The sun may be starting to shine after months of overcast skies, but our skin is still suffering the after-effects of winter.

So according to Thomas Mueller, an ayurvedic practitioner and member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, now is the perfect time to boost our intake of healthy foods to help tackle skin problems.

"Foods that are astringent and bitter in taste are helpful in skin health, for example dark leafy vegetables, spinach, bitter gourd and artichokes, as they have a cleansing effect on the liver," he explained.

"It is important to use spices that enhance natural detoxification such as ginger, which stimulates metabolism and has an anti-inflammatory action, so often needed in acne."

You can eat these foods fresh or take nutritional supplements to enhance your complexion.

"Zinc is also an essential mineral to help keep oil production from the sebaceous glands to a minimum, so eat sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds - naturally high in zinc - as healthy snack choices," advised Mr Mueller.

Fruit is also good for improving the state of our skin, especially black grapes and blueberries, which are used in ayurvedic medicine to promote cellular repair and re-growth.

Meanwhile, research from Leeds Metropolitan University suggests that herbal supplements could be the most naturally effective way to treat acne, after scientists there found that a thyme tincture is more efficient at killing the bacteria that causes spots than traditional chemical-based formulas.

The researchers tested tinctures made of thyme, marigold and myrrh - three naturally occurring products often used by alternative medicine practitioners to treat skin conditions - and project supervisor Dr Margarita Gomez Escalada said every solution tested was able to destroy bacteria.

"This shows the potential of thyme tincture for treating acne. We now need to carry out further tests in conditions that mimic the skin to confirm the effectiveness in practical use. If thyme tincture is proven to be effective for the treatment of acne, it will provide a natural alternative to current treatments," she added.

Posted by Laura Andrews