Topical Herbal Therapies an Alternative and Complementary Choice to Combat Acne
Acne vulgaris is the most common cutaneous chronic inflammatory disorder of multifactorial origin with prevalence in adolescents. Acne is common among 95 and 83% of teenage boys and girls, respectively and affects 85, 8 and 3% of people aged between 12-25, 25-34 and 35-44 years, respectively. Numbers of topical and systematic therapies using synthetic ingredients are available since so long to cure acne. Due to risk and side effects associated with previously used therapies, internal and external herbal remedies are considered to be effective and safe alternative treatment for acne. Furthermore, scientific analysis of herbs reveals that they possess enormous therapeutic capabilities that modern medicine is searching for. With the multitude of treatment options and the rapidly expanding newer technologies available to researchers, scientist, industrialist, cosmeticians and dermatologist, it is important to review and be aware of the current literature and studies regarding herbs and their actives role in the management of acne. This review emphasizes on the astounding effect of herbs in the topical treatment of acne with scientific datas. Inclusion of discussed various herbal extracts, gels and oils, in future developments of dermato-cosmetic herbal formulations could provide complementary and alternative therapy for acne to consumers.
Received: March 31, 2011;
Accepted: May 09, 2011;
Published: June 25, 2011
Skin is perhaps the most vulnerable part of our body. It is a well-known fact
that day to day exposure of human skin (Shweta and Swarnlata,
2009) lead to number of problems such as acne, pimples, pigmentation and
sunburn marks. Acne is one of the most common skin diseases. The affected patients
are prone to embarrassment, depression, anger, social withdrawal, anxiety, scorn
and stigmatization (Thomas, 2004). Acne vulgaris
typically begins around puberty and early adolescence, it tends to present earlier
in females, usually at about 12 or 13 years, than in males, 14 or 15 years,
due to later onset of puberty in males. Acne has been estimated to affect 95-100%
of 16 to 17 year-old boys and 83-85% of 16- to 17 year-old girls. Acne is a
polymorphic disease that occurs on the face (99%), back (60%) and chest (15%).
The individual lesions of Acne vulgaris are divisible into three types:
non-inflamed lesions, inflamed lesions and scars. Even though Acne vulgaris
is the most common type of acne, other forms also exist like Acne vulgaris,
Acne conglobata, Acne fulminans, Acne excorièe, Acne mechanica, Acne
rosacea (Bettoli et al., 2006). Factors that
are responsible to cause acne are hormones, excess sebum, dead cells, Propionibacterium
acnes and inflammatory response. Functioning of these five factors is varying
from people to people.
Formation of acne: Acne emerges from a point which requires 2-3 weeks
to take a defined form of ace. This process happens deep under your skin. Pores
are little holes present on your skin. These pores are actually hair follicles
containing very fine hair. Each hair follicle is connected to a sebaceous gland.
The sebaceous gland produces an oily substance called sebum. Sebum helps in
keeping the skin soft. This sebum reaches the surface of the skin through the
hair follicle. The hair follicle is lined with cells called Keratinocytes. Now,
during puberty, a hormone presents both in males and females increases. This
increase in testosterone encourages the sebaceous gland to produce more sebum.
This sebum, hair and keratinocytes fill and plug the hair follicle. Plugging
of the follicle is the earliest sign of acne. Because the follicle is plugged,
sebum cannot reach the surface of the skin. This means that the follicle is
filled with oil (sebum) and cells (keratinocytes). A mixture of both these causes
Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes which is present on the skin,
to grow in the plugged follicle. This bacteria in the plugged follicle, induces
the white blood cells to attack it. When the white blood cells attack, they
cause the skin to inflame. This is characterized by heat, swelling, redness
and pus. In due course of time, the wall of the hair follicle breaks down, spilling
everything that is sebum, dead cells and bacteria on the nearby skin (www.acnetalks.com).
This leads to acne, it can be mild, moderate or severe.
Treatment of acne: Common therapies that are used for the treatment
of acne include topical, systemic, hormonal, herbal and combination therapy.
Topically used agents are benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and retinoids. Systemically
used agents are antibiotics and isotretinoin. For decades, antibiotics and retinoids
have been used and they still remain a good choice for the topical and systemic
treatment of Acne vulgaris. But, these drugs produce a number of potential
side effects and development of resistance to frequently used antibiotics. This
leads to treatment failure with previously used successful therapy. Therefore,
an alternative for the treatment of acne have been studied and developed and
as a result natural approaches to combating acne and its disfiguring effects
have gained popularity. Numbers of conventional and novel herbal cosmetics are
useful to treat damaged skin (Ashawat et al., 2007a;
Amit et al., 2007; Ashawat
et al., 2007b; Chanchal and Swarnlata, 2008).
