As I mentioned in my previous post, traditional Chinese medicine can actually improve the look of skin, including melasma. Melasma is also sometimes referred to as chloasma and is thought to be related to liver spots, age spots, or pregnancy mask, all of which are a type of hyperpigmentation.
Western medicine doesn’t have very effective treatment for these types of pigmented conditions, often suggesting harsh chemicals or other abrasive treatments that are only sometimes effective. This is why the WHO listed acupuncture as one method you should consider to treat melasma.
I suffered from melasma for 3 years, and tried everything from Chinese medicine to Ayurveda, but those barely touched the symptoms. Finally, back in the US I found something that–at last–erased the discoloration to clear the dark patches.
This amazing formula addresses the underlying hormonal imbalance (yes, it is caused by hormones + sun exposure, sun exposure alone is not the cause–why do you think pregnant women get it?). Not only does it prevent further skin pigmentation, but more importantly it brightened my skin.
No more mustache look!
I’m so happy for this discovery–I can go out and be confident without a full coverage of makeup. Find out how you can get brighter skin, too!
Western medical science usually blames hyperpigmentation on sun exposure combined with hormonal changes (hence ’pregnancy mask’), or even thyroid problems or heredity. A more technical explanation using western terminology (from a Chinese medicine blog):
It is well-known in Western medicine that a number of gynecological conditions are due to an estrogen/progesterone imbalance wherein there is a relative excess of estrogen (hyperestrogenosis) compared to a relative deficiency of progesterone. Hence the estrogen is “unopposed” and is, therefore, responsible for various pathological changes, such as premenstrual breast distention and pain and uterine myomas. It is also known that estrogen and progesterone both play a role in the secretion of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) from the pituitary and that MSH is involved in the formation of melasmas or age/liver spots. In the above cited study, the authors show that there is a correlation (at least in rat models) between such an estrogen-progesterone imbalance, FBD, MSH secretion, being overweight, and suffering from liver depression. For instance, the mean serum estrogen was higher while the mean serum progesterone was lower in the rats with melasmas than those with clear skin. (bluepoppy.com)
The cause of hyerpigmentation according to TCM actually comes from inside the body: liver insufficiency or blood stagnation. In Chinese medicine, the body is taken as a whole, especially emphasizing how the interior affects and directs the exterior. According to basic theory of Chinese medicine, liver controls the blood, and when combining western terminology with Chinese medicine, liver also manages the hormonal and endocrine systems. Thus for treatment, TCM doctors would seek to improve the liver function and move blood using either herbs or acupuncture.
Acupuncture can be used to regulate and strengthen the liver and encourage flow of blood and Qi. Local points on the face, as shown in the featured picture, can be used along with
- Xuanzhong GB39
- Qiuxu GB40
- Taichong LR3
Alternately herbs can be used as well. The herbs prescribed would
- strengthen and move liver Qi,
- move blood,
- clear dampness (according to individual patient’s differentiation) which may have caused the Qi stagnation and blood stasis.
Herbs such as huo xiang and pei lan for clearing dampness, along with dang gui for moving blood, and typical herbs for liver Qi depression or other menstrual disorders can be chosen.
Facial masks might be another alternative. One recommended to me by a TCM doctor was to mix pearl powder into a paste and leave on for 1 hour daily. One recipe found online is to mix 5g Chinese hawthorn/shanzha powder with egg white and apply for 1 hour twice daily.
The best way to avoid age spots and melasma is to avoid exposure to the sun: wear sunscreen and a hat.
For prevention and remedy, take a multi-vitamin that includes folate. For clearing the spots, Livetrong recommends taking other herbs such as algae, grapefruit seed extract, or grape seed extract as well as making a mask out of ginseng and gotu kola. Dr Mercola recommends astaxanthin.
If you have painful menstruation, irregular periods, breast distension or irritability around menstruation time or other menstrual disorders, or are taking HRT for menopause, your melasma is most likely the result of liver Qi stagnation so you’d most benefit from going to TCM doctor, who can treat your entire condition.