You’ve probably heard about the many benefits of adaptogens for our health but…what about using adaptogens for hormonal acne? is worth it?
Like all conditions related to hormonal imbalance, hormonal acne might improve with the use of adaptogens (since they support healthy cortisol levels and a healthy stress response).
To help you get clarity on whether or not your skin could benefit from adaptogens, this article is going to cover:
- what adaptogens are and how they work.
- 5 adaptogens to consider using for hormonal acne.
- how to use use adaptogens.
Note: this post contains affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use them to make a purchase.
WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS AND HOW CAN THEY HELP HORMONAL ACNE?
Adaptogens (aka adaptogenic herbs) are a group of fruits, herbs, barks, mushrooms and roots that help the body adapt to all forms of stress.
Even though the term “adaptogen,” was coined in the post World War II era, the foods that fall into this category have actually been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years.
Now, in order for any food to be classified as an adaptogen, it needs to meet these 3 requirements (source):
- Nontoxic in normal therapeutic doses.
- Capable of reducing the side effects of stress, whether the source of that stress is emotional, chemical, environmental or physical.
- Helps the body find its own natural balance after being exposed to stress. For example, if person A is struggling with very low energy, while person B has too much energy/jitteriness/restlessness, adaptogens are able to support both people so that they can get back to a state of balance (even though their symptoms and needs are very different on paper).
So, that you know what adaptogens are, how exactly do they work?
Well, they act on the following three things (source):
- HPA axis
- SAS axis
Now let’s break all of that down in plain English, shall we? 🙂
HPA Axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis)
The HPA axis is a crucial communication pathway between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands.
This communication pathway affects how we respond to stress, as well as the function of the entire hormone production system.
In fact, any disruption or interference in the HPA axis can produce a variety of hormone-related symptoms…including acne.
As it turns out, adaptogens work by modulating the HPA axis so that the body stays in balance.
SAS (sympathoadrenal system)
The SAS is our fight-or-flight system, which is also part of our stress response system.
Fight-or-flight is activated by emotional, chemical or physical stress.
That stress creates inflammation in the body and triggers the adrenals to release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Now, the more stress and inflammation you face, the more inflammatory skin conditions, like hormonal acne, you are more likely to struggle with.
This is where adaptogens can be very helpful.
Since adaptogens are known to support the body’s response to stress, this means that they protect us from experiencing the symptoms of inflammation (such as acne).
The mitochondria are tiny structures within the cell that produce energy.
When we’re stressed, the mitochondria may not function properly, which means they produce less energy.
Less energy means you might feel physically tired and your body also has less energy for metabolic work (such as fighting inflammation or healing your skin).
So, how can adaptogens help this situation?
Well, adaptogens are known to keep the mitochondria working properly…even under stressful conditions!
So, as you can see, adaptogens are basically “smart herbs” that work on the root cause, not just the symptoms.
As you can see, adaptogens ultimately work on supporting the adrenals, which then lowers the volume on stress, inflammation and cortisol.
This adrenal support is very beneficial for getting rid of hormonal acne because:
- high cortisol is linked to insulin resistance.
- With insulin resistance, blood sugar levels increase and your body has to produce more insulin.
- As insulin increases, this actually triggers the ovaries to produce more testosterone (instead of estrogen).
- An increase in testosterone also means there’s an imbalance in the level of female hormones. All of these imbalances are major contributors to hormonal acne.
- Also, since stress and inflammation is known to slow down wound healing, this means stress and inflammation also makes it harder to recover from acne.
So, when you’re trying to get rid of hormonal acne naturally, it’s important to keep stress and inflammation low.
This makes things much easier for you, speeds up your results and helps you reveal your natural glow.
5 ADAPTOGENS FOR HORMONAL ACNE
1. Schisandra Berry
One of the main benefits that schisandra offers is the fact that it supports the liver (source).
A healthy liver means your body is able to filter out the toxins that cause acne and hormonal imbalance.
Last but certainly not least, schisandra berries also lower cortisol (as well as other stress-related markers).
Psst…if you curious about schisandra, you can check out this post on using schisandra for hormone balance health.
Sometimes referred to as Indian Ginseng, ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that balances blood sugar, fights stress and supports the immune system (source).
