Acne vulgaris (acne) is the formation of
comedones, papules, pustules, nodules, and/or cysts
as a result of obstruction and inflammation of hair follicles and the sebaceous
gland. Acne is a common disorder in youths, and is becoming more common in
older individuals (up to age 40), due to modern dietary and lifestyle habits
that consist of rich foods, and dietary and environmental toxins. Individuals
who are more prone to be affected include youths who are experiencing hormonal
fluctuations, women who have irregular menstruation, and people who suffer from
excessive stress due to work, family, or other emotional factors.
seen types of acne in the clinic include inflammatory types (papules, pustules,
cysts) and non-inflammatory types (black heads, white heads). Modern research
has found that acne is closely tied to hormonal imbalances – acne in young
women is most often related to menstrual cycles, and overproduction of
testosterone can cause pore enlargement and overproduction of sebaceous glands,
leading to acne all over the body. Acne can also be caused by improper hygiene,
leading to the excessive growth of acne-causing bacteria. Regrettably, acne is
not viewed as a serious disorder, with most people carrying the viewpoint that
it will naturally dissipate after age 25. However, if not treated properly,
acne may leave behind scarring [physically and emotionally], leading to a lifetime
of self-esteem issues.
Dermatrol (Clear) is an herbal formula that treats acne by
releasing wind-heat from the exterior and clearing heat and fire from the
Bo He (Herba Menthae) and Lian
Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae) are two herbs that effectively clear wind-heat
from the exterior. As the skin and the Lung are closely related, Huang Qin (Radix
Scutellariae) clears heat and eliminates toxins from the Lung, and Jie Geng (Radix Platycodonis) guides
these herbs to the Lung. By clearing heat from the Lung and the skin, these
herbs help to directly treat acne.
Coptidis), and Huang
Phellodendri Chinensis) are all bitter and cold herbs that clear heat and fire
from upper, middle, and lower jiaos, respectively. Furthermore, Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae) clears excess heat and fire throughout the body,
and Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) drains all
the heat out of the body through its laxative and purgative functions. Overall,
these herbs clear and drain heat and fire from the interior aspects of the
Beyond clearing heat from the exterior
and the interior, additional herbs are utilized to clear heat from specific
areas of the body. The location of
acne may indicate pathology relating to the organ systems of that particular
region. Acne on the forehead indicates a problem in the Heart. The Heart
dominates the shen (spirit), and people who have acne in this area tend
to think and worry excessively, such as students who are under a lot of
academic and social stress. This condition can be treated with Zhi Zi
(Fructus Gardeniae), which sedates fire in all three jiaos,
especially the Heart. Acne around the
nose indicates heat in the Stomach and Spleen, or the digestive system.
Individuals with acne in this region tend to stay up late, and have
inflammatory bowels after ingesting foods that are pungent and spicy. This
condition is best treated with Huang Lian
(Rhizoma Coptidis), an herb that clears fire from the middle jiao. Acne on the chin indicates Kidney imbalance,
or hormonal dysfunction. This type of acne tends to happen in females around
their menstrual cycles when hormone levels fluctuate. Huang Bo (Cortex Phellodendri Chinensis)
is the best herb to treat this condition, since it clears heat in the lower jiao. Liver is the organ that is responsible for
feelings and emotions. Therefore, acne on the cheeks or acne outbreak
associated with stress and anxiety tends to be characterized by Liver qi
stagnation or Liver fire. Hu Zhang (Rhizoma et
Radix Polygoni Cuspidati) is
included to clear Liver heat and Liver fire.
In addition to clearing heat and fire,
this formula uses Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae),
Ren (Semen Coicis), Yin Yang Huo
(Herba Epimedii) and Zao Jiao (Fructus Gleditsiae)
to clear dampness and drain pus. Chuan
Chuanxiong) is added to invigorate blood circulation, remove blood
stasis, and relieve pain. Finally, Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) clears
fire and drains toxic heat downward
Dermatrol (Clear) is an excellent formula to treat
acne by releasing wind-heat
from the exterior, clearing heat and fire from the interior,
and draining heat downward.
