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Holistic Dermatology: A Chinese Medicine Point of View

Updated: Jul 19

Dermatological conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne, affect millions of people around the world.

Conventional treatments, using antibiotics and oral medications, can be effective in managing the symptoms, but they often come with unwanted side effects. As a result, many individuals are seeking alternative methods to manage their skin conditions. One of the best Holistic Dermatology alternatives is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its dermatological branch, TCM Dermatology.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Chinese Medicine Herbal Medicine

TCM is an ancient medical system that originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. It is based on the belief that the body is a complex network of interrelated systems and that health is achieved by maintaining a balance of these systems. TCM encompasses various practices, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and moxibustion, and it has been used to treat a wide range of health conditions.

Chinese Medicine: Holistic Dermatology

TCM dermatology is a specialized branch of TCM that focuses on the treatment of skin conditions. It uses a combination of herbal medicine, acupuncture, and other TCM therapies to help individuals manage their dermatological conditions.

TCM dermatology aims to treat the underlying cause of skin disorders by addressing the imbalances in the body that lead to these conditions.

Chinese herbal medicine is a fundamental aspect of TCM dermatology. Chinese Medicine herbology is one of the most efficient in the world. It uses a combination of herbs and minerals that are tailored to the individual patient's needs to help manage their skin conditions. For example, a formula for eczema might contain many herbs that have anti-inflammatory and antipruritic properties, while a formula for psoriasis might contain herbs that have detoxifying and blood-moving properties.

Common skin conditions treated by Chinese Herbal medicine

Here we can see an example of 5 common skin conditions. In clinical practice, we can treat a lot more.

Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)


Atopic Eczema is a chronic skin condition affecting around 10% of the population in the US. It causes inflammation, redness, itching, and dryness. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which usually appears as a red, itchy rash on the face, neck, hands, and feet. Other symptoms may include red, scaly patches, bumps, or blisters that ooze fluid and crust over.

Eczema can be a long-lasting condition.

Chinese Medicine Etiology:

In Chinese Medicine, it is referred to as Si Wan Feng, meaning "four bends wind," which refers to the four areas of the body it usually affects - the insides of the elbows and the backs of the knees.

The symptoms of eczema include dry, cracked skin that may be painful, red, or sometimes pale, thickened, scaly, and itchy with a burning sensation.

It can be caused by weakened immunity, emotional stress, and poor lifestyle habits.

In Oriental Medicine, eczema can cause intense itching that is usually worse at night, as well as hot or burning sensations. The onset of the eczema is usually abrupt, and the entire course of the lesions can last for weeks or years. Some people may scratch until they bleed, and if there are little red dots from scratching, this may indicate blood heat.

Chinese Medicine Treatment:

In Chinese dermatology practice, there are 3 major Eczema categories: Damp-Heat, Blood Deficiency, and Fire Toxin.

The treatments for eczema are based on a combination of herbal remedies, acupuncture, and dietary therapy. All of these remedies are customized for the specific characteristics of every individual patient. Herbal remedies may include the use of herbs such as chrysanthemum, red peony root, and licorice root to reduce inflammation and itching.

Acupuncture may be used to help balance the qi, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

Dietary therapy may involve eating foods that reduce inflammation and promote healthy skin, such as omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and antioxidants.

Systematic analysis on the effectiveness of TCM for Atopic eczema treatment:

1. A randomized, double-blind clinical trial conducted in 2015 found that a combination of Chinese herbology and acupuncture was effective in reducing symptoms of eczema. The study involved 60 patients and showed that treatment with Chinese herbs and acupuncture improved symptoms such as itching, redness, and inflammation.

2. A 2011 study published in the journal Chinese Medicine found that a combination of two Chinese herbal formulas was effective in treating patients with eczema. The study involved 60 patients, and the results showed that the combination of the two herbal formulas had an overall success rate of 90%.

3. A total of 176 patients were enrolled at the Shanghai Yueyang Hospital and were randomly assigned to the QZLXD treatment group (n=82) or the RZZYC control group (n=86). The differences in Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), Dermatology Life Quality Index, itching score, recurrence rate, and adverse events (AEs) were compared between the groups..

4. Effectiveness and Safety of Herbal Medicine for Atopic Dermatitis: An Overview of Systematic



Psoriasis is a common skin disorder affecting around 2% of the US population.

It is a chronic condition with reddened, swollen skin covered with silver-colored scales. The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown; however, genetics may be an important factor.

The rapid growth of new skin cells, combined with a slower rate of shedding of old cells, leads to the accumulation of live cells that form the thick patches that are seen with psoriasis.

