I have a love-hate relationship with natural and alternative acne remedies. I love it because it can deliver results where traditional, Western medicine has failed. I hate it because so much of it is steeped in utter nonsense and magical thinking that reading about it feels like wading through a river of BS.
One could waste countless lifetimes and many fortunes trying it all. And you run the risk of ending up in a cave in India dressed in an orange robe chanting ‘Ohhmm’. Jokes aside, this clearly isn’t a desirable option.
Bringing scientific reliability to alternative remedies
This is why, I believe, we need evidence-based approach to natural remedies. We need to bring the reliability of scientific medicine to alternative acne remedies. That’s my goal for this website.
But let me introduce myself first. My name is Seppo Puusa, you can read more about my acne adventures at the ‘About Me’ page. I believe I can help you because I’m a bit geeky. Geeky because I actually like to read medical research and figure out things about health. On this site I talk about acne, both from my experience and what we can learn from studies.
Why you should spend some time on this site
Obviously I think this is site is awesome, but that’s not reason enough for you. So here are a few other reasons:
- Factual, evidence-based information. Anecdotes and unreliable evidence just prolongs your suffering (more on this later). That’s why, wherever possible, I base my posts on scientific studies and other credible evidence. This means that what you read here is reliable (as far as possible) and proven to get results.
- Cuts through the confusion. One of the most frustrating things about acne is the sheer amount of contradicting information. How do you know what to do and who to follow? Because this site is based on scientific studies what you find here should be fairly reliable (nothing is 100% reliable and humans make errors).
I hope to build this site as the place for reliable advice on alternative and natural acne remedies.
Why? Because following anecdotal evidence and unproven advice is usually the recipe for prolonged misery and wasted time and money.
Dangers of anecdotes
Let me give you an example of why this is so important.
Let’s say there are two acne remedies Pimple Clear and Radiant Skin Heal Remedy. Researchers conduct a large-scale, double-blinded and randomized trial to see which one is better. The study has 2000 patients and is meticulously designed and carried out. This is so that they know for sure that the results reflect the effectiveness of the remedies and not random change or other study artifacts. The study finds that Pimple Clear is effective in 85% of the patients and Radian Skin Remedy only helps 45% of the participants.
Then you read a forum post by someone who calls herself 32AndStillSuffering at a popular acne forum. It’s heart wrenchingly emotional post where her suffering bleeds off the monitor. She describes in painstaking detail of just what she has to do through because of acne. You live her pain through her writing. And all her past failures with every possible acne remedy.
Then one day she talks to this nice old lady who runs the local health store. The old lady emphasized with her pain and recommends that she tries Radiant Skin Heal Remedy. And like a miracle 32AndStillSuffering gets better. Her acne heals by the day. And again you live the joy and triumph through her writing.
So, here you have two accounts of evidence for our imaginary acne treatments. Since you are on the market for a new acne remedy, which one you are going to try? If you are like most people, you run to the old lady’s store to get some Radiant Skin Heal Remedy.
From a rational point of view this is insane. Because the evidence the evidence clearly shows Pimple Clear works better. Alas, we humans are biased. We evolved to believe emotional and personal accounts over dry studies. That’s why we get excited over testimonials and success stories at forums.
Call for evidence-based advice on natural remedies
But the problem is there’s no end to different natural and alternative remedies. Almost every day you read about some new remedy that’s The Cure for some ‘32AndStillSuffering’.
I believe you deserve better than to be misled by well-meaning but misinformed forum posters.
That’s why, I believe, we need evidence-based advice on natural and alternative remedies. So when we talk about different treatments we should look for:
- Controlled studies that can establish effectiveness.
- Plausible mechanism or action. We should make sure that the remedies we try have a plausible mechanism or action. For example, we know that acne is affected by androgen hormones in the skin. So if we find a remedy that’s been shown to affect androgen receptors in the skin we know there’s a good change it might help with acne. Similarly, when someone claims they got better by splashing water on their face we should remain skeptical. Because water is an inert substance and has no plausible mechanism of action.
- Prior plausibility. This means that the remedy should fit our current understanding of physics, chemistry and what we know of the human body. This is why doctors are so skeptical of homeopathy, which is nothing more than water infused with magical thinking.
- Anecdotal evidence and user reports. We can use these as long as we keep their limitations in mind.
Keeping these points in mind we can get an idea of the possibility of a given remedy to work. It’s not a fault-proof method, but much better than following random advice from forums. Because something that is backed by studies and plausible mechanism of action is much more likely to work than a remedy that’s only backed up by a few success stories at forums.
And that’s why following evidence-based approach gets your clear faster. Less wasted time and money, and more of the good stuff in life.