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Chinese Medicine for Acne: Ancient Remedies for Clear Skin

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Acne vulgaris is a common skin condition characterized by plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), inflamed pimples, and sometimes deeper lumps or nodules. It occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, leading to inflammation and infection.

Acne vulgaris is often linked to hormonal imbalances. An increase in androgen hormones, such as testosterone, can cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This can lead to an overproduction of oil, which can cause clogged pores and acne breakouts.

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can also trigger acne. Stress can also cause an increase in hormones, which can lead to breakouts.

Signs and Symptoms of Acne:


  • Acne is common among adolescents and young adults. It may reappear as adult acne after hormonal imbalances.

  • Whiteheads: Small, raised bumps that are filled with pus.

  • Blackheads: Small, dark bumps that are filled with debris and oil.

  • Papules: Small, tender red bumps.

  • Pustules: Red bumps filled with pus.

  • Cystic acne: Large, painful bumps filled with pus.

  • Oily skin: Excessive oil production on the skin.

  • Acne scars: Permanent indentations or raised areas on the skin. These acne lesions are produced by the acne pitted.

  • Acne is often linked to hormonal imbalances.

What Causes Acne in TCM?

Causes of Acne

The main internal cause of the disease is the heat that builds up in the blood, while the main external causes are an improper diet and invasion by external pathogens. The stasis and binding of Phlegm can further exacerbate this.

Adolescents often have an imbalance of Yang heat, which can cause an increase in Ying and Xue levels. This can lead to stagnation of Qi and Blood due to the excess heat in the blood.

Eating for long periods of time spicy foods will produce internal Heat. Too much fatty food, especially seed oils, will inhibit the Middle Burner capacities, producing an accumulation of damp heat.

The Fire tends to go up, so the acne usually appears more often on the face and upper back. The more Fire, the more severe acne.

Chinese Medicine For Acne: Herbal Treatments

If you choose Chinese Medicine for acne, you are making a great choice:

It is effective, has fewer side effects, and is a life-changer option to improve your overall health!

Generally, we believe that the root cause of Skin Health is Gut Health.

We treat acne according to the different patterns; let's see the most common ones:

Lung Heat

In this pattern is normal to see whiteheads and blackheads that are papular and are often found on the forehead and around the nose. Other systemic symptoms are dry nose and mouth, dry stools, a red tongue with a thin yellow coat, and a superficial pulse.

In this case, the treatment plan for treating acne is focused on clearing heat from the lung organ and meridian.

Chinese Herbal Medicine:

Pi Pa Qing Fei Yin

This formula cools the blood, eliminates dampness, improves the blood flow, and clears heat from the Lung organ. It is usually chosen to treat skin problems like acne and rosacea.

Stomach Heat

In this pattern is easy to see white and papular blackheads in areas around the mouth, chest, and upper back.

The Heat in the Stomach comes from eating an unbalanced diet with too many greasy and spicy foods, fried foods, or processed foods. That excess heat builds up in the skin.

Other symptoms related to Heat in Yang Ming (Stomach) are: bad breath, dry mouth and tongue, desire to cool drinks, constipation, dark-yellow urine, and oily skin.

The treatment plan for this pattern is to clear heat from the stomach meridian.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

This formula clears heat from Yang Ming, Stomach, and Large Intestine. In addition to Stomach Heat, it can be used for constipation, ulcers and sores in the mouth, and skin rashes.

Blood Heat

Strong emotional issues produce Qi stagnation, and with time this stagnation transforms into heat. The heat warms up the Blood and produces acne in papules that can form around the mouth, nose, and eyebrows. Often an emotional issue will actually trigger breakouts of facial acne.

Premenstrual women often suffer from increased acne just before their periods, which is a sign that the root cause is poor blood flow.

Other signs of Heat in the Blood are dry stools, yellow urine, a red tip of the tongue with a thin coat, and a thin and superficial pulse.

The treatment principles are to cool the Blood, reduce inflammation, and move the blood.