The negligible adverse effects of herbal drugs compared with modern medicines will become another important aspect in the treatment of this condition. In upcoming years herbal therapies are gaining attention of researchers, academicians, industrialist, cosmetician, dermatologist and scientist for acne treatment. Acne can be cured by herbs either consuming internally or externally or with both. Topical treatment of herbs is preferable choice of consumers as ease of application and it surpasses the bitter taste of herbal formulation (when taken internally). Because herbs are safe, efficacious and the added advantage of multifunctionality, herbs are increasingly being used in mainstream cosmetic products, including acne-fighting compositions. Although some of the herbs are scientifically explored for their efficacy in treatment of acne but still many herbs are remain untouched by scientist. This review focuses on the topical benefits of some herbals extracts, gel, oil, for the treatment of Acne vulgaris. The purpose of this study is to open new avenues and set trends for the improvement of medicinal uses of herbs for acne and also reflects the traditional knowledge which provides the base for clinical research to be carried out to explore the active compounds which are responsible for anti-acne activities.
Herbal therapy: The quest for medications and cosmetic measures to combat
acne continues to be a major research and development initiative in the pharmaceutical
and personal care industries. Number of herbs with a history of use in traditional
cultures have entered the growing cosmeceuticals market. Herbal
formulations which contain many herbal extracts and have negligible adverse
effects compared with modern medicine, are commonly indicated for moderate and
severe forms of acne. The efficacy of these herbal agents in acne treatment
is not only based on antimicrobial activity but on their possessed antioxidant
and anti-inflammatory properties by which they inhibit neutrophil migration
and generation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Also various herbs used in
acne due to their skin detoxification property. Herbal extracts or oil may be
used as monotherapy or in combination therapy. There are certain herbal extracts
such as A. dahurica, M. alternifolia, A. indica, R.
coptidis and P. quajava that are proved to be more effective than
antibiotics and retinoids (Kumar et al., 2008).
Below some herbs are discussed in details for their efficacy in acne treatment.
Table 1 describe their common and hindi name, family, parts,
chemical constituents and forms which are responsible to treat acne.
Holy basil: In India, Ocimum sanctum or Kovil Tulsi, is a powerful
medicinal plant. Studies shown that when basil oil was tested in trials as an
antibacterial treatment for acne, it produced good results. An excellent study
of oils from four types of Ocimum species found that although there was
variation in contents but all the oils were found to have antimicrobial activity
at fairly low dilutions (Koga et al., 1999; Lachowicz
et al., 1998; Sivropoulou et al., 1996).
Basil oil obtained from leaves of O. gratissimum species is used as an
antibacterial treatment for acne (Orafidiya et al.,
2002). The linolenic acid present in basil has the capacity to block both
the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways of arachidonate metabolism which
could be responsible for the antiinflammatory activity of the oil (Singh
and Majumdar, 1997) and hence helpful to decrease the inflammation associated
with acne. This also has been observed when 2% ocimum oil is used with aloe
vera gel, the activity against acne increases due to synergistic effect of these
Red sandal wood: Pterocarpus santalinus, used as an astringent
and tonic for external application in inflammation and it is also used in treating
skin diseases (Chopra et al., 1956). It has been
found in research that the secondary metabolites of various chemical types present
in the plant species are known to possess antimicrobial activities (Manjunatha,
2006). Flavonoids present in it are found to be effective antimicrobial
substances against a wide range of microorganisms (Tsuchiya
et al., 1996). In Kerala, it is ground to a paste with water or honey
and applied topically as a popular home remedy for post-acne and other facial
Sandal wood: Santalum album is famous for its volatile oil and
useful in cutaneous inflammation. Studied reflects that it has been widely used
in skin care as an antiseptic and a skin softener. It acts as a prophylactic
against skin diseases and allergic conditions. Studies revealed that sandal
powder paste is one of the most effective remedies for acne and acne scar removal.
It is found to be effective against Streptococcus aureus. It relieves
itching and inflammation of the skin and acts as an antiseptic in acne (Tisserand,
1987). Good astringent for oily skin and also removes skin blemishes.
