ACNE: NOT JUST A TEENAGE THING!
Often associated with the hormone flux of puberty, ‘acne vulgaris’ is a difficult issue that accompanies feelings of embarrassment and sometimes can be painful and problematic.
Considered a result of excess Yang Qi that usually as occurs during the rapid growth of puberty, the influx of sex hormones that change our bodies in a variety of ways can result in excess sebum (an oily substance that keeps our skin moist). This creates heat combined with excess hormones in the blood resulting in the liver being overwhelmed and simply cannot breakdown the excess hormones. So the skin as an organ of clearing, vents the heat and toxins out as pimples.
Why then do some people get way beyond puberty?
Usually post puberty acne it’s a result of hormone imbalance (such as too much testosterone, or yang) combined with a diet rich in fats, sugar or alcohol. Or a sign that the liver is overloaded or is low in blood stores causing the excess build up of toxins in the blood. Specific foods can aggravate acne such as chocolate or processed carbohydrates (white flour, doughnuts, white bread etc) or red wine and sugary soft drinks. Also chocolate it very warming, rich, full of sugar and does mimic some hormone like substances (why we crave it during ‘that time of the month’ girls) so keeping to a diet high in good fresh unprocessed foods, lots of fresh greens, fruit and veg and water is important. Green foods are especially important, rocket, parsley, celery, mixed lettuce etc all help cleanse the liver and skin. Green mung beans are great too as they clear damp heat and toxicity, as well as Goi Ji Berries, barley, celery, lemon juice in water each morning is great as well as, alfalfa, apricots and carrots (lots of Vit A) and manuka honey (a natural anti bacterial).
There are many external skin wash products on the market that are very expensive that promise miraculous results. Some can be beneficial such as tea tree based cleansers but it’s important to remember that the skin is simply flushing what’s not being cleared inside the liver so what you eat and getting your hormone levels tested to ensure there is not an underlying issue such as Endometriosis or POCD for women who find they are struggling with acne post puberty. Evening Primrose Oil is a great supplement that can assist in balancing hormones and improving acne too.
Chinese medicine uses herbs internally to treat acne to rebalance hormones, improve liver function and clear toxicity from the blood. What you use on your skin is also important. Chemical based creams are not great as the skin is an organ of elimination and protection so any factors that aggravate the skin will only complicate things. Topical antibiotics can disrupt the skin’s microbiology and drive the problem deeper. Try not to over use drying chemicals like benzol peroxide as it can deeply dry and damage new skin layers. Instead, if you have oily skin try a tea-tree based wash to clean skin, always use a good toner after cleansing with soothing herbs such as lavender and witch hazel and neat tea tree oil, thyme oil, eucalyptus, geranium, myrrh or bergamont directly on the blemishes. Use a very light natural moisturiser to protect against excess compensatory oil production.
A home-made fresh face mask is amazing, inexpensive and should be used weekly for troubled skin.
Try this recipe:
½ a cup of fine ground oats,
½ cup of clay (such as a green clay that can be purchased from natural skin shops online)
2 tablespoons of almond meal. Mix and store as a base.
Then use 1 tablespoon of this base with 1 teaspoon of carrot juice (just grate and squeeze),
1 teaspoon of manuka honey,
2 drops of one or two of the bergamont essential oil.
Mix well and apply after cleansing for 10 minutes or so. Feels amazing!
Until next time
Dr Angela Palmer
Chinese Medicine Doctor.