By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
Balance. Yin and yang. These are the basic principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that has been around and still in practice for thousands of years. It is believed that this balance is directly correlated to a person’s state of health and wellbeing. Thus achieving it depends on the individual’s own needs. Unlike Western medicine that approaches treatments for various ailments singularly, the Chinese believe that ailments are brought by different causes and each person responds to treatments differently, and therefore these must be addressed by individualized treatments and therapies according to their needs. Acupuncture has the same concept of harmony that our body is connected by meridians or paths where energy, or qi, flows, and an imbalance in energy can lead to disease (Lee and Lio, p. 111). So you may ask, can acupuncture treat acne? Is there science in acupuncture or is it only brought by tradition?
Acupuncture is one of the therapies in TCM. It aims to alleviate pain while healing an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional being by using thin needles to stimulate various touch points on the body to achieve a balanced, healthy state. Acupuncture has been used among individuals with various illnesses or discomforts, such as lower back pain, allergies, headaches, and nausea. But did you know that acupuncture is also used in TCM as part of the treatment for other skin conditions?
Acne. TCM has long reported the connection between diet and acne, and various tests have been done with the effectivity of acupuncture in acne through the years. Although most had promising results, other factors came into consideration such as the difference in treatment per individual or the level of experience of the acupuncturist, among other things, to conclude that acupuncture as indeed an effective treatment for acne.
Atopic Dermatitis. The same goes with Atopic Dermatitis, where trials have been tested showing positive results such as a decrease in itch, some that reduced inflammation, and another study (this time with TCM) where subjects had even lessened their medication. More studies, however, have to be conducted to conclude that acupuncture may be done to patients to treat or manage atopic dermatitis as well.
Neurodermatitis. A more promising outlook is seen with acupuncture and neurodermatitis. Also called Lichen simplex, it is caused by constant friction on the skin such as the neck, wrist, ankle or thigh, resulting in thicker skin. It has been reported that acupuncture is effective when the needles are placed near the said areas.
Urticaria. Similarly, acupuncture has been tested due to the positive results it yields for those with Uritcaria or hives. In fact, acupuncture has been used to treat it for centuries. While it successfully relieved acute urticaria in one study, results for those with chronic urticaria were mixed, but still had favorable results. Still, more studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of this type of therapy.
As acupuncture is gaining popularity in the west, and more studies are being done to validate its efficacy, advantage, and value, we can only hope for good things to come from it. While trying acupuncture on your own may yield results different from others, it won’t hurt to do it (yes, literally!). As discussed above, however, it cannot serve as a sole treatment for an ailment or disease. Acupuncture may be effective when taken in combination with evidence-based medicine or with medication as prescribed by your physician. And when trying this out, make sure that the acupuncturist is certified and your doctor knows about it.
Every skin is different, and we know that. Start your skin journey today with holistic complimentary medicine.