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Discover These 5 Herbs for Skin Nourishment

Our skin mirrors what is happening inside the body. This article shares a list of TCM herbs that can help nourish the skin from within.

Herbs can be used to treat different types of common skin conditions.

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.

4. Patchouli

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

A close-up of a woman's face with an acupuncture needle being inserted into the skin between her brows.
Herbs aside, acupuncture is also an excellent remedy for various skin problems.

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.


  1. National Health Service. 2019. Acne. [Accessed 22 November 2021] 
  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Melasma: Who Gets and Causes. [Accessed 22 November 2021] 
  3. The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2015. The Advances in Research on the Pharmacological Effects of Fructus Ligustri Lucidi. [Accessed 22 November 2021]
  4. Science Direct. 2017. Efficacy of protein-rich pearl powder on antioxidant status in a randomized placebo-controlled trial. [Accessed 22 November 2021] 
  5. The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2020. Pharmacological Review on Centella Asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all. [Accessed 23 November 2021] 
  6. Eu Yan Sang. 7 Things You Should Know About Chinese Wolfberries. [Accessed 23 November 2021] 
  7. The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2019. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. [Accessed 23 November 2021] 
  8. BioMed Central. 2021. Pharmacological activities and mechanisms of action of Pogostemon cablin Benth: a review. [Accessed 23 November 2021] 
  9. The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2013. Chemical and Biological Assessment of Angelica Roots from Different Cultivated Regions in a Chinese Herbal Decoction Danggui Buxue Tang. [Accessed 23 November 2021] 

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