Treating acne with Chinese Traditional Medicine #1

(writing this while drinking the herbal concoction) 

Day 1

Made the trip to Boston Chinatown to visit the Nam Bac Hong, what I would described as a Chinese pharmacy offering traditional herbs and supplements


What happened

I actually made another prior trip to the store on Wed, May 10 where I learnt that doctor was not in because he is only there on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Thus, coming back again, I was not as nervous because I got to speak to the clerk previously and it was a familiar face when I returned today.

As I moved to the back of the store, there was a male clerk who helped me translated English into Chinese as the doctor diagnosed me. The elderly doctor look friendly and unassuming and I could sense that the clerk tried his best to help translated my medical conditions I have (eg. allergic rhinitis). The questions the doctor asked me were specific to my ailments. For instance, he asked if I have acne on my back. How is my bowel movement. Do I experience pain during my period. In all those areas, I have chronic problems since puberty. He checked my pulse on both wrists and gave me time to ask him questions, which I was thankful for because I got to clarify my understanding of the Chinese medicine.

Throughout the consultation, I observed that there were many people walking in and out and the store was bustling with customers. There were also African-American ladies shopping for supplements there as well. It was reassuring to see that many people, not just the local Chinese, trust their service and goods.

The doctor prescribed me certain Chinese herbs, which the clerk later prepared into three neat packages. The store does not take card. The consultation fee was $10, which I paid to the doctor directly. The herbs totaled to $21 ($7/package) and that would last me for the next 6 days.

my prescription

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What I learned

According to Chinese medicine as explained by the doctor, my acne is caused by the excess of the internal heat. It’s as if there a volcano inside my body and the heat is spilling out through my acnes. I should avoid seafood, such as crab and prawns, as well as greasy fried food. It’s also better to avoid pan-fried food. The most important thing that I learnt is it better to consult the expert for a personalized treatment, than to self-diagnose and treat myself. I previously thought that I have excess cold in my body because my hands are always freezing and I consumed a lot of cinnamon and ginger tea according to the benefits described on the internet. To my alarm, the doctor told me to stop with the cinnamon and ginger because it would produce more heat inside my body, as if adding more fuel to the wild fire inside. He also advised that I stop using the apple cider vinegar solution that I used as a toner because it will agitate my already sensitive skin.

This is not my first time to take Chinese medicine, but the bitterness of the tea still send shivers down my spines. I involuntarily slapped my knees while drinking in order to swallow it.

How I brewed my Chinese medicine

[these are the instructions described by the clerk]

1. Put one packet of herbs into pot. Just herbs. Take out the wrapping paper and rubber bands – store clerk told a story that a lady put the entire packet, including paper and rubber bands. Not recommended.


2. Pour 4 cups of water into the pot. Cup size = Dunkin Donut cup size. I just gauged with my glass at home the rough estimate.


3. Let the herbs sit in the water for 10 minutes.


10 minutes later


4. Boil herbs on high heat for 15-20 minutes. Leave pot cover open slightly.


5. Afterwards, for the next 45 minutes, switch to medium heat. Cover still on.

6. Strain out the herbs to get the brew.



I chose this cup to wish me good health. Any good wishes are greatly needed.


7. Let it cool down a little.

8. Drink it warm.

Optional: Put in 1 tablespoon of honey if preferred

If I have time to prepare, I can brew the concoction twice a day and take it in the morning and in the evening, after meal. Each package can be brewed twice. However, for the second brew, I would use less water (3 cups) and more time (20-25 minutes on high heat, and 1 hour on medium heat).



One thought on “Treating acne with Chinese Traditional Medicine #1

  1. Pingback: Acne Confession & Why Chinese Medicine | karittha Sun

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