CAUTIONS & CONTRAINDICATIONS
formula is contraindicated in cases of cold or deficiency.
not use this formula during pregnancy and nursing.
* The following warning statement
is required by the State of California: “This product contains Da
Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei).
Read and follow directions carefully. Do not use if you have or develop
diarrhea, loose stools, or abdominal pain because Da
Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) may worsen these conditions and
be harmful to your health. Consult your physician if you have frequent diarrhea
or if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical
very effective folk remedy for acne is to use high quality, wild honey with
extra virgin olive oil. Mix two drops of honey and olive oil in a clean bowl
thoroughly. Apply to the acne before bedtime and leave it on overnight. This is
very effective for acne that has just started to develop and is painful but has
not yet manifested in redness or swelling on the face. During the day time,
apply a thinner amount on the local area to prevent the acne from breaking out.
This method is only useful when the honey and the olive oil are mixed and used
right away. Using the same mixture the day after, or applying honey on the face
first, and then olive oil next are all ineffective and may contribute to more
breakouts. Note: Be sure to pick high quality honey and extra virgin olive oil
to see results.
Diagnosis by Dr. Jimmy Wei-Yen Chang:
short and convex pulse on the right cun
* Acne due to poor diet (Stomach fire):
convex, forceful, and superficial pulse on the right guan
* Acne due to hormones (Kidney fire): Taiyang
pulse, a thick, long wiry, and forceful pulse, on both chi positions
* Acne due to stress (Liver qi stagnation):
convex and forceful in the left guan
* For pimples
that are hard and painful, add Resolve (AI).
* For pimples
that are infected with pus and abscesses, add Herbal ABX.
excessive heat manifesting in red face, red tongue and/or heat sensation and
irritability, add Gardenia Complex.
excess heat in the Liver, add Liver DTX.
deficiency heat in the Kidney, add Balance (Heat).
constipation, add Gentle Lax (Excess).
stress, add Calm (ES).
hormone-related acne where breakouts occur during or before menstruation, add Calm.
points: Baihui (GV 20), Chize (LU 5), Quchi (LI 11), Dazhui (GV
14), Hegu (LI 4), Feishu (BL 13), Weizhong (BL 40)
points: Sibai (ST 2), Xiaguan (ST 7), Jiache (ST 6)
sedation method, retain needles for 30 minutes, one time daily for ten days, or
until symptoms decrease, then switch to one time every other day.
Master Tung Points:
Method by Dr. Richard Tan:
* Right side: Sanjian (LI 3),
Quchi (LI 11), Taibai (SP 3), Yinlingquan (SP 9), Dadun
(LR 1), Zhongfeng (LR 4)
* Left side: Chize (LU 5), Taiyuan
(LU 9), Zusanli (ST 36), Xiangu (ST 43)
* Alternate sides from treatment to
Medicine by Dr. Li-Chun Huang:
Cheek Area, Liver, Spleen, Lung, Large Intestine, Adrenal Gland. Bleed Ear Apex,
Helix 4, or Cheek Area.
For acne that worsen during the menstrual cycle,
add Uterus, Ovary, Pituitary
* Besides establishing a normal
pattern of work and rest, individuals should incorporate more fresh fruits and
vegetables into their diets. Cook and eat fresh foods by steaming, boiling, and
* Drink more water to maintain normal
* Consume foods that are low calorie,
low fat, and low carbohydrate.
* Incorporate more of the following
cooling foods in the diet: tofu, tomato, celery, asparagus, bamboo, seaweed,
kelp, bitter melon, cucumber, gourd, luffa, winter melon, orange, grapefruit,
pear, banana, papaya, watermelon, white radish, mustard leaf, potherb mustard,
cactus, Chinese kale, napa, and bamboo sprout. However, long-term
consumption of cold fruits and vegetables like the ones listed above may be
damaging to the Spleen. To make the property more neutral, add about 20 pieces
of Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii) when cooking.
