"There are several kinds of acne recognized in TCM," says Allen Sayigh, MAc, LAc, an acupuncturist and manager of the Chinese Herbal Dispensary at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. "They are nearly always a condition of excess 'heat.'"
Chinese medicine, which seeks to correct internal imbalances that give rise to symptoms, often addresses disease in terms of excess of heat, cold, dampness, dryness or wind in the body. "Some reasons for this excess heat may be a person's natural constitution," says Sayigh, "but it can also be influenced by hormonal fluctuations."
Both women and men may experience adult acne, but it is more common in women, where it is called post-adolescent female acne and is typically related to the menstrual cycle. In this type, pimples tend to appear on the face, usually around the jaw, chin and mouth, says Sayigh. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly half of all women experience acne flare-ups and increased facial oiliness during the week preceding menstruation.
A TCM treatment involves a tailor-made herbal formula, which can work better than a general acne cream or prescription. Says Sayigh, "Some herbs are better for oily skin, some are better for the post-adolescent female type, and some are more effective for adolescent acne."
Since the focus is on addressing root causes, not quick fixes, a treatment plan may also involve modifying one's diet to reduce sugar, spicy foods and alcohol. Most people see results within a month, Sayigh says, but it may take three to six months for one's complexion to become fully clear.
To make an appointment with a Chinese herbal medicine practitioner at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, call (206) 834-4100.
And to learn more about healthy skin care, attend a free lecture on “Healthy Skin Through Better Nutrition” with Bastyr Center for Natural Health clinical supervisor Phoebe Yin, ND, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, September 17, 2011. The clinic is at 3670 Stone Way N. in Seattle.