chinese medicine for acne

Chinese Medicine for Acne

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been practised for centuries, to treat multitudes of different health problems.  While other mainstream medicine practices often aim to cover up and even suppress health problems by merely focusing on the symptoms, Chinese Medicine addresses the underlying health issues which cause symptoms to arise.  An important part of Chinese Medicine is Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM).  In this article we’ll discuss some of the different aspects of CHM, and how it can be used to treat acne.

chinese medicine for acne

How Does Chinese Herbal Medicine Treat Acne?

Chinese Herbal Medicines (CHMs) can be used to treat acne either internally or externally.  Taking a Chinese herbal tea or decoction can be effective for treating internal causes of acne, such as organ function imbalances, while applying Chinese herbs to your skin can help with some of the external symptoms.  Researchers have found that CHMs have certain properties that can treat acne in different ways.  One study showed that “Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects were commonly found in the CHM network, and CHMs with anti-androgenAndrogen A steroid hormone, such as testosterone or androsterone, that controls the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. All genders make androgens, but males make more of them., anti-depressive and skin whitening effects were frequently used in combination.”

chinese medicine for acne

Chinese Herbal Medicine Diagnosis

A qualified Chinese Medicine practitioner can use various methods to identify which herbs you’ll need in order to heal.  In this diagnosis, your practitioner will ask questions about your physical, emotional, and mental symptoms, overall health, and medical history.  To gain more information about your condition, your Chinese Medicine doctor may also take your pulse, check the appearance of your tongue, or palpate your abdomen. At our clinics in Hamilton and Remuera, Auckland, our qualified practitioners can give you a full diagnosis in order to treat your condition as effectively as possible.

Syndrome Differentiation Technique

A key method in identifying the underlying cause of your condition is called syndrome differentiation.  Syndrome means a specific group of symptoms.  By analysing and summarising all your symptoms, your practitioner can determine the nature of your underlying syndrome.  For example, your acne symptoms may be the results of conditions such as hot or cold natured syndromes, Yin or Yang syndromes, or even excess or deficiency syndromes.

Once your practitioner knows what the nature of your health condition is, they can prescribe CHMs to help heal your syndrome.  For example, if your symptoms are being caused by a cold natured condition, your practitioner can prescribe hot natured herbs to balance it.  By addressing your condition on this deeper level, your Chinese Medicine practitioner addresses the cause of your symptoms.  This means that your symptoms will naturally go away as the cause is treated.  The specific herbs you require may also change over time, as your symptoms change, and your body starts to heal.

Chinese Medicine for acne

Internal Chinese Medicine Herbs for Acne

Chinese Herbal Medicine can be taken orally as a tea or decoction, to help address internal syndromes.  Although everyone’s body is different, and CHMs can be formulated on an entirely individual basis, CHMs can also be prescribed on a more general basis.  Several common syndromes have been identified that can cause acne symptoms, and these syndromes are treated with different herbs.  For example, levels 1 and 2 of the acne classification correspond to “pulmonary wind-heat syndrome” in Chinese Medicine, which can be treated with loquat and Xie Bai CHM powders.  Similarly, levels 2 and 3 of the acne classification are equivalent to “spleen and stomach damp-heat syndrome” and can be treated using Qilianpingwei powder or a Yinchenhao decoction. For more information about Traditional Chinese Medicine, click here.

External Chinese Medicine Herbs for Acne

While Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat acne by addressing internal syndromes, your practitioner can also treat the symptoms of acne by applying herbs externally.  One Chinese Medicine face mask can help to fight pustules, blisters, and cystic lesions, by clearing heat and blood stasis, and dissipating binds.  This mask is made from a combination of fine sulphur powder and rhubarb and is applied for 30 minutes every evening.

Another method for externally treating acne is by applying a Chinese Medicine wet compress.  This can help treat inflammatory pustules and papules, and works by detoxifying, clearing heat, and reducing inflammation.  This compress is made from a decoction of golden cypress, purslane, and violae herba, and is applied twice a day for 20 minutes.


Overall, Chinese Herbal Medicine can treat acne in many ways.  Your practitioner will firstly identify the underlying cause of your acne symptoms by using the syndrome differentiation method.  From there, your Chinese Medicine doctor can prescribe different types of Chinese Herbal Medicines (CHMs), either internally or externally.  These herbs work by addressing your underlying health syndrome.

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