Ceylon leadwort: Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica) is a herb that
grows wild in India and has been used by rural and tribal people for hundreds
of years as a traditional system of medicine (Tilak et
al., 2004). P. zeylanica is enormously accepted throughout Africa
and Asia as a remedy for parasitic skin diseases. Acne vulgaris is one
of such skin disease which can be cured by chitrak powder (Dalziel,
1956; Kokwaro, 1976).
|| Various herbs used in the treatment of acne
Researches by scientist shown that root contain plumbagin, a yellow naphthoquinone
which is responsible for its antimicrobial and antibiotic activity (Bever,
1986; Atkinson and Brice, 1955). Research indicated
that a very dilute solution (i.e., a concentration of 1:50,000) of plumbagin
is lethal to a wide spectrum of bacteria (Skinner, 1955).
Pea: Pisum sativum has significance in the treatment of acne
(Chiej, 1988). The seeds contain proteins, lecithins, carbohydrates,
fats and salts and are nutritive and antidermatosis. Their effects are clinically
well proved for many types of skin complaints, for example face masks made from
crushed peas are used in cases of acne and on wrinkled skins (Dweck,
Camphor: Cinnamomum camphora is famous for its aroma that is
fresh, clean and very piercing. The species of Cinnamomum have aromatic
oils in their leaves and barks, some of the oils have been reported to be good
source of antifungal and antibacterial compounds (Mastura
et al., 1999; Ali et al., 2002). The
oils are widely known as sources of aroma chemicals and used in food preparation,
pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, toiletries and detergents (Ali
et al., 2010). Phytochemical works on the Cinnamomum species
revealed the presence of a number of aromatic compounds such as flavanols, phenyl
propanoids, lignans, terpenoids, alkaloids and proanthocyanadins (Mukherjee
et al., 1994; Wu et al., 1994), imparts
cooling action on the skin, therefore, reduces inflammatory conditions. Its
maximum benefits seen on oily skins hence useful in treatment of acne (Sellar,
Pumpkin: Curcubita pepo, used in medical applications, is an
annual plant with yellow flowers. Obi et al. (2009)
work revealed that its seeds apart from as food additives and supplements, used
as effective and cheap antibacterial agent for the treatment of bacterial infections
(Obi et al., 2009). Linoleic, oleic, palmitic
and stearic acid isolated from its seed oil have been used in medicine for their
antiinflammatory properties (Nesterova et al., 1990;
Akhtar et al., 1980). The natives of Central America
and India rub the oil extracted from the seeds of Curcubita pepo on Acne
vulgaris. The roots are made into an infusion and used on syphilitic sores,
herpes lesions, acne and blackheads (Morton, 1981).
Chaste tree: Botanically it is Vitex negundo/Vitex agnus-castus.
Its leaf juice contains casticin, isoorientin, chrysophenol D, luteolin, p-hydroxybenzoic
acid and D-fructose. Researches confirmed its anti-inflammatory (Dharmasiri
et al., 2003), antibacterial (Samy et al.,
1998), antifungal (Sathiamoorthy et al., 2007;
Damayanti et al., 1996) and analgesic (Gupta
and Tandon, 2005; Gupta et al., 1999) activities.
Scientist examined and proved its use in the treatment of acne in both men and
women (Amann, 1975, 1967). It
was notified by Menghani et al. (2011) that V. negundu possessed
enough potentials against S. aureus positive. This plant acts in the
pituitary gland to balance secretion of lutetinizing and follicle-stimulating
hormones, thus regulating estrogen and progesterone levels (Bone,
1994) and hence used in acne caused by hormonal imbalance. It was noticed,
when Vitex is used together with Vitamin B6 proven to be quite helpful for resolving
Dandelion: Taraxacum officinale is a plant that is common universally
in many traditional and modern herbal medical systems, as particularly has been
documented in Asia, Europe and North America. Among the most important compounds
in dandelion are sesquiterpene lactones believed to have antiinflammatory effects.
Major sesquiterpene lactones, generally occurring as glycosides (sugars), include
taraxacosides, taraxacolides, dihydrolactucin, taraxinic acids and ainslioside
(Schutz et al., 2006). Its root has a long history
of use for dermatological disorders (Fleming, 1998; Jaqulene,
2009) such as spots, pimples and acne (Evans, 1990;
Black walnut: Hutchens refers to Juglans nigra as Black walnut
(Hutchens, 1973). There are six species of the walnut, genus
Juglan which are native to the United States. The bark (Lust,
1986), leaves, peel and green nut are commonly used, where a tincture of
leaves and rind of green fruits is used for acne, chancre and herpes (Heinerman,
1996; Nahrstedt et al., 1981). Juglans
regia is known as the English walnut, where the leaves are the medicinal
part used in India. The main constituents include 10% tannins ellagitannins
(responsible for the astringent properties), naphthalene derivatives juglone,
flavonoids (hyperoside and quercitin) (Wichtl, 1994).
