Natural Acne Treatment
Acne and Ayurveda
By Dr Sajimon George BAMS, AAA, ATMS
Ayurvedic management of Acne vulgaris
Acne vulgaris is a skin problem, very widespread among teenagers and youngsters. When a person attains puberty, his or her sebaceous glands or oil glands become proactive, secreting excess sebum or oil that clogs skin pores and inflames hair follicles, resulting in a series of skin problems collectively named as ‘acne’.
The pores are congested not only by sebum, but also by dry skin and dirt and a buildup of bacteria that worsen acne conditions. Acne lesions appear on the skin of the face, neck, shoulders and chest, and may be a cause of embarrassment because the age-group prone to acne break-outs are usually very conscious about their looks. If it is chronic in nature, it may lead to severe scarring.
Acne may be of the following types: black heads, white heads, pus-filled yellowish bumps or pustules, firm large swellings underneath the skin or nodules and cystic acne. Acne is called “Yuvana Pitaka” in Ayurveda, which means boils affecting the youth.
Disturbed “Kapha”, “Pitha” and “Rakhta” (blood) together produce boils, mostly on the face. As the Ayurvedic name suggests, these are present mostly in the age group of 15 – 25 years, and in some, may extend till 35 years of age. Some physicians believe that disturbed “meda” or fat dhathu is also involved in the production of acne.
Ayurveda treats acne at the root of the problem and not at the surface.
Causes of Acne
- Consumption of fatty and fried food and excess starch intake
- Inadequate water intake
- Unbalanced eating hours
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Irritant cosmetics
- Use of steroids
- Hormonal imbalance
- Chronic constipation
- Improper skin cleansing
- Inadequate sleep
- Tobacco intake
- Intake of caffeine.
Ayurvedic approach to acne
According to Ayurvedic concepts, bad food habits are the main cause of Yuvana Pidaka or Acne vulgaris.
- Adhyashana – Consuming food at short intervals, due to which new food enters the body when the previous food is not digested
- Virudhashana – Consuming incompatible foods together such as fish and milk together, curds and milk together etc
- Vishamashana – Consuming food with disregard to the bodily cravings, such as eating when not hungry or fasting when hungry
On analysis of dosha involvement of yuvana pitaka, Vatha and Kapha dosha are found to be the causes. A pathological increase of raktha or blood and meda or fat dhatu can also cause yuvana pitaka.
Ayurveda believes that yuvana pitaka is a disease that is caused due to improper diet and other internal factors. Treatment Doshas involved are Kapha and Vatha. Vitiated Kapha blocks the normal excretory function of skin and the waste material stagnates inside, producing symptoms like itching, pustules and nodules formation.
Vitiated Raktha also gets stagnated and produces multiple eruptions, redness, raised local temperature, thick bloody discharge from the boils and abscess formation. Irritation, blackish discoloration and ugly scar formation are later contributed by Vitiated Vatha. Here the vitiated Doshas gets stagnated in the Srothas or Subtle channels of the body.
The etiopathology of the disease is due to vitiated Blood (Raktha Dushti) along with vitiated subtle channels to produce various symptoms of the disease. Thus to get permanent cure of the situation, this pathophysiology of the disease should be broken down. Treatment procedures are designed keeping in this mind.
- Steaming and other heating procedures: This procedure is not advised during inflammatory stages. It is useful in removal of blockage of subtle channels or srothas.
- Vamana or medicated vomiting: Suitable medicines are orally given to induce vomiting. This procedure is very useful in removing blockage of subtle channels or Srothas of facial skin and whole body.
- Virechana or medicated purgation: It is a cleansing method, performed by giving bitter, astringent and sweet herbal purgatives which bring down abnormally increased Pitha principle and Raktha or blood dhathu. This procedure is beneficial in stages of inflammatory changes.
- Nasya: Nasal administration of suitable medicine is beneficial in chronic clinical conditions of Acne.
- Raktamokshana (Blood letting): Is a well-accepted treatment for Vitiated Raktha Dosha. The circulating blood acts as a carrier of all vitiated doshas and responsible for the pathological changes resulting in diseases. The process of removing this stagnated blood i.e. Raktamokshana is useful in this condition.
- Leech application, Prachaana and Sira vyadha are the Para surgical methods for Rakthamokshana described by Sushruta. The affected tissue remains congested with the stasis of blood and blood letting improves microcirculation to tissues by removing this stagnated and vitiated blood.
Useful Herbs for Acne
Shalmali (Bombax malabaricum), Lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), Kushta (Saussurea lappa), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Chandana (Santalum album), Saariba (Hemidesmus indicus) are beneficial in acne. Local application of Khas-Khas (Veteveria zizanoides) and Jathiphal (Myristica fragrans) are believed to give very good results.
Other blood purifiers like Neem (Azadirachta indica), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) are also useful for external and internal administration.
Do’s and Don’ts with Acne
- Unsweetened lemon or plain water, either hot or cold, should be drunk
- Measures should be adopted to eradicate constipation.
- Emphasis should be on raw foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, raw nuts and whole grain cereals, especially millet and brown rice
- Yoga and proper personal hygiene.
- Wash your face often (plain water splashes)
- Steam your face at least twice a week
- Use a separate face towel and soap
- Eat a healthy balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Inform your doctor if you are taking any other oral medications like oral contraceptive pills, hormones etc
- Ask your doctor for any clarification regarding your medications
- Do not pinch / pluck at your pimples or even touch them. They can scar
- Do not stop your medications abruptly without consulting your doctor
- Do not use any strong medicated soap
- Do not use oily cosmetics
- Restrict starchy, protein and fatty foods
- Avoid meats, sugar, strong tea or coffee, pickles, refined and processed foods
- Citrus fruits, bananas, dried, stewed or tinned fruits should not be taken
- Avoid soft drinks, candies, ice cream and products made with sugar and white flour
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