Acne can appear at any time but most often occurs during our teenage years. The hormones produced during puberty can put extra strain on the livers ability to break down toxins for a time until the body readjusts itself (explaining why, in most cases, teenage acne eventually clears up). Any time that adds extra workload to the liver can leave susceptible individuals with a ‘break out’ but puberty can be particularly problematic as the body begins to produce more oil at this time. University days can be a difficult time for some too, a young person may well be fending for themselves for the first time – as well as perhaps indulging in more alcohol, they might be preparing more of their own food too. Whilst many young people are extremely able in the kitchen, some might tend towards fast food, ready meals and not always see the necessity for keeping a healthy balance.
My approach to acne, as a Medical Herbalist, is to support the liver and other organs in the body involved in detoxifying, cleaning and elimination. This is usually the most effective treatment. I would also ensure the patient is aware of the things likely to exacerbate their breakouts so they can make their diet as low impact as possible.
Self help ideas include keeping an eye on your diet – lean protein, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrates, 2 litres of water daily, and keep the processed food to an absolute minimum with minimum caffeine and alcohol consumption. Nettle tea, dandelion leaf tea, and dandelion root coffee can help support the liver, gall bladder and kidney which might be enough to help the body through the short term changes.
Stubborn cases might need more specifically targeted individualised treatment, involving consultation and a course of herbal medicine. I usually spend about an hour with people on their first visit, establishing exactly what is contributing to their particular symptoms and creating a unique formulation/prescription of herbs.
Lynda Jones BSc (Hons) Medical Herbalist