What is acne?

Acne is a common skin issue we treat at Acupuncture Center Toronto. It’s a condition that often comes with a lot of shame and anxiety which burdens patients of all ages. We understand how stubborn and upsetting acne can be. We have much success treating acne with Cosmetic Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Chinese Medicine works so well in helping Acne and other skin conditions! Let’s talk about what exactly acne is and then how we help the condition.

Acne is a skin condition that effects the hair follicles and glands. It is a result of dead skin cells and/or excess sebum (a waxy substance your body naturally produces to moisten skin). In turn, this clogs the skin’s pores causing whiteheads, black heads and pimples. It can also be caused by bacteria present on the skin’s surface, an unbalanced diet or stress causing hormonal influxes. Acne most commonly affects the face, but it also can affect the neck, chest and back. There are different acne types, ranging from skin lesions such as blackheads, whiteheads to more severe cases presenting as pustules or cysts.

Best Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for skin problems and acne at Acupuncture Center Toronto

We treat clinical presentations of acne that affects patients of all ages that is often a result of fluctuating hormones. Sebum production is controlled by hormones called androgens. To be specific- testosterone, DHT and 5-androstene-317diol are the hormones involved. They’re produced by the ovaries and testis as well as the adrenal glands. In Chinese medicine, young adults are seen as having loads of “Yang” energy, and Yang energy is hot. Excess heat in the body can promote acne and inflammation. Acupuncture has been proven time and time again to help regulate hormones.

The World Health Organization even recommends acupuncture for acne vulgaris symptoms because its therapeutic effect have been shown, although further research can be done as well.

What service would I book for treating acne at Acupuncture Center Toronto?

Best skin acupuncture in toronto located in Yorkville downtown toronto

2 Acne appointment options

1. Cosmetic Acupuncture- Acne falls into the category of a “Cosmetic Acupuncture” Session. We’ll make sure we’re ready with intradermal needles and all the specialized cosmetic acupuncture supplies to help you. Note, do not book a “clinical acupuncture appointment”. We want to make sure you’re booking the correct appointment in our online system.

2. Chinese Herbal Medicine- Any of our standalone herbal appointments are also amazing acne care. Note, don’t book our “combo acupuncture/herbs appointment” as that wouldn’t provide enough time for cosmetic acupuncture as is more for non-cosmetic (ie muscle pain) appointments.

Cosmetic Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for treating acne

Using specific acupuncture points, Acupuncturists calm and regulate the central nervous system which support the adrenal glands and the hormones. We can treat hormonal acne by using certain points that promote circulation to the appropriate tissues and glands, and calm redness and inflammation with localized needles.

Chinese herbs and herbalists in Toronto for skin and acne at Acupuncture Center Toronto

Chinese Herbs can be prescribed by one of our R. TCMP’s to help cool the skin, flush out dampness and out toxins. Herbology is an effective avenue for most dermatological conditions. Don’t forget we also offer virtual Chinese Herb consultations. The service is very convenient if you don’t live close to our downtown Toronto Cosmetic Acupuncture clinic but still want our award-winning care. Our Chinese Herbalists will prescribe an acne treatment to you which will get drop shipped right to your door. With either Cosmetic Acupuncture or Chinese Herbs, you’ll want to give yourself at least 3-7 appointments and see the process through. 1 appointment may improve complexion but likely won’t solve cure the problem.

When treating acne, no matter if it’s through Herbs or Cosmetic Acupuncture, we always treat the constitution of our clients as well as the root cause of acne. In the initial intake of your first appointment, your practitioner will complete a detailed assessment to interpret what is causing the dermatological imbalances in the body. We’ll arrive at custom tailored diagnosis by asking questions about a patient’s digestion, diet, mood, energy, menses/gynecological, etc.

After our well determined diagnosis, we’ll put together a patient focused Acupuncture (and or Chinese Herb) protocol that can be geared towards eradicating acne.

What we’ll do in an acne Cosmetic Acupuncture appointment

  • clearing excess heat points (involved in skin eruptions)
  • Reducing dampness points (excess sebum/bacteria)
  • Calming the mind/nervous system points which often accompanies skin conditions
  • Surround the Dragon technique- Applying localized needles to surround the acne and relieve redness and pain or swelling.

Cosmetic Acupuncture can help with dermatological conditions such as:

  • Superficial and cystic acne
  • Hormonal acne
  • Eczema
  • Rosacea
  • Psoriasis

Dryness, itchiness and redness and swelling can be resolved from just one to a few sessions depending on severity. Acne scarring can also be diminished by surrounding the scars with fine needles to help break up scar tissue. This creates little microtraumas to the scar which stimulates fibroblasts thereby enhancing collagen and elastin production.

