acne trouble? Here’s how tcm can take your trouble your away


Acne breakouts are something most of us have been through. Some are mild and brief while others may encounter a more severe case of acne. It most commonly occurs during puberty but can happen at any age due to clogged pores. It occurs commonly on the face while some might experience it on their back, also known as back acne. A western approach to acne usually includes a prescribed oral medication that is paired with a topical cream to be applied to the face or the body. The dosage of oral medication would decrease over time as the condition improve. However in most cases, once the oral medication stops, the patient would see an increase in acne breakouts again. 

In TCM, other than clogged pore being one of the causes of acne, acne is also a sign of dysfunction of our organs – lungs, stomach, large intestines, liver and kidneys. Yin and yang are the flow of energy in our body which keeps everything functioning in harmony. However, when there is excessive yang in our body – ‘heatiness’, ailments in the upper body such as acne will rise.

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‘Heatiness’ in the stomach can be caused by poor dietary habits, such as overeating, heavy meals just before bedtime, overconsumption of alcohol and more which cause food indigestion.

If you have constipation, it might be another contributing factor for acne. When one is constipated, the waste material stays in the large intestine longer than usual, trapping ‘heat’ in the body. This ‘heat’ will travel up to the stomach and lungs, triggering pimples and acne.          

Other than that, our emotions might be a contributing factor for acne as well. Negative emotions, such as anger, depression, stress can block the flow of energy (qi) in our liver, resulting in ‘heatiness’ which results in the outbreak of acne. 

TCM Treatment Approach To Acne 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments may include cupping which uses heat to create a vacuum on the surface of body, promoting blood circulation as well as the flow of qi in the body. Acupuncture is also another treatment where fine needles are inserted into parts of your body to help regulate your hormones and also reduce inflammation, giving you a clearer complexion. 

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, such as chrysanthemum flower, honeysuckle flower, and Chinese wolfberry may also be used to help dissipate ‘heat’ in your body. 

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Oral medication and topical creams that are made from herbs may also be prescribed by your TCM physician based on your symptoms. Alternatively, there are some TCM supplements which you can include in your diet to improve your skin condition too.  

Consider giving TCM treatments a try! TCM treatments are suitable for everyone and there are usually no side effects. TCM physicians usually avoid prescribing the same TCM herb to the same patient as they believe everything should be taken in moderation. However, if you are currently taking western prescriptions, consult your doctor beforehand to avoid any unwanted side effects though it is generally safe to consume both TCM and western medicine for your acne.