In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), comedones or clogged pores are probably caused by the dysfunction of the lungs, stomach, large intestine, liver and kidneys.
Q. I am a 40-year-old woman. About a year ago, I started having many comedones on my face, especially on my cheeks.
I was told that they were due to hormonal imbalance and was prescribed oral contraceptive pills. I am in the third month of consuming the pills and there is a slight improvement.
I read from the Internet that reducing the intake of beef and dairy products in my diet will help. Is it true?
I do not wish to depend on pills for long. Are there any herbs or natural remedies that can help to eliminate my problem?
A. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), comedones or clogged pores are probably caused by the dysfunction of the lungs, stomach, large intestine, liver and kidneys.
In TCM, the lungs govern the skin and protect the body against the invasion of external pathogenic (disease-causing) factors.
When the lungs are weak - due to a weak constitution or chronic illnesses - external pathogenic factors such as "wind", "heat" and "dampness" can invade the skin. This will trigger comedones with flushed cheeks, red and itchy pimples, and heavy breathing.
The stomach receives and digests food.
When the stomach is weak - due to the keeping of late nights and consumption of alcohol and oily and spicy food, a poor diet and heavy meals - the food will stagnate in the stomach and create "heat" there. This will trigger comedones on the forehead, itchy and greasy skin, bad breath, constipation and indigestion.
The large intestine receives waste material and converts it into faeces to be excreted from the body.
If one is constipated - due to the same factors that weaken the stomach - the resulting "heat" in the large intestine will rise to the stomach and lungs. This will trigger comedones on the back, chest and face, especially around the mouth.
The kidneys control reproduction, growth and development. In TCM, a balance of the aspect of yang (linked to heat and dryness) and the aspect of yin (linked to coldness and moisture) is required for good health.
When the amount of yin in the kidneys is insufficient - due to a weak constitution, chronic illnesses or keeping of late nights - it will be unable to nourish the lungs, creating "heat" in the lungs.
This will trigger comedones with redness, a dry mouth, dry stool, yellowish urine and insomnia.
The liver controls the circulation of qi (energy). In TCM, good flow of qi and blood is needed for good health.
Negative emotions such as anger, depression, fear or stress will cause qi to stagnate in the liver and create "fire" there. This will trigger comedones with a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen, lumps on the surface of the skin and pain in different parts of body.
Chinese herbal medicine (consumed or applied), facial acupuncture and cupping therapy can help improve your condition by enhancing the organs and dispelling the pathogenic factors.
In cupping, fire and cups are used to create a vacuum on the skin to enhance blood and qi circulation.
Chinese herbal medicine such as loquat leaf, honeysuckle flower, wild chrysanthemum flower, dandelion, weeping forsythia capsule, Chinese wolfberry root-bark and baical skullcap root are used to dispel "heat" in the lungs and stomach.
Immature orange fruit and rhubarb dispel "heat" in the large intestine.
Yerbadetajo herb, glossy privet fruit, rehmannia root, common anemarrhena rhizome and oriental waterplantain rhizome increase the amount of yin in the kidneys.
Motherwort, Chinese thorowax root, turmeric root-tuber and nutgrass galingale rhizome strengthen the liver.
You should abstain from alcohol, smoking, coffee, tea and spicy, sweet and oily food to reduce "heat" in the stomach and lungs.
Beef and dairy products are high in fat and not easy to digest for people with weak stomachs, so reducing your intake of these will help strengthen your stomach function. In TCM, beef is considered "warm" and not suitable for people with stomach "heat".
You should also clear your bowels every morning.
Sleep before 10pm to reduce stomach "heat" and produce more yin in the kidneys.
Regular exercise and dispelling negative emotions will help strengthen your liver function.
Use warm water instead of cold water to wash your face to prevent your pores from contracting and blocking the sebum (oil secretion from the skin).
MS LIM LAY BENG Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner at YS Healthcare TCM Clinic
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