Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been around for more than 2000 years and is effective at treating several skin conditions including acne. Acne is a skin condition that affects approximately 60% of the American population. Although the cause of acne is unknown, genetic predisposition and hormonal changes are believed to be related to the cause of acne skin conditions. Acne is more prevalent in males and can be aggravated by sweating, oral contraceptives, poor skin hygiene, cosmetics, face creams, exercise, and lack of sunlight. Traditional Chinese philosophy believes that an imbalance in the body, mind or spirit can cause physical symptoms of disease. The TCM believes that an excess of internal heat and dampness causes acne and the symptoms of acne. To alleviate acne you must clear the heat and drain the dampness from the body.
Heat can be caused by different sources such as our over consumption of stimulating foods, hormonal changes, physical activity, inability for blood to clean toxins, agitated thoughts, hot weather, or imbalance of qi. Heat can appear as inflammation, over stimulation, and hyperactivity and is reflected on the skin through rashes, pimples, infections, and redness. Dampness is excess water in the tissues of the body. Dampness can be caused by water accumulation in the digestive tract, excess oil, fatty, cold or raw foods, irregular eating habits, insufficient sweating, damp environment, and insufficient heat. Bacteria, fungus and viruses thrive in excessively damp environments even in the body. Dampness can be reflected through the skin as swelling, cysts, pimples, pus, and fluid discharge.
A traditional Chinese herbalist should be consulted when determining which Chinese herbal supplements to take to clear up your acne. Although there are minimal side effects, you will not see the results you want by indulging in every Chinese herb on the market. Specific concoctions of herbs will work for certain people. An herbalist will determine which concoction of herbs is right for each individual person and their specific symptoms. TCM can use leaves, flowers, fruit, bark, minerals and roots from plants in their acne treatments. There are several different ways to take herbs in decoctions or teas, powders, tinctures, pills, syrups, and plasters. Here are some specific herbs that have been used in TCM for thousands of years to treat acne. If you experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or a skin rash after taking herbal supplements, stop taking them immediately and consult your herbalist.
Cai Feng Zhen Zhu an Chuang Wan/ Margarite Acne Pills: This is an excellent remedy to clear up acne. This product comes ina pill form and is used to clear heat, expel toxins, cool the blood, and regenerate skin cells. Some of its ingredients include Pearl, Honeysuckle Flower, Dandelion Herb, Glehniz Root, Chinese Foxglove Root, Ningpo Figwort Root, Chinese Rhubarb Root and Lucid Gannoderma Sclerotium.
Jin Yin Hua/ Honeysuckle- Can be used in conjunction with chrysanthemum and dandelion to clear excess heat in the blood and stomach. It is a great detoxifier and increases perspiration. It can be consumed as an infusion or applied externally to the skin.
Dandelion Root- Is a blood cleanser which stimulates liver function to cleanse the body. Dandelion root should be drunk in a tea by mixing 2-3 teaspoons of dried dandelion to 1 cup of water. Dandelion leaves can also be eaten in a salad, which aid in digestion but only 2 leaves should be eaten daily.
Dahurian Angelica- Reduces swelling and expels dampness from the body. Should be drunk in a tea by mixing 1 ounce of dried root into 1 pint of water or can be consumed as 1/2 teaspoon diluted in 1 cup water. This root can also be combined with Chrysanthemum and drank.
Skullcap- Clears heat as well as damp heat. Drank as a tea. Combine 1 ounce dried root to 1 pint of water.
Burdock Root- Cleans the blood by detoxifying the body. Acts as an anti-inflammatory. Should be applied topically.
Spica Prunellae/ Prunella Spike- Common herb found in TCM. Boil 1 ounce of dried herb in 1 pint of water. Add honey and drink daily.
Other herbs used in TCM to treat acne include neem, chaste tree berry, chamomile, sarsaparilla, milk thistle, yellow dock, Echinacea root, loquat leaf, rehmania root, moutan bark, forsythia fruit, peach kernel, safflower, Stellaria Root, Purslane, and peppermint.