Friday, July 24, 2015

Natural Solutions for Acne

There is an old wives tale that says chocolate and fried foods give you pimples. However, that may not be too far off the mark. What you eat plays a big part in how your skin looks.Your skin is the largest organ of detoxification in your body and if you are constantly putting bad things into your body (artificial sweeteners, "food" chemicals, processed foods, sugar), you will see the effects on your skin.

There are many types of acne that appear in different ways in different places on your body. Some pimples are big, hot, red and painful, some are small with white or black "heads;" they can occur on the face, neck, back or chest and can appear at any time. Some acne is worse before or during menstruation. Acne typically has an inflammatory or "Heat" aspect, where the skin is inflamed and hot to the touch. Learning to tame this inflammation is the challenge. Western medicine offers antibiotics, birth control pills and topical aspirin (salicylic acid) as possible solutions to get rid of acne, but each has problematic side effects, ranging from upsetting the immune system/destroying gut flora to risk of blood clots or bleeding, sun sensitivity and redness of the skin, just to name a few.

Like with many diseases, it is always good to start with diet.  Eating real, whole foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables is a great place to start. The fewer chemicals that go into the body, the less the skin needs to detox. Raw fruits and veggies are cooling in nature, especially foods like cucumbers and other types of melons, and can be good if your acne is due to excessive heat (red, hot, boil-like pimples). Cooling foods are good for many heat conditions, provided that your digestion is strong. If you have symptoms such as fatigue, poor appetite, gas, bloating, loose stools or constipation/incomplete bowel movements, you might want to ease into the raw foods and focus more on foods that strengthen the Spleen.

Foods that commonly cause inflammation are sugar, dairy and wheat are since they can strain the Spleen, making it difficult for it to do its job properly. A weak Spleen can cause an accumulation of Dampness and Phlegm (in this case think white heads, pus and discharge from the skin); when fluids don't move they can cause stagnation which can build up as Heat (like heat from friction in an car when you simultaneously press the gas and brake). The redness and swelling of certain types of acne are from this dual issue of Heat and Dampness. By eliminating dietary causes of Heat and Dampness, it can significantly reduce the incidence of acne.

Inconsistent bowel movements (see link above), especially constipation, can also cause acne, as toxins are being held in the body for longer, rather than being properly eliminated. Consistent, regular bowel movements can reduce the occurrence of acne, especially around the mouth and chin. Drinking lots of water (half your body weight in ounces daily), eating plenty of fiber, and eating good fats can help keep things "moving through the pipes."

These are all preventative. If you would like treatment options, taking (internally) Turmeric and/or Vitamin C can do wonders to reduce swelling and redness, plus Vitamin C is needed to make collagen so will help bring suppleness back to your skin. For dosages, see a qualified natural health professional. Also, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are great ways to support health and reduce skin blemishes. They can support the Spleen, remove Dampness and Heat and encourage proper bowel movements. When your body is balanced, your skin will be balanced too.

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