Monday, September 24, 2007

Herbal Acne Treatments That Work

In the United States alone, there are over 40 Million people who struggle with acne. Many of these people treat acne using chemicals such as antibiotics, prescription drugs, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid.

However, there is a growing number of people who choose herbal acne treatments over traditional medications. Usually, herbal medications have far fewer side effects, and are not as dangerous as some of the prescription drugs.

The problem however, is that the United States does very little to regulate the herbal supplement industry. Unlike traditional chemical medications, herbal medications are not required to be clinically proven to work, or even to be safe. An example of this lack of regulation recently came to light with ephedra related deaths, and ephedras subsequent ban.

This lack of regulation results in many different acne products on the market. All of which claim to heal, prevent, or even cure acne with few, if any, side effects.

The truth is, there are very few herbal acne treatments that are scientifically proven to work. Traditional chemical treatments are still the most effective in stopping acne.

There are only 2 herbal treatments that have been clinically proven to help stop acne, tea tree oil and green tea cream.

Tea tree oil is a natural oil, derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia, a particular type of tea tree found exclusively in Australia. While it has been used from hundreds of years by the native aboriginals as a treatment for just about anything, it has only recently been accepted by modern medicine as being a viable anti-bacterial agent.

Even though tea tree oil has been suspected as an anti-bacterial agent for some time, A groundbreakings study was conducted in 1990 by I.B. Bassett, which compared tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne. It was found that tea tree oil is as effective as a 5% benzoyl peroxide solution. It takes longer (6 weeks) for the tea tree oil to be as effective, but participants in the study reported none of the side effects associated with benzoyl peroxide, such as redness, skin irritation, or dry skin.

This study has helped tea tree oil become a recognized and legitimate herbal acne treatment. However, there is no need to purchase an expensive cream that contains tea tree oil. Just applying several drops of the oil directly on the acne has shown to be the most effective way to apply tea tree oil.

This was the only herbal acne treatment that had been proven to work until recently, when Dr. Jennifer Gan-Wong conducted a study that shows green tea can also effectively fight acne.

Dr. Gan-Wong compared a green tea cream with 3% green tea, to a 4% benzoyl peroxide solution, and found that the results in treating acne where the same for both the tea and the peroxide. These results were recently presented at the 2003 annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

These findings are relatively recent, and are not yet corroborated by additional independent studies. However, this evidence does demonstrate that the natural anti-bacterial properties of green tea can be effective to treat acne.

For those of you who are confused by the plethora of herbal acne treatments available, there really are only 2 that have been proven to be effective in fighting acne. Green tea cream, and tea tree oil. While many other herbal acne treatments may be good to moisturize the skin, or reduce oils, these are the only two that should be considered truly effective acne treatments.

Greg Podsakoff is a former acne sufferer, and editor of

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