I personally overcame (it’s an ongoing process) my acne with ayurveda. I had years of antibiotics, RetinA, benzoyl peroxide and even accutane–a super frustrating issue because it’s on your face. When I first looked into ayurveda for acne, I was pretty disappointed. All I could find were some recipes for masks and pitta reducing diets…none of these yielded immediate results for me, and so I gave up on them prematurely.

It’s often not a simple issue of pitta reduction.

The type of acne you have will reveal more about the doshas involved. More dry and hard feeling blackheads (vata)? That’s different from those painful lumps deep down that may never even surface (kapha). Also, the acne can be a secondary issue to another root issue.  Reducing pitta in your life (not just your diet) will help with any inflammation and ulceration. Reducing vata will help with reducing scaring. Reducing kapha will help with oiliness and swelling/ pus. So, you can see that all of the doshas may be involved, and figuring out which approach to take will depend on your individual experience.

In any case, reducing acne means cleaning the blood and circulating lymph (rasa dhatu).

If you have “nodulocystic” acne, the doshic imbalances are down into the level of the ayurvedic muscle tissue correlate, the mamsa dhatu. To reduce the level of the imbalance, start first with the digestive system and the blood–clean up your diet, hydrate, and detox. This means:

  • no weird chemicals (cigarettes/ skin products/ household products),
  • no processed stuff (e.g. diet coke)
  • lots and lots of water
  • alterative herbs (burdock, neem, dandelion are all cooling alteratives) cool and cleanse the blood.
  • herbs that are rejuvinatives to the skin are helpful, as are those which build healthy hormonal flow.
  • triphala helps balance all the doshas and clean up the digestive system
  • follow the dosha balancing approach to your diet depending on your type of acne
  • heavy foods tend to congest/ build ama, and worsen acne.
  • alcohol is a big load of toxins and pitta and dehydrates, so it really worsens acne.
  • maintain healthy digestive fire to decrease ama–there are herbs to help with this (dipanas, digestive teas).
  • I DONT recommend any radical cleanses. Pancha Karma is helpful, but expensive and not necessary.

Reducing doshic imbalances: look at your prakruti AND your vikruti to change your lifestyle and habits

For me this means looking at you and your patterns since before the acne began, and through the experience. Someone with a predominantly kapha constitution is just as likely to have acne just as a predominantly vata constitution, especially in the pitta time of life. In other words, anyone can get acne.  Your constitution is helpful when fine-tuning an ayurvedic treatment, but what has been coming into your life in the time of the acne is more important in my opinion (vikruti).  This means looking at your relationships, routine, climate, etc. Herbs and diet can greatly help and even resolve acne, but ultimately the imbalance came from a lifestyle and habits that are imbalancing for you. If you want long-term acne clearance, likely your lifestyle and habits will have to change.

Your skin is a digestive system. What is it eating?

Switch out chemicals for natural options: shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, drycleaners, etc. Use natural oils instead of lotions…medicinal oils are great tools. Herbal face packs and scrubs help to address the doshic imbalance from the “outside in.” Clean your sheets and towels often. Think of what you hear and feel in your day–toxic words are absorbed too.

Now do all of that for at least a month…not easy! but not impossible either. I did it…you can too:).

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