Topical and oral CAM in acne: a review of the empirical evidence and a consideration of its context

Complement Ther Med. 2006 Mar;14(1):62-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2005.10.007. Epub 2005 Dec 15.


Introduction: Acne is one of the commonest diseases to afflict humanity. Anecdotally, the use of CAM in acne is widespread. In this review the empirical evidence for the efficacy of CAM modalities is examined and the context for their use discussed.

Methods: Searches were made of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicines), Cochrane, and DARE databases using the search terms "acne" and "acne vulgaris" together with "alternative" and "complementary".

Results: The identified studies examined a broad range of CAM modalities but were of generally poor methodological quality. Evidence suggests that many of these therapies are biologically plausible.

Discussion and conclusion: Complementary therapies in acne should be viewed in a wider context than that of the very limited empiric evidence base that exists for their use. Further rigorously conducted trials should be conducted to define efficacy and adverse effect profiles of currently used CAM acne therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / therapy*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy*