Acne and Traditional Chinese Medicine

By lexutor May3,2022

Acne and Traditional Chinese Medicine

People looking for help with their acne vulgaris often try many treatments without much success. For thousands of years, Chinese Medicine doctors have used acupuncture and patient specific herbal formulas to treat acne. Maybe that form of acne management plan can be used today.

Consider this, Chinese traditional doctors think physical, emotional, and environmental factors are important in the individual patient when treating skin problems. From a Chinese medicine viewpoint, acne vulgaris is most often associated with heat and dampness affecting the organs and channels of the stomach, lungs and spleen.

In Chinese medicine, each organ has specific functions and is connected to a specific channel, running from the skin’s surface, internally to connect with the organ. Let’s now examine the Chinese doctor’s theories of the organ’s links to the skin.

Stomach – It is thought that the stomach naturally tends to be warm, which explains how it helps initially in digestion of food. But, this heat can easily form more heat, which can lead to spots and pimples along the stomach channel, which manifests on the chest and the face. They also think, the dampness in the stomach also may be a contributory factor, leading to increased sebum on the skin.

Lung – The lung is thought to control the skin. Any skin disease can therefore be related to the lung. This is often seen in some skin diseases, for example eczema, which often occurs with lung problems. Chinese traditional doctors also think the lung controls the skin pores. So, does this in some way link to the formation of sebum, which we know is a contributory factor in acne and spots?

Spleen – The spleen is thought by traditional Chinese doctors to control digestion. When digestion is underway, it makes large quantities of energy and is able to drive off the dampness. If the spleen is not functioning properly, the associated dampness can build up and again lead to sebum formation, acne and spots.

Stress and inherited life factors are some of the most common reasons for the disease of the organs. Also Chinese traditional doctors think poor food choices are also a common cause. For example eating, greasy, spicy, and heavy foods unbalance the function of the spleen in digestion that can bring about dampness, which again can influence an acne episode. Which is why, it is thought eating greasy burgers, chocolate, and spicy foods can be bad for acne vulgaris.


Mild acne can be treated with acupuncture, but more severe and difficult cases often require Chinese herbs as well. The acupuncture treatment is on the lung and stomach ‘channels’, which go along the arms and legs. Lung 5, at the elbow, is often used, as well as Stomach 36 below the knee. Herbs such as ‘pi pai ye’, ‘huang qin’ and ‘sang bai pi’ may be used. If you have tried and failed with many of the traditional acne prescriptions, then contact a registered acupuncturist with experience in treating acne, to find out more about how Chinese medicine might help you.

By lexutor

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