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Drinking Tea to Clear Up Acne
Medicinal teas are especially effective in the treatment of acne. Below are the 4 most important teas for relieving acne symptoms.
by Brad Chase
Herbal teas can be used to combat acne. They may not always produce dramatic results but they are well tolerated and produce far fewer side effects that regular acne medications.
There are two ways to take these teas for acne: orally and topically. In both cases, the tea has to be brewed to allow the active ingredients to seep into tea solution. In some cases, acne can be treated both by drinking and rubbing the same herbal teas on the skin.
Tea can also be a component of acne mask and it may serve as a toner or cleanser.
Although most herbs can be chopped down into pieces, powdered and steeped into hot water (preparations involving alcohol should be avoided because they may dry up the skin), not all of them qualify as tea.
While preparing and drinking tea is straightforward, applying herbal tea on the skin requires some guidance.
To rub tea on your skin, first wash and rinse the skin with a hypoallergenic soap or cleanser. Apply the cooled brewed tea on the skin with a cotton ball. Allow the tea to dry on the skin and let it stand for 10 minutes before rinsing off.
You can also soak a small, clean towel in the tea to make a poultice. Spread the poultice on the affected area of the skin and leave it for 15 minutes before rinsing off. Apply an oil-free moisturizer to prevent skin dryness.
Some of the most effective herbal teas used in the treatment of acne are discussed below.
Rooibos is a legume plant that is native to South Africa. It is also called Red Bush and has been used in the traditional medicine of its native country for centuries.
These days, rooibos is fast becoming popular all over the world. It is commonly sold in tea form as rooibos tea, red bush tea or simply red tea. Rooibos tea has a reddish color and is sold like regular tea in some countries especially South Africa.
Rooibos has many benefits for acne sufferers and it is backed by great testimonies from users as well as scientific studies. Rooibos tea can be used in acne treatment as a topical remedy or ingested as a regular tea.
There are 2 differences between rooibos tea and other regular teas. These are its lack of caffeine and its low levels of tannins.
These distinctions make rooibos tea a healthy alternative to other teas such as green tea and black tea.
However, rooibos tea has other nutritional benefits. It contains a high level of antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin. It is also rich in flavanols, flavones and flavanones. Flavonoids found in rooibos tea include luteolin and quercetin.
The main uses of rooibos tea in traditional medicine are for relieving colic in infants, for treating allergies, asthma and skin diseases such as acne.
The properties of rooibos tea that are most useful in acne treatment are its antioxidant, antibacterial and immune-modulating properties.
While rooibos tea does not contain the common antioxidant, EGCG (Epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which is found in other teas, it does contain high levels of nothofagin and aspalathin as well as superoxide dismutase.
These 3 antioxidants provide an effective and broad protection against harmful free radicals and they are active on the skin too. Therefore, they can mop up reactive oxygen species and prevent damage to the skin.
When the skin is damaged by toxins and free radicals, the chance of bacterial colonization is greatly improved. The immune system also tries to heal the injury and instead causes skin inflammation. Therefore, the protective actions of rooibos tea can contribute greatly to the resolution of acne symptoms.
Secondly, some plant chemicals in rooibos tea can help regulate the immune system and the detrimental aspects of immune response in acne breakouts. For example, by preventing repeated inflammation, rooibos tea can help reduce the severity and breakout of inflammatory acne lesions.
To get these benefits from rooibos tea, experts recommend drinking at least 6 cups of the tea daily.
In a study carried out by Japanese researchers, it was discovered that brewing rooibos tea for more than 10 minutes, instead of the regular duration of 5 minutes, provides the greatest benefit of the tea for acne sufferers.
Other constituents of rooibos tea that are beneficial for acne include zinc and alpha hydroxyl acids.
Zinc level in the body is closely related to the severity of acne. Zinc can help correct the hormonal imbalance that triggers acne. It is also useful for killing off the bacteria that cause acne.
Alpha hydroxyl acids are common acne remedies. They are mostly effective when rooibos tea is applied topically on the skin. When applied, alpha hydroxyl acids rejuvenate the skin by exfoliation and help break down acne comedones.
