Acne and Chinese Herbal Medicine

The Chinese know a thing or two about medicine and have a tradition going back thousands of years to 300 BC. Although it is seen as an alternative therapy by the medical establishment in the West, many Chinese medicinal methods have now entered the mainstream with treatments such as acupuncture approved by the health authorities.

In China, traditional herbal medicine is well respected and practised alongside modern medicine in hospitals. In the West, many people look to Chinese medicine to treat their skin conditions such as acne psoriasis and exezma.

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Chinese herbal medicine takes a different approach to Western medical practice when looking to treat an illness or condition. An very simple explanation is that health and illness is based on balance or yin and yang. When your body is out of balance, your health suffers and this imbalance manifests as a disease or ailment. Your body and well-being is looked at as a whole (holistically) and treated accordingly.

Chinese medicine aims to treat the reasons that you may suffer from a condition and bring your body back into balance. In the West, health professionals tend to focus on the symptoms but ignore the causes.

Chinese herbal medicine believes that acne is caused by heat and damp heat influencing vital organs (called the Zang Fu) and the meridians – the energy lines that map your body. It is a complicated process. The different types of acne are classified as to whether it is caused by blood heat , toxic heat, damp heat, lung heat or stomach heat Your type of acne is assessed and you will be asked non acne related questions about your general health.

For example if you suffer from pustules, your skin is red and you feel generally unwell you may have toxic heat. Alternatively, damp heat is characterised by oily skin a rapid pulse and a red tongue.

Once the correct cause has been diagnosed, you will be prescribed a range of natural herbs and plant substances matched with your particular condition. Many good quality herbal acne treatments use similar ingredients to those used in Chinese herbal medicine. Green tea for example is an antioxidant rich drink with well-proven health benefits that originates from Chinese herbal medicine.

Whether or not you are sceptical about Chinese medicine and the way it works, it is a fact that many people have cured their acne by using it. If you are taking medication already, you may need to consult your doctor first. Make sure the Chinese herbal practitioner you visit is registered; in the UK and Europe, this will be the RCHM – the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. In the USA the American Chinese Medical Association or ACMA.

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