Acne is a skin condition that usually appears during the teenage years. It generally manifests itself as blackheads and whiteheads, which, if squeezed, can lead to inflammation and scarring. Conventional treatment with antibiotics, ointments and creams is successful to some degree, but acne is not easy to control. It generally spreads to the neck and shoulders, leading to a red and angry-looking complexion that can be very distressing to the sufferer. The traditional Ayurvedic physicians of Kerala, called vaidyas, have several suggestions and treatments that can help those afflicted with acne – some simple, some more complicated, all of them based on nature’s gifts.
Diet is Important
According to Ayurveda, all illnesses are caused by an imbalance of the three vital energies or doshas in our body. These doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha and they are balanced in a unique proportion that is not the same for any two individuals. In the case of acne, the symptoms differ according to the dosha that is out of balance. When Vata is disturbed, blackheads will be dry and hard. An imbalance of Kapha results in deeply-seated painful lumps, while when pitta is out of sync, a red, inflamed rash appears over the nose and cheeks. Figuring out which is the dosha that is causing the problem requires a vaidya’s experience and expertise. Once this is identified, the appropriate treatment is started.
The first thing a vaidya will tell you when dealing with acne is to eat right. You should cut out all spicy, pungent and fried foods as well as the junk food that most teenagers thrive on. Instead, you should include lots of green leafy vegetables, in your diet, and drink lots of water as well as fruit juices. Cauliflower, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, mushrooms and peas, cilantro and celery are good as are fruits like apples, pomegranates, dates, figs, melons and pineapples. Meat and fish should be avoided, but if you are a non vegetarian, the vaidya will probably tell you that if you do crave non- vegetarian fare, you can have it occasionally, provided it is fresh, local, organic and home-cooked.
In addition to powders and capsules that a vaidya will prescribe, there are also some home remedies that are very effective. Twice a day, apply a paste made of equal quantities of saffron, turmeric, margosa or neem, red sandalwood, basil, and fuller’s earth mixed with buttermilk or milk. You can also take half a teaspoon of a powdered mixture of coriander seeds, fennel, basil, turmeric, and Indian gooseberry mixed in equal parts, 15 minutes before lunch and dinner. Be sure to drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, and replace colas and fizzy drinks with coconut water which is equally tasty. Use lemon peels to cleanse your face, and wash your face in the morning using chickpea powder mixed with water to make a paste. Apply this like a lotion and rub gently before rinsing off. Once a day, drink Basil tea, as Basil is also known for its antiseptic properties. Change your sheets and pillowcases often, and use only natural shampoos, soaps and detergents. Make sure to eat a meal only after the previous meal has been digested, and always eat slowly. Food should also always be warm and fresh. Stop going on fad diets, and opt for a healthy lifestyle instead. Ayurveda does not offer a quick solution to acne. Sometimes you might feel like giving up… but it is really worth it if you want to have a clear and healthy complexion, naturally.