Zi Zai Dermatology’s Acne Treatment Protocol

I treat many cases of acne in my private TCM practice and there are 2 important things I have learned that acne treatment patients must do to achieve excellent results:

1. Be Patient.  There are no quick fixes.

2. Address internal imbalances as well as external symptoms.

Now, it is true that I have had some patients clear up their skin just by using our topical herbal products.  But those who worked to improve the internal imbalances in their bodies achieved faster results, better results, and had fewer breakouts even when they became a bit lax in their daily skin care routine.

The following acne treatment protocol is the actual protocol I use in the treatments in my clinic. I customize the internal herbal formulas for the individual: I add or remove some herbs, adjust dosages of individual herbs, and/or combine formulas as necessary to achieve the best results.  This is standard practice for most TCM herbalists.  These internal formulas are only available from licensed practitioners.  To find a licensed TCM practitioner near you who specializes in treating skin conditions, see our referral page.  I have to remind ever reader that this blog is intended for educational purposes only.  The products mentioned here have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.   In TCM, we do not simply treat the symptoms we see on the skin.  Even better, we balance the internal health of the individual energetically, thus allowing the body to heal itself.  keep this in mind as you read on…


Internal Herbal Treatment

Huang Qin (scutellaria root) is an herb found in many acne formulas.

Huang Qin (scutellaria root) is an herb found in many acne formulas.  It has strong antibacterial properties.

Custom granules: (even more effective if raw herb decoction is used)

  1. Pi Fu Yi Hao – for Cystic Acne.  [Practitioners, you won’t find this formula in any textbook.  It was designed by the dermatologists at the First Hospital of TCM at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Nanjing, PRC, to treat cystic acne.  I interned with the Director of Dermatology in 1999 and he shared this exclusive formula with me.  At this time, I do not know if I have permission to share the formula publicly.  But I am happy to share it if you email me directly.]
  2. Liang Xue Qing Fei Yin – for Lung Heat (with Heat in Blood)
  3. Liang Xue Wu Hua Tang – for Heat in the Blood
  4. Cuo Chuang Jian Ji – for Heat Toxins

Internal Nutritional Supplements 

I incorporate the use of Standard Process Nutritional Supplements in my practice to address nutritional deficiencies that often contribute to the underlying imbalance involved in skin ailments.  These supplements are the highest quality and are derived from whole food sources.  The philosophy of Standard Process product formulation is quite similar to that of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine:  the whole is more valuable than the sum of its parts.  They use whole plant, animal and minerals sources of their vitamins and minerals.  FYI, some of these products are not vegetarian.  They are available through licensed healthcare practitioners only, so check with your acupuncturist, herbalist, nutritionist, naturopath, dermatologist or other doctor.  I am not associated with this company, and I get nothing from them for recommending their products.  But their use in conjunction with Chinese herbs has increased the efficacy of treatment outcomes in my clinic.  I share their info with you so you can get the best results, too.

  1. Standard Process Zinc Liver Chelate: 3 – 6/day.  Zinc is essential to so many physiological functions in the human body, and it is especially vital to the health of the skin.  Many people who suffer from acne are deficient in zinc, especially teenage boys.  Sometimes just supplementing with zinc will improve acne considerably.  [Practitioners: Standard Process also has a Zinc Test, so you can monitor a patient’s zinc levels so you can reduce supplementation when levels are adequate.]
  2. Standard Process Chezyn: 3 – 6/day.  Chezyn is another option for zinc supplementation.  It is better than Zinc Liver Chelate for menstruating women because it has same amount of zinc as Zinc Liver Chelate but Chezyn also has iron and copper.
  3. Standard Process Chlorophyll Complex:  6 – 9/day.  This is used for women if their acne is related to their menstrual cycle (Disharmony of Ren and Chong, in TCM).  This supplement acts like a Blood tonic and it contains alfalfa which has a phytoestrogen effect.

External (Topical) Herbal Treatment

A mask made of cosmetic clays and herbs can be very helpful for acne. A mask made of cosmetic clays and herbs can be very helpful for acne. Plus, it is like a spa treatment that makes your skin feel fabulous!

A mask made of cosmetic clays and herbs can be very helpful for acne. A mask made of cosmetic clays and herbs can be very helpful for acne. Plus, it is like a spa treatment that makes your skin feel fabulous!

