Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is occasionally used as a topical Naturopathic treatment for both active acne and acne scars. Yogurt-based skin care treatments are especially popular in some Middle Eastern and Asian communities. Topical yogurt-based facials can be easily prepared and applied at home. Yogurt facials are also commonly offered in spas.

Yogurt Mask
Yogurt Mask

Unpasteurized yogurt contains many nutrients and enzymes, as well as live cultures of many types of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus delbrueckii and Streptococcus salivarius bacteria. These bacteria are non-pathogenic and play an important role in the fermentation of milk into yogurt. A byproduct of this fermentation is lactic acid, which makes the yogurt acidic and prevents the growth of other bacteria and yeast. Both lactic acid and yogurt-associated bacteria (often referred to as “probiotic bacteria”) have been reported to help improve skin tone and clarity. However, these claims are almost entirely anecdotal, and there has been little scientific research to prove or disprove the benefits of yogurt facials.

Preparing a Yogurt Anti-Acne Facial
Preparing a Yogurt Anti-Acne Facial

Interestingly, the bacteria used to make yogurt may also release small quantities of natural antibiotics that are toxic to competing bacteria. Yogurt-associated bacteria may also secrete digestive enzymes, which could account for the smoothing and toning effect claimed by proponents of topical yogurt treatments.

Although there is minimal scientific research on the efficacy of yogurt treatments for acne, these topical treatments are generally considered safe, easy-to-make, inexpensive and potentially helpful for some people. Realistically, yogurt-based topical treatments may help improve skin tone and reduce mild inflammation. But they are unlikely to be helpful treatments for moderate to severe acne (Acne Types: 2-4), or for significant acne scarring.

Yogurt Images

Yogurt Facial Mask Videos



Yogurt @ Wikipedia
Topical and oral CAM in acne: A review of the empirical evidence and a consideration of its context. Magin, et al. 2006.
Effects of Fermented Dairy Products on Skin: A Systematic Review. Vaughn, et al. 2015.
Health Benefits of Yogurt. Chandan. 2015.
A three-stage strategy in treating acne vulgaris in patients with atopic dermatitis- a pilot study. Sabry. 2009.
The Prevention how-to dictionary of healing remedies and techniques: from acupressure and aspirin to yoga and yogurt: over 350 curative options. Feltman. 1996.
The Care and Keeping of Sensitive Skin: A Practical Guide to Holistic Skin Care. Bell. 2012.
Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self. Tourles. 2007.
Return to Beautiful Skin: Your Guide to Truly Effective, Nontoxic Skin Care. Eby. 2008.
Acne through the ages: case-based observations through childhood and adolescence. Tom, et al. 2008.
Acne Causes and Amazing Remedial Measures for Acne. Ravisankar. et al. 2015.
Clinical efficacy of facial masks containing yoghurt and Opuntia humifusa Raf. (F-YOP). Yeom, et al. 2011.

Colloidal Copper

Colloidal Copper

Colloidal copper is toxic to a wide range of bacteria and fungi. Although it is used less commonly than colloidal silver, colloidal copper is gaining popularity as a treatment for several types of dermatological problems, including acne.

Antibacterial Activity of Copper Nanoparticles Against Different Bacteria (Shende)
Antibacterial Activity of Copper Nanoparticles Against Different Bacteria (Shende)

Copper-based compounds are the active ingredient in many anti-fungal, topical solutions. Copper has also been incorporated into fabrics and bandages to slow the growth of disease and odor-causing bacteria. Copper peptides, which are small molecules that are composed of short chains of amino acids connected to copper ions, are also the subject of research efforts for dermatological applications. They are being used in a number of rejuvenating and skin revitalizing treatments.

Proposed Mechanism of Action of Antibacterial Activity of Copper Nanoparticles (Shende)
Proposed Mechanism of Action of Antibacterial Activity of Copper Nanoparticles (Shende)

Colloidal copper and copper salts (copper sulfate) are frequently used in many branches of Naturopathic Medicine. However, the efficacy of copper therapies for the treatment of acne remains largely untested by rigorous clinical trials. More research is needed to determine whether the use of colloidal copper (and other colloidal metals, such as Silver) can significantly improve symptoms for individuals with acne.

