Growing Stinging Nettle for Acne

I recently wrote about how stinging nettle can help with acne, so I thought it would be fun to actually try to grow some on my own.  Right now I take stinging nettle pills, but it would be nice to have a crop to harvest!  You can make a tea from the leaves that you harvest in the spring before they flower, as well as utilize the stinging nettle roots.

I recently moved to a house near a small river, which has a creek running from the front of my house, down the side towards the back of the property and eventually makes it’s way to the river.  I have read that stinging nettles like to grow alongside creeks and rivers, so I ordered some seeds from Amazon.

While I was waiting for the seeds to arrive, I did notice that in one part of the river, there was a section of plants that look like they are probably stinging nettles.  Let me tell you…they are called stinging nettles for a reason!  They have fine hairs or needles along the stems and leaves and just the slightest brush against them will cause you to sting like crazy!

If my seeds don’t turn out, too well, I might transplant some of them up to my small creek bed. I just want to be sure that what I will be ingesting is actually stinging nettle and not some poisonous plant!  Maybe I’ll get a few good plants from the seeds so I can compare the two.

In any case, I put the seeds in some seed starting soil, and then transplanted them under a small tree near the creek.

Check out these super small seedlings!


Stinging nettle seedlings…in the middle of the picture

Also, while working my way down a small trail that my kids made alongside the creek, I came across this…

stinging nettle acne

Large stinging nettle plant I found

It has to be a stinging nettle!  I had accidentally brushed against it and of course got stung.  Maybe I’ll transplant this up to my stinging nettle patch later.

I’ll probably make another post towards the end of the summer about how this all turns out, but I think this stinging nettle patch is going to work.

My skin is already pretty much clear because I follow a low Glycemic Index/Load diet, don’t consume any dairy and meat, along with eating other foods that help maintain a healthy skin from the inside, but a little extra help to reduce the causes of acne formation from stinging nettle  can’t hurt.


3 BIG Reasons Why Stinging Nettle Reduces Acne

I came across Stinging Nettle in a roundabout way.

I have been working to add muscle mass by lifting weights and performing body-weight exercises.  While researching natural supplements that potential help with increasing muscle mass, I came across a plant called Stinging Nettle.

Stinging Nettle, also known as Urtica dioca, is a perennial plant that has hollow spikes on the leaves and stems that sting when touched. Stinging nettles have been used throughout the ages for multiple purposes.

While I learned that stinging nettle does potentially help to stimulate muscle growth by increasing the amount of free, active serum testosterone levels by causing the release of testosterone from sex hormone binding globulin, known as SHBG.

When testosterone is locked up with SHBG, it is not able to bind with receptors in the muslce cells.  The lignans found in stinging nettle help by unlocking the binding mechanism to SHBG, the “free testosterone” is now able to bind with muscle cell receptors.  This supposedly results with higher levels of free testosterone circulating in the body, which helps to stimulate muscle tissue growth.

What is interesting is that unlike most treatments that increase testosterone, they also increase the rate of acne.  While testosterone replacement therapy, natural “testosterone boosters” and steroids commonly result in an increased rate of acne formation, stinging nettle is found to decrease the formation of acne!

Here are 3 major ways that stinging nettle has been shown to help with the reduction of acne formation…

1) Stinging nettle helps to reduce inflammation levels, which is a major cause of acne.

Reduction of inflammation levels within the body is one of the keys to reducing acne levels.  Stinging nettle has been to interrupt the production of inflammation producing compounds.

A study conducted in 2013 showing that Stinging Nettle reduced levels of inflammation concluded that:

Taking into account the above results, it can be concluded that U. dioica leaf extract has considerable anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities and this study provides pharmacological evidence for its folkloric use in arthritis and other inflammatory complications.

2) Stinging nettle reduces blood glucose levels.  High blood glucose levels create a cascade effect that leads to acne formation.

Increased levels of blood glucose levels increase IGF  or ILGF (Insulin-like growth growth factor).  IGF increased the production of the sebaceous glands to produce excess levels of sebum (oil) that is basically food for acne bacteria.  Excess levels of sebum therefor are a contributor to acne formation.  By reducing blood glucose levels, stinging nettle helps to reduce sebum production.

IGLF also promotes keratin formation.  Keratin is a protein that binds and helps create strength and stability for your skin as well as other organs.  It is like a glue holding cells together.

However, too much keratin production in your skin (called hyperkeratosis) creates problems that lead to acne formation.  It basically stops dead skin cells from flaking off, which leads to blocked pores, which causes sebum (oil) to become trapped in your hair follicles.  This is a perfect condition for acne to thrive in!

So since stinging nettle helps lower blood glucose levels, it helps prevent the domino effect that leads to excess levels of keratin formation.

3) Stinging nettle helps reduce levels of a very potent acne causing hormone called DHT.

Stinging nettle also helps stop the transformation of testosterone into 3,4-Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  This particular androgen is WAY more potent than regular testosterone.  Excess androgen levels and DHT in particular lead to the chain reactions that cause acne.

Not only is DHT a more potent form (actually it’s a metabolite of testosterone, but…whatever) of testosterone, it is synthesized in the skin, hair follicles and the prostrate, as well as other areas.  Actually, it has been shown that as a result, stinging nettle can help reduce the onset of male pattern baldness and prostrate related problems!

Stinging nettle has been shown to interfere with the process that produces DHT, thereby reducing DHT levels.  If you have happen to have high levels of DHT, or are overly sensitive to DHT’s affects, you can experience acne that forms from this form of testosterone.

So give this nasty sounding stuff a try!  It’s not expensive, comes in a pill or tea form and could be a part of your regime of fighting acne breakouts from the inside.



Proactiv vs. Kale for Acne

Proactiv vs. Kale?!

I’d take kale over Proactiv any day.  I can tell you from trying Proactiv and many other topical acne treatments that contain many of the same ingredients vs. simply having a kale smoothie, I got much better results from kale.

So what’s in Proactiv that helps prevent and fight acne?  What’s in kale that make it so great for reducing acne?

Lets get to it…first Proactiv:

The primary ingredients in Proactiv are benzoyl peroxide, Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid.

Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria associated with acne.  That’s its primary job, to reduce the acne bacteria that is feeding on the sebum produced within the skin follicle.  And you know, what?  It’s effective at killing acne bacteria.

However, do you know that everyone has this acne bacteria on their skin?  Some people don’t get acne though.  More on that later.

One of the problems with benzoyl peroxide though, is that it can cause the sebum on your skin to oxidize.  Benzoyl peroxide creates oxygen on your skin, and the oxidation that results can make your acne worse after a few months of use.  The higher sebum oxidation can create more blocked skin follicles and which then creates a more suitable environment for more acne to form.

Have you ever notice that treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide work in the beginning, but then lose their effectiveness and maybe make things worse weeks or months later?  This is why.

Next up in the primary ingredients list in Proactiv is Salicylic Acid.

Salicylic acid does not kill acne bacteria.  It works by softening keratin and promoting the shedding of cells inside the skin follicles.  It is in a group of medicines called keratolytics.

Salicylic acid is an acne treatment because skin cells that do not shed properly, or produce too much keratin end up clogging the follicle.  A clogged follicle is the perfect environment for acne bacteria to feed and create acne inflammation (zits/cysts/blackhead/whiteheads) related problems.

That is why many topical acne treatments combine benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

The third and final primary ingredient in Proactiv is Glycolic Acid.  Glycolic acid comes naturally from sugar can, but now is most often created in a lab.  It is in a group of molecules called Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s).

AHA’s and glycolic acid specifically, is an exfoliator.  An exfoliator removes the outermost skin cells that are dead.  Just as salicylic acid removes the keratin structures in the follicles, glycolic acid helps in a similar way by remove dead skin cells that can end up creating the clogged environment that allows sebum to build up and create a perfect environment for acne bacteria to feast and cause problems.

All of this sounds great, right?


But let’s take a look at just some of the benefits of green leafy vegetables like Kale.

