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Different Types of Chinese Herbs for Different Types of Acne



Image of woman's face with acne

Acne, a common skin condition affecting people of various ages and backgrounds, manifests in a spectrum of forms, each with its unique characteristics. Beyond the conventional categories of whiteheads and blackheads, the diverse landscape of acne includes fungal, cystic, and hormonal variants. In this article, I describe different types of acne, and Chinese herbs that can be used to help each type, recognizing that a nuanced understanding is crucial for effective treatment.


Understanding that acne is not a one-size-fits-all condition is pivotal for effective treatment. Different types of acne may require tailored approaches, considering factors such as skin type, hormonal influences, and the presence of underlying medical conditions. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is also a common concern, emphasizing the importance of holistic care beyond acne clearance.


Jin Yin Hua Honey Suckle Flower
Jin Yin Hua Honey Suckle

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses a variety of herbs to address different types of acne based on unique qualities and therapeutic actions of each herb. It's important to note that these herbs are often used in carefully crafted herbal formulas rather than in isolation. The selection of herbs is based on the individual's overall pattern of disharmony according to the principles of TCM, which includes factors such as the type and appearance of acne, a person's constitution, and underlying health imbalances. Check out an acne case study that I wrote up to get a deeper grasp of the nuances of TCM herb combining.


Here's a list of Chinese herbs traditionally used within formulas for each type of acne and their specific benefits:

Whiteheads and Blackheads:

  • Chinese Herb: Jin Yin Hua (Honeysuckle Flower)

  • Why: Jin Yin Hua is known for its heat-clearing and detoxifying properties, making it effective in addressing the inflammation and infection associated with whiteheads and blackheads.

Papules and Pustules:

Nodules and Cysts:

  • Chinese Herb: Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion)

  • Why: Pu Gong Ying is traditionally used for its ability to clear heat, detoxify, and dissipate nodules. It is effective in addressing deeper, more severe forms of acne like nodules and cysts.

Fungal Acne:

  • Chinese Herb: Bai Xian Pi (Dictamnus Root Bark)

  • Why: Bai Xian Pi has antifungal properties and is used in TCM to clear heat and dampness, making it suitable for addressing fungal acne by balancing skin conditions.

Cystic Acne:

  • Chinese Herb: Xia Ku Cao (Spica Prunella)

  • Why: Xia Ku Cao is known for its ability to dissipate nodules due to phlegm heat. It is traditionally used to address deep-seated painfully inflamed cystic acne.

Hormonal Acne:

  • Chinese Herb: Chai Hu (Bupleurum Root)

  • Why: Chai Hu is often used to regulate the flow of Qi and balance hormonal fluctuations, making it beneficial for hormonal acne, especially when related to menstrual cycles.

Acne Rosacea:

  • Chinese Herb: Huai Hua (Japanese Pagoda Tree/Sophora japonica)

  • Why: Huai Hua is known for its ability to cool and invigorate blood circulation, making it a suitable choice for addressing the redness, inflammation, and heat associated with acne rosacea.


Recognizing the nuances of each acne type allows for a more targeted and effective approach to treatment, paves the way for renewed confidence and skin health. Consulting with a licensed practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine dermatologic specialist, such as Juliette Aiyana, MTCM can provide personalized guidance for effective treatment tailored to specific needs. She takes her time to really understand your health, figure out what's causing your symptoms, and work out a plan for your long-term well-being. Plus, you can connect with her easily through video visits, no matter where you are in the United States or Canada. Herbs and supplements are mailed to you.



Photo of Juliette Aiyana smiling

Juliette Aiyana, is an internationally respected specialist in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and natural holistic health. She is a nationally board-certified and New York State-licensed acupuncturist with a Master's Degree in TCM. She is professional member of the National Eczema Association and trained in identifying skin disease in richly pigmented skin. Practicing since 2001, she specializes in treating chronic, stubborn and mystery diseases, including dermatology, autoimmune disorders, allergies, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, viral diseases, menstrual and pelvic health, and more. She is dedicated to identifying the root cause of diseases, and empowering people to reclaim agency over their health. Juliette’s health consultations are available virtually via Zoom to people in the US and CA.






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