Colloidal COPPER Images


Copper (Cu) @ Wikipedia
Green synthesis of copper nanoparticles by Citrus medica Linn.(Idilimbu) juice and its antimicrobial activity. Shende, et al. 2015.
Principles of colloid therapeutics. Smith. 1922.
Effect of nanosized colloidal copper on cotton fabric. Chattopadhyay, et al. 2010.
Strain specificity in antimicrobial activity of silver and copper nanoparticles. Ruparelia, et al. 2008.
Susceptibility constants of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis to silver and copper nanoparticles. Yoon, et al. 2007.
Synthesis and antimicrobial activity of copper nanoparticles. Ramyadevi, et al. 2012.
Synthesis and anti-bacterial activity of Cu, Ag and Cu–Ag alloy nanoparticles: a green approach. Valodkar, et al. 2011.
Nanocarriers and nanoparticles for skin care and dermatological treatments. Gupta, et al. 2013.
Are commercially available nanoparticles safe when applied to the skin? Robertson, et al. 2010.


Sulfur Crystal

Sulfur has been used since antiquity for the treatment of skin diseases. Sulfur-laden hot springs are widely touted for their healing properties. Sulfur is one of the most commonly prescribed topical acne therapies in Naturopathic medicine.

Pure Sulfur Powder
Pure Sulfur Powder

Sulfur itself has antibacterial and antifungal properties. In addition to Naturopatic medicine, sulfur is commonly used in organic farming operations as a treatment for certain plant diseases. However, laboratory testing has indicated that Sulfur is only mildly toxic to the acne-causing P. acnes bacterium.  It remains unclear whether any beneficial effects of topical sulfur treatment on acne symptoms are a result of reduced bacterial growth.

When used topically, sulfur acts as a keratolytic agent, breaking down keratinized cells at the surface of the skin and promoting cellular turnover. The keratolytic action result from the formation of hydrogen sulfide molecules that are formed when sulfur interacts with skin cells. There is some debate about whether topically-applied Sulfur is comedogenic, and research studies have reported conflicting results. Sulfur may also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the appearance of acne lesions, but this has not been definitively proven by clinical research.

Freshly Mined Sulfur
Freshly Mined Sulfur

Only a small fraction of topically-applied is absorbed systemically. Significant side effects from topically applied sulfur are uncommon. The most common side effect of topical sulfur applications is irritation of the skin. In infants, however, some serious adverse events have been reported outcome after extensive applications.

Sulfur is available as a pure product (often in powder form) that can be compounded by the user or Naturopathic practitioner. Several prescription pharmaceutical products that contain sulfur are also available, such as sulfur plus sodium sulfacetamide (Clenia). Overall, the available clinical research is split on the efficacy of sulfur as a treatment for acne, but it appears to be most effective when combined with an additional type of topical treatment.

Sulfur Images


Sulfur @ Wikipedia
Benzoyl peroxide and sulfur: foundation for acne management. Wilkinson, et al. 1966.
Sulfur revisited. Lin, et al. 1988.
Is Sulphur Helpful or Harmful in Acne Vulgaris? Mills, et al. 1972.
The use of sodium sulfacetamide 10%-sulfur 5% emollient foam in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Keratoacanthoma, et al. 2009.
The use of sulfur in dermatology. Gupta, et al. 2003.
Topical drug treatment in acne. Gollnick, et al. 1998.
The Effects of Sulfur extract on Anti-Inflammation and Anti-Propionibacterium acnes. Lee, et al. 2007.
Role of reduced sulfur compounds in nutrition of Propionibacterium acnes. Nielsen. 1983.
Topical acne drugs. Akhavan, et al. 2003.
A Reexamination of the Potential Comedogenicity of Sulfur. Strauss, et al. 1978.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal Silver Nanoparticles and Acne

Colloidal Silver has been used in Naturopathic and Alternative Medicine for many years. Some people consume Colloidal Silver suspensions orally, although it is more commonly applied topically when used as an acne treatment. Colloidal Silver is often used in the preparations of Naturopathic anti-acne face masks that also contain other active ingredients, such as clays, essential oils or honey. Many people have reported that topical Colloidal Silver treatments helped to improve their acne symptoms, but very little clinical research has been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of Colloidal Silver as an acne treatment.

