for beginners see my facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/foragingnaturewalk

I hope this post has been helpful and informative for those looking for answers! Keep in mind that there are other factors that can affect your breakouts such as diet, stress, and allergies. Sometimes handling these can alleviate your symptoms, but odds are if the condition is severe, this not enough to fix the problem.

 If you are struggling with severe acne, I wish you the best in recovery and would be happy to answer any questions that you might have! Good luck in your search!