Heartsease/wild pansy: Different species Viola tricolor, Viola odorata
and Viola yedoensis are healing herb used in skin disorders (Daniel,
1993) like acne, pruritis, eczema etc. Its flowers and roots are useful
parts (Palaiseul, 1986). It can be applied externally to
the skin by means of a compress (Launert, 1989), it soothes
and relieve pain associated with acne. The active ingredients are saponins,
glycoside gaultherine, salicylic compounds, tannin, mucilage, flavonoids which
are found to be effective against skin infections.
Neem: Botanically it is Azadirachta indica, well known for its
therapeutic effect. Its leaves contain nimbin, nimbinene, 6-desacetylnimbinene,
nimbandiol, nimbolide and quercetin. The presence of β-sitosterol, n-hexacosanol
and nonacosane is also reported by Basak and Chakraborty
(1968) and Awasthi and Mitra (1971). Neem seed oil
has been confirmed as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent (Trease
and Evans, 1989; Rao et al., 1968; Patel
and Venkatakrishna, 1988). There are also reports that the plant has insecticidal
and spermicidal properties (Martindale, 1989; Tyler
et al., 1988). Literatures revealed that it can work wonders for
a variety of skin problems. Research has shown that it has been extremely effective
in curing acne (The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1923).
This herb contains gedunin and nimbidol that exhibit fungicidal properties.
Applying paste of crushed neem leaves on the part of the face affected by acne
is a popular home remedy, in which a noticeable improvement in the acne size
has been observed (Soforowa, 1982; Wood
and Bache, 1883).
Purple coneflower: Echinacea purpurea, is native to eastern North
America and grows in the wild in much of the Eastern, Southeastern and Midwest
United States. Its traditional use in management of acne, boils and mastitis
(Trattler, 1987), may be due to antiseptic property of
the plant. Researches indicated that it is very effective herb in increasing
the ability of the immune system to fight infections (Evans,
1990). It has been used to lessen the pain and inflammation of acne and
skin irritation (McLaughlin, 1992). In another study
root and rhizome were reported for their effectiveness against eczema and acne
(Morelli et al., 1983). Echinacea prevents bacteria
proliferation, hence reducing the number of acnes. By inducing a substance called
fibroblasts, it encourages the growth of new skin cells that helps to treat
Onion: It is obtained from Allium cepa, contains volatile oil
with many organic sulphur compounds such as allicin, allyl propyl disulphide,
alliin, flavonoids, phenolic acids and sterol, its esters and glycosides. It
has been used externally as a poultice for acne to draw out inflammation and
the juice applied to blemished skin (Castro, 1990; Body
et al., 1984; Sigerist, 1944). Studies have
found that onions possess antiallergic and antiinflammatory effects due to the
presence of flavonoids (quercetin and kampferol) (Griffiths
et al., 2002; Dorsch et al., 1990)
and in addition onion juice has antimicrobial (Dorsch, 1996;
Arunachalam, 1980) and antifungal effects (Conner
and Beuchat, 1984) because of these proven activities it is responsible
for anti-acne property.
Mugwort: The genus Artemisia is one of the largest in the Asteraceae
family, consisting of more than 800 species which are widespread over the world.
Many of Artemisia species grow in Eurasia, North and Central America
and Northern Africa. Several Artemisia species (A. campestris,
A. absinthium and A. vulgaris) grow in Lithuania. Artemisia
vulgaris and Artemisia absinthum are used traditionally in Philippines
for skin diseases. Artemisia vulgaris essential oils are used for their
insecticidal, antimicrobial and anti-parasitical properties (Kaul
et al., 1976; Milhau et al., 1997;
Laxmi and Rao, 1991). Its dried leaves cut into small
fragments and used to induce more rapid healing of acne wounds (Dweck,
Soapwort: Saponaria officinalis is a perennial herbaceous plant
native to northern Europe, contains saponins (to 5%), comprising saporubin and
saprubrinic acid, gums, flavonoids, Vitamin C and vitexin (Wren,
1985). It has been ap ply topically for the treatment of certain skin conditions
including acne (Der Marderosian, 2001). The leaf, stem
and root are used cosmetically, by boiling in soft water and act as surface
active agent to facilitate cleansing of skin. Medicinally, the root decoction
is used as a wash for acne and psoriasis (Dweck, 1997a).
