TCM For Acne Treatment: Try Holistic Approach for Clear & Radiant Skin
Chinese remedies for acne do an amazing job of reducing blemishes and rejuvenating the skin. As more than 85% of people are affected by acne breakouts at some point in their lives, it is important to seek the most effective natural treatment to address the root causes of acne. With over-the-counter medicated creams, you will experience only temporary relief, as some of them can be very harsh to your skin and can pose serious side effects and health risks.
Although acne is not considered a serious medical condition, acne breakouts (especially on the face) can leave not only physical but emotional scars as well. It largely affects the external appearance, so it can lead to some psycho-social problems like problems with body image, lack of self-esteem, embarrassment leading to social withdrawal, anxiety, anger, limitation in lifestyle, difficulties with family members, and even depression.
Acne is not something purely cosmetic and trivial, so seeking early treatment will reduce the possibility of scarring. Some effective treatments include traditional Chinese medicine modalities like acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and dietary suggestions.
Chinese Medicine for Acne Treatment in San Diego – Get Help From Makari Wellness
Chinese acne body map can reveal what part of the body could be sick and how to heal it. As our skin is the largest organ, what is going on inside our body reflects on the skin. Here at Makari Wellness, it is all about balance and personalized treatment. We take into account many factors in the patient’s health that may be contributing to the acne causes.
Our leading acupuncturist, Mike Woodworth, will find the root imbalance and address it. With the right TCM strategy, your skin will be glowing again. Let us help you feel good about your skin. Book an appointment and discover how traditional Chinese medicine can help with acne. (888) 871-8889.
What is Acne?
Acne is an infection and chronic skin condition that starts before puberty or at the onset of puberty for most teenagers. However, they can even begin in adulthood and persist into middle age. Acne starts when the hair follicle in the skin becomes clogged by sebum. Sebum is a natural skin oil that protects the skin. With a higher sebum production, it is a perfect subtract for bacterial growth. It allows the bacteria to increase dramatically in number, especially Propionibacterium acnes. The inflammation leads to the formation of whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, papules, nodules, and cysts. They usually appear on the face, chest, neck, arms, shoulders, and back.
Acne Causes According to TCM
Causes of acne are not considered one single ‘condition’ but the combination of several different patterns of imbalance. Although each patient’s skin is different, there are five most frequent patterns that tend to show up:
Wind-Heat Acne Type
This red acne tends to break out on the cheeks and nose. Apart from acne, hives and eczema fall under this pattern. According to TCM, the lungs are organs that are directly linked to the skin, so when inflammation and heat affect the lungs, they tend to show up as skin irritation.
The main lifestyle change that will improve the Wind-Heat type of acne is hydration and avoiding spicy, salty, hot and fried foods. Also, consuming almonds, asparagus, apricot, beef, turkey, cauliflower, and licorice can help.
Damp-Heat Acne Type
Showing up on the forehead, chin, or around the mouth, these red and sore breakouts are fluid or pus-filled. Damp-Heat is known as the common cause of many health conditions. Dampness results from fluids becoming stagnant or congealing and are directly related to diet choices – it affects the Stomach and Large Intestine.
Avoiding sugar, alcohol, hot, salty, and spicy food will help treat this type. Staying hydrated and drinking warm lemon water in the morning can also be helpful.
Qi-Deficiency and Phlegm Acne Type
This acne type tends to accompany digestive problems and affects the spleen. They are usually deep, pus-filled, cystic acne type. The spleen is responsible for the overall vitality and ability to make more energy. As a result of lacking spleen Qi, the skin pores are incapable of pushing out foreign materials. So, they can become clogged and filled with bacteria, pus, and dead skin cells.
To help your skin, you should choose foods like buckwheat, cinnamon, dill seed, fennel, garlic, ginger, lamb, salmon, mustard, etc. You should also avoid greasy, heavy food, sugar, and excess carbohydrates.
Blood-Heat Acne Type
Excess heat builds up in the body and causes irritated, red, and sometimes even acne with bleeding. Anger, a hyperactive lifestyle, and an unbalanced diet can be some of the reasons for the increased heat trapped in the blood. Blood then nourishes the skin, and due to its increased hotness, it will try to release the heat through the skin, so the clusters of irritated, inflamed acne sores are present.
To clear heat in the blood acne type, avoid heavy, spicy, greasy, and hot food and stay hydrated with mint and green tea. It is also recommended that you balance your diet with raw, cooling, or lightly cooking foods.
Blood Stasis Acne Type
This acne type is caused by the stagnation of body fluids. It occurs when everything is slowed down – blood and fluids become stuck and congeal. The result is dark red or purple sores that are painful and deep, also known as cystic acne. You should choose foods like asparagus, banana, cucumber, mung bean, peppermint, strawberry, etc. You should avoid dairy, sugar, alcohol, greasy, and heavy food. It is highly recommended that you exercise daily for better blood circulation all over the body.
Acupuncture for Acne
It can be really challenging to treat acne, especially if they are recurring. Acupuncture will treat both the external and internal balances. It has been around for centuries and is believed to stimulate certain points that circulate energy (also known as Qi) through the body. It will also help treat the underlying problems, including hormonal imbalance or stress. A major benefit of acupuncture is that it has no side effects, is completely natural, and is a drug-free approach.
