Monday, July 26, 2010

Natural Acne Solutions

Organic Herbal Steams are fantastic solutions for Acne!

I spent years fighting some of the most serious acne there is. After 10 years of topical Sodium Benzoate, then oral tetracycline, the dermatologist insisted I take Acutane. Otherwise, the threat went, since it was connected to my hormones, I would have it until I hit menopause. I jumped ship on conventional medicine. I do not believe that they have an effective working paradigm for why acne happens.

As just one example, there are many dermatologists who prescribe oral anti-bacterial for treatment. The theory goes that if they kill all the bacteria in your body, surely that will affect the bacteria on your skin that causes acne. But for that to work, you must take them all time, or the bacteria will simply return. It's not an STD. Those bacteria are normally on your face! NO pharmaceutical antibac is supposed to be taken for more than three months. I have never met a dermatologist yet that explained that to me, and they usually expect you to be on whatever toxic product they recommend for you for YEARS. It is a SERIOUS danger that is almost never recognized in these treatments. Acutane is a Vitamin A overdose. It has such incredibly nasty side effects, not only can you not get pregnant, it has the potential to kill you. I never recommend buying a pharmaceutical product that says it's for acne. Unless it's from a health food or natural goods store. And STILL read the labels.

Acne is a mindset, like dealing with any chronic illness, and a focus on reducing or curing it for the longterm is your best defense. Any other kind of thinking contributes to the Cult of Powerlessness.

Let's talk soap, then. Those with acne issues wash their face twice a day or even more. Ordinary drying soap, like nearly all bars, simply drain your face of oil and stimulate the sebaceous glands (they are the oil producers on your face) to create MORE oil. After all, your face is dry, right? It's their job! These soaps are perpetuating the problem. Most liquid castile soaps clean great and don't dry you out. I use Dr. Bronner's, 'cause one can it for so many things, like delicate laundry. And it's very inexpensive for its level of concentration. A bar soap that is used for healing, like oatmeal or comfrey, or aloe, make with all natural non-toxic ingredients (no lye or animal glycerin), can also be very beneficial instead of the harsh and irritating drug store or medicated brands. I also make a soapless washing grains that cleanses, exfoliates, tones the skin, and can be used every wash.

Let's look at bacteria. Do you make sure that you wash your face with a new washcloth each and every time? Even a new corner will work. Look at everything that touches your face. Using a new towel to dry ensures that someone didn't just wash their hands from fixing the plumbing and gets germs on your face towel. Do you replace your pillow cases and bedclothes often? If the collar from your jacket touches your face, try a scarf next to your neck that you can wash. These are great ways to start to get into the mindset that something can be done about your problem. By YOU.

We also touch our faces hundreds of times a day without knowing it, or being about to stop it. Ideally, preventing opportunistic bacteria from taking advantage of this would decrease breakouts. One of the most useful products I've found for this is, believe it or not, the humble deodorant stone. It works by spread a microthin layer of bacterial inhibitor on your skin to prevent underarm bacteria from increasing and subsequently smelling. It can do the same job on your face to inhibit surface bacteria. Wetting and rubbing the stone on your face give you that microthin layer of protection that can also be under your makeup! It also has the added bonus of providing minerals directly to your skin that it needs for healing and balancing.

When your bacteria is under control, to help balance out your overactive sebaceous glands, a mud mask of plain ordinary beauty mud, nothing expensive or with fancy ingredients, once to three times a week, and no more, gives your pores the airing out they need to keep clean and balanced. My washing grains also makes an excellent mask, and used with honey, can help prevent and heal breakouts. It's also less messy and has the added value of healing herbs inbuing your skin!

So. You're cleaning your skin, your facecloths, your pillowcases, microlayering your skin, and mudmasking twice a week. What happens when you get a breakout, or what do you do about the ones you've already got to heal them faster? Tea Tree oil is the one I use personally, but it's not for everyone. It's very harsh straight up and can burn the skin. But I'm used to it, after years of Sodium Benzoate and all. A solution of the oil, or a preparation cream can be helpful. I have also found the glyercine solution of Citricidal to be most efficacious, especially recommended for those who cannot tolerate the Tea Tree well. It's very antibac, is not nearly as harsh, but doesn't have the analgesic quality that Tea Tree has. The humble honey can also be a lifesaver. Honey is anti-bacterial, and can draw out impurities in the skin. Put a dollop on your outbreak and let it soak up the nastiness for at least 15 minutes. Or, if you want to get rid of it in a serious hurry, without having to worry too much about scarring, applying a very hot washcloth or plastic spoon several times to the inflammation runs it through its lifecycle very fast. The end result has to heal as usual, but it doesn't take several days to build up, hurt or burst.

