An Ayurvedic Approach to Acne
Acne is a menace to our daily lives. It is most common among adolescents and young adults, between the ages of 18-25 years. It typically appears again only after it has vanishes, which further causes frustration. Thus, you require a permanent solution to acne by addressing the root cause of the problem. In addition, you will need to understand the type of acne and its causes to diagnose your particular situation.
Causes of Acne
Skin ailments are attributable to various causes. First, your diet is one of the biggest among these. Fried and junk foods in particular can aggravate your kapha and pitta doshas or biological energies. As a result, this vitiates your blood and causes skin breakouts. Similarly, excessive meat and dairy can cause dosha imbalance and overburden the digestive system.
Secondly, there are physiological stressors which cause acne. For instance, hormonal imbalances during adolescence are a common cause of breakouts. Along similar lines, pregnant women face drastic mental and physical changes through such imbalances. Most importantly, greater production of the male hormones (androgens) can raise acne causing secretions. Your body also tends to retain higher fluid levels during this time.
In addition, menstruation is another cause for hormonal imbalances. As your testosterone levels rise, hair growth and gland production (such as sebaceous glands) also activate. Subsequently, higher sebum levels increase acne production. Hormonal imbalances can also harm your circadian rhythms, state of mind and metabolic activity. This increases production of toxic waste or ama as a byproduct.
Thirdly, there are environmental or external causes that affect your skin condition. For instance, overuse or mishandling of makeup can clog pores and wear down the top layers of your skin. Many people neglect a thorough makeup cleanse at the end of the day. Further, pollution can expose your skin to pathogens and wear out its topmost layers.
The Ayurvedic Approach to Acne
Acne is termed as yuvanpindika, or mukhdosha, which literally means ‘face destroyer’ in Ayurveda. It results from the collective imbalances of the kapha, vata, and rakta dushti or blood tissue contamination. In other words, you must understand the combined effect each of these factors hold as opposed to acting individually. Further, your focus should be on bringing internal harmony rather than short term solutions.
Skin treatment in Ayurveda states that acne is a result of imbalances between the three doshas – namely, vata, pitta, and kapha. We each have a different combination of each of these in our bodies, which determine our physical and mental makeup and health. Thus, any imbalance between the doshas is the root cause of illnesses.
First, the vata dosha constitutes air and ether, and brings movement and creativity. Vata imbalance can slow digestion and thus block other bodily systems due to the presence of ama (undigested food material). Second, the pitta dosha comprises of air and water, and carries intelligence, metabolism, and energy. Pitta imbalance interferes with the blood and liver, thus causing inflammation. Finally, the kapha dosha consists of water and earth, and is expressive of love, nurturing, and solidarity. Since this dosha controls sebum production, its imbalance can clog your skin pores and openings.
Overall, acne is attributable to poor digestion and ama accumulation, inflammation, and excessive sebum, as is evident above. These provide an ideal breeding ground for microbial overgrowth. Ultimately, you will need a healthy inside for a healthy outside. In other words, Ayurveda stresses that you will need to pacify these internal aggregations to tackle acne allergies.
Treating Acne as Per Your Doshas
Depending on dosha predominance, your acne can show up in different ways.
Vata-aggrevated acne manifests through tiny milia or blackheads. Further, your skin will feel rough or congested. This type of acne is typically small and dry rather than deep or pus filled. The root cause is often dehydration, dryness, and lack of movement.
One of the foremost remedies is thus to combat dehydration. Drink water and fluids, and eat hydrating foods such as melons, okra, and zucchini as a part of your diet. Similarly, lower your consumption of dehydrating foods such as alcohol, coffee, salt or soda. Overall, add more water and fibre to your diet. You can also take 1-2 teaspoons of castor oils on an empty stomach before going to sleep.
Practitioners also recommend healthy fats to sure dryness. Make sure to include flax, chia, and hemp seeds, fatty fish, and olive oils which are rich in their fatty acid content. In tandem with your diet, make sure to use gentle exfoliation, water-based moisturisers, and oil massages and cleansers. Most importantly, keep your stress levels low or remedies to work – try out meditation and gentle yoga to calm you down.
Pitta aggravation can also cause acne. It is often red, inflamed, and appears as milia or white bumps and cysts around the eyes, nose, and upper lip. It is important to note that pitta governs your stomach, nose, and small intestine. Likewise, acne may break out on your back, chest, and shoulders as well.
This type of acne requires most gentleness. Thus, soothing ointments, such as anti-inflammation herbal gels can be helpful. Avoid drying and exfoliation. The type of acne could also provide a clue to its cause – for instance, rash-like forms are often due to food intolerances or insensitivity. Most importantly, ideal liver health is essential for blood purification. You can achieve this through a higher water intake and regular bowel movement.
As for your diet, go for both cooling and healing foods such as aloe vera juice and milk thistle. Likewise, eat more green vegetables and chia seeds, and go for smaller or blended meals which are easy on your digestive system. Stay away from foods with excessive grease, salt, oil or spice.
Excessive kapha can manifest through larger, cystic and persisting acne. This reflects the slow and fluid qualities of the dosha. The most common remedy is to eliminate dairy, sugar, wheat, or damp foods. Further, try to limit soy or fermented food intake. Instead, go for bitter and astringent foods, such as leafy greens or cashews.
Kapha predominance can also subside with adequate movement and exercise. Early morning is the best time. Kapha controls the lymphatic system, and your body needs to be in constant motion to prevent lymph from stagnation. This is because lymph does not circulate throughout the body like blood – rather, it moves only with exercise and gravity.
Acne is a nuisance that can be easily resolved through an Ayurvedic diagnosis and remedies. First, align your acne type to the type of dosha aggravation. Subsequently, you can choose the right diet and lifestyle choices to resolve it. Most importantly, remember that facial creams and oils can only solve external symptoms. In other words, you will need to harmonise your internal state to reflect externally.
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Find out more about the doshas here.
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