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I’m a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine and have experimented a lot with it on my own skin over the last 4 years. It definitely works on acne if applied correctly (though there are many useless practitioners out there and sadly one often have to shop around a bit to find a good one.)
I never had really bad skin, but would on a weekly basis get a couple of deep cystic pimples. Often they were so deep that they were not very visible and never erupted, but they really hurt. I tried all the regular antibiotics and creams, nothing worked. With the help of CM and some other techniques my skin has now been clear for about a year.
Its tricky to explain the concept without getting too complicated, but in a nutshell, the Chinese medicine diagnosis of acne is “damp heat”. When the digestive system and water metabolism are weak, this leads to an accumulation of “dampness” in the tissues (on the skin swelling and pus). “Heat” is seen as redness, inflammation, pain, etc. and is associated with an overstimulated nervous system, often caused or at least worsened by mental stress. So, what we do is remove the excess dampness, tonify the bodys metabolic activity, remove the excess heat, and tonify the bodys ability to handle stress.
Food wise this means:
Less sugar and more starch. Sugar is good for bringing down the stress, but too much can lead to said dampness. Same with wheat – in CM noodles and bread are great for building strength and creating body fluids in people with OK digestive fire, but not good for acne.
Cold food like ice cream cools down the stomach and really fuks up its function in transforming and transporting food => dampness.
Stimulating foods like chili, coffee, chocolate, alcohol are heating, so these are avoided. So is too much meat + garlic, ginger and other pungent spices.
Lower fat ratios. Definitely stay off the omega 6s, but that is perhaps not necessary to say. Here in China people eat bucket loads of vegetable oils and fat in general, and acne seems more prevalent than in the West. Most people don’t know about or follow the CM guidelines for acne, which are “avoid too much spicy, greasy, sweet foods”. Modern Chinese people live off of grease, spice and stress, and think Western medicine is much cooler than CM.
The typical CM diet that doctors recommend is heavy on the starch – white rice, sweet potato, millet – with some vegetables and meat or fish as supplementation. Some broth is often drunk on the side. Fat is kept at a minimum, salt levels are high. Then its slightly individualized according to the patients constitution. Its pretty 180 compatible, minus the sugar.
Tea (green, green oolong or puerh) is amazing for clearing up an already developing pimple, but too much / too strong can be very draining. Drinking with food is better.
Hydrochloric acid + digestive enzymes can be really helpful (though they dont fix the underlying pathology). HCLs effect could be seen with less greasy skin and pore size. Get HCL in bulk and cap it yourself. Start with low dosage.
Phenibut is fantastic for stress relieving, it can also help with fatigue and provide focus and motivation. Plus lots of other things. Its a GABA agonist – powerful stuff and truly a wonder supplement. Whenever I got my stress level down, I immediately saw improvements in my skin.
Meditation and breathing. Meditation lessens stress and I think deeper breathing has a profound effect especially on lymph flow and digestion.
Bathroom habits. Going to the bathroom first thing in the morning is helpful. Constipation seems to be directly linked to acne.
Massaging the face also seemed to help. Some have told me they used facial yoga.
Hmm, I think that was all. If I remember more, I’ll post it. Hope this helps :)