It will take at least six months from the time you start convincing your face that it's now safe to let go on the oil production. But to do that you must take into account the problem of moisture loss. Water is absolutely vital. It not only moisturizes, it is also fundamental to smooth function of all body systems, including removing toxins from the skin. Most of us in Western culture are extremely dehydrated, and used to it! We all need our 5 - 8 glasses of water a day. Coffee is not water, nor is pop, or even tea. All of those are diuretics, and require an equal amount of water to balance them. Every time we have our cup of coffee, we need to balance it out with a cup of water. Although juice and herbal teas are not water, they at least are not dehydrating and do not need to be balanced by an extra glass of water. So have your coffee, but keep your water bottle close at hand!

As well as the water, skin moisture requires oils to keep it from evaporating. If you didn't have the oils, you'd evapotransporate in hours! They are in fact beneficial, and absolutely necessary for you to maintain healthy skin. A round of essential fatty acids produces marvelous results in alleviating much of the condition by helping to nourish and moisturize your skin from the inside. Essential fatty acids will not make you fat, as they are the essential building blocks for all your cells, and are found in many oils. Unrefined flax seed, evening primrose, fish oils, borage, blackcurrent, as well as many others contain the Omega 3, 6, and 9 essential fatty acids in various ratios. Flax seed oil, in pills or liquid, is my favorite. It's cheap, and has all the necessary Omegas, though it's not as high in some to make it ideal. If you use it in liquid, it has to be consumed within 3 weeks. Take with food, and I have never heard of a overdose yet, though it can have a laxative effect. I'm not a fan of evening primrose oil. It's very pricey, and due to it's estrogen relation, can be a depressant for those prone to it. Fish oils, while cheap, contain a form of Vitamin A that can be toxic in high doses.

Allergies may also be a serious issue. Environmental sensitivities often come out in skin. I highly recommend, if you don't already do it, switching ALL of your cleaners, shampoos, detergents, conditioners, soaps, hairsprays, etc., to natural, sulfate and phosphate free brands. These are available at most alternative health or environmental stores. Your skin could be reacting to any number of chemical combinations in your laundry detergent (after all, those protein dissolvers can't distinguish between the protein on your skin and the protein on your clothes), or your shampoo, plus your soap, plus your hairspray... You may experience significant improvement as your skin will no longer have to be burdened with extra chemicals. This goes for makeup, too. If it's all natural, and that is so NOT the Body Shop, it doesn't matter if it's oil based or not. Anything that goes onto your skin, you should be able to eat. Because you ARE eating it. Your skin absorbs everything on it into your system. Which is why....

You may also wish to consider food allergies. I personally like checking for all of the standard ones first, including gluten products, refined sugars, overconsumption of meat products, alcohol and caffeine and other poisons as well. If your system does in fact have reactions to these, it would naturally come out in your skin, as it is one of the four elimination organs in your body, along with the kidney, lung, and bowel groups. If these systems were overtaxed by buildup, your body would try to enlist your skin to help take some of the burden. As this is not something your skin can easily do, it will often react badly, with symptoms of acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, etc. I highly recommend removing many of the above foods, so that your skin can better get on to the business of healing itself, and not have to deal with so much with elimination. So, speaking of toxins...

Some sufferers have told me that cleansing herbs or fasts have done them wonders. Red clover blossom, taken as a tea or pill, is totally idiot proof. Great for first time herb users. Kambuchu was particularly effective in many cases. Dramatic results have sometimes been seen in a week! This is often the case when people are working frequently with toxic chemicals, like hairdressers and mechanics. Or just helping out your skin with a nice toxin removal. There are lots of cleansing options, but Kambuchu shouldn't be used by people sensitive to mold allergies.

And don't forget the hormone issue! Hormones control absolutely everything in your body. When you get stressed, adrenals kick in and affect your biochemistry. When you bleed, estrogens, progesterone, and other hormones flood your system. That's why contraceptives seem to alleviate the condition for some. But they are a lie, in the end. The risks to your body from artificially messing with synthetic hormones is so great that controlling your acne is simply not worth it. And they never cure the condition, anymore than they permanently prevent pregnancy. I have never taken them in my life. If you are convinced that it's a hormone imbalance causing most of your acne troubles, there are many natural HRT at your disposal. Wild yam is an herb that can be taken internally for far cheaper than the makers of the creams would like you to believe. Much of it is rendered useless in your liver, which is why the creams are considered more effective, but enough gets though to help. There are many plant pseudo-estrogens that your body can handle for more readily than the synthetics, such as black cohosh, licorice herb, damina and many others. Your best bet for long term female hormone balancing is Dong Quoi. Take at least a month to see results. It also works with all the other short terms I've already mentioned. Another long terms are vitex or chaste tree berry (best womb toner around) which must be used for at least six months.

This is by no means a comprehensive review, but it should be enough to get most people on the right track. These simple, safe and non-toxic treatments are an excellent way to start.

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