In With Immunity...Out With Acne

by Raychel Agramon, RN, MPM June 22, 2020 0 Comments

In With Immunity...Out With Acne

Echinacea purpurea, commonly known as the purple coneflower, is a plant indigenous to the North American region. It has long been used for medicinal purposes, with the Great Plain natives using this for different herbal concoctions. 

Its effectiveness was widely acknowledged by the U.S. government, as it was included in the US National Formulary from 1916 to 1950. While it was delisted in favor of antibiotics, it is making a comeback once again. After all, studies suggest that it may help fight infection, inflammation, even anxiety. With these properties, experts believe that it may hold the key behind clear, acne-free skin. 

Echinacea for Acne

 Echinacea is backed up by science when it comes to acne control. In fact, its potential was documented in the study of Sharma et al. The authors elaborated on the 2 properties that make Echinacea beneficial against pimples:

  • Antibacterial

The organism Propionibacterium bacterium naturally occurs on the skin. However, it can multiply out of proportion when the skin microbiome is compromised. When this occurs, P. acnes can infect the skin pores – thereby resulting in red, painful zits. 

Fortunately, a coneflower supplement can come to the rescue. Sharma et al.’s study showed that Echinacea works well against the P. acnes strain, thus making it a good option for acne. 

  • Anti-inflammatory

Apart from infecting skin pores, P. acnes can also promote the secretion of IL-6 and IL-8. These pro-inflammatory cytokines, as the name suggests, stimulate the inflammation. Sharma et al.’s study has shown that Echinacea may help stop the production of these proteins, thereby limiting the inflammation that occurs with acne. 

Apart from reducing acne size, Echinacea may help stop pimples before they swell up. After all, inflammatory markers are already present even before acne starts to develop. With that being said, echinacea may help inhibit these substances – before zits blow up in size. 

Echinacea and Skin Health

Echinacea goes beyond fighting infections and inflammations. It has other health tricks under its sleeve. Here are other coneflower properties that make it useful against acne and other skin problems. 

  • Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that help fight free radicals. These components, which can be obtained through smoking, pollution, and UV exposure, can damage the cells. If left unchecked, free radical damage can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

According to Mills Jr. et al., free radicals can also promote inflammation and sebum production. These huge factors are known to contribute to acne development. With that being said, antioxidants (such as those found in coneflower) may help fight free radicals that trigger breakouts and whatnot. 

Concerning antioxidant content, a study has shown that the best quantities come from dried flowers and fruits. As such, a better option might be to take a good supplement made from these parts, instead of those made with coneflower leaves and stems. 

  • Enhances immunity

Echinacea is famous for its ability to take on the common cold. According to Zhai et al., it can help reduce the severity and duration of the said illness. The authors also go on to show that the coneflower can help boost the number and action of immune-enhancing cells and substances. 

Apart from the common cold, Echinacea’s immune-boosting capacity may help in acne management as well. After all, a poor immune system can render the skin vulnerable to P. acnes and other pimple-causing germs.

  • Regulates blood sugar levels 
  • When you eat high-carb and sugary products, your blood sugar levels go up. This leads to the production of insulin, which helps store or convert these sources into energy. Unfortunately, high insulin levels can activate hormones (androgen and Insulin Growth Factor-1) that contribute to acne. 

    Apart from a poor diet, conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can also lead to acne. This disorder is marked by insulin resistance, where the body does not respond well to insulin. With that being said, a woman with PCOS usually has high blood sugar levels. As mentioned, this leads to the release of hormones that trigger pimple development. 

    With that being said, it is important to keep blood sugar under control – if you want to keep pimples at bay. According to Mao et al., Echinacea may just be able to do that. With its ability to lower blood sugar levels, coneflower supplements may help reduce diet-induced pimples – even hormonal acne. 

    • Reduces anxiety

    Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. While it can help you do well in a test or an interview, prolonged anxiety can be harmful in the long run. It can lead to digestive problems, social isolation, and a poorer quality of life.

    To make matters worse, anxiety can trigger acne as well. After all, anxiety can lead to immense stress, which leads to heightened androgen production. This male hormone can trigger the secretion of sebum, which can block the pores and lead to pimples. With that being said, reducing anxiety is one of the best ways to control acne. 

    Apart from relaxation and exercise, an Echinacea supplement may help allay your fears. A study by Haller et al. has shown that 2 tablets, each containing 20 mg of Echinacea, may help alleviate anxiety. Even better, the anxiety-free state can last for as long as 2 weeks.  

    How to Take Echinacea

    Echinacea comes in a variety of forms. The plant – whether fresh or dried – can be used to make juice and teas. Some parts, on the other hand, can be used to make extracts, tablets, or capsules. 

    As with most herbal supplements, there is no definitive advice regarding dosing. However, studies show that these doses work when taken 3 times a day:

    • 300 to 500 mg of dry powdered coneflower extract
    • 2.5 to 10 ml of Echinacea liquid extract tincture

    While it’s generally safe to take Echinacea orally for 10 days (up to 6 months for Echinaforce), it may lead to some side effects:

    • Disorientation
    • Headache
    • Sleeping problems 
    • Bad taste in the mouth
    • Dry mouth 
    • Numb tongue 
    • Sore throat
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting 
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath
    • Stomach pain
    • Diarrhea 
    • Rashes
    • Hives 
    • Joint and muscle aches 

    Echinacea is also available in creams and ointments that can be used for skin conditions such as acne. Such preparations can be used for 12 weeks. Direct application may lead to rashes, itchiness, and redness in some people. 

    In a Nutshell

    Echinacea purpura is a medicinal plant found in North America. It can help manage several conditions, including acne. Coneflower is known to fight infection and inflammation, both of which contribute to acne. With that being said, Echinacea supplementation may help you achieve clear, pimple-free skin.