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Healing You, Head to Toe ... and Beyond

Acupuncture treats acne

The combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine fights acne with fantastic results.  I also use dietary therapy as part of an acne treatment plan.  Results don’t come overnight (more like three to six months after starting treatment), but when you get results they will last.  This is a stark difference from what you’ll get with traditional Western treatments, which usually allows acne symptoms to come back when you stop treatment.

What causes acne?

From a Western medical perspective, pimples are caused by plugged or clogged hair follicles.  Dead skin cells, make up and oils on the skin mix together to create plugs in the follicles.  From an acupuncture theory perspective, Heat, Dampness and Toxins build up in the skin to cause pimples, blackheads and acne cysts.  In Chinese medicine, these causes of acne and pimples can be the result of improper diet, emotions, hormonal changes and other lifestyle factors.

Regardless of what paradigm you use to understand the causes and symptoms of acne, the effects of acne should not be understated.  While acne and pimples may occur on the chest, back and shoulders, acne most commonly occurs on the face.  That’s an awfully public place to have pimples.  Having acne lesions can cause serious emotional stress as a result.  Unfortunately, acne usually affects those most susceptible to these stresses – teenagers.  Adolescence is a time of developing identity and intense social pressures.  The effects of acne can go beyond physical acne scars and scar someone emotionally too.  This is well documented by researchers.  Additionally, people who are beyond adolescence, sometimes into their fifties, can also have acne.  Adult acne can be just as troubling because most people think you shouldn’t have adult acne at that point in your life.

The truth is 85% of teenagers and up to 40% of adults have acne.1  Those are big numbers of teenagers and adults affected by acne and pimples.  The numbers are even more astounding when you consider that $2.2 billion are spent on Western medical treatment each year in the United States.2  All evidence suggests that these numbers have been increasing over the last decade.

How is acne treated successfully with acupuncture?

If so many adults and teenagers have acne, and they’re all spending so much on treating acne, why aren’t the numbers going down?  In my professional opinion, I think the reason people are still struggling with acne is Western medical treatments rarely offer permanent results.  Most patients I’ve seen in the clinic say that symptoms resolved during treatment and lasted for a few weeks or months after finishing treatment, but then the acne came back and the patient found him or herself back at square one.

My goal when treating acne with acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary therapy is get significant reduction in acne lesions (pimples, cysts, etc.) and lasting results within three to six months of starting treatment as long as the patient adheres to the treatment plan.  If a patient doesn’t want to take herbal medicine, for example, it will take longer to get results.  Dietary therapy is equally crucial to achieving the results you want in reduction in redness, pimples, cysts and blackheads.

My treatment strategy is to evaluate each patient’s whole health to understand who he or she is as an individual and what his or her particular needs are.  I do a comprehensive first interview, medical history and evaluation of the areas affected by acne.  We also discuss diet and areas to modify.  After one or two acupuncture appointments, I prescribe herbal medicine.  This allows me to better understand the patient before giving any internal herbal medicine.  I will also prescribe herbal medicine washes to be used on the areas of the body with acne so the medicine can work from the inside out and outside in.

My additional training in dermatology allows me to customize each treatment to you, the patient, and make sure you get the results you want.


1. Dréno, Recent data on epidemiology of acne, Annales de Dermatologie et de Vénéréologie, Volume 137, Issue 12, Supplement 2, December 2010, Pages 3-5.
2. Christine Laine, David R. Goldman, Susan V. Bershad; Acne. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008 Jul;149(1):ITC1-1.