When rooibos tea is to be applied on the skin, it should be sufficiently cooled down to prevent scalding the skin with hot tea.
Besides the benefits discussed above, rooibos tea can also provide a mild antibacterial effect when applied on the skin. Therefore, it can contribute to the elimination of acne-causing bacteria on the skin.
Other topical benefits of rooibos tea include its ability to help remove excess sebum and dead skin cells from the skin.
The tea is also hypoallergenic, and can help protect the skin from irritants. Rooibos tea can be used as a cleanser or a toner when applied on the skin. It will help restore the pH of the body, prevent skin dryness and unclog the pores.
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Chamomile is a popular herb native to Europe. There are two herbs given this name: German chamomile or Matricaria recutita and Roman/English chamomile or Chamaemelum nobile.
Even though they belong to different plant families, they do share the same medicinal properties.
Chamomile has been used in traditional medicine for many centuries by healers of different cultures including the Egyptians and the Greeks. It is still used to treat the same medical conditions which include cold, sore throat, gingivitis, insomnia, anxiety, colic, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, eczema and acne.
Recent studies have identified the different therapeutic properties of chamomile. These include antispasmodic, anxiolytic, antibacterial and antimutagenic effects.
While most of the scientific studies done to investigate the medicinal uses of chamomile involve animal models, it is very likely that those benefits extend to humans especially given the centuries over which the herb has been used.
The active ingredients in chamomile include bisabolol, chamazulene, farnesene, flavonoids and coumarin.
Because of its coumarin content, chamomile is not recommended for those placed on blood thinners. Chamomile may also trigger a severe allergic reaction in people with ragweed allergies, and in large doses it will cause nausea and vomiting.
Chamomile tea is prepared by steeping its dried flowers for 10 – 15 minutes.
The brew must be covered during preparation to prevent the evaporation of the volatile oils present in the herb. Thereafter, the marc left of the steeped flower should be pressed to break the plant cell walls and release more of the active ingredients into the tea solution.
In acne treatment, chamomile tea can provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.
The anti-inflammatory property of chamomile works through the inhibition of histamine release from the mast cells. By preventing this important step in the inflammatory cascade, the active ingredients in chamomile tea can help prevent and even reduce inflammatory acne lesions.
In fact, chamomile compresses which are applied on the skin have been shown to have comparable activity to 1% hydrocortisone ointment in reducing skin inflammation.
The antioxidant and antimicrobial effects of chamomile tea have been demonstrated by different studies. When the tea is applied on the skin, these medicinal properties can help protect the skin by reducing the damage done by free radicals and also acne-causing bacteria.
Chamomile can also prevent stress-induced acne through its anxiolytic and antioxidant effects.
While drinking chamomile tea can reduce the severity of acne breakouts, applying the tea topically can also help relieve acne symptoms. Chamomile tea can be used as a toner and cleanser to wash the area of the skin affected by acne. It provides a deep cleansing action while relaxing the skin and washing off irritants.
The powdered leaves of chamomile tea can also be rubbed on acne scars to fade them away. Cold chamomile tea bags can be pressed on pimples to reduce the swelling and redness.
When treating acne by drinking chamomile tea, other acne remedies such as honey and lemon juice should be added to the tea.
Spearmint or Mentha spicata belongs to the mint family. It is a perennial rhizome that produces green, serrated leaves with pointed tips and slender, spiked flowers. The leaves of spearmint are used for its herbal preparations. These leaves can be used fresh, frozen or dried for storage.
Spearmint is majorly grown for its oil. Active compounds in spearmint oil include carvone, which is responsible for its unique aromatic smell, limonene and cineol. The oil and the tea are used to treat stomach ache and gas.
Spearmint is often added to toothpastes, soaps and even confectionery as a flavoring agent.
Spearmint tea is prepared by steeping the powdered, dried leaves in hot water.
Some of the medicinal properties of spearmint confirmed by recent studies include its antioxidant and antifungal properties.
Spearmint was also shown to reduce the activities of androgens in the body. Specifically, it lowers the amount of free testosterone circulating in the blood while the levels of total testosterone (and its derivatives) are left unchanged.