Antibacterial Activity of Silver Nanoparticles Towards Propionibacterium acnes (Sathishkumar)
Antibacterial Activity of Silver Nanoparticles Towards Propionibacterium acnes (Sathishkumar)

Evangelists of Colloidal Silver claim that it has an array of health benefits. Although many of these claims are probably not true, one thing that is supported by significant research is the antibacterial activity of silver. Research studies have clearly shown that colloidal silver itself is toxic to many types of bacteria.  Silver can be incorporated into wound dressings, catheters and stents where it helps to decrease infection. Silver is also included in certain topical antibiotic formulations, such as Silver Sulfadiazine.

Long-term oral consumption of Colloidal Silver can cause a condition called Argyria where the skin turns blue
Long-term oral consumption of Colloidal Silver can cause a condition called Argyria where the skin turns blue

Despite claims to the contrary, there is little evidence to support the use Colloidal Silver as an oral supplement. There is no scientific research indicating that oral supplementation of colloidal silver is helpful in the treatment of acne. In addition, ingesting significant amounts of colloidal silver can lead to permanent pigmentation of the skin in a condition called argyria.

Colloidal Silver Images


Medical Use of Silver @ Wikipedia
The bactericidal effect of silver nanoparticles. Morones, et al. 2005.
Evaluation of silver nanoparticle toxicity in skin in vivo and keratinocytes in vitro. Samberg, et al. 2010.
A review of the use of silver in wound care: facts and fallacies. Lansdown. 2004.
Silver nanoparticles: synthesis methods, bio-applications and properties. Abbasi, et al. 2016.
Silver in medicine: the basic science. Marx, et al. 2014.
Genotoxicity, acute oral and dermal toxicity, eye and dermal irritation and corrosion and skin sensitisation evaluation of silver nanoparticles. Kim, et al. 2013.
Chemical preparation of the eye in ophthalmic surgery: II. Effectiveness of mild silver protein solution. Isenberg, et al. 1983.
Anti-acne, anti-dandruff and anti-breast cancer efficacy of green synthesised silver nanoparticles using Coriandrum sativum leaf extract. Sathishkumar, et al. 2016.

Egg Whites

Egg Whites and Acne

Egg whites contain large quantities of proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Egg whites are low in carbohydrates and very rich in protein, which make them very popular nutritional choice for people who are trying to lose weight and/or build muscle mass. Fresh egg whites are also commonly used for topical treatments in Naturopathic medicine. Egg Whites contain several enzymes and other molecules that have antimicrobial properties. Face masks that contain fresh egg whites are a popular Naturopathic acne treatment.

Separated Egg Whites
Separated Egg Whites

Egg Whites from fresh, uncooked eggs contain several proteins that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including the acne-causing P. acnes bacterium. One of these proteins is an enzyme called Lysozyme which breaks down the cell walls of gram-positive bacteria. Coincidentally, the two bacteria that are usually behind acne breakouts, Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus, are both gram positive bacteria and are susceptible to this enzyme. Egg Whites also contain additional proteins which may have antimicrobial properties, such as Cystatin and Conalbumin.

Frying an Egg
Frying an Egg

Egg whites are usually prepared into a mask and allowed to dry on the face. They can be mixed with many other ingredients that may have biological activity, such as activated charcoal, clay, colloidal silver or essential oils. Alternatively, Egg White extracts containing the active proteins can be prepared and added to a different preparation. The Lysozyme enzyme is also available alone, it is most often used in beer and wine making to prevent bacterial contamination during fermentation.

Crystal Structure of Chicken Egg White Lysozyme Protein (Sugahara)
Crystal Structure of Chicken Egg White Lysozyme Protein (Sugahara)

Although Egg White masks are a fairly popular Naturopathic acne treatment, there has been little research into whether they are effective. Many people have reported that their acne symptoms improved after beginning regular application of Egg White masks. But there do not appear to be any reliable scientific reports that indicate Egg White masks are an effective acne treatment. Nonetheless, Egg White masks are unlikely to worsen acne symptoms and might be worth trying for interested individuals.