Kale fights inflammation.  Kale, and other green leafy vegetables fight inflammation.  The more I research the causes of acne, the more apparent it is to me that acne is primarily an inflammatory condition.

Acne is a condition where sebum is clogged within the skin follicle, and is then devoured by acne bacteria.  Your immune system tries to respond to the acne bacteria, leading to big, red, bumpy skin.

Kale reduces acne causing inflammation because it is loaded with Vitamin K.  Kale contains 671% of the RDA of Vitamin K.  Vitamin K has many benefits, one of them being the reduction inflammation response.  Vitamin K activates matrix Gla protein, which suppresses inflammation.

Kale also contains a ton of Vitamin A.  Vitamin A reduces the activity of sebaceous glands that produce the oil (sebum) that acne bacteria love.  Also, Vitamin A reduces the production of keratin, which as we learned above can cause clumped up dead skin cells within the hair follicle, which creates a buildup of excess sebum.

Kale is loaded with Vitamin C.  Vitamin C helps treat acne because it is an antioxidant.

An antioxidant soaks up and removes harmful free radicals which damage the skin, causing acne.  Free radical formation is one of the causes of acne.  Free radicals break down proteins and fatty acid on the skin, which throws of the pH of your skin.  This can increase the production of sebum production, leading to acne.

Vitamin C in kale also helps with the formation of collagen, which is critical to supporting healthy skin.  Collagen is a building block of skin.  It is the structure, holding it all together.  New collagen formation can help to fill acne scars.  Collagen provides a framework for many of the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial acne fighting defenses to do their job.

Not only does kale have these vitamins that help gain a clear complexion, but it also is an actual food.  You are killing 2 birds with one stone.  Having a smoothie with Kale in the morning, or in a salad for lunch, you are helping your skin, and providing nourishment.  Can’t say the same for Proactiv!

Also, kale is a low Glycemic load (GL) food.  That basically means that kale does not raise your blood sugar level after eating it.  Studies show that a low-glycemic load diet helps reduce acne formation.  This happens because when your blood sugar rises, it leads to inflammation, which as I mentioned earlier, plays a role in acne formation.  Also, eating foods that have a high glycemic load, elevates hormones that signal the sebum (oil) glands to increase their production of oil.  These are some of the primary reasons that cause acne to form.  Eating foods that have a low GL will help you cure your acne from the inside out.

Which would you prefer?  Would you prefer to treat the symptoms with topical treatments like Proactiv, or get to the root cause and treat acne from the inside out with foods that help reduce the cause of acne in the first place?

Maybe you want to spend $30/month for a topical treatment that probably won’t do much for your acne.  Sure it works to a degree, and makes sense to maybe consider using treatments like Proactiv, but if that’s all you are going to do, prepare to be disappointed.

If I were to rank the primary ways to reduce acne, topical treatments like Proactiv have a usefulness of maybe 3-4 out of 10, with 10 being the best.  With topical treatments you are majoring in the minors.  It’s not getting to the root cause of acne formation.

Eating foods like kale I would put up there maybe at an 8 out of 10.  Eating a low GL food would be 10 out of 10.  Staying away from dairy would be a 10 out of 10.

I’ve always wondered why Proactiv is so popular.  In 2010, Proactiv had sales of $800 million!  It never really worked for me.  Maybe people want their hand-held so they can pay about $30 a month, month after month.  It comes in nice packaging!  Celebrities to hawk it!

What does kale have?  Is there a brand name kale brand?  Is it sexy?  Does it say on the “label” that it helps fight acne?  Does it even have a label or come in fancy packaging?  Nope!  You’ve got to understand though, that kale and green leafy vegetables are going to do wonders for your acne problem!  Not to mention a ton of other health benefits that are not minor, such as reduced changes of cancer, heart disease, diabetes that come from eating more vegetables)

Maybe people are catching on to kale though.  In 2013, a total of 176 million pounds of kale was consumed in the United States.  At maybe $2/lb, that’s $325 million in kale consumption!  Kale is cheap.  That’s still less than the sales of Proactiv!

