TCM for pimples? Sure, why not. After all, pimples aren’t just for teens anymore.
According to the British Journal of Dermatology, although facial breakouts are principally a concern of adolescence, current research indicates that the prevalence in adults is increasing substantially.
The good news is that the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine—one of the oldest medical systems in the world, dating back at least 4,000 years—unveils the root causes of skin breakouts and the herbs that may support normal skin.
What Causes Pimples? A Western Perspective
Skin follicles naturally produce sebum, which is the oil-like substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Breakouts are caused when a plug forms in the follicle. When the follicle is plugged, sebum is unable to be secreted from the skin’s surface.
The stagnated sebum then starts accumulating bacteria, which would otherwise stick to its usual turf: the surface of the skin. As bacteria builds up below the skin surface in the plugged follicle, inflammation occurs. Eventually, the follicle degrades and spews the bacteria-laden sebum on adjacent skin.
Then, it’s hello pimples.
In Western medicine, facial breakouts are mostly blamed on clogged pores, fluctuating hormone levels and prescription medication side effects.
What Causes Pimples According to TCM?
According to alternative/complementary medicine practitioners, skin problems are a manifestation of poor digestion, detoxification and gut dysbiosis (not enough friendly bacteria and an excess of pathogenic bacteria).
The main cause of pimples, TCM theory holds, is the accumulation of heat or dampness in the organ systems that control detoxification and digestion.
This explanation falls more in line with traditional Chinese medicine theory. The main cause of pimples, TCM theory holds, is the accumulation of heat or dampness in the following organ systems that control detoxification and digestion: Liver, Lungs, Spleen, Stomach, Kidney, and Large Intestines.
Excess heat that’s trapped in the body causes a backlog of toxins and stagnant Qi and Blood. These imbalances are the root cause of pimples.
Moreover, dark red pimples or pustules, according to TCM theory, are indicative of Blood Stasis, which in turn is caused by excess heat in the blood. As for the whitish pus that prominently appears in pimples, the culprit is excess dampness.
(One lifestyle factor that leads to excess heat is consuming lots of sugar as well as fried and greasy foods. That a poor diet leads to a facial breakout is something both TCM and Western medicine can agree on.)
How Does TCM For Pimples Work?
TCM herbs address the imbalances that cause excess heat, dampness and Blood stasis.
Two legendary TCM herbs may lead to better internal harmony: honeysuckle flower and licorice root. The former, known as Jin Yin Hua in TCM, clears heat and toxicity, and disperses wind-heat out of the pores, while the latter, Gan Cao, also tonifies the Spleen, which improves digestion and detoxification.
Best Herbal Formulas For Pimples and Skin Health
AcniPearl is one of the most famous TCM formulas for skin health. It clears the redness of the skin that’s caused by excess heat as well as the excess oiliness caused by dampness. AcniPearl can also be used for poison ivy or poison oak.
For other skin conditions such as rashes, scaly skin and itchiness, Skin Windclear may be more appropriate, especially if your symptoms are exacerbated by stress or poor immune function.
Recommended Reading From the ActiveHerb.com Blog:
Feed Your Skin: How Chinese Medicine Enhances Your Beauty From The Inside Out