Hormonal Acne Natural Treatment with Ayurveda, Acupuncture, & Chinese Herbs is Safe, Effective, and Gentle.
Treatment for hormonal acne involves a short course of acupuncture, usually twice a month for three months. For Cystic Acne, or other severe cases, we need to do acupuncture once per week for 3 weeks, plus the twice a month treatment.
I use Acupuncture to balance the hormones, which is why we do it twice a month, during the pre-ovulation and pre-menstrual phases. There are Acupuncture points also to clear the pathological heat and damp that hormonal imbalances produce in cases of hormonal acne.
We also choose the acupuncture treatment based on the location of your acne. Different acupuncture channels affect different parts of the face. Acupuncture is also a way to get your nervous system out of the stress response that triggers hormonal imbalances.
Ayurveda and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs are part of my protocol for curing hormonal acne. Acne in Ayurveda is primarily a Pitta elevation, and secondarily a Kapha elevation. So the Ayurvedic treatment of acne is based on a diet, lifestyle, and herbal medicines that pacify Pitta and Kapha.
These are herbs that clear pathological heat from the body, especially from the skin. These herbs (and foods) also “decongest” the tissues and shrotas/channels, and clear pathological dampness from the skin. This is the Kapha pacifying effect.
Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs that clear heat and pacify Pitta from the skin have a strong antibacterial effect. They are like herbal antibiotics, but are much less harmful to the gut than antibiotics, and in many cases actually detoxify the gut in a good way.
These herbs clear infections anywhere in the body. They are combined with Chinese herbs that detoxify the skin, and are used in China to promote healthy radiant skin.
Chinese herbs like Forsythia and Lonicera are used to bring infections in the skin to the surface. Others are used to soften cysts and can be used for boils and any kinds of cysts. They are used for swollen glands as well as for hormonal acne.
When treating hormonal acne I use herbs for the Acne itself, as above. But I also use herbs to treat the underlying cause of the acne. This includes herbs for Constipation and Digestion, and above all herbs to balance your hormones and regulate your menstrual cycle.
If stress is a big factor I may include herbs that have a relaxing effect, especially if you have insomnia.
There are many Chinese herbal formulas to choose from depending on the quality of your acne, whether its on your back as well as face, and most important, how it fits into your menstrual cycle. For example if its worse Premenstrually, or if its associated with difficult of painful periods.
I also use Diet Therapy based on Ayurveda and Classical Chinese Medical Diet theories. This involves evaluating your existing diet and eliminating foods that worsen Acne. These depend on the person’s constitutional type, and the kind of acne they have.
It may include avoiding foods the promote excessive heat or dampness, or that weaken the digestive fire.
Diet Therapy in Ayurveda
Diet Therapy in Ayurveda will typically be a light Sattvic diet that pacifies Pitta and usually Kapha, but that also strengthens Agni and reduces Ama. I help you choose the diet the pacifies your individual dosha.
It also involves recommending foods to eat that can help clear the skin.
Ayurvedic Masks, Cleansers, and Essential Oil “Acne Magic”
What you use to clean your skin is also important. I have inexpensive natural cleansers I have had very good success with in curing hormonal acne and cystic acne. I also use Ayurveda Herbal Masks, and Original Swiss Aromatics brand “Acne Magic” and other essential oil products that detoxify the skin and promote healthy new skin growth.
Hormonal Acne and Testosterone
In a certain sense most acne is hormonal, as it is often associated with increased levels of the hormone testosterone, in both men and women.
Testosterone is made in the adrenal glands, the ovaries, and of course the testes. Its the adrenal glands that produce the adrenalin that is involved in the fight or flight stress response. Short bursts of adrenalin in moments of danger are normal. But chronic adrenalin produced by chronic stress is toxic. That is why we often see the appearance of acne during periods of high stress.
Stress Hormones and the Ovaries
The adrenal glands directly influence hormonal production in the ovaries. This is called the “Adrenal-Ovarian Axis.” Excess adrenalin has a negative effect on health progesterone and estrogen levels. This is why stress and your mental response to stress play such a large role in your menstrual cycle symptoms, from PMS to heavy bleeding, to hormonal acne. Its also why high stress increases infertility.
When you see flare-ups in acne a week to ten days before the start of your period, which is improved after bleeding, you know you have hormonal acne.
Acupuncture Channels: The Location of Your Acne Tells a Story
Acne Along the Chong Channel: Menstrual Hormonal
In Chinese medicine we look at the location of the acne in women to determine if it is associated with hormonal fluctuations. When the acne is predominant along the path of the Chong channel, which is related to both the stomach and menstrual/reproductive function, around the mouth from the cheeks to the chin, it is typically hormonally related.
When we see this pattern of acne, and when we see acne anywhere on the face or back that is dramatically worse premenstrually, or occurs only premenstrually, then this points us towards a particular pattern of acupuncture treatment to regulate the hormones, and herbal therapy that restores balance to the hormones, as well as clears damp-heat from the skin.
Acne Along the Gall Bladder Channel: Stress Hormonal
On the other hand, when you see acne along the side of the face, in front of the ears up to the temples, this is a completely different pattern, requiring a different treatment, “clearing damp-heat from the gall bladder channel”.