From 2007 to 2012, kale experienced tremendous growth, going from 3,994 acres harvested in 2007 to 6,256 acres in 2012.  In restaurants as of 2013, kale showed up on menu’s 400% more than they had 5 years earlier!

Kale and green leafy vegetables are simply amazing.  They help cure your acne from the inside, getting to the cause of how acne forms in the first place.  Products like Proactiv work on acne, but in my opinion, it’s pitiful how it’s just nipping at the edges when it comes to getting rid of acne.

In my opinion, green leafy vegetables like kale win out in the fight against acne.  My skin wasn’t clear after using Proactiv.  My skin today is perfectly clear, smooth, not inflamed because among other things, I starting dominating greens like kale!  I have it every single day, and it works!

So when it comes to Proactiv vs. Kale in the fight against acne, I’m picking the winner…


What it’s like to be alone (with Acne)

Growing up as a boy with acne in the 80’s was not like today.

Back then, there wasn’t an internet.  Basically I was on an island.  Aside from trying the basic acne treatments back then like benzoyl peroxide, Retin-A, salicylic acid, buff puffs, etc, I was on my own.  I tried to figure out solutions by myself.

For example, I always notice that as a kid going on vacation for one week at the beach, my skin cleared up towards the end of the week and lasted maybe 3-4 days into the following week.  So I figured it had to be the saltwater.

That lead to creating a saltwater mixture in a glass and then wiping it on my face and letting it dry.  Man, that shit did not work!  I was using the old school, Morton’s.  See, back then, who the hell ever heard of sea salt, that you can get anywhere these days.  Not only that, I was probably using way too much of a concentration of salt to water.  All I got was a dried, reddish complexion…with acne!

Another time, I found out (not through the internet of course) that egg yolks have a lot of Vitamin A.  So since the Retin-A didn’t work, I tried a natural source of Vitamin A and smeared that on my face and let it dry, usually at night.  I had to make sure my parents and sister didn’t see that.  So embarrassing!  That did seem to tighten up my skin, but in the end…not a solution!  I sometimes went to school with hair clumped together from dried egg yolk though if I put it on after a shower in the morning.

Bottom line, back then, it sucked to have acne!  Of course, it sucks today to have acne.  Duh.

But today we have the internet!  When you think about it, the internet is amazing.  You can research anything you want, and sometimes have answers to your problems in minutes!

Those were some dark days for me growing up.

I felt alone.

I saw other kids with acne, but never, ever, never, ever dared bring it up!  Some kids had it worse than I did.  Some not so much.  But you never talked about it with anyone else, not even your closest friends.  Especially if you were a guy.

I consistently thought, “Man, that guy has acne way worse than me.  That must suck.  I wonder if he knows how bad he looks.”  Then I’d realize that it’s all relative…others, with much less or even no acne looked at me the same way and said the same things in their mind.

What if someone had cured their acne on their own and looked at a sorry ass like me and thought, “Man, look at that kid with all his acne.  I remember when I had acne that bad.  Too bad he doesn’t know how to get rid of it.”  I’m sure that goes on today too, right?  Sure it does.  But today, we are not alone because of the internet.  People can relatively anonymously, research and try solutions on their own.  They can ask others how they cured their acne.  All from their computer, worlds away.

Think about how freely ideas are communicated back and forth.  Take a look at all the acne message boards and websites out there today, each with their own views and opinions and experiences of others with acne.  Now you can approach someone, or post a question about acne without direct contact.  Much less embarrassing.  Much easier.

If you have acne, you are obviously not alone.  Over 50 million people in the U.S. have acne, so you certainly are not alone.  The fact that there are millions of people still with acne today, shows that there is not a “cure” for acne either.  If there was, it would be so well-known and so widely used, that everyone would be cured.

My idea for this site came from my own personal feelings of being alone with acne.  I’m sharing my personal experiences and how I cured my acne on my own, completely by accident!  Will the things I’ve leared on my own and then through further research, completely get rid of your acne like it did mine?  Maybe.

Will it reduce your acne?  Probably.

So save this site and come back, because I’m only getting started!  You aren’t alone.