Naturopathic Approaches to Acne

What is Acne?

Acne develops in different ways, the most common of which are blackheads, whiteheads, and red, inflamed pimples. Acne is particularly prevalent in young people, with 85% of those aged 12-25 experiencing acne, but many people also develop acne well into their 30s, 40s, 50s, and later in life. 1 

Every pore is connected to a gland that releases sebum, an oily substance that helps to protect the skin. However, when pores become clogged with too much sebum and dead skin cells, acne forms. 2

Factors That Can Contribute to Acne

  • Hormones
  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Infections

Natural Acne Remedies

There are a number of natural remedies that many people find helpful in reducing the severity of their acne.

Zinc Supplements

Zinc’s function in the body includes hormone production, metabolism, and cell growth. Taking zinc supplements orally has been shown to reduce acne, but applying zinc topically does not generally have the same effect. 3 

Do not take more than 40 mg of zinc per day. Some people experience stomach irritation when they take zinc. If you have a sensitive stomach, talk to a naturopathic doctor before trying a zinc supplement to determine whether it is right for you. Too much Zinc can also deplete copper. It is best to consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor before starting a supplement regimen.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is often used for its antimicrobial properties. 4 Research shows that apple cider vinegar can kill acne bacteria. 5 To use apple cider vinegar topically for acne, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts water. After cleansing skin, gently apply the apple cider vinegar mixture to the acne-affected area using a cotton ball. Let sit for 30 seconds, then rinse with water.

Green Tea

Green tea is high in antioxidants and contains polyphenols, which reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. 6 Applying green tea topically reduces excess sebum, which is the main cause of acne. 7 Apply cooled green tea directly to your skin as a toner, or mix a little with honey for a homemade face mask.

Dietary Changes

What you eat can have a big impact on the severity of your acne. A 2017 study found that participants whose diet included fewer carbohydrates and a lower glycemic load had significantly less or no acne when compared to those with a high-carbohydrate, high-glycemic diet. 8  To lower your glycemic load, eat more low-glycemic fruits, vegetables, and protein, and limit white bread, white rice, sugary drinks, fried food, doughnuts, and other highly processed foods. A quick internet search will let you know the glycemic load of a food.


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