How do I Use Chinese Medicine for Acne?

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  • Written By: Page Coleman
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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Traditional Chinese medicine for acne can be used by all people. Those who are interested in using this alternative acne treatment may wish to consult with a trained practitioner. The practitioner assesses a patient’s condition and determines a course of treatment. Treatment plans will usually involve acupuncture and a selection of Chinese herbs.

In the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, acne is caused by imbalances in the body, which can block qi, or life energy, from flowing freely through various organ systems. A number of factors can cause these imbalances, such as weather, diet, or hormonal changes. According to Chinese medicine for acne, the condition may result from imbalances caused by heat and damp. The practitioner will meet with the patient, review the patient's overall condition, and will then prescribe individualized treatments.

Inflammation indicates the body has excess heat. Dampness, indicated by pus and fluid discharges in some cases of acne, may be a factor as well. There are various types of heat and damp and from a traditional Chinese medicine for acne perspective, these specific symptoms vary in different people.


Acne can result from toxic heat, lung heat, stomach heat, blood heat, or damp heat. The type of heat is determined by analyzing the characteristics of the patient’s acne, pulse, tongue, and other factors. Each type of heat arises from different causes, and indicates organ systems where qi is blocked. For example, a person with toxic heat may have severe, highly inflamed acne with pus, a quick pulse, and red tongue with a dry, yellow coating. Patients with lung heat may feel their acne is itchy, and their tongues may have a thin, yellowish coating, and their pulses may be quick and light.

Someone who has stomach heat may have acne primarily around his mouth, back, shoulders, and chest. His pulse will be tend to be strong and quick, and he may have a red tongue with a thick, yellowish coating. A blood heat imbalance can be indicated when the patient is flushed, dislikes being warm, has a red tipped tongue, and has a thin, quick pulse. When the patient has oily skin, inflamed, pus-filled deep acne, along with a crimson, greasy tongue and a quick, wiry pulse, she may be suffering from damp heat.

If using traditional Chinese medicine for acne, the patient may be treated with acupuncture, Chinese herbs or a mixture of these two types of treatments. The practitioner will select acupuncture points and herbs based on her assessment of the individual patient’s situation and what type of heat has caused the acne. Some Chinese herbs for acne include forsythia fruit, white chrysanthemum flower, tangerine peel, red sage root, honeysuckle flower, and licorice root.


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