Chamomile: Matricaria recutita, Anthemis nobilis and Matricaria
Chamomilla are the members of the family Compositae. Extracts of the plant
are used in the form of ointments, lotions and inhalations intended for local
application. Chamomile extract, essential oil and isolated constituents, possess
antiinflammatory and analgesic effects and are useful for treating hence safe
treating chronic skin disorders (Bruneton, 1999; Hoermann
and Korting, 1994; Carle and Gomaa, 1992; Safayhi
et al., 1994). Soak a piece of cloth in a mixture of hot water and
chamomile, to soothe the irritated skin. This is indeed a nice technique to
treat inflamed skin. Chamomile compress can also reduce acne scars and blackheads
Scented geranium: Botanically it is called as Pelargonium graveolens.
Essential oil obtained through steam or water plus steam distillation of shoot
biomass is extensively used in the fragrance industry and in aromatherapy (Rao
et al., 2002). Effect of geranium oil is aromatic, anti-inflammatory,
antiseptic, astringent, balancing, calming, distressing, harmonizing, refreshing
sweet and sedative. On the skin, oil helps to balance the secretion of sebum
and clears sluggish and oily skins, hence so helpful with those problems that
come with greasy, over-oily skin and acne. Care should be taken since there
is the possibility of contact dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals. It is
a very important component of high grade perfumes due to its strong rose-like
odour (Parameswaran et al., 2000).
Tea tree: Essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia, is obtained
from steam distillation of its leaves. It is the native herb of Australia and
effectively fights with acne. Tea tree oil is employed in personal care products,
cosmetics, hair preparations and skin creams (Priest, 1999).
Its topical antibacterial property due to terpinen-4-ol (Shapiro
et al., 1996; Carson and Riley, 1995) was
well documented in literatures. Tea tree oil is effective against twenty seven
of the 32 strains of Propionibacterium Acnes that lives on the skin and
causes acne (Bassett et al., 1990). Due to its
anti-inflammatory effect (Brand et al., 2002),
it is widely employed in acne care products (Carson and Riley,
1994; Bassett et al., 1990). A study revealed
that topical use of gel containing 5% tea tree oil has been as effective in
the treatment of acne as a lotion with 5% benzyl peroxide with far less scaling
and itching (Bassett et al., 1990). Although the
tea tree oil was slower and less potent in its action, it had far fewer side
effects and was considered more effective overall. For topical treatment of
acne, it is recommended to use tea tree oil at a dilution of 5 to 15%.
Castor: This is obtained from the Castor bean, Ricinus communis.
The seeds contain 50% of the fixed oil which is a viscous fluid, almost
colourless when pure, possessing only a slight odour. Castor oil is commonly
used in Chinese medicine for inflammation, to remove toxins. Castor oil is an
important ingredient of cosmetic and pharmaceutical product used for skin care.
Ricinoleic acid and its many derivatives have skin smoothing and moisturizing
qualities and improve various skin conditions such as rough skin and acne (Miyahara
and Sanbe, 2002).
Licorice: Botanically, it is called as Glycyrrhiza glabra. Its
root and rhizome are the parts which have been widely used as a traditional
medicine all over the world. Licorice root is particularly rich in flavanoids
and this is probably a relevant factor in its history as a medicinal plant capable
of treating a variety of conditions (Khare, 2004). The
root contains 5-10% glycyrrhizin, licochalcone, glabridin, glbrene. Because
of its antimicrobial activity (Saeedi et al., 2003),
it has been used for skin disorders. Licorice is a good antiinflammatory agent
(Lee et al., 1997) and used for skin irritations
and in cosmetics for acne and sunburn (Ammosov and Litvienko,
2003; Aburjai and Natsheh, 2003; Marks,
Burdock: Obtained from Arctium lappa, belonging from family Asteraceae.
The main constituents are arctiopicrin, arctigenin, inulin and mucilage (Jeffery
et al., 1999). The burdock extract has sebum-balancing properties,
maintaining a correct secretion of the sebaceous gland. It is a herb which has
been used as skin detoxifier for skin disorders (Mowrey, 1986;
Fetrow and Availa, 1999). The roots and leaves are most
widely used for treating chronic skin problems including acne (Foster,
1998; Bradley, 1992).
Oregon grape: Berberis aquifolium was often used by several native
North American Indian tribes (Chevallier, 1996). The root
and root bark is alterative, blood tonic, cholagogue, diuretic, laxative and
tonic (Moerman, 1998). However, one recent study, using
Mahonia topically showed this herb to decrease sebum, reduce infection
and inflammation. The antibacterial (Duke and Ayensu, 1985)
compounds berbamine and berberine are universally present in rhizomes of Mahonia
species, on topical application which are believed to reduce sebum production
and kill bacteria present on skin. It can be externally applied in the form
of cream and gel to treat acne due to above mentioned properties.
