The dreaded zit, seemingly always showing up when you need to look your best. The holidays can be stressful for many people and the seasonal stress can trigger an outbreak; that’s because stress causes the skin to produce more oil. Other common causes of acne include allergies, poor circulation, constipation, food sensitivities, medications, nutritional deficiencies, yeast overgrowth, inadequate sloughing of the skin’s cells, overactive oil glands, and a lack of fatty acids (which reduce inflammation).
Acne vulgaris is an inflammation of the skin that results from clogged pores. It’s likely to occur when sebum, a waxy substance that lubricates the skin and keratin, a skin protein, block the sebaceous glands. You can use prescription medicines to get rid of pimples, but unless you change your diet and exercise, you won’t be as healthy as you could be. Here’s your natural Rx so you can look your best this holiday season and all year long.
1. Try the Clear Skin Diet. The foods that are most beneficial to eat for improving acne include raw almonds, apples, apricots, artichokes, barley, beets, carrots (with the skins), celery, cucumbers (organic with the peel), flax seeds, green leafy vegetables, lemon in water, parsley, radishes, sweet potatoes, raw sunflower seeds, and winter squashes. A green food supplement (with chlorophyll, spirulina and barley greens) like Garden of Life’s Perfect Food: Super Green Formula will also help to remove toxins from the body.
A raw high-fiber diet without heated oils, refined carbohydrates, dairy, sugar, and wheat is the best. In fact, people who ate 1 ounce daily of an all-bran cereal had rapid healing of their acne according to a 1983 study in the Archives of Dermatology.
Minimize foods such as peanuts, peanut butter, wheat, high-fat dairy products, sugar, heated oils (this includes commercially bottled salad dressing and oils like canola, soy and safflower oil) fried foods, and hydrogenated oils. Not only are eating fried foods a possible problem, but heated oils are in the air (such as working around a fryer) can also clog the pores. Acne can be inflammation related to a food allergy. By removing the offending food, the problem may go away.
2. Drink tea or use tinctures and capsules that can help improve skin quality such as burdock root, raw dandelion root, Oregon grape root, and yellow dock root. These herbs are available in combinations at health food stores and help improve liver function, bowel action, and help the body metabolize fats. Burdock and Oregon grape root also contain mild antibacterial agents.
3. Use skin-friendly vitamins A,C, and E. Antioxidant vitamins A (retinol),C, and E in topical forms either separately or together can be effective in battling acne. You’ll find them at your health food stores. The dosage for Retin-A cream is lower than 1-2 percent retinol (you can get up to 5 percent with a prescription). Taking these vitamins as supplements can help, too. Recommended daily doses are as follows: Vitamin A, 2500 IU, Vitamin E, 400 IU, and Vitamin C, 2000 mg. (or to bowel tolerance).
4. Take “friendly bacteria” to prevent outbreaks. When your digestive tract isn’t functioning optimally it shows on the skin. Taking acidophilius, friendly bacteria, or probiotics can help digestion by replenishing essential bacteria lost to poor diet, and overuse of antibiotics. You can find them in yogurt or sold as a capsule. For best results take 10 billion parts of acidophilus with bifidus. Enzymatic Therapy and JarroDophilus are good brands.
5. Put the tea kettle on. Once the water is boiling, pour it into bathroom sink and create an herbal steam by adding essential antiseptic oils like tea tree and juniper to open and soften pores. Pull up a chair and put a towel over your head. Top it off with more hot water as needed. Afterward, dab tea tree oil directly on any pimples you may have.
6. Don’t fear oil. If you have oily skin, the idea of adding more oil can seem, well, nuts. But if you use the right kind, it can actually be helpful in reducing sebum production. To make your own custom blend of lightweight astringent oil, get a one-ounce glass jar, fill it with a half an ounce of hazelnut oil, four drops of juniper oil, three drops of tea tree oil and two drops of rosemary. Shake it up and top it off with another half an ounce of hazelnut oil. Apply two to three drops to a cotton pad and massage into clean skin two times daily.
For dry skin, use a heavier weight oil like avocado oil or evening primrose oil, which has Omega-3 essential fatty acids that are good for mature and/or dry skin.
7. Treat an impending breakout with tea tree oil or lavender essential oil. Either can be applied undiluted to a problem area. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1990 showed that tea tree oil was just as effective as benzoyl peroxide lotion, with less dryness, stinging, burning and redness. Spirits of camphor, available at drugstores, is also very effective for spot treatments. Just dab it on an impending pimple and it will help dry it up quickly. Desert Essence makes a blemish stick (available at health food stores) that contains tea tree oil, another favorite product for those suffering from occasional breakouts.
8. Make a habit of these common-sense clear skin tips:
—Change your pillowcase every other night if you have frequent breakouts.
—Wash hands frequently during the day and avoid touching your face unnecessarily.
—Keep your hair off your face. Hair products such as sprays, gels, and mousses can contain pore-clogging ingredients. Be aware that products that are used on the skin (make up, cleansers, moisturizers, even sun screen) may also contain pore-clogging mineral oil, allergens, or chemicals that cause reactions.
—Holding a telephone receiver against your face can contaminate it with bacteria that causes acne. Wipe the phone down with alcohol daily.
NOTE: If you have a medical condition, please check with your doctor before using these natural remedies.
Death Drops: A Natural Remedies Mystery provides readers with over twenty-five natural cures that readers can find in their home or their health food store in the context of satisfying cozy mystery. You can pre-order it now. For more information please visit www.chrystlefiedler.com.