HORMONE SERIES: Herbal Remedies for Acne

HORMONE SERIES: Herbal Remedies for Acne

Don’t be fooled by their pretty, innocent packaging, herbs pack a powerful punch. In fact, I often recommend one or more to clients during our sessions. What makes herbal medicine so magical is how incredibly nuanced it can be. Different symptoms can necessitate wildly different treatments. So if you tried spearmint or another herbal remedy and it didn’t quite nip your acne in the bud, don’t throw in the towel on herbs altogether. It just might not have been the right fit.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions for various acne symptoms: 

Studies have shown that drinking two cups of spearmint tea per day can reduce free testosterone levels, which is a boon for acne prone skin because it has a penchant for sucking up as much free testosterone as it possibly can. Don’t be fooled by normal testosterone levels in your blood work either. Skin can simply be more sensitive to androgens even where there isn’t an excess. My advice is to focus on the state of your skin. If you are plagued by lots of congestion in the form of whiteheads and blackheads (whether inflamed or not), you are likely dealing with pesky androgens and might benefit from a little spearmint intervention. I like to think of spearmint as nature’s Spironolactone so give it at least 3 to 4 months to work its magic! 

Dosage: Two or more cups of spearmint tea per day or a dropper of spearmint tincture 3x/day.

According to herbalist Matthew Wood, wild lettuce is one of the best remedies in existence for “any acne where the face is involved and there is a rough, cystic form with deep cysts slowly coming to the surface.” Similar to spearmint, wild lettuce works as an androgen normalizer. And what makes wild lettuce so incredibly special is that it is also believed to act as a remedy for negative thinking. It just might be the perfect herbal remedy for acne prone skin!

Dosage: 1-3 drops, 1-3x/day of wild lettuce tincture (warning: large doses can cause sleepiness)

Berberine is the active constituent found in herbs like Oregon Grape Root, Goldenseal and Barberry. According to naturopath Lara Briden, "Berberine improves intestinal permeability (and thereby reduces inflammation), has a local anti-microbial effect at the skin, and also improves sensitivity to insulin (thereby lowering insulin and IGF-1)." In fact, a 2012 study found that 600 mg of Berberine taken daily reduced acne lesions by 45% over the course of 4 weeks. I love to recommend either Berberine supplements or an Oregon Grape Root tincture when both acne and gut health are at issue. 

Dosage: Supplement - follow package instructions; Tincture - 1-3 drops, 1-3x/day (discontinue use as symptoms decrease; not for longterm use)

This is an incredibly interesting herbal remedy that seems to work beautifully for acne restricted to areas around the zygomatic arch. It also addresses androgen excess and has been successfully used to treat both PCOS and infertility. I would highly recommend digging a little deeper into Easter Lily if you experience cysts in the breasts and ovaries, as well as the skin.

Dosage: 1 drop, 1x/day of tincture for 10-14 days before period

For those that fit the estrogen excess profile and experience heavy bleeding and painful cramping in addition to premenstrual breakouts on the jawline, white peony is an excellent remedy. It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and is believed to help the liver break down the “bad” estrogens into the “good” estrogens. More recently, peony, in combination with licorice, has been used to treat PCOS patients as it has been shown to inhibit the production of testosterone.

Dosage: Supplement - follow package instructions

As always, if you experience any side effects while taking any herbs, please discontinue use!

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The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.