Recent acne clinical studies have shown that an herbal preparation of thyme may be a more effective treatment for acne than the prescription creams that are currently available. This finding was recently presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s Spring Conference, which was held in Dublin. These results appear to be very promising and further clinical trial may lead to a gentler, more effective skin condition treatment.
During this recent clinical study, medical researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University were able to test the effects of marigold, myrrh, and thyme tinctures on Propionibacterium acnes. This is a bacterium which can cause acne through infection of skin pores. Once this bacterium has infected the pores, it starts to form spots which range in severity from simple white heads to puss-filled cysts. During their tests, the researchers found that all three preparations were able to kill the bacterium within five minutes of exposure.
However, the results showed that of the three, thyme was the most efficient at the job. In addition, the researchers discovered that the thyme tincture possessed an even better antibacterial effect than standard concentrations of benzoyl peroxide (this is the active ingredient in most skin acne creams and facial washes).
The lead researcher for this latest acne clinical study was Dr. Margarita Gomez-Escalada. Following the study’s conclusion, she explained how they made the tinctures from plants and herbs. Some of the plant material had to be submerged in alcohol for a week or more, in order to prepare the tincture. This delicate process allows the researchers to draw out the active compounds from the plant. Marigold, thyme, and myrrh have long been used as an herbal alternative for anti-acne washes or creams, but this was the first clinical study conducted to demonstrate their significant effect on the bacterium which causes a lot of acne issues. During the study, the researchers used what is known as an in vitro model in order to accurately test the effect of various substances applied to the skin. Then an alcohol control was used to measure the effects of the tinctures. This was an important last step, as it proved that the antibacterial effect of the tinctures was not just due to the sterilizing effect of the alcohol in which they were so extensively prepared.
The next step will be to conduct new tests in conditions which will mimic the environment of the skin. This will allow a better understanding of how the tinctures are working at the molecular level. If the thyme tincture proves to be as effective in further trials as it was in this last one, then it will surely become THE natural alternative to our current acne treatments.
An effective herbal treatment like this could be extremely beneficial for many people, especially those who have very sensitive skin. Benzoyl peroxide has had reported side effects, and this poses a big problem for some acne sufferers. As Dr. Gomez-Escalada points out, it is not entirely uncommon for some people to experience a burning sensation and some skin irritation due to these acne treatment creams and washes. However, herbal preparations tend to be less harsh on a person’s skin, because they possess anti-inflammatory properties. Given the results of these next acne clinical trials, we could be seeing a serious shift away from the Clinique Acne Solutions and Johnson & Johnson face gels in the next few years.