Chinese Medicine for Acne

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acupuncture head model

Researchers admit in their reviews that “More and more patients and dermatologists have turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for preventative as well as curative treatments in cosmetology” (Song & Shia, 2005) and “Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of treatment used as a complement to or, in some instances, as a substitution for Western medical therapies” (De Bedout & Nichols, 2021). Scientists also point out that “Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been practiced for thousands of years and has been used in the management of multiple dermatologic conditions, including acne and rosacea” (De Bedout & Nichols, 2021). The reality is that Chinese medicine for acne and other dermatological conditions was essential to enhance and maintain attractive appearance among the Chinese elite, and many different techniques have been developed during thousands of years (Wu, 2015). Also, “Isolation of active principles and utilizing modern technology to improve on formulations are the direction for future development” (Song & Shia, 2005).

Herbal Medicines for Acne Vulgaris

One research review states that the external herbal treatment of acne “seems to have affirmative effects,” but more studies are needed (Sung, Choi, Lee, & Shin, 2020). Research of using herbs as food supplements to treat acne shows success, but it also is plagued with difficulties and complexities. One issue is that there is more than one way to treat each individual patient, and while in theory all these approaches should work, in reality they show various degree of efficacy. Additionally, practitioners often use herbs in conjunction with other therapies from the rich arsenal of traditional Chinese medicine, such as cupping, acupuncture, gua sha, moxibustion, which can improve the success rate even further (Zhang et al., 2021).

Acupuncture for Acne

Acupuncture for acne can often be effective, and research studies suggest an even greater potential of its effectiveness. More often than not, acupuncture is about as effective for acne treatment as conventional medicine with fewer side effects (Chun‐Yan et al., 2021). At the same time, acupuncture appears to be more effective when it is combined with western medicine (Kou, Yu, Ren, Yang, & Tao, 2020). From the scientific medicine’s perspective, acupuncture can be effective because of its anti-inflammatory properties (Zhang, Jin, Feng, & Zhou, 2023).


  1. Chun‐Yan, C., Guang‐yao, X., Yan‐yan, S., Ming‐Shu, X., & Peng, L. (2021). Acupuncture: A therapeutic approach against acne. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology20(12), 3829-3838.
  2. De Bedout, V., & Nichols, A. J. (2021). Traditional Chinese medicine approaches. Integrative Dermatology: Practical Applications in Acne and Rosacea, 235-248.