Mona Dan is a leading acupuncturist and owner of Vie Healing in Beverly Hills, specializing in Traditional Oriental Medicine and using healing treatments and tools to help reignite inner vitality and vibrancy. Today she’s sharing her favorite cures for acne based in traditional Chinese medicine.
As a TCM practitioner, I always aim to understand the main culprit that has interfered with the normal processing and stability of the body functions and to find the proper treatment plan to restore its proper functioning.
There are a wide range of dermatological issues that can benefit from the Chinese Medicine approach, including issues ranging from hormonal cystic acne, to autoimmune-induced eczema and psoriasis and everything in between. These issues are induced by a range of hormonal imbalances caused by stress, and also dietary issues that create toxicity in the body. The core treatment principle from a western standpoint doesn’t necessarily restore the functionality of the skin, they deflate the problems but simultaneously risk the acne returning vigorously. Instead of restoring the nervous system to enhance proper functionality of the skin organ and proper balance of the internal organs the western approach either suppresses the nervous system causing thinning of the skin through steroids, or artificially regulate hormones through birth control pills.
Ultimately, the main factors that cause skin imbalances are stress, diet, hygiene and some natural genetics. The best way to take control over hormonal and toxicity issues is through a proper daily regiment, Chinese herbs, diet and resting of the nervous system.
Here are VIE HEALING’S top 7 cures for treating ACNE.
1. Take Adaptogen-Filled Herbal Supplements
Herbal formulations are the key differentiators in the dermatology lane. Traditional Chinese medicine uses herbal formulas to correct the imbalances in the body, one person at time, with the consideration of the patient’s unique symptoms. For example, we can have 4 different acne cases walk in to the door and 4 different herbal formulations leave. The reason is, we look for the culprits that disturbs the system which causes the skin to respond the way it does. We aim to bring the entire body systems in order with specific adaptogen filled herbal formulation.
You may have been hearing the word adaptogen a lot lately. Adaptogens are a unique category in herbs that create a normalizing effect on the body’s nervous system that is under stress. A few examples of adaptogens are ginseng, ashwagandha and holy basil.They help the body adapt and adjust to its environment. The body is assisted in maintaining, fixing and adjusting its own natural functions and its own internal and external stressors. Lasting healing takes time, every 30 days the skin regenerates, so it’s important to keep the herbal regimen to achieve the results you’re looking for.
2. Remove Chicken From Your Diet, and Eat Warming Foods
Nutrition is a key component in assisting with skin regeneration for the recovery process of acne. I always recommend my patients to look into the blood type diet. With the information we gather from their blood type and what they generally are drawn to eat, we create a custom menu that generates proper cell growth in the body.
In Chinese medicine we believe different foods create a certain response from the nervous system. For example, we believe that fish/sushi is cold, so we balance it out with foods like wasabi and ginger because they’re warming in nature. If you notice, chili powder and cayenne pepper, create a different sensation in your body then lettuce or yogurt does. The reason is, they cause a response from your peripheral nervous system. One creates a sympathetic (excited) response, while the other creates a parasympathetic (relaxed) response. Ill let you figure out which one does what!
That information brings me to why it’s important to eat the proper temperature foods. Chicken is a very warming protein, it creates heat in the system which affects acne horribly. You know how chicken soup made you feel better when you caught a cold? It’s because the chicken warmed up your system and you sweat out the toxins. But when your system runs too hot, it almost starts boiling, this affects your nervous system, hormones and toxicity in the body.
However, people are also consuming their bodies with raw super cold foods like salads, pressed juices, shakes, acai bowls…etc and this is causing the opposite effect, but still stressing out the nervous system.
Having proper nutrition makes a big difference in the changes of skin health.
3. Introduce Probiotics Into Your Lifestyle
Gut health is a very important factor to maintaining a positive nervous system. We hold a lot of emotions there and also, there is a deep nervous connection between the large intestines and lungs in Chinese medicine. The importance of the lungs is its relationship to the skin organ. Basically, the lungs control the skin.
Probiotics are good bacteria that keep the gut healthy.
4. Reset Your Nervous System With Acupuncture
There is a lot acupuncture can do for acne dermatology, boosting elastin and collagen from under the skin is a primary action, however, a deeper benefit is that it balances out the nervous system as well. When the nervous system is “reset”, each part of it, works better. When the nervous system functions at its optimum, it allows for better digestion, healthier toxin elimination, hormone regulation and better blood flow creating a unique effect on skin enhancing.
5. Use Pearl Barley Powder
In Chinese medicine, pearl barley (Yi Yi Ren) is a great herb to use to eliminate dampness. Pearl barley powder has strong effects on the skin. It is beneficial for general inflammation, helps heal swelling and smoothes to skin, its a fantastic herb that add clarity and glow to skin.
Pearl barley powder can be applied topically and also taken orally.
Topically: Mix 1/2 a cup with 2 egg whites to create a paste, you can add aloe vera gel too, to create a paste, apply the paste and let it harden, put a towel over your pillow and sleep with it over night. Continue this for at least a week and half. (At Vie Healing we create our own proprietary blend for our patients as well.)
Orally: Mix pearl barley powder with hot water, add goji and other berries, but keep it bland and enjoy it as a breakfast cereal.
6. Sweat It Out
Exercising does wonders for internally changing the skin regeneration to eliminate acne. However, its very important to keep to exercise that relaxes the body instead of stressing it out. Moderate amounts of sweating is important in eliminating the toxins and balancing out hormones.
7. Indigo (Be careful, it can stain your clothes!)
Indigo (qing dai) is extremely beneficial in treating the skin, in Chinese medicine, indigo clears heat, resolves toxicity, cools the blood, disperses stagnation and reduces swelling. Indigo paste is another great topical treatment: apply for 20 minutes, but make sure you wear something that you don’t mind staining.
Topically: Mix a tablespoon of indigo powder with a little cucumber juice to create a paste and apply all over your face.
Altogether, Chinese medicine and acupuncture works really well in creating a change in skin health. Although, because of chronic nature, it’s important to combine Chinese herbs, acupuncture, diet changes and topical treatment to get lasting results. For the ones that have been dealing with this issue for a long time, feel like you have been eating better, created a proper skin regimen and living an active lifestyle but still continue suffering with acne, i’d like to recommend trying this new route, including adaptogen filled herbs, acupuncture and different natural topical treatment to bring your nervous system, skin and body back to healthy processing.
Related reads: 6 Ingredients for Naturally Flawless Skin, Benefits of Coconut Water Kefir and How to Make It, How to Fight Inflammation and Support Your Microbiome., and Pretty Zen: DIY Natural Skincare Recipes.
*The information provided is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
• Probiotics & acne: “Specifically, the probiotic drink consumption led to significant reductions in total lesion count in association with a marked reduction in sebum production. Although the addition of lactoferrin (an anti-inflammatory milk protein) to the probiotic drink did provide greater efficacy in the reduction of inflammatory lesions, the benefits of the probiotic drink alone lend further support to the notion that probiotics have an adjuvant role to play in acne therapy [research].
• Acupuncture for acne: Acupoint-stimulation therapy—especially when it is combined with other treatments—appears to be effective for treating acne. For more reading article and article.