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What Helped Me - Nourishing And Tonifying Approach To Healing

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My skin is not perfect and it never will be. I still have a bit of active acne (easily only 10% of what is was, maybe even less) and i have some scars and a LOT of red marks. I am not saying that i have the secret to perfect skin. I am posting this because there are some things i wish i had known back when i first got severe acne, and because i have been able to see 90% improvement with completely holistic methods.

So, just a quick re-cap of my journey - last may (2010) i got REALLY really bad severe cystic horrible disfiguring acne. I refused to do accutane and tried a bunch of cleanses and really restrictive diets (candida diet, no dairy, no soy, no gluten, etc) as well as lots of topicals and SO MANY EXPENSIVE SUPPLEMENTS. I had another log at that time if you want to look at it. Around November my skin started to slowly improve. I think that what helped me more than anything was improving my attitude and reducing stress levels, as well as completely removing industrial meat/dairy from my diet. I discovered that eggs were a HUGE trigger for me, so i stopped eating them, too. My skin continued to improve although it was really a roller coaster with my menstrual cycle. This summer i apprenticed with Susun Weed and my skin improved tremendously during those 3 months! Right now i have reason to believe that i have PCOS. I have acne - it's in my genes, its how my body expresses internal problems. But now it is so so much better and i haven't touched a drug! I am going to begin taking herbal remedies for PCOS and hopefully that will help to clear me up 100%.

Oh, also, i was using a LOT of essential oils when my skin was really bad and i think that that may have overloaded my system. I used to think of essential oils as being benign and just as "safe" as using a whole herb. Really they are extremely concentrated and drug-like, and are only one constituent of an herb. Now i use extracts of the whole herb like an oil or tincture or infusion instead of essential oils.

A lot of the things on this board and in health food stores today are "heroic" - the extreme cleanses, the severely restricted diets, the intense supplements. Often they do more harm than good. I do not want to go into it too much right now, but (for example) liver cleanses are really bad for you. Ask anyone who has done one - they feel like you are going to die (because you will if you keep it up)! The heroic tradition says "the worse it feels the better it is for you" that is not sound advice, in my opinion.

This summer, i apprenticed with herbalist Susun Weed. She is the contemporary voice of the wise woman tradition. Whereas the heroic tradition 'heals' through cleanses, purges, restrictions, and punishments (it's your fault you've got acne, if you just followed the rules better you wouldn't have acne!) the wise woman tradition heals through nourishing (nourish your body so it can heal itself).

So, here is what i believe helped my skin to heal so much:

1. nourishing herbal infusions

This is hands down what helped me the MOST. I've been drinking nourishing herbal infusions every day for 4 months and i feel amazing. My hair is thick and shiny and healthy, my skin is really doing better, i have more energy, i'm more calm. I will explain this part a little bit here, but for anyone who is really interested in drinking nourishing herbal infusions, go check out susunweed.com - there is a free online class that explains all the logistics. EDIT- the free online class is actually on wisewomanuniversity.com sorry. lots of good info on the other website though!

an herbal infusion consists of 1 ounce by weight (which is a LOT) of dried herb in 1 quart of boiling water, steeped for 4-6 hours or overnight. This allows for maximum mineral extraction. Then you strain the herb (squeeze all the good stuff out and compost the herb!) and drink up! It's best to drink a whole quart a day but even a cup or 1/2 cup will do you good. Nourishing herbal infusions have TONS of extremely bioavailable minerals, vitamins, and protein so its even better than vitamin supplements. Seriously, i haven't taken a supplement in months and i used to take like 15-20 a day! And, drinking 1 quart of nourishing herbal infusion a day costs around $1 a day (f you buy herbs in bulk which is WAY less than i was spending on supplements.

don't make infusions out of aromatic herbs like peppermint or chamomile because the high amount of essential oils are not good for you (if you've ever let chamomile tea steep overnight by accident you know that nasty taste). Also, its best to only make one kind of infusion at a time and then have a different kind the next day, don't mix a bunch of herbs in one jar.

There are a lot of herbs which can be made into infusion. I will list the 5 that Susun reccomends and personally drinks and then others which i have been drinking in addition for my acne.

Nettle leaf: nettle is AMAZING. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, has a rich, deep earthy taste, and is known as a purifing herb. It is especially good for your skin and hair as well as your kidneys and adrenals and thyroid (which aids in detoxifying). It is also energizing smile.png.

