How Can I Get Rid of Dark Spots With TCM and Asian Herbs
Hyperpigmentation (or dark spots) are a common and unavoidable skin problem that everyone deals with. Whether they’re the result of sun exposure, picking at an acne scar, or something else, it is not fun to deal with.
We’ve spoken about the concept of Yin and Yang within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) but just as a refresher: TCM’s primary goal is to establish and maintain the internal stability of the systems at work inside the body through the balance of yin-yang, two opposite but complementary forces. The body’s Yin (cold energy) and Yang (hot energy) need to be flowing evenly throughout your body in order to have balance. If a problem should arise, it is due to an imbalance.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a couple of known remedies that are recommended for those trying to fade their dark spots.
What Causes Dark Spots
The most common causes of dark spots is overexposure to sunlight, acne, and aging. But there are some people who aren’t exposed to long hours of sunlight, don’t suffer from acne and aren’t showing signs of aging that still develop these dark spots.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the reason for this could be things like poor diet, lack of rest, mental stress and a hormone imbalance that is causing the body to produce more melanin. According to one researcher of Traditional Chinese Medicine, they found that people who are always tired, lack sleep, or sleep very late have higher chances of getting Melasma and freckles.
Now that we’ve covered the why, let’s talk about the how! Licorice root extract is a common ingredient used in many skincare products to lighten the discoloration or pigmentation. Glabridin, an active ingredient in Licorice root, has shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects and inhibits tyrosinase, a key enzyme that is responsible for making the pigmentation.
Liquiritin is another active ingredient, which does not inhibit tyrosinase but it helps to disperse and remove melanin and pigments in the skin. In one clinical study conducted in 20 Egyptian women, the investigators showed that use of skincare cream containing liquiritin was both safe and effective in the treatment of melasma. This is why licorice root is used in many skincare products aiming to deliver radiant and brightening effects.
Licorice can be found in many forms. Licorice root is available as an extract, powder, chewable tablet, or even in its natural root form. There are also multiple types of licorice root found all over the world. Glycyrrhiza Uralensis is a variety of licorice native to Eastern Asia. Glycyrrhiza Uralensis frequently referred to simply as licorice root, is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Gotu Kola (also known as Centella Asiatica) is a type of leafy plant that has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is due, in part, to the fact that it is indigenous to the tropical wetlands of Southeast Asia. Gotu Kola is believed by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine to have antimicrobial, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and memory-enhancing properties. It is widely sold as a dietary supplement in capsule, powder, tincture, and topical formulations.
A study on the efficacy of Gotu Kola concluded that“the therapeutic potential of this plant in terms of its efficacy and versatility is such that further detailed research appears crucial. The growing number of herbal preparations in the market, including CA, raised the possibility of complications related to improper use of these products, or the lack of medical supervision along with the likelihood of interactions with the drugs and herbs on simultaneous use. Several of the recent cases reported to the special Nutritionals adverse event monitoring System indicated the importance of providing patient counseling on the use of herbal preparations.”
Gotu Kola is also recommended to help with the lightening of dark spots. It does so by clearing heat and dampness and reducing toxins and swelling. When in powder form and mixed with water, the paste can be applied directly onto blemishes.
Asian Herbs and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a long history of being proven to treat skin ailments. When herbal skincare routines are combined with other Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments like acupuncture, it has been shown to fade dark spots and melasma significantly. A study on the efficacy of herbal treatments for dermatological disorders (like dark spots) found that “many herbal therapies have been used for centuries, which show good anecdotal results. A few randomized, controlled trials have also demonstrated significant results in the use of herbal therapies for the treatment of dermatologic disorders. Some countries, such as Germany, now require standardization of herbal preparations and specific recommendations as to the use and efficacy of herbs in the treatment of disease.”
At Dr. Wang Herbal Skincare, we use our extensive experience to offer affordable, high-end skincare products for spa and at-home use. For over 20 years, the father-son team of Steven Wang, MD and Gui Wang, LAc has been working together to develop holistic solutions to common skin health issues. We believe in fusing ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with modern Western medicine to offer the best of both worlds.