Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
Can you tell me ways to effectively treat acne on the face and body?
A: In Chinese medicine, acne is a sign of pathogenic “heat” in the lungs and intestines. You need to clear your lungs of the heat, detoxify your intestines, and balance the exterior of the skin. You can do this by avoiding fried, fatty, oily, spicy foods and stimulants such as coffee, sugar, smoking, and alcohol. Make sure your bowels are not constipated and flow regularly and easily. Avoid dairy products, and do not have any chocolate. Begin incorporating more cooling foods into your diet, such as squash, cucumbers, honeydew melon (winter melon), celery, beet tops, dandelions, aloe vera, mulberry leaf, papaya, brown rice, and plenty of water (at least 70 ounces per day).
Try these remedies:
1. Rub watermelon rind on the affected areas, and apply aloe vera.
2. Drink dandelion and beet top tea.
3. Roast buckwheat, grind it into a powder, mix it with rice vinegar to make a paste and then apply to affected areas. For oozing acne conditions, apply pearl barley powder mixed with aloe vera. Leave it on the skin over night and then wash it off in the morning.
One additional thing to be aware of: make sure your living and work environment is free of mold and fungus. These are notorious for entering the lungs and creating pathogenic heat. Contact a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in your area for a more specific treatment plan.