Red Clover: red clover is known primarily as an anti-cancer herb but it is also extremely good for balancing hormones and has TONS of minerals - known as an herbal multivitamin! It tastes very mineral-rich and adding a tiny pinch of peppermint to the ounce of red clover will make it more palatable.

Comfrey Leaf:comfrey leaf heals your skin from the inside out. it builds strength and flexibility in and soothes and heals your mucous membranes, the inner lining of your digestive tract, your tendons and ligaments, your outer skin, and it also aids your short term memory! You can also apply this externally to speed up wound healing. It is both mucilagenous (soothing property) and astringent, so it has a strange feel in your mouth, and it tastes a bit like grass. I like drinking it warm with honey, but you can add it to juice or whatever makes it palatable for you. it's worth it!

Linden flower: Linden is the world's leading cold and flu remedy. It is EXTREMELY anti-inflammatory and it tastes great! can also be applied topically.

oatstraw: oatstraw is a nerve tonic and a sexual tonic (good for ED, just a side note). It builds calm strength and is extremely and deeply nourishing. It tastes really sweet and mellow, like oats!

my extra infusions:

cleavers - I drink a quart of cleavers infusion once a week. They are good for lymphatic circulation and are generally known as a detoxifying herb for the skin. has a mild pleasant taste.

burdock root- i drink a 1/2 cup of burdock infusion a day. It is a slow but thourough detoxifier and it works on all of your internal systems - liver, kidneys, lymph, etc. and really increases your body's ability to detox. It's known for working on skin issues. has a mild earthy taste.

Dandelion root - dandelion is wonderful for your liver and roasted dandelion root tea is soooo yummy! It is also a digestive stimulant. I could write a lot about dandelion but i won't.

So, there we go. Nourishing herbal infusions. They are not just good for people with acne, they are good for EVERYONE. And the great thing about this is that even if you don't change your diet or lifestyle, and all you do is drink a cup to a quart of nourishing herbal infusion a day, you will notice a difference in the way you feel and look.

2. not picking!

I didn't pick at all for the three months i was apprenticing because i was so busy and also because i was happy and not obsessing over my looks all the time, and i'm sure that helped. I would just put some faerie organic mineral therapy on as a spot treatment during the day and some NZ naturals manuka honey cream at night and not think about it. If i got sweaty or dirty i would use witch hazel and a cotton ball. I only washed my face every couple of days with himalaya neem and turmeric non-soap cleanser. So it was pretty minimal. Not focusing on my skin really helped me to not stress,too smile.png

3. lowering stress levels - this is one of the most important things that anyone can do. I know for me acne is extremely related to stress. Not looking in mirrors all the time, doing things i enjoy, being with friends who love me as i am, spending time outside and with my pets, etc. all helped to reduce my stress. Also, not being on this website all the time haha. It's a great resource but it can become an addiction lol. Also, taking stress away from food was really helpful smile.png. I used to get so worked up when i had to go to a restaurant... well, read below.

4. balanced diet - don't be scared of food!

mostly organic non-industrial food. whereas before i could hardly eat anything - my list of forbidden foods was sooo long - now i am eating whole wheat gluten products and organic dairy, chocolate, even ocassionally ice cream. The only things on my restricted list now are: eggs, soy. that feels really really good. I don't have to OBSESS over what i am going to eat anymore! I don't see food as scary and potentially dangerous, but as nourishment. No, this whole wheat bread is not going to break me out. On the other hand, eggs are so i'd better not eat that yummy quiche. And yes, if i go on a sugar binge it will probabally break me out as well. I'm not saying that you can eat anything without consequences - i'm saying that not everything does have consequences.

I think that the nourishing herbal infusions have really reduced my sensitivity to the common allergens. Many people avoid them all because they are either paranoid (the mindset that is promoted by the alternative/heroic tradition) or because they are hypersensitive at that time. I never had a reason to think that gluten caused acne for me, but i wasn't eating it just in case. Now i am not scared of it. Everyone is different and for some people gluten does cause acne and for some people eggs do and for others its dairy or corn or citrus. Elimination diets are the only way to figure out what really does affect you, and they are grueling but worth it because once you find out what you are actually allergic to, you can eat other things! The insanity is when you are on an elimination diet indefinitely - just in case. That leads to less than optimal nutrition, and creates so much stress around food!

