BLEEDING IN THE TREATMENT OF COMMON ACNE

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As yet another example of the practical use of bleeding therapy in the contemporary clinical practice of acupuncture and moxibustion, Wang Le-rong recently published an article titled, "The Treatment of 32 Cases of Acne by Bleeding & Cupping Da Zhui and Ling Tai," in Si Chuan Zhong Yi (Sichuan Chinese Medicine), #2, 2001, p. 74. Since acne is a commonly seen condition, any simple treatments for it are, at least in my experience, welcome. Below is a summary of Wang's study.

Cohort description:
Of the 32 patients in this study, 12 were male and 20 were female. The youngest was 15 and the oldest was 37 years old. The shortest course of disease was two months, and the longest was 10 years. In terms of Western medical diagnosis, 10 cases had papular lesions, 16 had pustular lesions, four cases had cystic lesions, and two cases had nodular lesions. In terms of Chinese medical pattern discrimination, six cases exhibited lung channel wind heat pattern, 10 exhibited spleen-stomach damp heat pattern, four cases exhibited chong and ren disregulation pattern, and 12 cases exhibited mixed patterns. Some of the patients in this study had previously been treated with externally applied and/or internally administered Chinese and Western medicinals but with poor results.

Treatment method:
Da Zhui (GV 14) and Ling Tai (GV 10) were pricked to bleed. Then cups were applied for 20 minutes until 3-7ml of blood was extracted from each point. This was done once every three days, with six treatments equaling one course of therapy. In addition, the following ear points were used: Heart, Adrenal, Internal Secretion (or Endocrine), and Shen Men. If there was lung channel wind heat, Lung and Large Intestine points were added. Liu Shen Wan (Six Spirits Pills) were taped over these points and pressure was applied to each point for 2-3 minutes, 3-4 times per day. If there was Spleen-Stomach damp heat, Spleen and Stomach points were added. If there was chong and ren disregulation, Sympathetic and Internal Reproductive Organ points were added. In either of these two cases, Semen Vaccariae Segetalis (Wang Bu Liu Xing) were taped over the points and stimulated by finger pressure same as above. Three days equaled one treatment, and six treatments equaled one course. Between courses, there was a three day rest.

Treatment outcomes:
Twenty-two of the 32 patients in this study or 68.75% were judged cured. Another eight cases (25%) improved, and only two cases (6.25%) got no effect. Thus the total amelioration rate was 93.75%.

Representative case history:
The patient was a 25 year old female who was first examined on Jun. 26, 1999. The patient had had scattered papular lesions on her face for seven years and had been treated with numerous Chinese and Western externally applied and orally administered medications.

However, their effects had not been good. Both her temples and her forehead had red-colored papular lesions. There were also some pustular lesions. The patient's skin was uneven, and her facial complexion was oily, purplish, and dark. Accompanying signs and symptoms included constipation, worsening acne with menstruation, menstrual irregularity, a red tongue with slimy, yellow fur, and a slippery, rapid pulse. Based on these signs and symptoms, the patient's Chinese medical pattern was discriminated as spleen-stomach damp heat and chong and ren disregulation pattern. For this, Da Zhui and Ling Tai were bled and cupped as described above. The ear points chosen were Heart, Adrenal, Internal Secretion, Shen Men, Spleen, Stomach, and Large Intestine. After one course of treatment, the woman's papular lesions had decreased by half and there was marked improvement on the oiliness of her skin. After three courses of treatment, the papular lesions had completely disappeared and her skin was smooth and lusterous. On follow-up after one year, there had been no recurrence.

Discussion:
According to Dr. Wang, acne should mostly be treated by clearing heat evils and by regulating the chong and ren. Da Zhui and Ling Tai are both points on the governing vessel. Da Zhui is the meeting of all yang, while Ling Tai has the function of clearing heat and resolving toxins. According to the Su Wen (Simple Questions), "Treatise on Puncturing [For] Heat," "The space below the sixth vertebra rules spleen heat." Therefore, bleeding and cupping these two points is able to course and discharge yang evils and heat toxins, with heat following the exiting of blood. They can also regulate the blood and rectify the qi. Hence they course and free the flow of congestion and stagnation of the channels and network vessels. The ear points Internal Secretion and Internal Reproductive Organs balance hormonal secretions. The choice of the Heart point is based on the saying, "All pain, itching, and sores pertain to the heart." Shen Men is able to settle and still the mind and emotions, while Adrenal is able to disperse inflammation and is anti-allergenic. Large Intestine, Spleen, and Stomach are able to clear heat and dry dampness, drain fire and resolve toxins.

Dr. Wang also says that, during treatment, patients should not use any oily cosmetics and they should reduce their intake of oily, greasy, acrid, and peppery foods. Rather, they should eat more leafy green vegetables and fruit in order to promote free and easy bowel movements. In addition, they should try be happy and control their emotions. Following this advice can both increase the success rate with this protocol and prevent relapse.

Blue Poppy Press

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By Honora Lee Wolfe, Dipl. Ac., FNAAOM

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