Egg White Images


Egg Whites @ Wikipedia
Comparative antibacterial activity of avian egg white protein extracts. Wellman-Labadie, et al. 2008.
Antibacterial activity of hen egg white lysozyme against Listeria monocytogenes Scott A in foods. Hughey, et al. 1989.
Antimicrobial activity of lysozyme against bacteria involved in food spoilage and food-borne disease. Hughey, et al. 1987.
The antibacterial activity of the egg white protein conalbumin. Feeney, et al. 1952.
Antimicrobial activity of chicken egg white cystatin. Wesierska, et al. 2005.
Susceptibility of Propionibacterium acnes to killing and degradation by human neutrophils and monocytes in vitro. Webster, et al. 1985.
The chicken egg white proteome. Mann. 2007.


Honey and Acne

Honey has a medicinal tradition that goes back to ancient times. Honey has become even more popular in recent times with some research indicating that Honey can accelerate wound healing when applied topically. Several products containing medical grade Honey are now available and are widely used in parts of Europe and Asia.

Inside Honey Bee Hive
Inside Honey Bee Hive

Honey is widely used in Nautropathic acne treatments. Honey can be applied directly to the skin, or blended into complex formulations. The combination of honey, clays and essential oils is a popular way to make anti-acne facial masks. Many people involved in Naturopathic medicine believe that Honey can be a helpful addition to an acne treatment regimen. But most clinical research has found the topical application of Honey to be fairly ineffective for reducing acne symptoms. Overall, the effectiveness of Honey for the treatment of acne is unclear.

Basic Chemical Composition of Honey (Jeffrey)
Basic Chemical Composition of Honey (Jeffrey)

Honey is primarily a mixture of sugars and water. But Honey also contains functional amounts of anti-oxidants, enzymes and antibacterial molecules. There is a difference between raw and pasteurized honey, as the pasteurization process denatures many of the enzymes present in honey. However, both raw and processed honey are used in homeopathic medicine, depending on the application. Honey may have some antibacterial properties and has been reported to be moderately toxic to acne-causing, P. acnes bacteria.

Honey Images


Honey @ Wikipedia
A pilot study of topical medical‐grade kanuka honey for acne. Holt, et al. 2011.
Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review. Burlando, et al. 2013.
Honey: is it worth rubbing it in? Chowdhury. 1999.
Randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of acne. Semprini. 2016.
Antibacterial Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Cinnamon Bark and Honey and Their Combination Effects Against Acne Causing Bacteria. Julianti, et al. 2016.
The protective effects of melittin on Propionibacterium acnes–induced inflammatory responses in vitro and in vivo. Lee, et al. 2014.
Antimicrobial effect of Manuka honey and Kanuka honey alone and in combination with the bioactives against the growth of Propionibacterium acnes ATCC 6919. Wu, et al. 2011.
Honey, a gift from nature to health and beauty: a review. Omar, et al. 2016.
Beliefs, perceptions and sociological impact of patients with acne vulgaris in the Turkish population. Gokdemir, et al. 2011.
Medical uses of honey. Jeffrey, et al. 1996.
Antibacterial activity of honey against strains of Staphylococcus aureus from infected wounds. Cooper, et al. 1999.
Antibacterial activity of honey on bacteria isolated from wounds. Subrahmanyam, et al. 2001.

Topical Naturopathic Remedies

Topical Naturopathic Remedies for Acne

Topical Naturopathic Remedies for acne extend beyond essential oils and plant extracts to include a wide variety of alternative treatments. Sulfur, yogurt, silver, calamine, honey and many other substances are all commonly used to create topical acne treatments. Some of these treatments have a long and successful history of use in the traditional medicine of many cultures.

This section covers several of the Topical Naturopathic Remedies that are most commonly used for the treatment of acne symptoms.

Topical Naturopathic Remedies (A to Z)

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Herbal and Nutritional Supplements

Herbal and Nutritional Supplements for Acne

Herbal and Nutritional Supplements commonly used in the Naturopathic treatment of all types of acne. It is well known that deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals can cause or worsen numerous health problems, including skin diseases like acne. A wide range of vitamins, minerals, animal products, herbal extracts and other plant-based products are purported to help control acne symptoms.

