Underlying Causes of Skin Health Issues From a TCM Perspective
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are five major organs that connect the entire body. They are the kidney, liver, heart, lung, and spleen. The skin is treated as an extension of the lungs. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the lungs are in charge of transporting food, fluids, and protective Qi (known as Wei Qi) throughout the body. When it is blocked, or the protective qi is too weak, it cannot nourish your skin properly, resulting in various skin conditions. The lungs are a very delicate organ, and there a number of environmental factors that can cause them to be off-balance. Some of these factors include heat, cold, dampness, and dryness
When the Yin and Yang energy in the lungs is off-balance, this can lead to skin problems such as acne, dryness, and eczema. If you are suffering from any of these conditions and looking at ways to help alleviate symptoms with Traditional Chinese Medicine here is what we suggest:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, acne is the result of heat and dampness in the lungs. Heat can be caused by too much spicy or fried food in your diet. It can also be caused by an imbalance in your hormone levels. Lung heat leads to the inflammation that causes acne. On the opposite end of things, dampness can also cause acne. Dampness is the result of poor digestion and oxygen circulation. This is caused, in part, by a diet that is high in rich or fatty foods, that do not allow the body to get rid of excess water. This, in turn, leads to fungal acne, cysts, and pimples.
One way that you can calm acne with Traditional Chinese Medicine is by introducing foods into your diet to bring balance (also known as Yin and Yang) back to your skin. Yin foods like leafy vegetables, fruits, grains & nuts cool the body down, and yang foods like meat, spicy dishes, wine, and coffee heat it up!
Topical treatments for acne in Traditional Chinese Medicine include aloe and tea tree oil.
Another cause of acne? Product overload! In modern Western medicine, it seems like the mindset is to just throw as many products at your acne as possible and hope something works. But in most cases that is only making your skin worse! A simple skincare routine is best for your health. Different skincare products often have multiple active ingredients. These active ingredients may interact with one another in a negative way, effectively increasing your chance for breakouts and weakening of the skin barrier. Instead, consider using fewer products with natural, potent ingredients.
A daily facial oil and serum combo pack can keep skin hydrated without clogging your skin.
Much like acne, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, eczema is an external manifestation of an internal problem. Also similarly to acne, eczema is caused by dampness, heat, and wind in the lungs. It’s a chain reaction, the dampness in the lung causes itching which then generates heat which results in redness and inflammation. In chronic cases of eczema, this chain reaction can also cause damage to the Qi (the vital energy flow that connects internal organs in the body). This can hinder the body's ability to nourish the skin. As a result, the body creates ‘wind,’ which causes dryness and itchiness. The ‘heat’ (in the form of inflammation) associated with many skin conditions, damages not only the skin’s integrity but also depletes its defensive energy, making it more vulnerable to infection and pathogens.
So how can Traditional Chinese Medicine help? A case study conducted on a six-month-old boy who suffered from eczema found that an herbal decoction helped treat the symptoms of eczema. The boy had red, dry, and itchy patches on both of his cheeks and inside the creases of both elbows and knees. He had originally been diagnosed by a pediatrician when he was two months old. After the diagnosis, they tried treating these symptoms with a soy-based formula, and a 0.5% Hydrocortisone ointment but the condition continued. After exhausting those options, he was then was prescribed a Chinese herbal decoction. According to the study, “as the TCM diagnosis of this patient’s case was found to be a deficiency of the spleen function (Qi), it was imperative to tonify and strengthen the spleen in order to eliminate the retention of dampness in the skin...Concerned with the patient’s young age, the treatment approach chosen was to select traditional Chinese herbs with gentle taste and functions but yet with the potency to accomplish the desired result.” The formula was given to the infant four times per day for six months. The skin rashes gradually decreased and the patient stopped scratching his skin. By the age of 15 months, the symptoms had completely disappeared. The patient was monitored for the next six years, during which time there was no recurrence of his symptoms reported by his family.
Another treatment for eczema? Licorice root! Licorice root has been used to treat a wide variety of inflammatory skin conditions for centuries. This is due to an active ingredient called Glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin has a strong anti-inflammatory activity that is similar to cortisol and steroids. Steroids are commonly used drugs in treating inflammatory dermatologic conditions. You can use licorice root both orally and topically.
If you suffer from eczema and acne, Traditional Chinese Medicine can be a great treatment option! Be sure to talk with a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine before pursuing any treatment plan.
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.