Dr. Sun Shidao's experience in TCM treatment of acne

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This article summarises the experience of Dr. Sun Shidao, a dermatology specialist with many years experience in the treatment of acne. Its pathogenesis and treatment are discussed under the following headings, according to its treatment principles. 1. Purging heat from the Lung and Stomach, nourishing yin and cooling the blood. Quite simply, since the Lung is the zang organ which is the physically highest in the body and since it also dominates skin and hair it is obvious that the treatment of acne must start by treating the Lung. Since the Stomach’s function is to receive and transform food, the intake of rich, fatty food disrupts its function and eventually causes stagnation of heat which steams upward to affect the facial skin. Finally, greasy facial skin and the presence of red papules indicate heat in the blood. At the acute stage Dr. Sun promotes the ‘heavy use’ of Yin Hua (Lonicerae Flos), Ye Ju Hua (Chrysanthemi indici Flos), Huang Qin (Scutellariae Radix), Zhi Zi (Gardeniae Fructus), Zhi Mu (Anemarrhenae Radix), Pu Gong Ying (Taraxaci Herba), Ling Xiao Hua (Campsis Flos) and Yu Xing Cao (Herba Houttuyniae Cordatae). At the chronic stage he uses herbs such as Sheng Di Huang (Rehmanniae Radix), Xuan Shen (Scrophulariae Radix), Mai Men Dong (Ophiopogonis Radix), Yu Zhu (Polygonati odorati Rhizoma), Zi Cao (Radix Lithospermi seu Arnebiae) and Mu Dan Pi (Moutan Cortex). At both stages herbs are used to regulate the Stomach and promote digestion, such as Shan Zha (Crataegus Fructus) and Yi Yi Ren (Coicis Semen). 2. Cooling the blood to resolve blood stasis and resolving phlegm to reduce lumps. Persistent acne from prolonged accumulation of heat in the Lung and Stomach may lead to lumps and cysts due to blood stasis or phlegm. For these cases, Dr. Sun promotes the heavy use of Xia Ku Cao (Prunellae Spica), Zhe Bei Mu (Bulbus Fritillariae Thunbergii), Dan Shen (Salviae miltiorrhizae Radix), Tao Ren (Persicae Semen) and E Zhu (Curcumae Rhizoma). 3. Removing Liver heat and dispersing depressed Liver qi, and regulating Chong and Ren. Women who experience the exacerbation of acne prior to the menses usually have accompanying symptoms of Liver qi stagnation disturbing Chong and Ren, such as premenstrual syndrome and irregular menses. Extreme emotional changes resulting in Liver qi stagnation can increase androgen levels, which are an important contributing factor in acne. In these cases, Dr. Sun uses herbs such as Lu Lu Tong (Fructus Liquidambaris Taiwanianae), Wang Bu Liu Xing (Vaccaraie Semen), Chong Wei Zi (Leonuri Fructus), Nu Zhen Zi (Ligustri lucidi Fructus) and Tian Men Dong (Asparagi Radix). Finally, Dr. Sun has improved his clinical results by incorporating the findings of the latest research into his formulae. Dan Shen (Salviae miltiorrhizae Radix), for example, is anti-bacterial, antiinflammatory, anti-androgenic and regulates immune function. Yu Xing Cao (Herba Houttuyniae Cordatae) decreases sebaceous secretions, Huang Lian (Coptidis Rhizoma), Huang Qin (Scutellariae Radix) and others increase phagocytosis of white blood cells, while Han Lian Cao (Ecliptae Prostratae Herba), Fu Pen Zi (Fructus Rubi) and Ge Gen (Puereriae Radix) have an oestrogenic effect and Shan Zha (Crataegus Fructus), Ze Xie (Alismatis Rhizoma) and He Shou Wu (Polygoni multiflori Radix) dissolve fat. The use of external washes of Chinese herbs and the regulation of lifestyle and diet are also advised. (9/06)

JTCM September 2006

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