some other nutritional tips -

cook your fruits and veggies - plants have a hard cell wall which contains their nutrients. Unless that cell wall is broken, you don't have access to those nutrients. Ways to break the cell wall include: freezing, cooking (boiling baking roasting etc.), marinating in oil, and dehydrating. Chewing doesn't cut it. That is why raw food diets are so bad for you. It gives you a feeling of being energized because you are going into starvation mode and your brain is producing feel good chemicals. Also, fructose is difficult for many people of European descent to digest - cooking fruits makes it easier on the system. Anyway, cooking fruits and veggies liberates nutrients so that you get optimal nourishment from those foods.

avoid peppers! i used to LOVE peppers but after not eating them for a while, now i can see that they really do make my skin so much more inflamed. From bell peppers to cayenne pepper as a spice. It makes sense, they are a very stimulating food. Try avoiding them for a month and see what happens. (this is not just because they are nightshades - tomatoes and potatoes don't effect me like peppers do)

and in general, don't eat a lot of processed foods and refined sugar smile.png

5. getting some excercise

just moving around really helped me feel better and gets the lymph and blood circulating. Not a ton. I do yoga, hike, walk, dance. whatever is fun for you.

Something else of interest: the 6 steps of healing:

0. do nothing - sleep, rest, meditate, leave your skin alone (for a specific time period ex. 2 weeks)

1, collect information

2. engage the energy - homeopathy, positive affirmations, laughter.

3. nourish and tonify - herbal infusions, nourishing food, tonifying herbs, excercise, stretching.

4. stimulate/sedate - stimulating/sedating herbs, hot/cold water, etc.

5. use supplements - synthetic/concentrated vitamin/minerals

5b. use drugs - benzyl peroxide, accutane, etc.

6. break and enter - surgery

many people skip the first 4 or 5 steps and just go right to supplements or drugs. The first 4 steps are really important. doing nothing prepares you to heal, and for some people it may be all you need! Engaging the energy may be enough for others. For me, nourishing and tonifying cleared me up 90%. Now i am going to move on to step 4 by using a stimulating/sedating drug to treat PCOS. If that does not work, then i will consider supplements and then drugs to normalize my hormones. In an extreme situation i guess getting my uterus removed would be the last step, although i'm not really down for that lol. The point it, as you go up in steps, it becomes less safe and the recovery period is longer. Of course the lower steps take more time to work. But, if meditating every day for 6 months clears your skin, isn';t that better than doing accutane for 6 months and dealing with the potential side effects without even trying more gentle remedies? (just as an example)

So, this is what helped me. I am really really happy about this and about how my skin is doing. This whole journey with acne has helped me to grow so much and i am truly thankful for it (although i could do without the scars and PIH...). I really think that if someone who was in my position last May started drinking infusions and de-stressing, that it would make a big difference for them and they wouldnt even get scars. I would urge anyone to try this nourishing and tonifying approach. By definition, it can't hurt you! Nourishment is nourishment! Tonifying herbs make your body better at healing itself. With an optimally nourished body and the help of tonifying herbs, your skin will improve. Acne has really taught me to love myself and treat myself well, instead of punishing my body by restricting my diet or doing harsh cleanses. I really hope that this helps someone!

sept 2010 post-128980-0-29284200-1316902446_thumb. Sept 2011 post-128980-0-43033400-1316902473_thumb.

and again, i know my skin now isn't perfect but rather than focusing on the scars/red marks focus on the lack of inflamation and active acne. I didn't discover the things i posted here until this summer, and had severe acne for more than a year before that (which i tried to treat with heroic methods) so the scars are not because what i'm saying doesn't work, they are because the restrictive diets i tried didnt work.

sending love!

Edited by moonchild706

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great information here, thank you thank you thank you!

I have definitely gone through the restrictive diet changes and felt horrible -- not worth it to me. I need to let my body eat, while my skin heals, thanks.

And I am recently recovering from a bout of too much tea tree -- so I can relate to your post on too many essential oils. Using %100 tea tree oil will not clear up acne faster -- but make your face burn : /

right now I am playing with oatmeal as a cleanser in the morning, some lemon juice masks for exfoliation (lets see if it lessens blackheads) and a more diluted mixture of oils. Maybe 5 drops of three different oils in 2 oz spray bottle. No makeup. My skin feels soft and balanced. And using zz cream (maybe demodex is a problem? maybe not....but I bought the cream so might as well use a tiny bit to see if it helps. )

but, hoping to just get my natural glow back. Acne can be an exhausting journey, man : /

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I'm glad you posted a follow up since a few months ago! Your skin really improved over time-- kudos to bravery for posting the original picture!