Our favorite acne Acupuncture points and why

Press these points at home or come to the clinic to have them needled

Acupuncture point: Location: Benefits:
LI-11 QU CHI In the depression at lateral end of transverse cubital crease.
  • Clear heat (internal and external)
  • Drain dampness (skin rashes; itchiness, redness)

English translation of Hegu is “command of face”

On dorsum of hand, between 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones, in the middle of 2nd metacarpal bone on radial side
  • Clear heat especially in the face, redness, swelling, pain
  • Clear lung heat
SP-9 YIN LIN QUAN On the lower border of the medial condyle of the tibia, depression posterior and inferior of the medial condyle of tibia
  • Drain dampness (such as candida, dysentery, diarrhea, edema)
SP-6 SAN YIN JIAO 3 cun above medial malleolus, posterior to medial border tibia
  • Strengthens SP, transforms damp
  • Tonify yin
ST-36 ZU SAN LI One finger breadth from the anterior border of tibia
  • Benefits ST/SP (gastric pain, diarrhea)
  • Harmonizes intestines, disperses stagnation
  • Transforms dampness
  • General deficiencies

Organs involved with acne in Chinese Medicine

Pathology in Traditional Chinese Medicine is different than Western medicine, so we’ve simplified thing.  We’ve put together an easy-to-understand list of different organs and how they are often involved with Acne.

  • detoxing through the skin as an inflammatory response
  • superficial acne, red, painful or itchy, may have pustules
  • forehead and nose affected
  • may also have dry mouth/nose
  • -dry stool/constipation
  • Tongue presentation: red, thin yellow coat
Cool and moisten the lungs
Weak SPLEEN acne comes and goes, may turn cystic

  • poor appetite
  • may feel tired/heavy

Tongue presentation: thin white tongue coat, moist/pale body

Tonify (strengthen) the spleen.

Drain excess dampness in the body and in the dermis.


Damp heat in the stomach and

  • presence of bacteria on skin, pillowcases, towels, masks – accumulates on skin and clogs pores
Cool the digestive organs.

Encourage patient to avoid foods causing acne- spicy foods, alcohol, sugar etc.

or Large Intestine
  • swollen, painful acne with excretions
  • -constipation
  • -low appetite, bloating, distention
  • Tongue presentation: red/swollen tongue, yellow/greasy coat

Acupuncture Center Toronto’s top tips for preventing and treating acne

We love offering tips and homecare suggestions after a relaxing session in our Yorkville clinic. We’ve compiled a list of homecare we give to patients to enhance treatment effects. Here’s some of our hottest top tips to prevent acne breakouts…

In Chinese Medicine we look at the body as a whole and use whole foods and their energetic temperatures to promote a healthy digestion and balance within the body which reflects in the skin.

Nutritional acne prevention tips

Dietary guidelines to reduce acne:

  • Overindulging in sugars, oily/greasy/fried food, spicy food, and alcohol lead to slowing digestive system (SP/ST) to a build-up of heat and phlegm within the spleen and stomach. Heat and phlegm in the body produce oily and acne prone skin.
  • Increase water or fluid intake, especially in forms of soups or herbal teas.
  • Be aware of food sensitivities that increase redness or puffiness of the face, these likely will lead to or increase frequency/duration of breakouts.

Avoid acne by avoiding or limiting the following:

  • Warm spices that will increase heat within the body: chilies, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, onion, horseradish
  • Foods with high glycemic load
  • High sugar
  • Meats such as lamb, red meat, veal, shrimp
  • Dairies: cheeses, milk, milk chocolate
  • Fried/charred/greasy foods
  • Caffeinated black teas, coffee
  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol
Helpful Acne prevention tips by Acupuncture Center Toronto


Avoid eating while distracted/upset/worried or anxious – takes a toll on digestion, which can be slowed and cause dampness. We see a lot of patients in clinic with acne and anxiety almost always contributes to breakouts.

Prevention and Daily Cosmetic Hygiene:

  • Avoid touching or picking at acne blemishes.
  • Neutral or mild/gentle cleansers
  • Toner (alcohol-free – can dry out skin causing excess sebum)
  • Moisturizer
  • SPF protection

Skin care routine:

  • Gentle exfoliator: use every few days will help to eliminate dead skin cells and makeup.
  • Vitamin C serums: help with collagen production as well as reducing redness and swelling.
  • Retinol: help to remove dirt, dead skin cells, oils from pores and can stimulate collagen and elastin.
  • Vitamin E: used for acne scarring

We hope this article helps remove the stigma of acne. Our team loves helping patients look and feel their best. We’re here to provide patients every reason to be proud of who they are and the way they look. We can’t wait to help you feel truly comfortable in your own skin.

Acne tips by acupuncture center toronto