Can herbs and acupuncture get to the root of recalcitrant breakouts? Writer Katie Becker surrenders her skin to Chinese medicine.
After 10 years of battling painful and inflamed acne, I found myself on the table of an acupuncturist who specialises in treating the skin with traditional Chinese medicine, I got a very firm (if inscrutable) answer: I have too much damp.
It’s Chinese medicine for: my body’s sluggish about carting off toxins, so they build up in my skin.
The treatment plan is threefold: first, toxin- and inflammation-clearing herbs, adjusted biweekly depending on my sleep quality, digestion, stress and menstrual cycle. They come as pre-cooked liquids that taste like a mix of hay, vinegar and spoiled vegetables; I have to drink them twice a day. Three times a week, I also spend 10 minutes using a flat jade stone to gently pull or ‘scrape’ the skin on my face and neck. It’s a massage technique called gua sha. And finally, acupuncture. Once a week, the acupuncturist uses hair-thin needles to open energy ‘blockages’ throughout my body, reducing excess tension to relieve stress and improve circulation. This method requires trial, error and, most importantly, patience.
Now a year in, my breakouts are less severe, less frequent and much easier to calm.