Ayurveda for Acne: Alternative Holistic Blemish Treatment:
While there are many beneficial acne treatments available through dermatologists, some acne sufferers get sick of all the side effects and continual expense that accompany oral or topical antibiotics and drugs such as Accutane or Retin-A. Alternative therapies for acne may be worth a try for such people.
One alternative treatment for acne involves the ancient system of healing known as Ayurveda, a word that comes from the Sanskrit terms for life and knowledge and is often translated as “knowledge of longevity.” It was mentioned in written Indian texts from as far back as 5000 years ago, and is still a traditional form of care in India.
Ayurvedic medicine concentrates on a holistic approach to balancing bodily systems, and relies on herbs, dietary changes and detoxification, and even meditation and yoga to alleviate health problems. For acne, Ayurveda is probably best viewed as a preventive measure; although some devotees swear it can assist in clearing up an existing condition as well.
Ayurvedic Views on Acne Skin Conditions
According to Ayurveda, there are several different types of bodies, called doshas. These represent combinations of five different elements: earth, water, fire, ether, and air. Very thin people are classified as vata (ether and air); rounder body types are kapha (water and earth), and individuals with muscular bodies are designated pitta (fire and water). Doshas typically exist in arrangement with one another. Balanced doshas are the ideal situation; unbalanced doshas cause health problems, including skin conditions.
When all of the doshas are unbalanced, acne results. The dosha most out-of-balance in cases of bad skin is pitta, which may be said to symbolize bodily heat. Restoring balance to the body via a combination of alterations in diet and stress reduction is the ultimate goal of Ayurvedic treatments.
Ayurvedic Recommendations for Blemishes and Acne
A qualified Ayurvedic physician should be consulted for specific skin problems; check credentials carefully, as in the U.S., some practitioners have only taken a few weekend courses on Ayurveda. The doctor should ask many questions about lifestyle and health habits; unlike Western practitioners, queries concerning spiritual practices such as meditation are not at all unusual in an Ayurvedic consultation.
In general, acne sufferers will be advised to steer clear of any foods made with processed white sugar and flour. Greasy or heavily spiced meals are also not recommended. An excessive intake of any chemicals, including nicotine and alcohol, is to be avoided as well.
Simple treatments such as nutmeg paste to use over blemishes or orange peel face masks may be prescribed. Consumption of herbal medicines such as the Sunder Vati mixture (ginger, Kampo, Holarrhena antidysenterica, and Embelia ribes) or plain aloe vera juice might also be included in the treatment plan. Since some Ayurveda herbs have been found to contain high concentrations of heavy metals, it is imperative that only pure organically-grown plants be used in these medicaments.
Meditation and Yoga as an Acne Treatment
In Ayurveda, good heath can be achieved only through alignment with and knowledge of “Self with a capital S:” the healing power of nature that is called Prana by yoga masters. Such power has an external source, but may be strengthened or negated by internal forces. Before skeptics dissolve into incredulous laughter at the idea of mystics knowing anything about science, they should be aware that ancient Sanskrit texts accurately described the arrangement of the solar system and its possible origins thousand of years prior to the birth of Western astrophysics. (Carl Sagan once called this “an astonishing coincidence.”)
To help rectify a skin problem, an Ayurvedic practitioner may counsel a patient about the practice of yoga or meditation to alleviate stress and calm down unruly oil glands. Although some Western dermatologists still find these methods dubious at best, others are more open to the idea that high levels of stress certainly aggravate many skin conditions, including acne.
Stress can increase oil production by stimulating the oil glands; this excess oil often leads to breakouts and inflammation. Controlling stress through practices such as meditation may indeed break this cycle, while minimizing or eliminating skin-destroying nervous behaviors such as smoking or incessantly picking at blemishes, too. So even if a patient does not believe in concepts such as karma or reincarnation, an appointment with an Ayurvedic practitioner might end up improving his overall physical and emotional wellbeing as well as his skin!