In China in particular, acupuncture is a popular method believed to help relieve the symptoms of acne, but does this treatment really work?
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine which involves thin needles being inserted into a shallow level of the skin at certain points around the body. The aim of acupuncture is to relieve blockages of a person's ‘qì’ or ‘ch'I’, the energy flow through the body's meridians. Meridians are the channels through which the qì passes around your body. It is believed that an unbalanced qì causes illness and problems with the body, such as acne. Acupuncture is used to unblock these meridians and restore the flow of qì. The procedure is not reputed as painful, with many patients reporting a tingling sensation or numbness in the areas where the needles are replied. Other traditional Chinese methods used to restore the body's qì include herbology, food therapy and martial arts.
Can acupuncture combat acne?
Western practices use acupuncture less than in Chinese culture, but with so many sufferers of acne calling out for ways to relieve their symptoms, the procedure is now not uncommon, and western research is emerging with evidence that implies acupuncture can help certain conditions. Some studies carried out in China have suggested that acupuncture can reduce inflammatory lesions and improve acne-sufferers' quality of life. Other research appears to show that acupuncture stimulation affects areas of the brain known for reducing stress and pain, which promotes a feeling of well-being. Because stress is often linked to acne, this sense of calm could then be responsible for an improvement in the quality of the skin.
To conclude, it has not yet been scientifically proven that acupuncture could provide a solution to sufferers of acne, but this non-invasive technique could well be a way to reduce the associated stress. While we wait for more research about acne and acupuncture to emerge, we recommend visiting a dermatologist or GP to find out the best course of action for your acne concerns.
 Li B et al. Evaluation of therapeutic effect and safety for clinical randomized and controlled trials of treatment of acne with acupuncture and moxibustion. Zhongguo Zhenjiu [Chinese] 2009; 29: 247-51.
Lihong S. He-Ne laser auricular irradiation plus body acupuncture for treatment of acne vulgaris in 36 cases. J Tradit Chin Med 2006; 26: 193-4.
Cited from www.acupuncture.org.uk.
 Hui KK et al. Acupuncture, the limbic system, and the anticorrelated networks of the brain. Auton Neurosci 2010; 157: 81-90. Cited from www.acupuncture.org.uk.