The antioxidant effect of spearmint tea can help prevent oxidative damage to the skin. In this way, it can protect the skin and prevent the formation of acne lesions.
In fact, the antioxidant effect of spearmint has been demonstrated to be very potent and compared to the activities of known antioxidants.
Specifically, spearmint slows down and delays the oxidation of fats.
The ability of spearmint to reduce fat oxidation is especially useful in acne treatment. This means that spearmint can then reduce the amount of harmful free radicals formed as byproducts of this oxidation reaction.
Another benefit of inhibiting fat oxidation is that spearmint prevents the sebum found on the skin from going bad. When sebum is quickly oxidized, it hardens and clogs up the pores. Rancid sebum also makes the right growth condition needed for acne-causing bacteria to colonize the skin.
Therefore, spearmint tea can prevent the clogging of the skin and discourage the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
The second means by which spearmint tea is especially useful in acne treatment is through its anti-androgenic effects. By reducing the levels of free testosterone, spearmint prevents the hormonal imbalance that is known to trigger acne breakouts.
Male sex hormones such as testosterone are chiefly responsible for the development of acne in teenagers and in women.
By preventing the release of free testosterone and lowering the amount of the circulating hormone, spearmint tea prevents the enlargement of the sebaceous glands and the production of excess sebum on the skin (this is how androgens cause acne).
Because spearmint does not also reduce the amount of total testosterone in the body, it produces far less side effects unlike conventional acne drugs used to reduce the levels of androgens in the body.
Yet another benefit of spearmint in acne treatment is that while reducing the levels of testosterone, it stimulates the production of female sex hormones such as estrogen.
These female hormones are known to reduce acne breakouts.
They also counter the effects of male sex hormones in the body. Therefore, spearmint tea is especially recommended for women experiencing adult acne which flares up during their menstrual cycles. Because of its ability to affect the hormone levels in the body, spearmint tea should only be consumed in moderate amounts.
Since reproductive side effects have been observed in rats given spearmint oil during studies, it is possible that such may apply to the use of spearmint tea in humans. Therefore, excessive consumption of the tea may cause loss of libido in men and women.
Spearmint tea should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Green tea is prepared from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. Although green tea originated in China, there are now many variants and it is a staple in different countries.
Green tea contains high levels of flavonoids which are mostly preserved through the minimal oxidation of the leaves during processing.
To prepare green tea, the temperature at which and the duration of steeping the tea leaves depend on the quality of the leaves. Usually, one teaspoon of green tea leaves should be used for preparing 5 ounces of tea.
Green tea contains polyphenols, one of which is the popular antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).
Other active ingredients of green tea include the antioxidants, tocopherols (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), carotenoids (vitamin A) and selenium. Other minerals found in green tea are manganese, zinc and chromium.
Green tea is known to lower the risk of heart diseases by reducing the levels of cholesterols; it helps burn fat; it has an antimicrobial property that makes it useful for dental hygiene; it boosts the immune system and can contribute to the improvement of neurological impairments in neurodegenerative diseases.
Green tea is a powerhouse of acne remedies. However, its main contribution to acne treatment is its antioxidant effects.
Green tea contains multiple antioxidants including EGCG, carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid and selenium. These antioxidants promote skin health by preventing oxidative damage due to harmful free radicals.
Besides their oxidative properties, the vitamins and provitamins contained in green tea are responsible for a number of biological processes all of which can help correct some of the root causes of acne. Therefore, they can help reduce skin inflammation by modulating the immune system and correct hormonal imbalances too.
The antimicrobial effect of green tea is also useful in acne treatment. The ability of the phytochemicals contained the tea to wipe out infective agents has been demonstrated by different studies.
In addition, green tea contains zinc. Zinc is a known antimicrobial agent used for treating acne.
The efficacy of green tea, when applied topically, has been well studied too.
In one study, 2% green tea lotion was applied on the acne-covered skins of 30 volunteers twice daily for 6 weeks. After the study, the average number of acne lesions was found to have fallen by more than half in all the research participants.
A recent study also found that green tea was just as effective as 4% benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne.
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