Caucasians appear to be more likely to develop psoriasis than other races. Flare-ups of the condition may be triggered by factors such as illness, stress, or skin irritation.

Approximately 5% of individuals with psoriasis also experience psoriatic arthritis, which is characterized by joint pain and inflammation, either before or after the onset of psoriasis.

Chinese Medicine Etiology:

In the Golden Mirror of the Medical Tradition, written in 1742, we find this definition: " The 'Bai Bi' (white dagger sore) is a caused by pathogenic wind lodging in the tissue and skin, and also by blood deficiency, that makes difficult to nourish the exterior."

The causes of Psoriasis can be blood deficiency, damp-heat accumulation, Yin deficiency, wind-heat, toxic heat, blood stasis, and usually a combination of all or any of these patterns.

Chinese Medicine Treatment:

Herbal Remedies:

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) utilizes a variety of herbal remedies to treat psoriasis. Herbs such as Huang Bai (Phellodendron), Qing Dai (Indigo Naturalis), and Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion) are commonly used to reduce inflammation, accelerate skin cell turnover, and regulate the immune system.



Acupuncture is used in TCM to stimulate the nerves and trigger the release of endorphins. This can help to reduce inflammation and improve circulation. Acupuncture can also be used to reduce stress, which may be a trigger for psoriasis flare-ups.

Cupping Therapy:

Cupping is a form of TCM that involves placing heated glass cups on the skin. This process can help to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. It may also help to reduce itching and irritation associated with psoriasis.

Systematic analysis on the effectiveness of TCM for eczema treatment:

1. Acupuncture therapies for psoriasis vulgaris: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.

2. The effect of acupuncture for patients with psoriasis: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

3. Effect of Traditional Chinese Medicine on Psoriasis Vulgaris: A meta-analysis and systematic review.

4. Chinese Herbal Medicine for Psoriasis: Evidence for 11 High-QWua quality randomized controlled trials.


acne formation

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the pores of the skin become blocked with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. It usually appears on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders.

Acne can range from mild, with only a few pimples, to severe, with cysts and nodules. The most common cause of acne is hormonal changes during puberty.

During puberty, the body produces an increased amount of hormones called androgens. These hormones cause the oil glands in the skin to become overactive, leading to the formation of pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.

Other factors include genetics, certain medications, diet, stress, and poor skin care. These can either trigger acne or make existing acne worse.

Chinese Medicine Etiology:

In traditional Chinese Medicine, this condition is called Fen Ci ("white thorns").

Oriental medicine considers views acne as an imbalance in the body caused by an accumulation of toxins. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as an unhealthy diet, emotional stress, an inappropriate lifestyle, and environmental toxins.

In TCM, acne is directly linked to the health of the spleen, liver, and kidneys, which are believed to be the organs responsible for the body’s metabolic processes. When these organs become weakened, toxins accumulate in the body and cause an imbalance in the qi. This imbalance leads to an accumulation of heat and dampness in the body, which is the primary cause of acne.

Chinese Medicine Treatment

Herbal Remedies:

The herbs used in Chinese Medical Dermatology are often anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and/or anti-fungal herbs to reduce redness, inflammation, and acne-causing bacteria. Common herbs used for this purpose include honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, dandelion root, and burdock root.


The aim of this treatment is to reduce inflammation in dermatology patients and balance the body’s energy. Needles are inserted into specific points in the body to stimulate the body’s natural healing response.

Dietary Therapy:

Food is a very important part of TCM acne treatment. The goal of dietary therapy is to reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and improve digestion. This is accomplished by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein and avoiding processed foods, sugar, and dairy. Additionally, certain supplements and herbs may be recommended to help balance hormones and reduce inflammation.

Research studies on TCM treatment for acne:

1. Acupuncture: A therapeutic approach against acne

2. Identifying Chinese herbal medicine network for treating acne: Implications from a nationwide database.

3. A 2015 study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that a combination of acupuncture and Chines medicine was effective for treating mild to moderate acne.



Rosacea is a chronic and inflammatory skin condition that primarily affects the face.

It is characterized by symptoms such as blushing, facial redness, visible blood vessels, bumps, pimples, and in some cases, thickening of the skin. It is more common in people with fair skin and typically affects both women and men. Rosacea is not contagious, and there is no cure, but treatment can help reduce the symptoms.

Chinese Medicine Etiology:

Traditional Chinese Medicine views rosacea as a disorder of the digestive system, specifically related to an imbalance of the stomach and spleen. In Chinese Medicine, the stomach and spleen are responsible for the digestive process and the transportation of food and its nutrients throughout the body. An imbalance of these organs can result in the accumulation of toxins, which then manifests as skin rashes and other symptoms.