This pattern is more typically the result of stress hormones than progesterone/estrogen imbalance, especially if it is unchanged through the cycle. In this case I often use an herbal prescription called Long Dan Xie Gan Tang/Gentiana Decotion to Drain the Gall Bladder
How You Choose The Right Chinese Herbal Formula
There are many different Chinese Herbal formulas I use for hormonal acne. I choose the formula based on
- The Kind of Acne, mild or severe, cystic or not, painful or not, with or without whiteheads
- The type of skin you have-oily, dry, or mixed
- The location of the Acne–chin, around the mouth, temples, or T zone
- The time of month the acne is worst, before, with, or after the bleed, or just all month
- The presence or absence of PMS symptoms
- The regularity or irregularity of the cycle
- Whether the bleeding is easy or difficult
The Role of The Menstrual Cycle in Choosing the Right Chinese Herb Formula
The most important information for me when choosing your Chinese herb formula is the information about your menstrual cycle and bleeding—whether its regular or irregular, whether the bleeding is long or short, light or heavy. We also want to know the color of the blood, is it fire engine red, wine colored, like chocolate. Are there clots, is there pain?
If you do have pain with bleeding I want to know where, is it in the abdomen, the low back, or the legs. I then want to know if there is diarrhea with the bleeding.
Premenstrually I look at if you have constipation, bloating, weight gain and swelling like your rings wont come off or edema at the ankles. I ask about mood, are you irritable or emotional. Do you cry easily. Are there food cravings.
All this information, along with reading your pulse and looking at your tongue color and coat, and asking about things like your sleep and digestion help me decide the specific pattern of hormonal acne you fit into. There are about 10 different prescriptions that I can use, and its all based on your overall pattern.
Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine for Cystic Acne: Ayush Brand Neem Plus
For severe cases of cystic acne, especially if you also have acne on your chest and/or back, and/or in men, I always use Ayush Brand Neem Plus. The more red the acne, the greater the Pitta elevation. Neem is a champion Pitta pacifying herb.
Neem Plus is a product that contains Neem leaf that has been processed correctly, by cooking with Triphala. Cooking the Neem lead increases absorption and reduces natural toxicity. This is very important.
Neem strongly pacifies Pitta and Kapha, but aggravates Vata. Trifal is tri-doshic, so cooking the Neem with Trifala makes it safe to use regardless your dosha.
When you buy plain dry Neem leaf you are really getting a bogus product. No one in Ayurveda uses dried Neem leaf internally. It was always used either Raw, crushed in a mortar with other herbs, or dry roasted with Trifal powder.
In some cases of hormonal acne I also supplement with Neem, especially if I am not getting the result I want by balancing the hormones alone. Neem does not balance hormones, what it does is clear heat and reduce Pitta and Kapha, the two doshas associated with hormonal acne.
Eliminate Constipation and Improve Digestion to Treat Acne
If someone has constipation with any Acne or any kind of skin disorder, you have to address that first. I typically do this with improvements in the diet. These includes
- Increasing the use of spices
- Eating more cooked vegetables and legumes
- Increasing healthy fats
- Eliminating Cold Foods
- Eliminating Iced Beverages.
Cold Beverage Consumption and Acne
The single worst thing you can do for any gut disorder and for Acne is to drink iced cold beverages. Cold drink cause stagnation of the stomach Qi.
Stomach Qi stagnation quickly turns to heat and plays a big role in hormonal acne, especially if the acne is associated with bad breath, constipation, GERD, gastritis, oily or pasty skin, whiteheads, and a thick tongue coating or a tongue with tooth marks on the sides.
In Ayurveda this stasis in the stomach is called Ama/Digestive Toxin, and is seen as a very important root of disease. It has a key role in the development of acne of all types.
Chinese Medicine describe how when food stagnation occurs in the stomach or gut, it produces toxic heat that rise along the stomach channel into the face. Its a big part of the cause of acne. I have had one case cured completely within a few weeks, when a young man, whose large red pimples were right on the stomach channel on his face, gave up his daily big gulps.
Ayush Brand Trifal for Chronic Constipation and to Detoxify
If diet alone is not sufficient, or if we want faster results, then I prescribe Ayush Brand Trifal. Trifal, called Triphala in the ancient texts is a natural stool softener that is also very good for you. It is not a laxative. It is gentle, and helps repair tissues. I also use if with serious gut disorders like Ulcerative Colitis.
Trifal is in the category of Rejuvenative Herbs in Ayurveda, which are herbs that promote good health and longevity. Trifal is a general detoxifier.
I use Ayush brand exclusively, both because of their quality control and because I get independent laboratory tests that show their products are free of heavy metal contamination.
Detoxify the Liver with Livit 2
When someone has had hormonal acne for many years, or has taken the Birth Control Drug for a long time, or if they are a very strong Pitta type, then I often prescribe a Liver detoxifying herb formula called Livit 2, also from Ayush.
Irregular Periods and Hormonal Acne in Women Under Age 36
For young women under 36 with menstrual irregularity and acne I often use Ayush brand Young Fem, and may combine that with Neem or a Chinese herb formula, depending on the pattern.
The beauty and brilliance of Asian medicine, practiced in the classical way, is that we never treat a disease, we always treat a person. And each individual person has their own unique pattern that is manifesting at this point in time.
copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA, All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission
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