Thyme will tell for herbal acne treatment
Tincture seen as effective alternative
Benzoyl peroxide is a common topical acne treatment that reduces bacteria and increases skin turnover. Side-effects include irritation, a burning sensation and dryness.
Herbal tinctures are often used by herbalists and alternative medicine practitioners to treat acne, but little research has been carried out into their effectiveness. A study at Leeds Metropolitan University has found that thyme can be more effective in killing the skin’s bacteria than chemical-based creams.
The herb, along with myrrh and marigold, was steeped in alcohol to create a tincture and extract compounds from the plant. The tincture's activity was measured and compared with the effectiveness of benzoyl peroxide against the bacteria.
Senior lecturer in microbiology and genetics, Dr Margarita Gomez Escalada, says that while all preparations tested were able to kill a number of bacteria, the most effective was thyme tincture.
“We now need to carry out further tests in conditions that mimic the skin to confirm the effectiveness in practical use. If positive, it could provide a natural alternative to current treatments,” she says.
l An Israeli study of 15,000 adolescents and young adults has found that patients taking acne drug isotretinoin, or Roaccutane, have a two-fold risk of developing eye problems such as pink eye and conjunctivitis. There are already known serious side-effects associated with isotretinoin, such as bone growth delay in teenagers and birth defects when taken by pregnant women.
It is thought the drug may disrupt the function of the meibomian glands on the eyelids—which prevent the eye from drying—leading to inflammation. Metabolites of the drug in the tear film may also irritate the eye’s surface. Authors of the study have recommended that if isotretinoin is prescribed, physicians should offer eye lubricants to prevent drying and irritation.