Many people are aware of using acupuncture for the treatment of aches and pains. Less people know about using Chinese medicine for internal issues such as endocrine or metabolic problems. I would bet even fewer still have heard of using Chinese medicine to treat skin conditions like acne. Great news is that it works very well for this common, but deeply troubling skin issue.

Although thought to be an issue mainly for adolescents, the reality is that acne affects many adults as well. According to Western medicine, acne is caused by an interaction of bacteria and hormones with the oil glands of the skin. In Chinese medicine, diet, stress, and metabolic imbalances also play a role in the development of acne.

Treatment in the West focuses on antibiotics, vitamin A, and benzoyl peroxide products. In addition, patients are taught better hygiene to keep the skin clean. This approach can work, although often it does so only while a person is undergoing treatment. Unfortunately, both the use of antibiotics and vitamin A can be accompanied by bad side effects. Vitamin A is toxic to the liver and requires regular liver tests while undergoing treatment. Antibiotics come with a great many potential side effects. These range from negatively impacting our gut bacteria to interfering with oral contraceptives.

Given the side effects from Western treatment, Chinese medicine is a great option! Typically, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet therapy and topical agents are employed depending upon need. There are almost no side effects other than rare bruising or and even more rare, upset stomach and so Chinese medicine is a very safe option too. Changes are usually seen very quickly, which is always welcome due to the social stigma of acne. For adolescents, once the body is balanced hormonally the problem will resolve. Adult acne requires a bit more diligence and occasional follow up treatments, but will respond well to Chinese medicine. In both cases, I believe it is a superior approach because it is effective and most importantly, safe.

If you or a loved one has tried Western treatment of acne to no avail or you would like an alternative to pharmaceuticals, consider consulting with your local Chinese medicine practitioner for an effective and safe approach.