An Ancient Herb for Acne

Two heads bumped. Clear gray eyes peered into crystal blue ones. A slow, lazy smile spread across Cole's face as he stared at the clear skinned beauty before him. Getting a grip on himself, he began picking up the mangos that had scattered when they had crashed into each other.

"Here," he said, "let me help," and as he placed the exotic fruit in her basket, his eyes once again rested on her flawless skin, then lifted to meet her intriguing gaze. Cole shivered as he spoke the words, "Would you like to go to a movie Friday night?" "Sure," came her easy reply, "what time?" Getting her name, phone number and address was easy after that. "Wow!" he thought, "A few months ago, I would never have had the courage to ask her out, not with my pimply face, if it had not been for my Mom's amazing discovery."

Cole's mom had wandered into the nutrition center where I worked and told me that a friend of hers had recommended this herb for acne. Amazed, I asked her if it worked. Enthusiastically she told me it worked great! So, I started telling this story to my other customers. One in particular had been taking the famous remedy tetracycline for some time, but whenever she quit, the acne would come back worse than before! So I told her about this ancient herb and she decided to try it (she was no longer taking the tetracycline). Sure enough, two months later she came in so happy, her skin looked so clear and healthy. She said that the herb had given her the healthiest skin she could remember. After that, customer after customer started telling me it also worked for their families. Intrigued, I launched into research and decided to write this article, in the hopes it would help others as well.

What was Cole's discovery? An ancient healing herb that has been around for thousands of years, garlic! What is garlic? Garlic is a spicy, pungent, aromatic herb that contains more than 100 useful chemicals, and as I was astounded to learn, that included sulfur and selenium compounds, vitamins, minerals, protein, enzymes and phytochemicals. It has vitamins A, B1, B2 and C. Its minerals include calcium, copper, germanium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sulfur and zinc. These nutrients by themselves are good for the skin. Garlic also contains sulfur compounds. These sulfur compounds are thought to be the source of the antibiotic activity in garlic.

Most people are familiar with garlic used as a seasoning, but may not be aware of garlic's great potential in the use of treating acne. Why is garlic useful for acne? One possible reason may be garlic's antibiotic properties. According to the Mayo Health site at, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel reported, "garlic blocks the action of certain enzymes that help infectious microbes survive in host tissue. Such enzymes are produced by many bacteria and fungi, so garlic shows promise as a broad-spectrum antibiotic."

According to the site, the nonprofit Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colorado reports that garlic outperformed penicillin, ampicillin, doxycycline, streptomycin, and cephalexin (all powerful antibiotics) in fighting eight of nine strains of Staphylococcus, Escherichia, and Proteus (all powerful microbes). Wow, that's pretty impressive. In addition, recent studies also indicate that garlic enhances immune function, another powerful weapon when your body fights any disease or infection.

The authors of the best selling reference book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, recommend garlic for acne as well. They counsel taking garlic every day, stating that garlic "acts as a natural antibiotic and disinfectant," and "is good for virtually any disease or infection."

How is garlic used to treat acne? The herb can be taken internally. Experts say that one to two cloves per day of the raw garlic will give health benefits, this amount is plenty. Some experts, most notably Dr. Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D., in an interview on the site, acknowledges that this method of taking raw garlic may be irritable to the stomach. Raw garlic also has a sharp biting flavor.

Slight cooking may be helpful, because it helps eliminate the bite and softens the flavor. However, you can also purchase garlic tablets or capsules that are effective as well. Commercial products are usually much less upsetting to the stomach, if at all. In addition to taking the herb internally, in the newsletter Snowbound Herbals, at, the author claims that raw garlic can be rubbed directly on acne.

What is the best form of garlic to use? Raw or slightly cooked garlic offers a rich array of sulfur compounds that are responsible for many of garlic's healing properties. All this information inspires the question, "well if garlic is so great why does it smell so bad and cling to your breath like a spider to its web?" The smell is due to the sulfur compounds. If you don't like the smell of garlic on your breath, there are many commercial products that are odorless or odor controlled. Some examples are Kyolic Garlic, Natrol Garlic, or Schiff Garlic. These can be purchased at your health food store or at some grocery and department stores, and of course through the Internet.

There are other ways to help with the odor problem. You can eat fresh parsley, which is rich in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a natural body and breath deodorizer that works from the inside out. Also, a person can buy chlorophyll liquid, capsules or tablets. The herbs fennel and fenugreek are also good breath fresheners.

For a garlic infusion, chop six cloves per cup of cool water and steep six hours. For a tincture, soak one cup of crushed cloves per quart of brandy, shake daily for two weeks, and then after all your hard work, take up to three tablespoons daily. Any time you take garlic though, whether raw, cooked, infusion or tincture, it would still be a good idea to vaporize the breath with herbal fresheners!

Who can benefit from garlic? Well, just about everyone, and for acne, most obviously teens. But lots of people who are in their college years and even older often get acne. They also can benefit. Even children can safely take garlic, although with an adjusted dosage.

Well, if garlic can help acne what else can it do? James and Phyllis Balch, the authors of Prescription for Nutritional Healing say it also "detoxifies the body and protects against infection by enhancing immune function, lowers blood pressure and improves circulation, lowers blood lipid levels, aids in treatment of arteriosclerosis, arthritis, asthma, cancer, circulatory problems, colds and flu, digestive problems, heart disorders, insomnia, liver disease, sinusitis, ulcers and yeast infections." So acne or not, you've got nothing to lose by adding garlic to your overall diet.

So whether it's walking down the mall holding hands, a romantic dinner at your favorite restaurant, climbing apple trees together, or horseback riding under the moon, hold your head up proudly. And if you happen to have Cole's problem, remember his secret remedy. Hey, and then bump heads all you want!

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