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Herbalists and natural nutritionists often recommend using detoxifying herbs to cleanse the liver, which is said to hold on to toxins that contribute to acne. One of those herbs, called milk thistle, can be used for increasing urine flow and detoxing harmful toxins, making it a popular herb for treating acne. There is no science to determine that any herb can greatly influence the detoxifying processes of the body, and no research to prove the effectiveness of using milk thistle for acne or any other disorder. Many doctors caution patients on taking herbal supplements like milk thistle for a long period of time, and disagree on the claimed benefits of using the herb for acne.
The liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body, and is constantly filtering and removing toxins from the environment and food by excreting them through the urine. Herbalists suggest that toxins that build up in the liver can contribute to side effects that show up on the skin, such as acne. It is suggested that the use of milk thistle for acne can help detoxify the liver by being a diuretic, which promotes more frequent urination. The actual science of dermatology in regards to herbs and their effects on the skin has shown no benefit to using milk thistle for treating acne.
Milk thistle can still provide some antioxidants when used in moderation, which is beneficial for skin and bodily health for many different reasons. Some individuals may actually experience side effects from using milk thistle for acne, such as increased acne flare ups, if he or she has a strong allergy to the herb. Dermatologists often recommend more conventional treatments that have been thoroughly studied to prevent or treat acne, such as prescription face soaps or astringents. Although milk thistle is safe for the majority of people, it should be used with caution.
As with all herbs, using milk thistle for acne treatment as a sole treatment option can result in a disregard for other preventable treatments that have been shown to work. These include keeping oils away from the face and washing the face one to two times a day. Nutritionists may often suggest a diet low in sugars and fried foods and high in vegetables, fruits and fresh water. Physicians may warn against the continual use of milk thistle for supplemental reasons, as long-term studies on its health effects are rare.