Golden seal: Its botanical name is Hydrastis canadensis member
of butter cup family Ranunculaceae. Historically, Native Americans have used
goldenseal for various health conditions such as skin diseases (Weiner,
1980). The Indians used goldenseal for local inflammations and infections.
The active ingredients of goldenseal include a group of alkaloids, hydrastine
and berberine. Topically, golden seal is an effective antibacterial, mainly
due to its berberine content (Coffey, 1993). Although less
clinical studies have been carried out to confirm its use in acne, it has been
noticed by natives, when used in combination with Marshmallow to sooth inflamed
skin it will reduce redness and kill bacteria causing acne infection (www.herbal-supplement-resource.com).
Modern uses have included as a laxative, diuretic, antiseptic and for hemorrhoids,
mouth sores, eye infections, acne and sorethroats.
Calendula: Calendula officinalis, a herb contains flavanoids,
saponins, triterpinoid, essential oils and polysaccharides (Trease
and Evans, 1989). Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties,
has long been used for the treatment of various skin ailments (James
and Tyler, 1999). Strong infusion of this herb useful for treating acne
patients, this beautiful flowering herb accelerates the healing process of the
damaged skin tissue. It contains sulphur derivates, if applied directly on the
acne, performs the task of drying. Calendula creams for acne are also
available at various drug stores.
Coleus: Coleus forskohlii belongs to the natural order Labiatae
(Lamiaceae), a family of mints and lavenders. In traditional ayurveda systems
of medicine, it has been used for a variety of purposes, including skin disorders.
In laboratory studies, coleus oil is an essential oil extracted from its roots
and was found to more effectively inhibit the growth of skin pathogens including
Propionbacterium acnes associated with acne (Majeed
and Badmaev, 2003; Nishijima et al., 2000),
Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial strain found in skin eruptions including
acne (Nishijima et al., 1994) and Staphylococcus
epidermidis, a bacterial strain occurring in a variety of opportunistic
bacterial skin infections and in acne (Nishijima et al.,
2000). Majeed and Prakash (2007) showed the comparative
effects of coleus oil, tea tree oil and the conventional antimicrobial clindamycin
against Propionibacterium acnes. The extract was found to be safe to
use in cosmetic formulations.
Lesser galangal: Botanically known as Kaempferia galangal, commonly
used as spice ingredients and medicinal herbs in South-east Asia and are valued
traditionally for their wound healing (Shanbhag et al.,
2006) and skin protectant action (Kiuchi et al.,
1987; Gupta et al., 1976). Extract prepared
by proprietary extraction (Majeed and Prakash, (2007)
process showed several fold greater inhibitory activity against Propionibacterium
acnes as compared to conventional extract. The resultant extract has found
to be of specific composition which has antimicrobial action and tyrosinase
inhibitory functions, suggesting its multifaceted benefits in acne fighting
formulations. Use of this extract in topical cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulations
proves to be potentially beneficial in the management of acne as well as in
reducing post-acne scarring, pigmentation and blemishes.
Turmeric: Turmeric is the processed rhizome of Curcuma longa.
South Asian women have traditionally used turmeric roots for skin care. Scientist
has adapted an innovative approach and developed a colorless derivative i.e
tetrahydrocurcuminoids which retains same health benefits as of yellow turmeric
extract. The UV protectant, protein integrity support, tyrosinase inhibitory
and antioxidant properties of tetrahydrocurcuminoids would work together in
an anti-acne formulation to provide multifaceted benefits (Majeed
et al., 1999; Majeed and Prakash, 2003). Popular
home remedy used by local peoples is paste of turmeric and coconut oil, they
apply this paste over the affected portion and the surrounding area and allow
it to remain overnight and next day magical reduction in the size of acne has
been noticed. Because of its wonderful effects on skin it is used as a key ingredient
in some cosmetic products like cream, soaps and cleansers.
Black pepper: It is known as Piper nigrum. Oil obtained from
it found to be potent antibacterial properties (Dorman and
Deans, 2000). Studies have found that the essential oil containing the sesquiterpenes
betacaryophelene and alpha-humulene, is highly effective against the P. acne,
hence used to cure acne infection (Kubo et al., 1994).
Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus globules, is an important ethnomedicinal
plant. The antimicrobial activities of the methanolic extracts of its leaves
have been reported in literatures (Akin-Osanaiye et al.,
2007; Mehraban et al., 2005). Topical ointments
containing eucalyptus oil have also been used in traditional aboriginal medicines
to heal wounds and fungal infections. Researches indicate, eucalyptus oil obtained
by steam distillation and rectification of the fresh leaves has eucalyptol (1,8-cineole)
as its active ingredient and this is responsible for its various pharmacological
actions (Trivedi and Hotchandani, 2004). The essential
oil derived from its leaves known to have great antiseptic properties and even
works as an excellent astringent to treat the acne prone skin.
Papaya: Botanically famous as Carica papaya. Fruit, seeds, peel
and leaves of the papaya are all rich in essential enzymes that give outstanding
topical medicinal properties for the treatment of skin conditions. Studies done
in the West Indian Medical Journal confirm the healing abilities of papaya and
its capability to rejuvenate and repair the skin (Hewitt
et al., 2000).
This fruit contains the enzyme papain which has wonderful exfoliating properties
such as removing dead cells and specifically damaged skin (Laidet
and Letourneur, 1993; Beck and Gent, 1953). The juice
of raw papaya has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of swollen acne
and prevents pus formation. Enzyme papain can dissolve all the unnecessary proteins,
dead skin cells, hence prevents clogged pores and the subsequent development
of acne. It also softens our skin and helps promote an overall healthy complexion.
Witch hazel: Hemamelis virginiana, plant has for centuries been
sought after for its magical, medicinal and healing properties. Witch hazel
is native to North Americas Midwestern woodlands. It is mainly used externally
on sores, bruises and swelling. The main constituents of its extract include
tannin, gallic acid, catechins, proanthocyanins (Wang et
al., 2003), flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin), essential oil (carvacrol,
eugenol, hexenol), choline, saponins and bitters. Because of its astringent
qualities, helps to remove the impurities from the skin, even unclogs the blocked
skin pores and used in treating acne (www.acnetalks.com).
Black cumin: The fennel flower botanically belongs to the Nigella
sativa. People have been cultivating this plant from centuries for its medicinal
qualities and also as a spice. Nigella sativa consists of proteins, carbohydrates,
fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Numbers of pharmacological effects of profound
therapeutic value like analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulation, anti-bacterial,
antifungal have been reported by Houghton et al. (1995),
Mutabagani and El-Mahdy (1997), Al-Ghamdi
(2001) and Morsi (2000). Its flower is an effective
herbal cure against acne. It is used for treating acne because acne can get
aggravated due to a weak immune system and Nigella makes the immune system stronger
(El-Kadi and Kandil, 1986).
Lavender: Most commonly used species being Lavendula angustifolia,
L. latifolia, L. stoechas and L. xintermedia. Essential
oils distilled from members of the genus Lavandula have been used both
cosmetically and therapeutically for centuries (Dermott, 2000).
It is extensively employed in all types of soaps, lotions and perfumes. Lavender
oil antibacterial property makes it apt for acne treatment (Cavanagh
and Wilkinson, 2002; Boelens, 1995). Its essential
oil not only just treats acne but also restores dull and damaged skin. It sooths
the itching and also neutralizes the redness that is accompanied with acne (Leung,
1980). Experts suggested using a diluted form of this essential oil.
Clove: Botanically it is famous as Syzygium aromaticum and used
in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and Western herbalism. Clove oil tops the list
of essential oils for acne treatment in terms of efficacy. It is highly effective
and destroys the acne causing bacteria completely. Clove oil not just treats
acne and zits but is also helpful in treating acne scars, blemishes and spots
(Saeed and Tariq, 2008). Since clove oil is very strong,
it should be used in diluted form and more beneficial when mix with grapeseed
oil. Using this essential oil in high concentration may help clear stubborn
acne but can cause extreme burning of skin. The clove oil is also used as a
topical application to relieve pain and to promote healing and also finds use
in the fragrance and flavouring industries (Chaieb et
Rosewood: The rosewood was obtained from one of the species of the
Lauraceae family, the Aniba rosaeodora var. amazonica, an evergreen tree.
Rosewood oil obtained from steam distillation chipped wood of the tree, its
main constituent is (-)-linalool which can be transformed into a number of derivatives
of value to the flavour and fragrance industries (Letizia
et al., 2003; Simic et al., 2004).
The pharmacological effects attributed to linalool include antinflammatory,
sedative and hypothermic effects (Elisabetsky et al.,
1995; Peana et al., 2002), other therapeutic
benefits include antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal etc. Rosewood oil
shows its miracle on extremely oily skin it doesnt work on very sensitive
or dry skin. This essential oil scours away excessive sebum and also limits
the sebum production, thus treating acne. The splendid aroma of this essential
oil is known to have a rejuvenating effect on dull and damaged skin. Rosewood
stimulate the circulation and new cell growth, regenerate tissues, create skin
elasticity and help minimize lines and wrinkles in ageing or mature skin.
