As acne affects close to 700 million people across the globe, it is one of the most common skin diseases known to affect mankind. Contemporary approaches to Acne Management can sometimes be wrought with too many risks because of the harsh chemicals that are either taken as a medicine or applied as a topical skin treatment. Traditional Chinese medical practices have been long used for the management of acne. Its efficacy in managing different
types of acne is well-known the world over.
Medical experts describe acne as a result of clogging or obstruction of hair follicles by the accumulation of oils and dead skin cells. While 8 out of 10 individuals are naturally born with the genetic code for acne, a good number of acne cases are triggered by cigarette smoking, high levels of androgens, especially during puberty and adolescence, and an excessive growth of Propionibacteria.
The Alternative View
Traditional Chinese medicine looks at acne not as a result of clogged hair follicles, but rather as heat in the meridians of the lungs and the stomach. The alternative view suggests that acne develops when excess heat from the lower parts of the body ascends towards the face. Spicy and fatty foods as well as fried and sweet delicacies are believed to produce dampness as well as undigested metabolites which can all generate heat. If not managed properly, the dampness can turn into something more viscous which is believed to hamper the efficient flow of blood. Because blood cannot adequately flow, it generates more heat.
This view calls for the removal of the pathogenic heat from the organ, fundamental substance, or the related body meridian. Acne management using traditional Chinese medicine calls for the use of herbal medicines, dietary suggestions, exercise routines, and acupuncture.
Herbal medications as used in the management of acne are geared towards the reduction of inflammation and the prevention of the formation and development of new acne. Herbal medications are also intended for the reduction of the so-called internal dampness as well as to enhance the overall function of the gastrointestinal system, especially in the elimination of toxic substances which may contribute to the development of acne.
The most common herbal medications used to treat acne include Folium Eriobotryae Japonicae (Pi Pa Ye) and Cortex Mori Albae Radicis (Sang Bai Pi) for pathogenic heat originating from the lung meridian. For heat coming from the stomach meridian purgative herbal products such as Mirabilitum (Mang Xiao) and Radix et Rhizoma Rhei (Da Huang) are used.
Acupuncture as an acne treatment involves the insertion of sterile needles into the specific meridians of the body. For pathogenic heat that originates from the lung meridian, Qu Chi (large intestine 11), He Gu (large intestine 4), and Qi Ze (lun g 5) acupuncture points are used. For stomach heat patterns, Qu Chi (large intestine 11) and Nei Ting (stomach 44) points can be stimulated in order to achieve the desired effect of removing the pathogenic heat from the body.
Diet and Lifestyle
The holistic approach to acne management by traditional Chinese medical practitioners calls for the integration of diet suggestions such as a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diets. Additionally, processed and fried foods are best avoided. Lifestyle changes may also have to be observed in order to restore the balance in the body.
Traditional Chinese medicine can be a safe and equally effective alternative in the management of acne. Whether acne is caused by physiologic changes in the body or an imbalance in the generation of heat, its effective management is what really matters.