Nature is the fundamental source of all medicine. Humans have been utilizing the medicinal properties of plants, animals, fungi and minerals since the dawn of civilization. This section is devoted to covering Naturopathic, Homeopathic, Ayurvedic and Nutritional/Dietary solutions that are available to acne sufferers. The goal of this Naturopathic Treatments section is to help you identify solutions that are likely to be effective for you, understand what they are and how they work.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
There are huge numbers of biologically active molecules that can be isolated from natural sources. When it comes to naturopathic medicine, the biggest challenge is to separate fact from fiction. While some naturopathic treatments are based on solid scientific reasoning and have a long history of successful medicinal use, others are fraudulent at best and dangerous at worst. The challenge is to identify the legitimate naturopathic therapies in a sea of snake oil.
A lot of people, particularly those in the medical profession, dismiss naturopathic solutions as ineffective quackery. On the other side of the fence, many practitioners and patients of naturopathic and homeopathic medicine are inherently suspicious of the medical establishment and commercial pharmaceuticals. The reality is that naturopathic medicine, like most anything else, contains both truth and falsehoods. Indeed, truth can be found on both sides of the fence.
Essential oils and other plant extracts contain significant quantities of biologically active small molecules and enzymes. Often times these molecules are part of the plant’s own defense mechanism against viral, bacterial and fungal infection.
Numerous plant extracts have been shown to have potent anti-bacterial activity against the two types of bacteria most commonly implicated in acne outbreaks, P. acnes and S. aureus. Other extracts have been shown to contain retinoid family compounds that are similar, if not identical, to those contained in prescription medications, such as Tretinoin (Retin-A). Some plant compounds have effective anti-inflammatory agents that could potentially decrease the swelling and pain associated with acne.
Herbal Supplements (aka Botanicals) often come in the form of capsules that contain dried and powdered pieces of specific plants. There are lots and lots (and lots) of herbal supplements on the market. A number of these have been marketed specifically for the treatment of acne. While many herbal supplements provide legitimate support for certain medical conditions, they are usually not effective treatments for acne. This section covers the few herbal supplements that may actually be beneficial to acne sufferers, as well as many others that are commonly marketed as acne treatments but are most likely useless.
Nutritional Supplements are a very common remedy for 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. What is less well understood is whether supplementation with high levels of vitamins, minerals or other compounds can improve health or help resolve disease. In this section we analyze the potential benefits and risks of supplementation with vitamins, minerals, extracts and more.
Dietary choices – what you eat and do not eat – have a huge impact on your metabolism, immune system and overall health. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that diet also has a direct impact on acne symptoms. Sugar, milk, chocolate and many other foods have been suggested to contribute to acne. Although some of these claims are probably not true, others are supported by compelling scientific evidence. This section covers common dietary regimens (eg. vegan, Atkins, Mediterranean, etc.) and specific dietary restrictions (dairy, chocolate, sugar, etc).
Physical exercise is a critical component of overall health. Exercise boosts the immune system directly and indirectly by impacting hormones, body composition, metabolism and mental state. There are many ways to engage in physical activity.
Spiritual interventions (eg. Prayer, Meditation), Aromatherapy, Acupuncture are also approaches that some people take to help treat their acne symptoms. This section covers a range of physical and spiritual activities, from Yoga to weight-lifting, and explores how these activities might impact acne.
Topical Naturopathic Remedies extend beyond essential oils and plant extracts to include a wide variety of alternative treatments, many of which have a long and successful history in medicine. Sulfur, yogurt, silver, calamine, honey and many other substances are all commonly used to create topical acne treatments. This section covers these topical naturopathic remedies (along with many more) and explores there history, science and effectiveness as acne treatments.