Coconut: All parts of Cocos nucifera are useful. Coconut oil
has been confirmed to possess antimicrobial, antiviral and antiprotozoal activities
(Isaacs and Thormar, 1991). The wide applications of
coconut can be justified by its unique chemical composition of fatty acids (lauric
acid and capric acid), sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytohormones.
The oil from the nuts is valued as an emollient and used as an ingredient in
remedies for skin infections. The most common confusion regarding the use of
coconut oil for acne treatment is that acne is basically a problem of the oily
skin and hence, one should stay away from any skin care product that is oily.
But, coconut oil can be used on acne prone skin, reason being its antimicrobial
properties and vitamin E content. Two fatty acids are converted into monolaurin
and monocaprin, by some harmless bacteria present on the skin, these substances
help to protect the skin from acne and other infections, by destroying the harmful
bacteria and microbes. Apart from curing and preventing acne, one can also use
coconut oil for acne scars and blemishes.
Evening primrose: Oenothera biennis is a common plant, found
in the temperate regions of North America, Europe and South America. Evening
primrose is basically a wild flower that belongs to the genus of Oenothera.
The plant has been known for a long time as a herbal remedy for treating a number
of ailments including infections of the respiratory tract, digestive problems
and acne (Shahidi and Miraliakbari, 2005). Evening primrose
oil obtained from extraction of its seed and incredibly rich in essential fatty
acids like linoleic acids and gamma-linolenic acids (Fan
and Chapkin, 1998; Huang and Ziboh, 2001) which belong
to the family of omega-6 fatty acids. It has been found that lack of essential
fatty acids in the body can lead to frequent flare ups of acne. Being a rich
source of linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acids, evening primrose oil can
be quite beneficial in reducing the inflammation (Yoshimoto-Furuie
et al., 1989) caused by acne. Beside above property, it is useful
to restore the hormonal balance (Cheung, 1999), for which
many women also face the problem of acne. By helping to restore hormonal balance,
evening primrose oil can help to prevent acne flare ups during this period.
Arnica: Arnica montana has recently become popular as a topical
treatment in gel or cream form to improve inflammatory skin conditions and heal
chronic wounds. The antiinflammatory activity of the dried flower heads of this
plant is ascribed to its constituent sesquiterpene lactones (Wagner
et al., 2004) such as helanalin, 11α, 13-dihydrohelenalin, chamissonolid
and their ester derivatives. It appears that these components act to reduce
inflammation by inhibiting the transcription factor nuclear factor-κB and
hence useful in the treatment of acne, bruises and sprains (James
and Tyler, 1999).
Thyme: Botanical name is Thymus vulgaris, a hardy perennial shrub.
Herb is rich in essential oils and antioxidative phenolic substances. The published
results reveal that major volatile constituents obtained from the aerial parts
of the plant are geranial, linalool, Υ-terpineol, carvacrol, thymol and
trans-thujan-4-ol/terpinen-4-ol (Piccaglia et al.,
1993). Plant essential oils and extracts have been used for many thousands
of years, especially in food preservation, pharmaceuticals, alternative medicine
and natural therapies (Lis-Balchin and Deans, 1997). Studies
have shown that it has anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-oxidant and anti-microbial
properties (Biskup and Saez, 2002). Thyme is a stimulating
skin tonic and gentle antiseptic cleanser. Ointment prepared from the leaves
is useful in the treatment of cuts, burns, acne and rashes (Heinerman,
Acne vulgaris is a common skin affliction impacting the lives of millions. Many different treatment options are available for the treatment of acne. Study revealed that our traditional heritage is hiding number of miraculous herbs which are safe and effective alternate to cure acne. Pharmaceuticals are searching a viable option for desperate teens and other peoples to escape from conditions ranging from unsightly blemishes to disfiguring inflammation occurred due to acne. Need is to involvement of sustained and continuous research using innovative technologies targeting these herbs as effective contemporary skin care ingredients. It is expected that this paper will motivate and aid researchers, cosmetician, academician, pharmacist, industrialist and dermatologist to utilize more precisely these herbs in topical dermato-cosmetic formulation so that consumers can get maximum benefits of natural substances.
One of the author is thankful to the head of the cosmetic lab and Director, Institute of Pharmacy, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur (C.G.), India, for providing facilities to carry out the study.
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