* Avoid certain fruits that produce
heat and aggravate acne, such as mango, lychee, and durian.
* Avoid spicy foods, deep-fried
foods, and canned foods.
* Avoid spicy, pungent, aromatic
vegetables such as pepper, garlic, onions, ginger, basil, rosemary, cumin,
fennel, anise, leeks, chives, scallions, thyme, saffron, wormwood, mustard,
chili pepper, wasabi, and cardamon.
* Avoid drinks such as coffee,
alcohol, sodas, and energy drinks.
foods that may trigger a skin response, such as chocolate, sweets, and peanuts.
foods and drinks with artificial coloring. Limit the intake of foods high in sugar and
* Consume as few meat products as
possible, especially meats high in fat. Do not eat processed meats such as lunch meats,
hot dogs, and sausages as they contain nitrites that are associated with
inflammation and chronic disease.
Tao of Nutrition by Dr. Maoshing Ni and Cathy McNease:
more squash, cucumbers, watermelon, winter melon, celery, carrots, cabbage,
beet tops, dandelions, aloe vera, mulberry leaf, carrot tops, lettuce, potato,
cherries, papaya, pear, persimmon, raspberries, buckwheat, alfalfa sprouts,
millet, brown rice, and mung beans.
plenty of water.
a cucumber, apply externally; leave on for 20 minutes then wash off.
plain, low fat organic yogurt; leave on for 20 minutes then wash off.
watermelon rind on the acne.
aloe vera to the affected area.
watermelon or drink watermelon juice.
dandelion and beet top tea.
raspberries to a concentrate and wash area with it.
oozing acne conditions, cover area with pearl barley powder overnight, wash off
with water; or mix pearl barley powder with aloe vera gel into a paste and
leave on area overnight, then wash off with water.
the face often, but not excessively. Excessive washing may lead to more oil
perspiring or washing the face, make sure to dry the face with a clean towel or
natural skin care products instead of products that contain chemicals and
proper moisturizers, e.g., moisturizers that are suitable for the skin type.
to rinse off excess facial cleanser, soap, and lotion from the face as the
chemical or the oil may contribute to more breakouts.
remove cosmetic products from the face before bedtime.
bed before 10:00 p.m. and make sure to have adequate amount of sleep.
more water throughout the day.
humidity and sweating, which may trigger acne.
AND CLINICAL RESEARCH
vulgaris (acne) is the formation of comedones, papules, pustules, nodules,
and/or cysts as a result of obstruction and inflammation of hair follicles and
the sebaceous glands. Optimal treatment requires use of herbs to target various
aspects of acne, including herbs with regulatory effects on the hormones, herbs
with antibiotic effects to treat the infection, herbs with anti-inflammatory
effects to reduce swelling and inflammation.
The most common cause of acne in puberty
is the overproduction of sebum due to the stimulation of androgen. Therefore,
use of herbs to regulate and balance the hormones will greatly reduce the
number and severity of acne outbreaks. Yin Yang Huo
(Herba Epimedii) is one of the most effective herbs to influence the
production and release of sex hormones, including corticosterone, cortisol,
testosterone, and estrogen.,,
Another herb of great importance is Huang Qin (Radix
Scutellariae), which has an antiandrogenic effect through inhibition of
the androgen receptor signaling pathway.
Together, these two herbs regulate and balance the endogenous hormones, which
in turn control sebaceous gland function and excessive production of sebum.
Infection is an important cause and
complication of acne. As a cause, proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes in the keratinocytes directly contributes
to infection and inflammation of the follicles. As a complication, cases of acne
with open comedones are prone to contact infection from skin bacteria, which in
turn form abscesses and increase the risks of scarring. Therefore, the use of
herbs with antibiotic effects is very important for optimal treatment of acne.
