The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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  • Recent Comments

    Acne: Recommendations are easy; data, scarce

    Herbalists recommend more than a dozen herbal remedies for acne and scarring, according to a recent article.

    Unfortunately, only 1 of these herbals is supported by the results of a study in patients.

    First, the details.

    • The study was of 5% topical tea tree oil gel.
    • 60 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris were randomly assigned to 45 days of treatment.
      • 5% topically applied tea tree oil gel
      • Placebo
    • Response to treatment was evaluated by counting the acne lesions and the acne severity index.
    • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

    And, the results.

    • Tea tree oil gel was significantly superior to placebo in reducing the total acne lesion count — 3.55 times more effective.
    • There was significantly greater improvement with tea tree oil gel vs. placebo in acne severity — 5.75 times.
    • Side effects to both treatments were relatively similar and tolerable.

    Here’s a list of commonly recommended herbals that lack support based on the findings of PubMed literature searches of patients with acne.

    • Black currant seed oil
      • 500 mg capsules 3 times daily for 3 months or until acne is diminished.
    • Evening primrose oil
      • 500 mg capsules 3 times daily for 3 months or until acne is diminished.
    • Teas from a combination of echinacea, tea tree oil, goldenseal, nettles, or calendula.
    • Teas from lavender or chamomile
      • To reduce acne-causing stress.
    • Chinese herbs
      • Cnidium seed
      • Honeysuckle flower
    • Teas from cumin, coriander, and fennel
      • Steeped for 10 minutes in hot water and consumed 3 times a day after meals.

    The bottom line?
    It’s surprising how detailed the treatment recommendations are considering the lack of evidence that these herbals make a positive contribution to the management of acne.

    4/19/09 21:17 JR

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