4 Ayurvedic Herbs for Clear Skin


From an Ayurvedic perspective, acne breakouts on the skin typically result from an imbalance in all three doshas. An imbalance in Vata results in impaired digestion and accumulation of ama (toxins) in the body. An imbalance of Pitta affects the blood and liver, resulting in inflammation. Excess Kapha, which controls the production of sebum, results in clogging of the pores. This combination of impaired digestion, accumulation of toxins, inflammation, and overproduction of sebum creates the perfect environment for the overgrowth of bacteria, resulting in acne.

Whether you struggle with constant acne or more sporadic blemishes, incorporating the following herbs will help to balance your skin and the potential underlying doshic issues. Unlike prescription drugs like Accutane or retinoids, these methods are low risk and a natural way to approach skin health.

These are four Ayurvedic powerhouse herbs that will help support digestion, the liver and and the blood to help maintain clear skin, while combating any existing acne breakouts. Each of the herbs can be taken on its own, or used in conjunction with the others.

1. Manjistha

Manjistha is the Ayurvedic wonder-herb for skin. While it is one of the lesser-known Ayurvedic herbs in the West, if this is the first time you are hearing of it, it certainly will not be the last. Manjistha, also known as Indian madder, is a tonifying herb that has been been used for centuries in both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a bitter and astringent herb that cleanses the blood, supports the liver, and promotes a healthy lymphatic system. In fact, Manjistha is one of the best, if not the best, blood purifying herb in Ayurveda. Manjistha’s success in balancing the blood is due to its ability to soothe and calm pitta dosha while also helping to reduce excess kapha.

Manjistha is also a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. In addition, it has a calming effect on the mind, helping to ease stress, anxiety and depression. It can help speed up healing time of bruises and reduce arthritic pain and swelling. Manjistha enhances circulation, making it balancing for all three doshas. This multifaceted herb certainly deserves a place in your herbal arsenal.

How to Use:

The root of the manjistha plant is the section that is most commonly used in medicinal remedies. It can be purchased in powdered form and taken it as a supplement, either in a capsule or mixed with warm water. As with all herbs, be sure to source organically and from a reputable company.

Manjistha can also be used topically to help treat acne, but make sure you test a small area of your skin first, as it has a tendency to temporarily tint lighter skin tones red. Mix manjistha with honey or a bentonite clay mask and apply to the skin for 10-15 minutes.  

2. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera may conjure up memories of the cool jelly that you slather on after a long day of too much sun at the beach. However, aloe vera isn’t just for sunburns. In fact, it is one of the most commonly used ingredients in natural beauty products, and for good reason. Aloe vera’s antifungal, anti-inflammatory and cooling properties make it useful in combating acne breakouts.

How to Use:

There are many ways to incorporate aloe vera, both topically and internally. The juice can be applied topically to the skin like a toner, or mixed with a fruit juice like pomegranate to drink. Aloe vera gel can be applied as a spot treatment, or as a light layer for an overnight mask. It can even be mixed with any of the other herbs listed here for an even more potent acne treatment.  

3. Neem

Neem is one of the most effective Ayurvedic herbs for treating acne. In Ayurveda, the neem tree is esteemed as the “village pharmacy” with every part of it known to possess unique therapeutic qualities. Neem is often used to boost and support natural immunity and for its ability to promote health particularly in the skin, nails, hair, and scalp.

One of the Sanskrit names for neem, “arishtha,” literally means “reliever of sickness.” Neem oil has traditionally been applied to the skin as a means of soothing and lubricating the skin, calming irritated and heated sensations, maintaining comfortable body temperature, supporting the skin’s natural immunity.

Scientists have isolated more than 140 compounds from various parts of the neem tree and many have been evaluated for therapeutic use. Clinical studies have demonstrated neem’s effectiveness in promoting healthy skin.

How to Use:

Neem leaf capsules taken internally help to cleanse the blood and keep the skin clear. Neem oil can be used topically all over the skin to treat existing acne spots. You may prefer to use it only at night though, as it has quite a strong smell.

4. Guduchi

Guduchi is one of the most highly revered herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. The word “guduchi” literally means “the one who protects.” Guduchi is known for its detoxifying, rejuvenating, immune-boosting, and anti-rheumatic properties. Recent scientific studies have been conducted, showing its effectiveness in cold and flu prevention, immune support, skin disorders, arthritis, liver disorders and rheumatic disorders.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, guduchi has the unusual characteristic of being a heating herb, while simultaneously removing excess pitta from the body, helping to soothe the skin and promote a clear, healthy complexion. According to Vaidya Mishra, guduchi is the only herb that is able to bind and safely remove acidic and environmental toxins from the body without aggravating Pitta dosha, while also healing the damage caused by local toxins. The ability of this herb to detoxify the body while simultaneously rejuvenating it makes it a deeply effective herbal medicine for all doshic types. As a rasayana, guduchi is therapeutic for many conditions, including those afflicting the skin.

How to Use:

Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp powdered guduchi to warm water or tea twice per day.

Christina Miller