Study: Rosemary Extract May Reduce Acne

Study: Rosemary Extract May Reduce Acne

A recently published study showed that rosemary extract can reduce bacterial inflammation linked to acne. Research is still preliminary, but given the role inflammation plays in acne this could be beneficial in acne.

If you’ve been reading my earlier posts, you probably already know the role inflammation plays in acne. The best scientific evidence available shows that inflammatory damage to sebum is the trigger that starts the acne formation process. It creates an ideal environment for P. Acnes bacteria to colonize the blocked skin pore. Toxins in the bacteria cell walls irritate the skin and exponentially increase inflammation. This turns a blocked pore into an aggravated pimple.

Researchers in Taipei Medical University in Taiwan showed that rosemary extracts can counter this bacterially aggravated inflammation. Using mice, they found that injection of rosemary extracts into mice ears reduced swelling and inflammatory response to P. Acnes bacteria.

This effect is not restricted to rosemary. The same researchers showed that wild bitter melon extracts also work. A cell culture study showed similar results with vitamin B3.

This is potentially interesting for people with acne. At least two studies have shown that acne patients have a much stronger inflammatory response to P. Acnes bacteria than people with clear skin. Why this happens is not yet known. Studies have shown higher expression (read: activity) in genes related to inflammation in people with acne. Recently I also wrote about a study that showed people with acne may have ‘bad’ strains of the bacteria as opposed to ‘good’ strains in people with clear skin. Regardless of the mechanism, tempering the inflammatory response to P. Acnes bacteria should reduce inflammatory acne.

Back to the Taiwanese study. If you are at all familiar with how scientific research works, then you know that this study isn’t much to write home about – at least yet. First, this was an animal study, and what happens in animals doesn’t always translate to humans. Second, this didn’t even look at acne. This study looked at a mechanism behind acne. This showed it’s plausible that rosemary could treat acne, but plausible is not the same as effective.

So don’t go running to buy those rosemary essential oils just yet. I normally wouldn’t even mention a study like this, but this looks like one of those studies the media could latch on and start hyping – depending on how active the University PR department is. So I just wanted to give you a heads up.

On a totally unrelated matter, my apologies for not writing anything for a while. Last week we got married with my girlfriend and my family came over from Finland (I live in Thailand). Needless to say, things have been rather hectic over the past few weeks, and I’m happy to get back to normal life.

About Me

Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.

1 thought on “Study: Rosemary Extract May Reduce Acne”

  1. There’s also this:

    “The researchers determined that rosemary inhibited 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that turns the male hormone testosterone into a different version called DHT. DHT is the form of testosterone that inhibits hair growth.. The men’s hair loss drug called Propecia acts by blocking the formation of DHT. In test tube studies, the rosemary extract inhibited the activity of 5-alpha reductase up to 94.6%.”

    This was just an animal study and based on hair loss. However, I do have to wonder if topical rosemary could inhibit 5-alpha reductase in acneic skin? Hopefully more research will be done in this area.

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