Generally, the most common skin conditions in adults include acne, eczema, melasma, and signs of ageing like wrinkles and saggy skin. This article highlights five types of herbs for skin used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to remedy different skin problems.
1. Glossy Privet
A plant native to southern China, Glossy Privet is called Ligustrum Lucidum in Latin and nu zhen zi in Mandarin. In Western medicine, the fruit has been scientifically proven to contain bioactive components with anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, antiosteoporosis, and immunomodulating effects.
Skin benefits: Reducing acne
How it works: Yin (passive energy) deficiency in the kidneys before menstruation is a source of internal heat, which often results in breakouts on the chin. Glossy privet can help cure this skin condition by nourishing the kidneys.
2. Gotu Kola
What: Gotu kola, known in China as the “miracle elixir of life”, has been around for 2000 years. Western research has shown that Gotu kola consists of chemicals called saponins that help with wound-healing.
Skin benefits: Lighten the appearance of melasma
How it works: Yin deficiency in the liver and kidneys triggers melasma. The lack of yin results in heatiness and disrupted blood flow to the skin, creating pigmentation. Gotu kola brightens the dark spots by clearing heat and dampness as well as reducing toxins and swelling.
3. Goji Berry
What: Knowon as Chinese wolfberries, goji berries grow in China, particularly in Mongolia and Ningxia. A study has found that the herb is high in antioxidants. It has many other benefits, including antiradiation, antiaging and anticancer effects.
Skin benefits: Rejuvenate dull skin
How it works: Nourishes yin and improves blood production to ensure a radiant complexion.
A popular ingredient for essential oil and fragrances, TCM has been using patchouli since the Eastern Han dynasty. In Western medicine, patchouli contains numerous bioactive compounds, resulting in antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antidiabetic effects.
Skin benefits: Relieve and reduce eczema symptoms
How it works: According to TCM, eczema stems from a combination of internal factors (dampness, heat and wind) and external factors (stress, diet, climate changes) which affect the spleen. Patchouli can help manage eczema symptoms by boosting the spleen and eliminating dampness.
5. Angelica Root
This herb has been used for 2000 years in China to promote blood circulation. Pharmacological results from the Western medical community have indicated that the Angelica root and Astragalus root formula can stimulate an immune response and prevent osteoporosis. This herb also offers antioxidant benefits.
Skin benefits: Good for ageing skin
How it works: When coupled with Astragalus root, Angelica root is known to fight signs of ageing by enriching qi (vital life energy) and nourishing the blood.
Acupuncture for Skin Healing
Herbs aside, acupuncture is also an effective remedy for skin-related issues. TCM physicians believe that acupuncture helps dispel heat and dampness that cause skin problems. The insertion of acupuncture needles into the skin also triggers the body’s self-repairing mechanisms. This helps boost collagen and elastin production, resulting in firmer and plumper skin.
Similarly, acupuncture can also lift and sculpt the jawline by addressing internal issues like digestive problems and poor lymphatic drainage. This tightens sagging facial muscles and reduces puffiness for a healthier-looking complexion. In addition, a study published in 2014 found that acupuncture is a good treatment for melasma.
A wide range of natural herbs for skin and acupuncture can help treat common skin issues. While TCM has hailed the herbs’ health properties for centuries, today’s modern studies are also acknowledging their skin-boosting advantages. If you are keen to try these herbs, consult a TCM physician beforehand for a proper diagnosis.
This is an adaptation of an article, “Mirror, Mirror: Tackling Skin Issues”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.
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