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If your complexion doesn't resemble that of the airbrushed supermodels on fashion magazines, you're not alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne-prone skin affects 40 million to 50 million Americans. In fact, acne is the most common skin problem in the U.S., and many sisters experience whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules and papules until age 30 or beyond. Although the scientific verdict is still out on its effectiveness, you may want to consider a natural alternative, such as apricots, to help put pimples in their place.
They may not be visible, but almost every part of your body is covered with hair and hair follicles. Within each follicle is a sebaceous gland that produces sebum to keep your complexion lubricated. The acne war begins to wage when your sebaceous glands start overproducing these natural lubricating oils. As oil and dirt become blocked in your skin's pores, bacteria set up camp, and pimples march in.
The apricot's street cred is long and varied in folklore medicine. According to health advocate David Grotto, author of the book "101 Foods That Could Save Your Life," apricot oil was used in 17th-century England to cure ulcers, and apricot kernels were used to treat cancer as early as 502 A.D. The kernels, or seeds, contain amygdalin, an ingredient currently used to make the alternative cancer drug laetrile. Particularly in their dried form, apricots are a rich source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, as well as potassium, vitamin C, quercetin and lycopene. As an added bonus, apricot fruit and the bark of the apricot tree have the purported benefits of keeping your complexion clean, clear and smooth.
Apricot and Acne
Enlightened divas know that apricot fruit is nutritious, cleansing and mildly laxative -- an ideal combination for clearing acne-prone skin. According to naturopath Andrew Chevallier, author of the book "Herbal Medicine," apricot soothes irritated and inflamed pimples. That may be due to its high quercetin content. A California State University project found that quercetin reduces inflammatory acne lesions and decreases the proliferation of acne-causing bacteria. While consuming apricots, especially dried fruit, appears to offer more toxin-cleansing benefits in alleviating acne, supplements and topical use of apricot products, such as apricot kernel oil and apricot facial scrubs, may also help help minimize blemishes. Unfortunately, not enough scientific data exists that specifically focuses on the apricot-acne link to confirm its efficacy.
Don't gorge on apricots, or you may find yourself in the bathroom for hours with cramping and diarrhea. Also, due to its high levels of quercetin, large doses of apricots may interfere with medication absorption rates. Moreover, apricot kernels contain the naturally occurring toxin cyanide. Kernels are highly toxic in all but the smallest amounts and should not be consumed.