Ashwagandha is also considered gentle and non-stimulating, making it one of the best adaptogens to use for acne.
As a member of the asparagus family, shatavari has been shown to reduce inflammation and regulate blood sugar levels (source).
In addition, shatavari contains ingredients that prevent the breakdown of collagen. Collagen is not only beneficial for gut health (which supports hormone health), but it also keeps skin looking healthy and firm.
4. Rhodiola Rosea
Famous for thriving in arctic regions, rhodiola has been shown to help balance blood sugar, fight fatigue and keep the body out of the fight-or-flight state (source).
Rhodiola also boosts the immune system (which means less inflammatory response in the body) and relieves anxiety (which can be helpful when dealing with the emotional toll of hormonal acne).
5. Holy Basil
According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, holy basil can:
- Normalize blood sugar.
- Protects our organs and tissues from chemical stress.
- Counteract metabolic stress.
All in all the journal states that holy basil is an adaptogen that addresses “physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress.”
4 WAYS TO USE ADAPTOGENS FOR HORMONAL ACNE
When it comes to adding adaptogens to your hormonal acne routine, you can either take them internally and/or apply them directly onto the skin.
My personal recommendation is to prioritize internal use because this is the best way to address inflammation, stress and toxicity at the source.
Now, this is not to say that topical application doesn’t have benefits. It does!
But if your goal is to get to the heart of the issue and crush your symptoms for good, then an inside-out approach is the way to go.
1. Add adaptogens to smoothies, salads, soups and other dishes.
Most adaptogenic herbs are available on the market in powder form.
This makes it easy to add them to smoothies, soups, baked goods and much more.
Just keep in mind that some adaptogens have strong flavors that aren’t always easy to mask.
So, if you choose to add them to things like smoothies, be patient as you experiment to find the right flavor combos.
2. Make an Adaptogenic Tea
Tea has long been the classic way through which medicine was delivered and it is a viable option for enjoying the benefits of adaptogens for hormonal acne.
In general, you need 1 teaspoon of dried herb for every cup of boiling water.
Allow the herbs to steep for at least 15 minutes.
Just keep in mind, once again, that some adaptogens have rather unpleasant tastes.
If you choose to make your own tea, be prepared for some trial and error.
3. Take Adaptogenic Supplements
The most convenient way of taking adaptogens for hormone balance is as a supplement.
For this, my top recommendation is the Adrenal Health formula from Gaia Herbs.
This blend contains ashwagandha, schisandra, holy basil and rhodiola in an easy-to-absorb liquid capsule.
Gaia is the herb brand that I recommend the most on this blog because I use many of their products and I simply love their clean farming practices.
Plus, they specialize only in herbs and their formulations always bring together just what you need. While some brands try to stuff every herb into a bottle, this Adrenal Health formula has just 4 of the herbs we’ve looked at in this post.
This is enough variety, but not so much that you’re not able to enjoy the benefits of the plants.
To experience these herbs for yourself, you can get the Adrenal Health formula from Amazon.
4. Topical Application
Another way to use adaptogens is to apply them directly onto your skin.
A simple recipe to use is an ashwagandha face mask.
Here’s how to make and use your own adaptogenic face mask (source):
- Mix some ashwagandha powder with raw honey (or lime juice) to make a paste.
- Apply the paste to your face for about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Rinse it off well.
How long does it take for adaptogens to work? When taken internally, it can take 2 to 3 weeks before you start seeing results with adaptogenic herbs. This is because you have to allow time for them to build up in your system.
Is it safe to take ashwagandha daily? It’s a good idea to take one day of rest each week when you take ashwagandha (or any other adaptogens). If you’ve been using it for 6 months, take a month off (source).
As powerful as adaptogens can be, they’re just one aspect to consider when you’re trying to get rid of hormonal acne.
The most important thing to start with if you want to clear up your skin is your diet.
An anti-inflammatory diet is essential for helping the body find its own natural balance, which will eventually be reflected externally in the form of healthy skin.
To get started with eating a hormone-friendly diet, use this hormone-balancing diet plan. It covers food, drinks, herbs and supplements to set you on the path to hormonal harmony.