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natural treatment for acne

Natural Treatments for the 3 Underlying Causes of Acne

acne hormones

Acne is why I got into Chinese Medicine in the first place.

In college, I started getting really bad breakouts. I used makeup to cover them up, but obviously that's not a solution. In fact, the makeup made my skin even more itchy and uncomfortable.

The internet was relatively new at the time, but I did some research on herbs that could help clear skin. I tried burdock and milk thistle. They did help, but it was never a permanent cure. The zits always returned! 

At the time, at college, I was in the student clinic all the time with various UTIs or sore throats and getting prescribed antibiotics. My skin kept getting worse.

I started eating vegetarian at the time too. I seemed like a healthier change. But really, I was eating "junk food vegetarian:" sweetened yogurts, lots of fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, organic mac-n-cheese, and the occasional carrot stick.

Nothing wrong with those foods per se, but a complete diet they do not make.

I was so desperate for clear skin that I even did a magic ritual, calling on the Goddess, lighting a candle as I walked barefoot down to Barton Springs, praying to please, please, please, send me a solution, ANYTHING really, that would finally rid me of this burden.

Strangely enough, the next week, flipping through the yellow pages, I stumbled upon a section for "acupuncture." Hmmm, I thought, maybe they know something that Western docs do not.  I had no desire to even try something as toxic as Retin A. 

I went to an acupuncturist. I got so scared that I ran out the door before he could stab me. But he did prescribe some herbs for my latest yeast infection before I left. And they worked really well.

I decided to call a different acupuncturist. She did a detailed analysis of my diet. She did the acupuncture treatment and "prescribed" me a book. I read it and followed the instructions EXACTLY.

My skin was completely clear - and stayed clear - after less than a month.  Once I cleared the excess carbs and sugars from my diet, and added in more fresh vegetables, that's really all I needed. Just a diet reset.

Not everyone's acne clears as fast as mine did. There can be different root imbalances of varying intensity. 

Other internal imbalances can make acne more challenging to get rid of.


An "excess" condition of the Liver is a combination of Dampness and (Pathogenic) Heat. Pathogenic Heat is kind of like an infection of sorts. For acne, it's usually bacterial or fungal.

A few things contribute to Liver Excess:

* unrelenting stress (with any Liver imbalance, you'll invariably feel lots of stress)

* alcohol (too much)

* drugs (including prescriptions, especially hormones)

* caffeine (too much)

* spicy food (too much)

* greasy food (too much)

A clear Liver needs a variety of fresh food, space (in the schedule to breathe, move, and relax), and nature. Challenge: talk to your doctor about what prescriptions may be unnecessary. Are there lifestyle changes you could try to get off some meds? (Usually there are always other options.)


A Spleen weakness leads to Dampness buildup. There's a tendency for some people to have this constitution 🙋‍♀️.

What we need to remember:

* eat frequent, small meals that include protein

* get used to other flavors besides sweet

* eat mostly warm foods (nothing wrong with smoothies and salads, but your Spleen prefers warm, lightly cooked food)

* learn to meditate (the Spleen's emotion is worry)

* move your body more (sweat out the excess Damp energy)


This could occur with either (or any) of the other 2 above. An imbalance in the gut flora shows up as irregular bowel movements (constipation, diarrhea, or both); bloating; stomach pain; acid reflux; heartburn; gas; or burping.

To rebalance the gut:

* you need more than just "probiotics" (nothing wrong with them, but if you have gut dysbiosis, taking one is like putting a bottle of water on a raging fire. it's just not enough for right now.)

* focus on cooked meals that are warm, preferably using garlic or onions as a base flavor

* regularly eat: cruciferous veggies, root veggies like beets, seaweed, fibrous and whole grains cooked in bone broth

* eat - literally - an apple a day (the fiber in apples acts like a pre-biotic, as do beans)

* an herbal regimen is helpful for killing off the fungal or bacterial infestation.  The herbs that do this - berberine or oregano for example - won't harm your "good bacteria."  Just make sure you talk to a licensed herbalist before starting a regimen so you know the correct dose, and for how long to take them.  Just because they're all-natural doesn't make them innocuous.  :) 

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