This section includes many of the Herbal and Nutritional supplements that are most frequently used as acne treatments. 

Herbal Supplements (A-Z)

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Nutritional Supplements (A-Z)

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Once Daily Multivitamin

Multi-vitamins are nutritional supplements that combine many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients into a single formulation. Regular intake of a balanced multi-vitamin at the recommended dosage is an excellent way to maintain healthy levels of essential nutrients in your body. Multi-vitamins are rarely used as a direct treatment for acne, but they are often incorporated into comprehensive acne treatment plans as part of the dietary regimen.

Organic Multi-Vitamin Supplement Label
Organic Multi-Vitamin Supplement Label

There is no robust evidence that taking Multi-vitamins is an effective treatment for any disease, at least in otherwise healthy people. However, deficiences in essential Vitamins and Minerals can cause a wide range of health problems, suppress the immune system and trigger acne symptoms. For example, B Vitamin (B2, B5 and B6) deficiencies can cause skin problems and acne-like symptoms. Deficiencies in Vitamins A and D, as well as important minerals like Zinc, may also trigger acne symptoms.

Overall, taking a once-daily, balanced multi-vitamin is unlikely to significantly reduce the frequency or severity of acne symptoms in most people. That’s because most people who eat a reasonably well-balanced diet do not have acute Vitamin or Mineral deficiencies. But regular use of multi-vitamins at recommended dosages is generally safe and is an excellent way to ensure your body has all the nutrients that it needs.

Multi-Vitamin Images


Multivitamins @ Wikipedia


Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

Echinacea supplements are prepared from several species of Coneflower (Echinacea spp). The most common Echinacea supplements are extracts from the roots of the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Echinacea is native to the Eastern North America, and this plant was an important part of the traditional medicines of many Native American groups who lived in the region. Echinacea extracts are purported to have many health benefits and are widely used in Naturopathic Medicine to boost the immune system and to treat respiratory infections, such as the common cold. Echinacea extracts are occasionally used in the Naturopathic treatment of acne.

Echinacea Capsules
Echinacea Capsules

Despite numerous claims that Echinacea helps support the immune system, there is little scientific evidence that commercially-available Echinacea extracts have any health benefits. One reason for this might be because the composition of Echinacea extracts varies significantly between providers. It is also unclear whether the active ingredients that are present in Echinacea formulations prepared from fresh Echinacea roots are also present in the commercial extracts. Overall, there is no compelling evidence to suggest that commercial Echinacea extracts are helpful for the treatment of infections, including acne.

Antimocrobial Activity of Echinacea Oregon Grape and Other Plant Extracts (Wendakoon)
Antimocrobial Activity of Echinacea Oregon Grape and Other Plant Extracts (Wendakoon)

Echinacea extracts have been claimed to have robust antibacterial properties which may help reduce the growth of acne-causing bacteria, such as Propionibacterium acnesHowever, laboratory testing indicates that commercial Echinacea extracts tend to be weakly toxic to gram-positive bacteria, a group which includes P. acnes. Overall, it seems unlikely that commercial Echinacea extracts will be helpful acne treatments. While topical or oral treatments that use fresh Echinacea extract may be helpful for the treatment of acne, more research is needed on that subject.

Echinacea Images


Echinacea @ Wikipedia
The potential use of Echinacea in acne: control of Propionibacterium acnes growth and inflammation. Sharma, et al. 2011.
Applications of the phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in infectious diseases. Hudson. 2011.
A review of phytotherapy of acne vulgaris: perspective of new pharmacological treatments. Azimi, et al. 2012.
Immunotropic activity of Echinacea. Part II. Experimental and clinical data. Balan, et al. 2012.
Medicinal plants for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a review of recent evidences. Nasri, et al. 2015.
Echinacea: an effective alternative to antibiotics. Tierra. 2008.
An Evaluation of Echinacea angustifolia in Experimental Rhinovirus Infections. Turner, et al. 2005.
Evaluation of Selected Medicinal Plants Extracted in Different Ethanol Concentrations for Antibacterial Activity against Human Pathogens. Wendakoon, et al. 2012.