The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Natural Health Care
by Beth Burch N.D.


An inflammatory skin disease characterized by blackheads, white heads, inflamed papules and infected pustules. It is caused by a complex interaction of hormones, secretions from the oil glands of the skin, keratin production and bacteria. The oil glands become blocked by overgrowth of keratin, which then forms the blackhead or white head, composed of oil, keratin and bacteria. The bacteria break down the oil forming free fatty acids which in turn cause inflammation. Inflammation brings white blood cells into the area, forming pus. In severe acne, large cysts can form resulting in scarring. The lesions usually predominate on the face, but are also common on the neck, chest and back. Acne is exacerbated by androgen hormones, especially at puberty. Acne in women can cycle along with the menstrual cycle, becoming worse premenstrually.
Medical treatment includes the use of topical and oral antibiotics, drying agents such as benzoyl peroxide, birth control pills for women and topical and internal Vitamin A analogs.

The skin is an organ of excretion. If the other organs of excretion, liver, kidneys and bowels are not functioning properly, then the skin may take over some of the function. This may contribute to acne. The herbal approach to acne focuses on increasing liver, kidney and bowel function, as well as topical applications of antibacterial herbs.

Diet plays some part, although this has not been well documented. My experience is excessive intake of sweets, hydrogenated fats (margarine, hydrogenated oils) and allergenic foods will exacerbate the acne. Increasing fresh fruits and vegetables and increasing fluid intake will be helpful. Vitamins A, C and zinc are all important for healthy skin. Many cosmetics and hair care products will aggravate acne. Choose a simple mild soap or skin cleanser and wash the face twice a day.

Oregon Grape-Stimulates the liver and bowels and has antibacterial berberine. Long used for skin conditions.
Liquid extract- 1/2-1 teaspoon 2 times a day
Dry herb in capsules- 500-1000 mg 2 times a day

Tea tree Oil-One study showed it to be as effective topically as benzoyl peroxide without the drying and irritation. It is effective against the bacteria that causes acne.
Topical- Apply a 2% (mix 1/4 teaspoon tea tree oil in 1 1/2 ounces olive oil) solution twice a day.

* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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