Although acupuncture points for acne vary widely as each case is unique, let’s check some of the most common. Bear in mind that they are located on both sides of the body (bilaterally):
- CV6 (Qihai) – is located below the belly button on the abdomen middle.
- LR3 (Taichong) – is located on the foot about two finger widths above the second toe.
- LI4 (Hegu) – is located between the base of the thumb and index finger.
- SP10 (Xuehai) – is located two finger widths above the inside corner of the knee cap (with the knee flexed).
- LI11 (Quchi) – is located at the outside elbow crease.
- ST25 (Tianshu) – is located two finger widths from the side of the belly button.
The procedure involves the insertion of thin and sterile needles at the acupoint to stimulate the uninterrupted energy flow in these meridians. It is believed to clear heat, remove toxins, and improve blood flow to boost skin health. What is very important, acupuncture treats the whole person, not just the symptoms. It is customized to aim at each patient’s specific needs.
Besides the abovementioned acupoints, the needles can be placed directly on the blemishes and acne. These tiny ‘wounds’ that the needles create will bring the blood flow to the area and stimulate the body’s repair mechanisms. The thin needles create micro-traumas, bringing the blood flow to the area and encouraging healing. As the acne treatment is highly individualized, a certified acupuncturist will find out which organ system is out of balance by observing the appearance and placement and of the recurrent breakouts. Some specific face areas have their correspondent internal organ systems:
- Forehead: Small intestine and nervous system
- Forehead corners: Kidneys and bladder
- Between the eyebrows: Liver
- Eyebrows/Under eye: Kidneys
- Nose: Gastrointestinal tract
- Mouth: Stomach
- Chin: Hormones and kidneys
- Cheeks: Lungs
- Ears: Kidneys.
Chinese Herbs for Acne
Chinese herbal medicine for acne is not only for applying to the skin’s surface. Combined with acupuncture and diet suggestions, it provides a holistic approach to this often persistent problem. Results usually take 3 to 6 weeks but are much quicker if a patient also makes dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Some of the most common herbs used are:
- Pearl acne pills (Zhen Zhu): Clears heat and brightens the skin while improving skin tone and texture.
- Torreya seed (Fei Zi): It treats indigestion and other digestive disorders. Also, it relaxes the bowels and relieves constipation.
- Honeysuckle flower (Jin Yin Hua): It clears heat, resolves fire toxicity, and disperses external wind-heat.
- Licorice root (Gan Cao): It has many anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It also inhibits the breakdown of cortisol and protects the liver and digestive tract cells.
- Angelia Sinensis root (Dang Gui): This herb is used to enrich the blood, promote blood circulation, and modulate the immune system.
- Astragalus root (Huang Qi): Enhances energy and immunity, protects the liver, and has an antioxidant effect.
- Forsythia fruit (Lian Qiao): It removes toxicity, clears heat, and disperses wind-heat.
- Green tea (Lu Cha): It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. It can clear the mind, improve mood, relax the liver, and clear the toxins.
- Ginseng (Pin Yin): It increases Qi and arranges it in a way so the Qi streams through the body and ‘converges’ it to the body parts that need revitalization and strengthening.
- Cordyceps (Dong Xia Cao): As a strong kidney Yang tonic, cordyceps has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunity-boosting properties.
Also, a certified Chinese herbalist will recommend adaptogens – they are a special category of herbs whose main goal is to create a balance in the nervous system when it is under stress.
Lesions on the back or chest require different herbs than those on the face. Pimples on the cheeks need a different mixture than cysts on the chin. Although the best Chinese herbs for acne are not a ‘cure-all’ and cannot help everyone, the vast majority of patients report dramatic improvement, usually with no further relapse.
Some research has shown that changing certain dietary habits can improve acne. As a general rule, you should avoid blood sugar fluctuations by consuming low-glycemic-index food in order to control acne.
Cut Back on Sugar
Refined carbohydrates (like sweets, cookies, and sweetened sports drinks) can exacerbate acne, so try to avoid them as much as possible. Keep the daily recommendation of two to four servings of the fructose found in fruit.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Every organ in your body hates alcohol, not just the skin. Alcohol acts like a poison to all organs and can cause nasty diseases like heart problems, dementia, end even stroke. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and also drink a lot of water to mitigate alcohol’s effects.
Avoid Processed Food
Processed food is another poison we put into our bodies. It tends to be full of salts, sugars, and fats – objectively more than we really need. Try to avoid fast food, meal bars, chips, frozen meals, sugary cereals, white bread, microwave meals, etc.
Dairy consumption has been associated with increased acne. Although you do not need to swear off cheese forever (as it is high in nutrients our bodies love, like protein and calcium), decreasing the dairy intake can be beneficial for your skin. However, keeping sugar-free yogurt like Greek yogurt as a source of calcium, protein, and probiotics is a good idea.
Drinking enough water is the best way to optimize your physical processes, as 60% of the human body is water. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.
Use Healthy Ingredients to Prepare Meals
Try to prepare meals from fresh ingredients like green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach), healthy fats (olive oil, whole eggs, nut butter, coconut oil), legumes (chickpeas, lentils), high-quality protein (chicken, turkey, salmon, tofu, shellfish, oysters), fruit (berries, bananas, pears, apples, grapes), anti-inflammatory herbs and spices (cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, parsley, garlic), and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats, buckwheat).
Some supplements that can help are:
- B vitamins
- D vitamin
- Fish oil