Rosacea is caused by an imbalance of the body's yin and yang energies, which can be caused by a variety of lifestyle and environmental factors. These include eating an unhealthy diet, stress, weather changes, and exposure to toxins.

Chinese Medicine Treatment:

Herbal Remedies:

Herbal remedies are a popular treatment option for rosacea, as they are natural and can help to reduce inflammation and provide numerous other benefits. Common herbs used to treat rosacea include chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, green tea, licorice, and cucumber. These herbs have anti-inflammatory and cooling properties that can help to reduce redness and irritation.


Acupuncture is another popular treatment option for rosacea, as it can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing. During acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into specific points of the body to stimulate the flow of energy. This can help to reduce redness and irritation and also improve overall skin health.

Cupping Therapy:

Cupping therapy is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves placing suction cups on the skin to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. It is believed to help improve blood circulation and reduce redness, as well as help the body to absorb nutrients and vitamins better. Cupping therapy can also help to reduce stress and improve overall sleep quality.

Research studies on TCM treatment for Rosacea:

1. Treatment of Rosacea using acupuncture for improving the local skin microcirculation

2. Treatment of Rosacea using acupuncture for improving the local skin microcirculation: A case report.

Allergic Skin Reactions

allergic skin reaction

Allergic skin reactions are abnormal responses of the immune system to certain substances. These substances, called allergens, are harmless to most people but can cause an immunologic reaction when they come into contact with skin. Common allergens include dust mites, pet dander, certain foods, drugs, insect stings, latex, and fragrances.

When a person is exposed to an allergen, the body produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This antibody binds to mast cells in the skin, which then release histamine and other chemicals that cause an allergic reaction.

Symptoms of an allergic skin reaction can include redness, itching, hives, swelling, and rashes. The goal is to manage the symptoms and avoid further exposure to the allergen.

Chinese Medicine Etiology:

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is believed to regulate the body’s qi or energy flow. When the liver is not functioning optimally, the qi can become blocked, leading to an allergic skin reaction. Allergies can be caused by a variety of factors, including emotional stress, poor diet, poor lifestyle habits, and environmental toxins.

Also, dampness may be a cause of allergic skin reactions. Dampness is an imbalance of the body’s fluids. Dampness can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor diet, lack of exercise, and environmental toxins.

Chinese Medicine Treatments:

Herbal remedies:

Herbal remedies are commonly used in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat allergic skin reactions. Herbal formulas may include herbs such as Dang Gui, Bai Zhu, Ren Shen, and Huang Qi, which are known to reduce inflammation, detoxify the body, and improve circulation. Other herbs that may be prescribed include Yin Chen, Xuan Shen, Jie Geng, and Zhi Zi.


During an acupuncture session, needles are inserted into specific points along the body to relieve symptoms and improve the overall functioning of the immune system. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation and increase the body’s natural ability to fight off allergens.

Dietary therapy:

Dietary therapy is also used in TCM to treat allergic skin reactions. The goal of dietary therapy is to reduce inflammation, balance the body’s energy, and improve overall health. Foods that are recommended include those that are high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as green tea, can also help reduce inflammation. In addition, avoiding processed foods, dairy, and sugar can also be beneficial.

Research studies on the effectiveness of TCM for allergic skin reaction treatment:

1. Successful management of chronic urticaria and food allergies in a pediatric population using integrative traditional Chinese medicine therapy: a case series.

Finding a qualified TCM practitioner

Finding a professional Oriental Medicine practitioner is essential to ensure the safe and effective use of treatments. They should be licensed and experienced in their field and have a comprehensive understanding of TCM principles, techniques, and therapies. A TCM practitioner should be able to provide personalized treatments based on an individual’s health concerns and constitution. Additionally, it is important to find a practitioner who is knowledgeable and experienced in the specific TCM technique that you are seeking.

At Soul Acupuncture & Herbal, we have a team with a great education and a long experience helping dermatology patients.


TCM dermatology offers a promising alternative method for managing dermatological conditions. You need to see a professional herbalist that makes the correct diagnosis and the proper treatment plan. Then you need to be patient and keep with the plan until you find the results.

The amount of time it takes to see results with Chinese medicine in dermatology conditions can vary depending on the health of the individual and the condition being treated. Generally, patients will begin to see some improvement within a few weeks, although it may take several months to see the full benefit of the treatment.

Chinese medicine focuses on treating the root cause of skin conditions rather than just treating the symptoms.

It also can provide long-term benefits and can be used in combination with conventional medicine.
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