One of the unpleasant rights of passage for most people as they go through puberty is acne. Acne vulgaris is characterized and treated differently by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) than in Allopathic medicine. In TCM, it is called Fen Ci or “white thorns”, due to the inflammatory papules and pustules that are formed on the face. It is caused by what TCM denotes as ‘heat’ or ‘damp-heat’ toxins in the skin due to a variety of pathways. Allopathic medicine, on the other hand traces its pathology to a plugging of hair follicles with consequent infection by the bacteria known as propionibacterium acnes. Although conventional medicine places little importance on diet, both orthomolecular and Traditional Chinese Medicine consider it to be very important.
In the Canadian great white north, acne was virtually unknown among first nations people, as their traditional diet consisted primarily of fish, game and occasionally wild berries and vegetables and no sugar. When milk and sugar were introduced to this population, acne also became prevalent. Other allergens such as chocolate have also been demonstrated to play a role in acne as well.
Orthomolecular nutritional interventions are as follows:
Zinc/Copper supplement at 30mg Zn/3mg Cu 2-3 times per day for 3 months then down to 15mg/day, which aids in wound healing. See Episode 27 of season 1
Vitamin A at 10-25,000IU/day to aid in skin repair. See Episode 26 of season 1
Vitamin B6 (in the pyridoxal-5-phosphate form) at 25mg/day for premenstrual flares. See Episode 36 of season 1
Vitamin C at 1000mg after each meal, to stimulate collagen synthesis, which also helps with tissue repair. See Episode 4 of season 1
Topical (4%) Niacinamide cream (which is one of the forms of vitamin B3), and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
In addition to the above dietary recommendations, Chinese medicine recommends herbal decoctions that are anti-inflammatory or “clear heat and damp”, as well as oolong tea after each meal until the acne clears.
Tune in next episode when we’ll cover Erectile Dysfunction.
Be Well and Be Zen
R. Gaby., Acne Vulgaris., Nutritional Medicine (2011)., Ch. 169., pp. 667-71, ISBN13: 978-0-9828850-0-0. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH.