In part one of this series, we learned about the causes of acne and how to detox the liver to achieve clear skin, but the liver isn’t the only elimination pathway you have to take care of when treating acne naturally. Detoxing the liver is just one piece of the puzzle.
Healing Acne - Supporting Elimination
In order to treat the root cause of acne, we need to clear all of the elimination pathways of the body so that we prevent “stagnation”. This can include clearing the lungs, colon, kidneys, decongesting the pores of the skin, or unclogging a congested and sluggish liver. In order to do this, we would use alterative herbs (no, not ALTERNATIVE herbs, ALTERATIVE herbs - herbs that support and nourish specific elimination pathways of the body.
The Best Alterative Herbs for Healing Acne - Clearing "Bad Blood"
Alterative herbs are blood purifiers that improve overall health by improving metabolic processes like supporting elimination through the liver, kidneys, lungs, lymphatics, and of course the skin. They are considered great generalists as each alterative herb has hundreds of other uses for many different organs and systems of the body.
Often times they are prescribed for individuals with “bad blood”, but what does this mean exactly? Well, to look at it a different way, bad blood is more of an umbrella term for all of the fluids in the body. All of these fluids are an integral part of assimilating nutrients and eliminating wastes.
“Bad blood” is defined amongst herbalists as an accumulation of stagnant fluids (toxins) in the body.
The definition of “toxins” amongst herbalists is - The stagnation of fluids in the body or “bad blood”. So the usage of these two terms essentially mean the same thing. This is not necessarily the definition that western medicine uses for toxins; i.e. the accumulation of heavy metals, pharmaceutical drugs, ect.
Alterative herbs promote secretions from the body to help elimination processes work smoothly not unlike a free flowing stream as opposed to a choked and stagnant pond.
Alterative Herbs Generally
• Clear heat and drain dampness from the body
• Support elimination organs by increasing excretions and secretions (this is how they drain dampness)
Alterative Herbs are Indicated for Conditions Such as:
• Infectious discharge (pus)
• Chronic inflammation
• Eczema, acne
• Swollen glands- sluggish lymph
Alteratives are great for digestion and skin health, which actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Acne is hardly ever just external, but an internal issue. Clearing “bad blood” will clear the digestive pathway, allowing acne to improve dramatically.
Alterative herbs Indicated for Digestive/Skin issues are:
But these herbs are not the only herbs indicated for acne, there are many alterative herbs to choose from, and if you remember, they are great generalists. Below are a few of my favorite alterative herbs that helps clear the digestive, lymphatic, and circulatory systems, all of which are important for getting acne under control and eventually eliminated altogether.
My Favorite Alterative Herbs for Clearing Acne
Triphala (an Ayurvedic Formula)
One of my favorite herbal remedies for healthy digestion and one of the most important herbal formulas in Ayurvedic traditions for thousands of years is triphala, a balanced formula consisting of equal parts Amalaki, Bibihitaki, and Haritaki. The word triphala literally means “three fruits” and contains 5 of the 6 tastes recognized in Ayurvedic medicine: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent; the missing flavor being saltiness. This herb complex is effective yet gentle on the body, allowing for long term use to keep the colon and complexion clear.
Traditionally, triphala is consumed as a tea which allows one to fully taste and experience all of its 5 flavors. Taste is an incredibly important aspect of Ayurvedic healing as it initiates the digestive process and prepares the body for what to expect. The body will then release the proper enzymes needed for the digestion of specific foods (i.e. fatty foods, fruit, raw veggies, proteins…etc)
As a capsule, take 1,000mg twice per day. My favorite capsule formula is by Planetary Herbals.
As a tea, steep 1 teaspoon in boiling water twice a day. While drinking the tea, hold it in your mouth a moment before swallowing so that you experience its complex flavor.
Triphala facial mask-
Combine green tea with triphala powder until you form a paste that’s spreadable but not too runny. Apply as often as needed to reduce inflammation and redness. This mask works well as an overnight spot treatment.
Properties of Triphala
Triphala is quite complex since it contains three herbs that relate to a specific “dosha”- A characteristic makeup of the mind and body- and are completely different from one another.
Here’s a Breakdown of Their Properties-
• Energetically cooling, especially for Pitta (fire/bile) constitutions
• Aids digestion and the assimilation of foods and nutrients
• Provides mental clarity
• Mildly laxative
• Restores the body’s elimination processes (alterative)
• Tones and tightens tissues (astringent)
• Reduces fever (antipyretic)
• Incredibly high in Vitamin C
• Highly antioxidant
• Treats fire imbalances (vata): constipation/diarrhea, acne, rashes, digestive inflammation
• Taste: sour
• Balances those with Kapha consitutions (water/mucus)
• Balances and supports mucus
• Balanced histamine response in the body (allergies/asthma)
• Cleanses the blood
• Detoxes the body
• Eliminates fluid retention
• Strengthens and nourishes hair
• Supports eye health/site
• Supports weight loss
• Taste: bitter
• Balances vata constitutions (wind/nervous system)
• Eliminates parasites
• Detoxes the body
• Calm anxiety and nervousness
• Mildly laxative, good for constipation
• Stimulates digestion
• Builds the blood, combats anemia
• Helps prevent gallstones
• Restores health
• Taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent
The Benefits of Triphala as a Whole
• Well balanced
• Cleanses the blood
• Increases number of blood cells
• Improves circulation
• Deeply detoxifying yet gentle
• Liver tonic
• Stimulates bile flow
• Fights and eliminates bacteria, parasites, and viruses
• Improves digestion and clears elimination path ways
• Aids in the absorption of nutrients
• Eliminates cravings
• Balances weight
• Regenerates tissues
• Supports healthy metabolism
• Supports healthy immune system
• Clears acne
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea/agustifolia)
Echinacea isn’t just for colds, it also happens to be one of the best herbs to use for fighting infection and inflammation. Remember what acne is?-Infection and inflammation caused by trapped bacteria. Acne really doesn’t stand a chance against echinacea.
