It’s always good to remember that our skin is often a reflection of our internal health. When battling any sort of skin issue it’s worth looking at what we can do inside and well as outside.
(Before I begin, I am not a qualified herbalist or naturopath. I have worked alongside many and sought their advice often, which is why I feel good sharing this information. However, I strongly recommend you do your own research and consult a practitioner if you decide you would like to take any herbs internally.)
When our skin is struggling, I like to remember what its functions are for our body and link that to why it is overburdened. One of the skin’s main functions is elimination of toxins through our pores. If the pores are unhealthy and /or blocked, the toxins cannot be eliminated and therefore will likely get stuck under the skin’s surface and accumulate, and eventually cause blemishes. Alternatively, if the skin is having to eliminate more toxins than it can handle (because another body organ is not able to do its job effectively) we need to look at the internal organs of elimination. Number 1 being the liver.
Our livers work hard to filter the blood coming from our digestive system before sending it into the rest of the body (think alcohol, fats, medications, preservatives, and anything else not ideal that goes into our bodies). Also, the liver cleans the blood of internal substances such as “old” and mutated hormones. This is very relevant to skin as we know that hormonal health can have a big impact, especially for acne sufferers.
Hormonal acne is characterized by blemishes around the lower half of the face, specifically the chin, mouth and jawline. Hormones imbalances can trigger excess oil production and cause skin cells to be “sticky” leading to clogged pores and blemishes.
What is interesting to learn is that a hormonal imbalance is not often caused by the production of hormones in an imbalanced way (which is what I had always assumed) but an imbalance of hormones in our blood at any one time, caused by a build up of old or mutated hormones that are now useless to our body.
This build up is caused because our liver is not able to filter out these old hormones in an effective way. So rather than addressing hormonal acne with hormone altering herbs, supporting our liver to do a better job is often the best remedy to try first.
Enter milk thistle.
Milk thistle is a well researched herb that has been used for many many years to protect, repair and regenerate the liver. Its action is attributed to the powerful flavonoid (plant antioxidant) silymarin. This anti-inflammatory plant compound helps the liver to clean the blood more effectively, not only helping to address the hormone imbalances but also to alleviate the skin of other “detoxifying” duties. Leading to happier, clearer skin.
I love taking milk thistle, and will often take it for a few weeks a few times a year. It clears my skin, brightens the whites in my eyes and lifts my energy.
Hormonal health can be a complicated beast to tackle so making sure the liver is in good health to help support the hormonal system can be a great place to start.