All of Zi Zai Dermatology’s topical herbal products have been clinically tested for years in my private practice.  Click on the link for each product to learn more about the herbal ingredients in them and how they are used.

  1. Daily Facial Cleansers (rotate the use of these products):
      • AcneHerbal™ Soap: Use as daily cleanser. [This product will be available soon]
      • AcneHerbal™ Cleansing Powder: Use as daily cleanser.  (This is my all-time favorite cleanser I have ever used.  I use the RosaceaHerbal™ blend for my complexion.)
      • HoneyHerb™ Facial Scrub: Use no more than 2  – 3 times per week to exfoliate.  Great for face and chest and back.
  2. AcneHerbal™ Facial Toner: Use after each time face is washed (twice per day).  This product is excellent for acne on the chest and back, too.  It is vital to maintain the proper pH of the skin, which should be slightly acidic.  Most cleansers and soaps will leave the surface of the skin slightly basic (too high a pH) and this toner will adjust that.
  3. AcneHerbal™ Facial Serum: Apply a few drops on dry areas of face daily (or only as needed).  The precious oils absorb quickly to soften dry skin and minimize the appearance of wrinkles, while the Chinese herbs help reduce the risk of new blemishes.
  4. AcneHerbal™ Facial Mask:  Apply the clay & herb mask once or twice per week to draw toxins out of the skin.  You can apply the mask to your entire face or use a smaller amount as a spot treatment nightly on individual zits.
  5. AcneHerbal™ Facial Tea:  Use once or twice per month as a direct application or in a facial steam.

Additional Important Tips

  1. Don’t touch your face.
  2. Use cosmetic blotting papers to remove excess facial oil midday (in lieu of washing face).
  3. Stop touching your face.
  4. Leave the zits alone.
  5. Don’t touch your face.  [Are you getting the message here?  ;)]
  6. Put a fresh clean pillow case on your pillow often (like, every other night) and use clean towels when drying your face (pat your face dry, do not rub).
  7. Wash your face only twice per day, not more often.  Washing too often will strip the natural oils and your skin will want to produce more oil in response.  In addition, over-washing creates an environment on the surface of the skin that is too high in pH.  This leads to overgrowth of bacteria and yeast.  If you don’t wear makeup, you can use the AcneHerbal™ Facial Toner in lieu of washing your face in the middle of the day to help reduce excess oil build-up.
  8. When showering, wash your face last.  The steam and heat will help open your pores so you clean your face more effectively at the end of the shower.
  9. Avoid fried foods, greasy foods, overly spicy foods, dairy (esp. ice cream and cow’s milk), and reduce your intake of simple carbs.  Energetically these create internal Dampness and Heat and this can manifest in the skin as acne.acne treatment

Tags: acne, beauty, Chinese herbal medicine, dermatology, Facial care, herbal skin care, natural skin care

Topics: Acne, Chinese Medicine, Facial Care, Herbs for Skin Care

Publish Date: June 23, 2013     *Articles may include updates since original publishing.

About the Author ()

Diana Hermann is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She received her Master Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR and trained in China at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Diana treats patients in her Fort Collins, Colorado clinic and hand crafts herbal skin care products for her company Zi Zai Dermatology. In 2015, she completed the Diploma In Chinese Medicine Dermatology program from Avicenna in London, UK. She completed the program for a second time in 2019 in Chicago.

Comments (9)

Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. What Is Your Acne Telling You? | Zizzle | July 3, 2013
  1. cocolala630 says:

    I’m interested in the internal treatment but how do I know whether I’m blood heat or blood toxin?

    I started having blemishes since I started working and it has been more than 10 years. Although it is not so serious now my skin is still not cleared and has lots of blackheads. I think it is dehydrated too. Btw I’m using natural and organic skincare now.

    I’m from Asian country and have been to TCM practitioner but nothing been told. Just been given some herbs that didn’t help at all.

    Would love to hear your advice.

  2. wholou says:

    Thanks for this helpful info! Do your products remove makeup? If not, do you have any recommendations for cleansing routines that include makeup removal?

  3. jazzy1211 says:

    For the ACNEHERBAL™ FACIAL SERUM are the oil ingredients cold pressed and unrefined?

  4. Jessica says:

    Thank you for the article! I’m a practitioner as well, and am having difficulty finding liang xue wu hua tang as a premade formula. Do you have any vendors you recommend?

Leave a Reply