I recently came across a website advocating herbals to treat or prevent acne.

The website isn’t important, but the results of my PubMed searches might be useful.

Black currant

  • A laboratory study revealed that black currant inhibited the inflammation-causing bacterium in acne, Propionibacterium acnes
  • No studies in humans with acne.

Primrose oil

  • No studies in humans with acne.

Teas made from echinacea, tea tree oil, goldenseal, nettles, or calendula

  • Tea tree oil is available in over-the-counter acne treatments, but no studies confirm its benefit.
  • A homeopathic preparation of calendula reportedly improved acne after 3 to 4 days of treatment.
    • It was not possible to distinguish between the effects of calendula and the alcohol it was dissolved in.

Teas made from lavender or chamomile

  • One review lists lavender as having anti-inflammatory actions.
  • No studies in humans with acne.
  • Caution, there’s also a report  topically applied lavender acting as an allergen.
  • No studies of chamomile in humans with acne.

Chinese herb: cnidium seed or honeysuckle flower

  • No studies in humans with acne.

Teas made from cumin, coriander, and fennel

  • No studies using this tea or its individual components to treat acne.


  • No studies in humans with acne.

The bottom line?
Acne is frustrating enough without telling people to do things that have no basis in fact.

12/28/08 19:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

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