According to a study that evaluated 119 plants, Yin Yang Huo
(Herba Epimedii) and Hu
Zhang (Rhizoma et Radix Polygoni Cuspidati) have been identified as
two herbs with potent antibiofilm activity against Propionibacterium acnes. In fact, these two herbs showed marked
antibiofilm activity when used in subinhibitory concentrations, indicating that
killing of microbial cells is not their only mode of action.
Furthermore, this formula contains many other herbs with antibiotic effects,
including but not limited to Huang
Phellodendri Chinensis),, Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis), Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae),, and
Lian Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae).
Obstruction of pilosebaceous duct is
also an important aspect of acne. Therefore, use of herbs with
anti-inflammatory effects is important to reduce swelling and inflammation, and
eliminate the obstruction. In this formula, Bo He (Herba
Menthae) and Zao Jiao (Fructus Gleditsiae) have antiallergic and
anti-inflammatory effects to suppress histamine release and prostaglandin D(2) synthesis from mast cells.,,
Da Huang (Radix et
Rhizoma Rhei), Huang
Coptidis), and Huang
Qin (Radix Scutellariae)
all have anti-inflammatory activity to reduce swelling and inflammation and
treat skin disorders.
Finally, other herbs with anti-inflammatory effects include Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), Hu Zhang (Rhizoma et
Radix Polygoni Cuspidati), Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis),
Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae),
and Yin Yang Huo (Herba Epimedii).
Together, these herbs reduce swelling and inflammation to eliminate obstruction
of the pilosebaceous duct in acne.
In summary, Dermatrol (Clear) has an
excellent effect to treat acne through its pharmacological effect to regulate
the hormones, control and suppress infection, and reduce swelling and
Acne vulgaris (acne) is the formation of
comedones, papules, pustules, nodules, and/or cysts characterized as
inflammatory (papules, pustules, cysts) and non-inflammatory types (black heads,
white heads). Common causes of acne include hormonal imbalance, use of
occlusive cosmetics, cleansing agents, clothing, and environment (humidity).
Proper treatment of acne is important for many reasons: to avoid infection, to
prevent scarring, and possible short- and long-term self-esteem issues.
In Western medicine, acne is treated
with four main types of drugs. First are topical antibacterial drugs, such as
benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, and erythromycin. Though the use of these drugs
topically is generally well tolerated, they may still cause adverse reactions
such as dry skin and allergic responses. Second is the use of topical
exfoliants to remove the old and dead skin cells, such as Retin A (tretinoin) or Tazorac (tazarotene). The main adverse
reactions of these types of drugs are skin irritation, increased sun
sensitivity, and stinging sensations. Third is the use of oral antibiotics,
such as tetracycline, doxycycline, or erythromycin. Though these drugs are
effective and inexpensive, use of them will likely cause increased sun
sensitivity and upset stomach. Finally, when all else fails, oral retinoid such
as Accutane (isotretinoin) may be prescribed. However, this should be avoided
if at all possible because this drug causes many short- and long-term side
effects, such as damages to the blood cells, the liver, arthralgias, depression,
and risks of birth defects.
In Chinese herbal medicine, acne is
generally diagnosed as a heat condition. As such, herbs that dispel wind-heat
from the exterior and clear damp-heat from the interior are generally
prescribed with great success. From pharmacological perspectives, these
heat-clearing herbs are ones with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Furthermore, since hormonal imbalance is also a common cause of acne, an
effective, but often under-utilized approach, is the use of herbs to regulate
and balance the hormones. In this formula, herbs are used to clear heat from
the exterior and balance the hormones from the interior to achieve a
synergistic and optimal result for acne treatment.
Overall, both herbs and drugs treat acne
safely and effectively. In most cases, herbs can be used to treat mild to
moderate cases of acne with good effect and little or no side effects.
Short-term use of antibiotic drugs or topical exfoliants is also well-tolerated
in most cases. However, oral retinoid such as Accutane (isotretinoin) or oral
corticosteroids such as prednisone should not be used unless the acne condition
is very severe, and all other options have been proven ineffective, as these
drugs often carry more long-term risks than short-term benefits.