As published in the July 2006 issue of Vitality Magazine
It never fails. You have a job interview, an important business meeting or a hot date and, boom, you look at yourself in the mirror on the morning of – and staring back is the biggest, angriest pimple your body has yet produced. For some people, especially teens, facing new blemishes may be a weekly or even a daily occurrence. While acne is an indication of a physical metabolic disturbance, its adverse effects are far reaching. Secondary psychological disorders such as depression, social phobia, and certain anxiety disorders have been linked to acne. Acne vulgaris is the clinical term used to describe a variety of skin disorders in which the pores get clogged with sebum (oil that lubricates skin and hair) and dead skin. The clogged pores in turn become infected leading to the development of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules, cysts and abscesses. Whiteheads form when dead skin, oil and other debris accumulate in a hair follicle and form a soft white plug. This plug causes the hair follicle to bulge, creating a white spot on the surface of the skin. Blackheads form when a hair follicle containing a plug (whitehead) stays open and the surface of the plug becomes dark from exposure to air and trapped dirt. This causes a black spot to appear on the skin. Pimples form when the plugged hair follicles become inflamed and irritated. Pustules are pimples infected with bacteria, which in turn produce pus.
Cysts develop as a result of a collection of debris, such as oil and dead skin that forms a lump in the hair follicle beneath the surface of the skin. Abscesses are a result of inflammation and infection caused by a ruptured cyst which spreads debris from the cyst into the surrounding skin tissue.
Acne usually appears on the face, neck, chest and upper back. While teenagers account for the largest percentage of the acne-afflicted population, acne can affect adult men and women well into their 30s and 40s. It also tends to appear and disappear during hormonal shifts, such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, as well as stressful life situations.
If you’ve already tried liver cleanses, eliminating triggers like chocolate or dairy, keeping your skin clean, changing your diet, medicated creams and antibiotics with no permanent improvement, then it may be time to consider something different. You could reach for the bottle of windex (as did the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) or you could try homeopathy.
Homeopathy is a 200-plus year old medical science based on the principle “like cures like.” This means if a substance can cause symptoms in a healthy person, it can stimulate self-healing of similar symptoms in a sick person. Suppose a person comes into contact with poison ivy. They will develop skin rashes accompanied by burning, itchy, swelling and painful blisters. Rather than prescribing cortisone cream to suppress the itch and swelling, a homeopath may prescribe the remedy Rhus-tox, a tiny dose of poison ivy specially prepared by a homeopathic pharmacy. Similarly, when a person develops acne, rather than suppressing the skin symptoms with drugs, a homeopath will prescribe a substance that is capable of causing acne on healthy skin. In homeopathy, symptoms (pain, fever, congestion or acne) are seen as expressions of a curative process, the organism’s attempt (however ineffectual in some cases) to heal itself. Taking cues from the reactive expression of the organism, the homeopath seeks to enhance the symptoms thereby stimulating the organism to complete the curative process that has already been set in motion.
Homeopathy views acne as a manifestation of a deeper chronic issue. Thus your homeopath will not prescribe topical creams or even remedies directed towards the skin condition alone. A homeopath will spend a great deal of time taking a history of your complaints. During the consultation you will be asked many questions about your nature, such as body temperature, food cravings, sleep patterns, bowel function and more. In addition, the homeopath will try to understand your personality and temperament by asking you things like how you react in social situations, what makes you angry or jealous, if you prefer company or spending time alone, whether you are competitive, introverted, assertive or shy. The purpose of this process is to elicit information that will define you as a distinct person, and prescribe a remedy that matches your uniqueness.
1) Jon, a seventeen-year old youth, had been afflicted with acne since puberty. He had pustules all over his face, neck and upper back. His acne flared up from eating sweets, hot weather and sweating. During the initial visit I discovered that Jon was a mouth breather during sleep, craved sweets and spicy foods, perspired easily, was constipated, had an explosive personality and was afraid of heights. After two months and three doses of the homeopathic remedy sulphur, Jon’s skin became 50% clearer. After six months of homeopathic treatment, his skin further improved by 90%. In the process, he was no longer constipated and rarely craved sweets.
2) Monica had adult onset acne on her left thigh and buttocks, as well as on her back, chest and face. The 48-year-old school teacher had been suffering for twelve years when she first sought homeopathic treatment. Her skin was dry and scaly and felt itchy and inflamed. The acne was worse in damp weather, heat, humidity and in summer when she perspired.
Acne was not Monica’s only skin condition. She had psoriasis on the back of her neck, face, forehead, cheeks, chin and chest. In addition, due to a fungal infection, all ten of her toenails were black and slightly disfigured. Based on her unique physical symptoms, temperament, and an unusual fear of the wind, the remedy thuja was prescribed. According to Monica, her skin was 30% better within the first month. What she was more excited about was the increase in her energy level and motivation to finally join a gym. Today, after nine months of continued homeopathic treatment, Monica’s skin is totally clear from acne and psoriasis. Her fungal infection is 50% better and continuing to improve.
3) Chronic psoriasis on her abdomen and buttocks was the complaint Simone presented when seeking homeopathic help. The patches were worse on the right side of the body and were itchy and worse in winter. I also discovered that she suffered from severe social anxiety. She was quiet, conscientious and was afraid of violence and thunderstorms. The remedy Natrum carbonicum substantially reduced her anxiety before beginning to improve her skin. Today, after eight months of homeopathic treatment (and continuing), Simone’s skin is 75% improved.
4) When I first met him, Stephen had been taking oral antibiotics for ten years to control his acne. He had suffered with chronic pustules, cysts and abscesses since puberty. At age forty-three, Stephen was depressed, with very little energy and motivation. Nitric acid was prescribed based on Stephen’s unique physical symptoms, character and personality. After 16 months of treatment Stephen’s face is totally clear and he no longer takes antibiotics. His spirits are much higher, and he initiated social and career changes in his life.
Whether your skin disorder is a result of an allergic reaction, infection, hormonal imbalance or sugar metabolism, the cause can be attributed to an impaired immune function. Homeopathy treats many types of skin disorders by strengthening the immune system. In fact, given its unique approach to prescribing remedies (based on the totality of symptoms) the label of your condition is irrelevant.
Whether you are suffering from acne, eczema, depression or menopausal discomforts, a homeopath will take the same approach in discovering the distinctive set of symptoms you are experiencing and combine it with your personality traits in order to find a remedy which will initiate the healing process.
One woman’s chronic hives in the front of her body were healed with the remedy Kali carbonicum, while another woman with similar hives required apis. A teen with recurrent warts on his left hand benefited from the remedy Causticum.
Homeopathy aims to heal the entire organism in the physical, mental and emotional realms. Treating one organ at a time, such as your skin, will not result in a permanent cure. A person who takes prescription medication for high blood pressure every day is not undergoing a cure, but is only controlling the symptoms. Similarly, applying cortisone cream on your skin will not result in healing. If the medication is withdrawn, the illness returns. In contrast, homeopathic remedies address the underlying cause of illness by helping to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism. The aim is to return to a healthy state and stop depending on medications, natural or otherwise. When seeking homeopathic help for your skin troubles, don’t be surprised to experience an improvement in your moods, motivation and energy levels. In fact, in most cases, the emotions improve before physical ailments begin to disappear.
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