Hormonal acne, a skin disorder characterized by blackheads, pustules, papules, nodules and cysts, occurs when testosterone, a hormones present in both males and females, stimulate an overproduction of oil, clogging the skin's pores. Seen primarily in women, the condition may be precipitated by puberty, pregnancy and birth control pills. According to dermatologist Dr. Diane S. Berson, almost 50 percent of women experience hormonal acne the week before a menstrual cycle. While conventional methods of treatment should be the first line of defense against hormonal acne, herbal remedies may also offer relief. Always talk to your doctor before trying herbal remedies to treat any condition.
Milk thistle, known for strengthening and clearing the liver and gall bladder, has a long history as an herbal remedy, going back to the Middle Ages. According to the book "Prescription for Herbal Healing," milk thistle accelerates the production of bile, a fluid produced in the liver that aids in breaking down fats in the small intestine. The book states that increasing the flow of bile helps to eliminate testosterone byproducts that cause hormonal acne.
To use milk thistle, make a tea from its seeds and drink a half cup three times daily. Milk thistle extract has little if any side effects. Pregnant and nursing women may take the remedy, but milk thistle is not recommended for women taking birth control pills, as it may reduce their effectiveness.
Chasteberry, otherwise known as vitex or monk's pepper, and used by Hippocrates to treat injuries and inflammation, today is primarily used for female hormonal imbalances. According to Dr. Beatrix Roemheld-Hamm in a 2005 issue of American Family Physician, a 2001 German study showed that chasteberry's active ingredients have indirect effects on particular hormones, including those associated with hormonal acne.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warns that further research is necessary to determine chasteberry's efficacy in treating hormonal acne and may actually cause acne-like rashes. In the book "The People's Pharmacy," Dr. Susan Love suggests giving chasteberry a try. Love agrees that studies are lacking. However, she claims that the anti-hormonal effects of the herb are the rationale behind its use to treat hormonal acne in both males and females. You can drink one cup of chasteberry tea or take 20 to 40 milligrams of the herb daily. Side effects are uncommon, but pregnant women should refrain from ingesting the herb.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil provides anti-infection qualities that offer similar effects to benzoyl peroxide, a main ingredient in commercial preparations, according to Cure-Guide.com. In addition to providing anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents, tea tree oil works as an expectorant and inhibits inflammation.
Mix equal parts tea tree oil and water. Soak a cotton ball into the liquid and apply it onto your affected areas twice a day. Only use the herb externally, and do not use the herb if you have allergies.
- Medical News Today: Millions of Women Facing Adult Acne
- "Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
- The People's Pharmacy: Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.; 2002
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Chasteberry
- American Family Physician: Chasteberry
- Dermot68/iStock/Getty Images