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Western medicine through a Chinese Medicine lens

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

acupuncture for acne

When you come to your acupuncturist, you may already have a western medicine diagnosis for signs and symptoms you are experiencing.

And they are really helpful.

But once we have asked you the questions about your main complaint, that diagnosis is no longer how we will treat you.

Because that main complaint will be filtered through a Chinese medicine lens.

As an example, if you come to us for acne. This is a Western medicine diagnosis, but it actually tells an acupuncturist very little.

If this is your main reason for coming for treatment we will ask you:

questions on main complaint
  1. Where is your acne? For example on your chin or cheeks or forehead?

  2. What colour is your acne? Is it red? Or purple? Does it have pus?

  3. Is it painful?

  4. Are they big or small?

  5. How long have you had it for?

  6. Does anything make it better or worse? For example, does stress, diet or hormones make them worse?

And these questions will start to be the filter we use on how we treat you. Because your acne will be different from the next individual's acne.

And we want to treat you.

Now through this lens, we might start to build up an idea of what this looks like.

acne in chinese medicine

For example, if you have acne on your forehead, nose, upper back and chest we might be thinking Lung Heat. If it is during your menstrual cycle we might think Blood Heat.

But think of an acupuncturist like a detective. These clues are not enough.

10 questions in acupunture

We will start asking other questions to build up a clearer picture. Until finally we have our suspect in custody.

Now to try and give you a clearer idea of how this might work in an appointment I have created two case studies. These are purely fictitious examples and I will be Jessica Fletcher.

Two people come into the clinic. They both have a diagnosis of acne from their doctor. They are coming to see an acupuncturist because they would like help in treating it.

Me: Please tell me more about your acne

Person A: they are red raised spots. No pus. I have them on my face, chest and back.


Person B: they are red raised spots. I can feel them under my skin for ages and they take a long time to breakthrough. I have had them for 20 years.

And so the consultation continues. In acupuncture, we treat the whole person. So questions do not finish with your acne. They will look at your temperature, your diet, your sleep, your toilet habits etc.

Building out a fuller picture of you.

acupuncture for acne

As you can see the treatment and Chinese medicine advice will be very different, yet your Western medicine diagnosis is acne.

Of course, Jessica Fletcher was always right. But the cases I have given you are as simple as Murder She Wrote (can you tell I grew up watching this). However, YOU are unique and complex. Sometimes we will have competing storylines. Contradictory evidence. And signs and symptoms which are just missing.

But we spend time with you, and bit by bit we uncover more clues.

And in between the appointments, ideally, you would practice the guidance that Chinese nutritional therapy guides you with and we would hopefully start to see results.

If you would like more information on whether acupuncture could be effective for acne (or other skin conditions) you can click here.

As an aside below are the NHS guidance on treatments for acne.

This is not to say that Western medicine is wrong. Or we shouldn't use it. Western medicine is brilliant. It saves lives.

What I am trying to say is that it isn't always without its own problems and limitations. If you go to your GP with mild acne, they will offer guidance such as

  1. washing your face with mild soap and lukewarm water

  2. avoid using too much makeup

And should it be more severe then they may discuss treatments such as those listed below.

This is about making choices that resonate with you. Taking medication for acne, you are looking at a minimum of six weeks before seeing results.

Would you invest that time in acupuncture, as an alternative?

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I would love to chat.

Love your fave acupuncturist


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