Speaking of PCOS-- although I don't have it, I have that hirustism that seems to coincide with it. One of my older sisters had a confirmed case of it, and always had a bad case of acne and "fuzz" all over her face. Any ideas on anything to counteract that "fuzz"? What are you planning on taking for the PCOS?

I did get an ultrasound recently, and the technician and PA who looked at the US said everything was OK, but I think I probably have some kind of extra testosterone floating around somewhere-- mainly because of the beard-area/ sideburn area acne (despite my being female).

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cakeonplate - cool! oatmeal is such a nice cleanser :). yeah it is exhausting but its important not to let it take over our life. Once i gave up trying to pretend i didnt have acne (by wearing makeup and hiding in my house) i realized that most people dont care at all and i can have fun even with acne. It made life a lot easier haha.

JMTM - i plan on taking saw palmetto tincture which is supposed to help reduce testosterone levels and also maybe vitex berry tincture (in smaller amounts ..it makes you more fertile which i don't really want at this point in my life).

corgisoul - yay i'm so happy :)

also, the real website for the free class on infusion is wisewomanuniversity.com. Its kinda hard to find from the other post.

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hey everyone! haven't been on very much lately. Just wanted to update. My skin is doing really well. Still allergic to eggs, unfortunately :(. I thought i might outgrow it but alas.. not yet. Also, raw tomatoes, i learned. But, as long as i avoid that, no cysts! And i don't think i have PCOS but serious problems with my adrenal glad, which nettle infusion should help with (i was just abckpacking in europe and had no infuion for 4 months!!! :( ) and i also ordered ashwaganda herb. But i don't know if there is a direct relation between acne and adrenals...is there? I think mybody expresses stress through the skin, and the adrenals regulate stress response, plus genetics and me eating tons of eggs while on the anti candida diet all contributed to the huge outbreak i had two years ago.

I think i am going to switch to the faerie organics get glowing acne kit, as it is supposed to be really good for building skin health. I am a bit nervous to switch my routine haha because my skin has been doing very well, but i emailed them and looked at reviews... Anyone have experience with that brand? Also, i have recently started using comfrey infusion topically to reduce scars. The only thing is if you have any acne you can't put it on the actual spots, as it heals the skin so fast it will trap the infection. But, if you only have one or two spots you can just apply it around them. It's only been a few days but my skin has been glowing and soft! I decided to use this because i was woried about using retin a micro because it often causes more breakouts initially and damages the skin. I'll update in a few weeks about the faerie organic and the comfrey. Any suggestions are welcome :)

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Thank you for the original post! So much great information and I could not agree with you more on all of your advice. I've been on a roller coaster ride for the past year myself trying to figure my body and my acne out and your post is really informative. Elimination diets really help you realize your intolerances but I agree about trying not to be afraid of food and taking care of your body and health to heal from the inside out. I'm going to look into the herbal tonics you posted - thank you again!

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Hey Sister Moonchild!!


I apprenticed Susun as well! 3 months in the spring/summer of 2007 |::) I was doing a search and stumbled across this post, and am so happy to see all this wonderful information you so beautifully put here. It was a throwback to the Wise Woman Center, to say the least! 

I don't have PCOS, but mild/moderate acne that has been persistent since I was a young teen. I never realized that my acne was hormonal, since it was kinda there all the time (and all over my face), not just at my moon time (and not just on my cheeks/jaw line). It does seem to wax and wane in severity, but really it's hard to tell. Lately, I have the feeling that it actually is. Even after I left and the years went on, I fell back into the heroic tradition and obviously, it hasn't served me well haha. I'm getting back into the wise woman web and can't wait to start drinking infusions again. I forgot how much I love them!! Nettles is my fave, followed by Oatstraw, then Linden, and then Comfrey. Mmmm. 

I'm gonna start rinsing with witch hazel, and get some yarrow tincture to spray. 

It's been a while since you posted. I hope that you are well. It'd be lovely to hear back from you; I'm curious about your stay at Susun's. 


Green Blessings <3


Edited by 408458_1443951289

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