One of the ways that makes Echinacea so effective is that it literally devours damaged cells, bacteria, pathogens, and micro-organisms that contribute to infection. This process is known as Phagocytosis, and is incredibly effective against acne causing bacteria.
To use Echinacea as a natural acne treatment, take the tincture 2-3 times per day (or more) during a breakout.
Apply Echinacea tincture to unopened blemishes 2-3 times per day or until inflammation has diminished.
Consume 1-2 cups of Echinacea infusion per day during breakouts to help fight off infection and inflammation.
Take 2 capsules 450mg twice per day during breakouts to lessen their appearance.
***For severe acne, take the tincture more often for best results
Properties of Echinacea include:
• Alterative- clears elimination pathways especially the lymph
• An excellent anti-inflammatory
• Anti-bacterial- great for healing acne
• Cooling and drying
• An immunostimulant- increases white blood cells
• Great at moving the lymph (important for detox)
• Encourages good circulation
• Helps eliminate fatigue
• All types of infection such as: Acne, infected wounds on the body and in the mouth, bug bites, colds and flu
• Great for fevers
• Boils and ulcers
Echinacea Blemish Reducing Mask
• Brew a strong decoction of Echinacea roots and tops (dried) until strong.
• Mix small amounts of the Echinacea tea into your favorite facial clay (I like this one)
• Apply to blemishes and leave on overnight
• Use as a full facial mask twice a week to reduce inflammation, redness, and acne causing bacteria
Echinacea Fomentation (poultice)
• Brew a strong decoction of Echinacea roots, leaves, and flowers
• Dip in a piece of flannel cloth (or any soft cloth) and wring it out slightly until still quite wet but not dripping
• Drape the fomentation cloth over your face allowing room to breathe (you can cut a hole in the cloth for your eyes and nose if you like)
• Leave on for 20 minutes and relax, breathing deeply Reapply if desired
This fomentation can be used for many types of inflammation like sprains, nerve pain associated with carpel tunnel or tendonitis, and of course blemishes.
Red Clover (Trifolium pretense)
Red clover is an excellent blood purifier and strong alterative. It is a source of many supportive nutrients including calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and zinc. Red clover also contains a rich amount of phytosterols, making it well suited for women seeking hormone balance (PMS, menopause, hormonal acne, etc)
Properties of Red Clover Include
• Contains a rich source of isoflavones (chemicals that act like estrogen in the body)
• Supports more flexible arteries
• Helps prevent heart disease
• Thins the blood
• Improves circulation
• Helps reduce menstrual cramping
• Increases appetite by aiding digestion (great for women trying to gain weight)
• Increases fertility
• Reduces menopausal symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, ill temperament
• Slows bone loss
• Helps inhibit cancer cell growth
• Treats acne, eczema, psoriasis and rashes
• Balances PMS
• Red clover is known and renowned throughout the world as an anti-tumor herb and is used in this way in 33 different cultures as a tool to fight cancer.
• Many have used red clover infused oil as a breast massage oil for lumps and other “abnormalities”
• Effectively treats coughs and other respiratory ailments- great expectorant
• Has been used to regulate menses
• Used to effectively treat acne by purifying the blood
Red Clover Infused Oil
• Fill any size mason jar with dried red clover herb
• Cover with the carrier oil of your choice ( like sweet almond, jojoba, or hemp seed oil)
• Allow to macerate for 4-6 weeks
• Strain and bottle for use in skincare recipes or by itself as an acne spot treatment
Red Clover Blemish Ointment-
What You’ll Need
• Gently warm the infused oil in the double boiler until very warm (if you don’t have already infused red clover oil on hand, simply simmer 1 cup dried red clover in 1 cup carrier oil for a few hours)
• Throw in the beeswax and stir to melt
• Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if desired and stir
• Pour into little tins or jars
• Apply to blemishes, even open ones a few times per day to promote healing
Red Clover Black Tea
What are your favorite alterative herbs for treating acne? How about other ailments?
For more acne articles look below:
The Complete List of Comedogenic Oils
The Comedogenic Rating of 300+ Skincare Ingredients
Hemp Seed Oil- The New Holy Grail Acne Treatment?
Is That Oil Good to Use for Acne?
How to Treat Hormonal Acne Naturally
6 Skincare Tips That Cleared My Acne Naturally
Thyme Serum for Acne Free Skin
Detoxifying Essential Oils and How to Use Them
This post contains affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read my full disclosure and disclaimer.