What's the Best Natural Treatment for Acne?

Acne is a frustrating sign that your skin is unhappy. Whether it’s a change in hormones, stress levels, seasonal changes, diet or lifestyle, there are plenty of reasons why you might be dealing with pimples. 

By Jene Roestorf, Bsc, M.App. Sci

Founder & Chief of Botanicals at LUXE Botanics

While there are many causes, most people associate acne with the over production of oil. However, our skin needs oil to prevent water loss, and trying to achieve a squeaky clean complexion can lead to dryness, causing skin to over-compensate and produce more oil and as a result bring out more blemishes [1]. It’s a vicious cycle. Plus, many types of acne products can have an overly drying effect, which can sometimes make acne worse by irritating already sensitive skin even more [2].)

With that in mind, what is the best way to relieve, prevent or minimize breakouts — without causing further dryness or irritation? The answer lies in natural acne treatments that serve to balance and create harmony in skin rather than stripping away from its natural state. Here we’ll explore some of the most potent from Mother Earth.

Natural Remedies for Acne

What botanicals help soothe and calm acne? There are many that have been shown to have positive effects on acne and irritated skin, such as sugar cane extract, grapefruit essential oil and peppermint essential oil.

Sugar cane extract contains phytonutrients — chemicals made by plants that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties — that could be beneficial for skin [3]. Phytonutrients such as lycopene (found in tomatoes) and curcumin (found in turmeric) have been shown to reduce skin inflammation present in blemish prone skin [4]. Grapefruit essential oil has been shown to help improve congested and oily skin, which may help with acne [5], and peppermint is another widely used essential oil [6]. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in peppermint may help reduce bacteria on the skin that’s commonly present with blemish prone skin [7].

Kigelia is another plant extract that’s proven itself to be a superior fighter of acne. But what is Kigelia and how does it help?

Kigelia tree

What Exactly Is Kigelia?

Kigelia africana is a tree that in English is sometimes referred to as “the sausage tree” due to the appearance of its unique fruits. It has been traditionally used by African healers to treat red, inflamed, irritated skin due to its many beneficial properties [8].

Kigelia has a long history of treating a variety of ailments, from wounds and ulcers to syphilis, backaches, stomach problems, and even pneumonia [9]. In addition to its strange sausage shaped fruits, the tree also boasts beautiful dark red flowers with a velvety texture.

Usually found by the river, the trees are native to Southern Africa. Communities use the fruits for fermentation, the wood for boxes and canoes and the roots to dye clothing. While the fruit can’t be eaten fresh, its seeds are roasted and eaten and the fruit’s extracts have been shown to have many beneficial properties [10].

But how exactly does Kigelia help acne?

Kigelia’s Benefits for Acne

Research has revealed Kigelia africana extract has many properties that have the potential to gently purify pores and fight acne. Here’s how Kigelia can provide powerful benefits for irritated and blemish prone skin.

Kigelia Is Antibacterial and Antimicrobial

Kigelia is a natural and potent antibacterial. A recent study found that Kigelia boasts the same antibacterial hormone standard to the popularly prescribed antibiotic ciprofloxacin [11]

The fruit has been used dried, powered and its extract applied directly on to skin to treat acne and other superficial infections and sores [12]. Kigelia is also known for its antimicrobial effects [13]. But why does this matter? 

Antimicrobial agents can suppress acne and help reduce inflammation in the skin [14] but, in many cases, topically-applied conventional antibiotic acne treatments can be used inappropriately and have the potential for antibiotic resistance [15].

Kigelia is a natural extract and evidence shows its potential to actually help control antibiotic-resistant bacteria rather than contributing to their resistance [16]. Which makes it potentially useful for those who’ve tried many dermatologically prescribed treatments in the past.

LUXE Botanics Kigelia skincare

Kigelia Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Unlike some acne treatments, which can irritate skin due to their harshness and drying effects, Kigelia has been shown to have a natural and gentle calming effect on the skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties [17].

On top of this, unlike traditionally thick, pasty acne treatments, Kigelia has an instantly cool to the touch sensation (think somewhere in between an aloe vera and a cucumber) which makes it a welcome relief for skin.

The anti-inflammatory effects of Kigelia can soothe acne prone skin and reduce the inflammation that plays a role in causing outbreaks, meaning Kigelia has the potential to stop acne from forming in the first place [18].

Kigelia Is Rich In Phytochemicals and Potent Antioxidants

Kigelia has been shown to be rich in phytochemicals (which is another name for the phytonutrients we discussed earlier) and antioxidants [19].

Phytonutrients can play a beneficial role in improving acne, as can antioxidants, which not only help repair skin damage caused by acne, but also might be a promising therapy for acne [20].

LUXE Botanics Kigelia skincare

Kigelia Combats Oxidative Stress

Kigelia extract combats oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals — agents that damage skin — and antioxidants, which are agents that help skin [21][22].

Evidence shows that oxidative stress exists in acne and may play an essential role in its development [23]. By reducing oxidative stress on the skin, Kigelia has the potential to soothe skin that’s prone to breakouts and reduce redness resulting in a renewed and restored appearance.

Kigelia Is Known for Its DNA-Repairing, Healing Capabilities

Kigelia is also known for its DNA repairing properties and evidence has shown that it enhances wound healing [24]. It has been used for a variety of ailments in traditional African cultures for centuries thanks to its ability to support cell regeneration [25].

Since acne is the result of inflammation and possibly even oxidative stress in the skin, these healing properties of Kigelia have the potential to heal skin that’s been affected by acne while improving acne itself.

Summary: Kigelia Works to Reduce the Appearance of Blemishes

This image above shows skin experiencing a breakout with small pustules, and then 3 days after using Kigelia morning, noon and night.  

So when you’re next considering what oils are good for acne prone skin, Kigelia plant extract has the potential to soothe, heal and nourish skin that’s been impacted. 

What’s more? Kigelia also helps improve the complexion in other ways (because acne isn’t the only problem, especially for adults). It offers other remarkable benefits, notably its concentration of saponins which help encourage skin firmness.

So whether you have chronic acne or only experience breakouts at certain times – along with a side helping of fine lines – Kigelia could be the ingredient you’ve been missing out on to help your skin.

By Jene Roestorf, Bsc, M.App. Sci
Founder & Chief of Botanicals at LUXE Botanics

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References

[1] https://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Dermatitis/files/skin_phys.pdf

[2] https://www.uhs.umich.edu/acne

[3] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276509485_Phytochemical_profile_of_sugarcane_and_its_potential_health_aspects

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4106357/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435909/

[6] https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1105&context=ucareresearch

[7] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2017/4517971/

[8] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.869.6958&rep=rep1&type=pdf

[9] http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue94/FEAT_sausagetree.html?ts=1561444262&signature=d83d5315a0c7c5ae7e8176e1bc3e400e

[10] http://pza.sanbi.org/kigelia-africana

[11] https://www.iuokada.edu.ng/publications/MY%20PUBLICATION%202.pdf

[12] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254629915304245

[13] https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Phytochemical-composition-and-antimicrobial-of-LAM-Abdulkadir-Adedokun/c6ac391d11b7301bd46939a5dcce77a0e089ac0f

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780801/

[15] https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/joan.2018.7.6.310?journalCode=joan&

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5489455/

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16309308

[18] https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/facing-facts-about-acne

[19] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0cac/3016cdc35100196de634e9d36c43f824d9c7.pdf

[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/

[21] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24066943

[22] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10693912

[23] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1533901/

[24] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3639673/

[25] http://www.stuartxchange.org/AfricanSausageTree.html

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