Chinese herbs

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

This is a good Chinese medicine for heat and blood stasis in the treatment of acne. This Chinese herbal formula stimulates the production of blood, reduces stagnation, and would be most effective with the addition of Mu Dan Pi or Zhi Zi to help with the reduction of Heat.

Damp Toxin with Blood Stasis

This acne is a bigger inflammatory skin condition, with deeper nodules, and cystic acne with larger amounts of pus. The skin is usually very oily, and acne appears on the face, chest, and upper back. This pattern more easily produces acne scars.

This kind of acne develops when dampness accumulates on the skin, and an external toxin attacks the body. This produces a Qi disharmony, and the blood vessels develop blockages producing skin inflammation and infection.

The patient also may have headaches and excess heat all over the body. The tongue could be reddish purple with a yellow coat. The pulse can be deep and pounding.

Chinese herbs

Chu Shi Jie Du Tang

This herbal formula Eliminates Dampness relieves toxicity, invigorates the Blood, and dispels stasis. It is ideal for Damp toxicity with Blood stasis.

Treat acne with deep, inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts on an erythematous base.

Acupuncture Treatment For Skin Conditions

If the patient has heat in the Lung, we can choose points like Bl 13, Du 14, or Lu5.

For Heat in the Stomach, St 36, Li 4, Bl 21, Ren 12, or St 44.

For treating Heat in the Blood, points, like Sp10, Bl 17, and Sp 6 may be appropriate. If the patient also has Blood deficiency, it would be wise to add Ren 12, St 36, and Sp 3 to promote the production of Blood.

Another more simple alternative would be to use the back points Bl 13 (Back Shu point of Lung), BL 18 (Liver Back Shu point), BL 20(Spleen Back Shu point), and BL 23 (Kidney Back Shu Point)

This last acupuncture treatment would balance all organs involved in Phlegm, Dampness, and Blood, which would benefit skin health in general.

Traditional Chinese Medicine vs Biomedical Treatment

The focus of Western Medicine is usually limited to treating symptoms: it rarely considers the root or true origin of those symptoms. They can use pharmaceuticals or antibiotics; and topical treatments like Benzoyl Peroxide, antibiotic topical cream, or salicylic acid to treat skin conditions like facial acne and adult acne.

The focus of Chinese Medicine is to treat and eradicate acne by treating the root and origin of the acne: whether it is hormonal imbalance, heat, or stagnation in the body. In Chinese Medicine, each patient is treated differently according to their individual constitution: which is why it is typically more successful in treating hormonal and dermatological conditions and preventing them from flaring up in the future.

If you are suffering from acne and want to address the root of the problem while improving your overall health, you can try Chinese Medicinal herbal formulas, acupuncture, and diet adjustments.

In Chinese Medicine, we have a lot of efficient remedies for acne that will help you to obtain and maintain healthy skin, improve your digestive system, correct your hormonal imbalances, and enhance your overall wellness.

Tips to Prevent Acne:

Acne treatments

According to Chinese Medicine, acne and most skin conditions comes from an unbalanced diet, a wrong lifestyle, or a hormone imbalance.

Improve your diet, and avoid seed oils, refined flour, fried food, chocolate, sweets, and any processed food.

Drink plenty of water.

Reduce stress; practice sports and increase your fiscal activity. Have a healthy social life.

Have a healthy skincare routine to prevent acne, avoid wearing heavy makeup, and be gentle when exfoliating your skin.

Wash your face twice daily with a mild cleanser, and avoid touching your face with your hands or fingers.


Acording to Traditional Chinese Medicine, any issue in the skin is just showing a problem inside the body.

If you mask it with topical creams, you are not healing those skin disorders, and you are limiting the capacity of your body to eliminate toxins.

In Chinese Medicine theory, real healing comes from within; if your internal organs are in balance, you will heal your skin conditions and will improve any other aspect of your health.

If you really want to experience the effect of Chinese Medicine on acne, I recommend you to visit us at Soul Acupuncture & Herbal to discover how these natural treatments can improve your life.


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