Rosacea - Traditional Chinese MedicineTraditional Chinese Medicine Summary

Traditional Chinese Medicine

TCM Summary

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), rosacea is known as jiu zha bi (酒渣鼻) or “drinker’s nose” and bi chi () or “red nose.”[1] It is attributed to excess heat, fire, and Qi and blood stasis in the lung system and network vessels which open into the nose. Less commonly, rosacea may also be caused by the invasion of external wind and cold which can hinder the movement of Qi and blood.[1,2]

Treatment Philosophy

The goals of Traditional Chinese Medicine for rosacea are to expel lung heat, clear fire, and move blood stagnation.

  • Heat/fire: Just as in nature, heat rises upwards, moves quickly, and changes quickly. Heat (and fire) pertains to many skin conditions in which you see redness and inflammation, and feel heat.
  • Blood stagnation: Qi and blood stagnation leads to lack of circulation and the development of dark spots. It can be due to injury, trauma, stress, or lack of sufficient energy to move the Qi and blood through the body.

Symptoms and Causes

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that mainly affects the face. Many adults in the United States and around the world suffer from the symptoms of rosacea that affect their quality of life.

Rosacea is a skin condition that results in facial redness, flushing, bumps and skin thickening. Rosacea affects mainly the central parts of the face such as the cheeks, chin, nose and sometimes the eyes. Rosacea is a fairly common disease, especially among Caucasians of northern European decent.[3-5] In Europe and in the United States it is estimated that at least one to two adults out of a hundred have rosacea.[3,6] Although it is typically seen in Caucasians and those with lighter skin color, it can also be seen in those with darker skin color.[7]

Chinese Herbs

TCM herbal therapy offers several herbal treatments for rosacea. The goal of herbal therapy is to correct the underlying imbalance, which may include removing heat from the lungs, moving blood stagnation, cooling the blood, and opening the pores. A traditional formula Pi Pa Qin Fei Yin or it’s modified version called Chi Bi Tang are often used.[13] In one study of 68 women, Chi Bi Tang doubled the effectiveness of using minocycline and spironolactone in rosacea.[13]


Acupuncture therapy focuses on removing lung and stomach heat, and moving blood stagnation. If there are digestive issues, improving digestion is a main focus of acupuncture for rosacea. Acupuncture points on the lung and stomach channel will often be used to clear heat and regulate digestion. Electro-acupuncture on the acupuncture point Stomach 36 is helpful in improving gastric motility.[14]

Diet and Lifestyle

Nutrition and diet

  • Fruits and vegetables: Eating a variety of whole fruits and vegetables that have anti-inflammatory properties and are cooling in nature will help to expel pathogenic factors heat and fire and rebalance the body temperature.[12,15]


  • Exercise: Moderate exercise helps to re-balance strong emotions, move Qi and blood, and nourish vital organ systems for strong immunity.[16-18]
  • Stress reduction: Strong emotions such as stress create road blocks for the movement of Qi and blood. It creates a stagnation that overtime decreases your body's ability to fight off pathogenic factors. [16,19,20]
  • Sun protection: Nothing works better than covering your skin during periods of prolonged sun exposure to reduce exposure to harmful UV rays and to prevent your skin from heating up.[1]
  1. Xu Y, Sumei Y. Dermatology in traditional chinese medicine. St. Albans: Donica Pub.; 2004.
  2. Shen D-H, Wu H-f, Wang N. Manual of dermatology in Chinese medicine = [Pʻi fu kʻo]. Seattle: Eastland Press; 1995.
  3. Tan J, Berg M. Rosacea: current state of epidemiology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013; 69(6 Suppl 1):S27-35; PMID: 24229634 Link to research.
  4. Tan J, Schofer H, Araviiskaia E, et al. Prevalence of rosacea in the general population of Germany and Russia - The RISE study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2016; 30(3):428-434; PMID: 26915718 Link to research.
  5. Melnik BC. Rosacea: The Blessing of the Celts - An Approach to Pathogenesis Through Translational Research. Acta Derm Venereol. 2015;10.2340/00015555-2220PMID: 26304030
  6. Augustin M, Herberger K, Hintzen S, et al. Prevalence of skin lesions and need for treatment in a cohort of 90 880 workers. Br J Dermatol. 2011; 165(4):865-873; PMID: 21623753 Link to research.
  7. Al-Dabagh A, Davis SA, McMichael AJ, et al. Rosacea in skin of color: not a rare diagnosis. Dermatol Online J. 2014; 20(10)PMID: 25526008
  8. Zhao YE, Wu LP, Peng Y, et al. Retrospective analysis of the association between Demodex infestation and rosacea. Arch Dermatol. 2010; 146(8):896-902; PMID: 20713824 Link to research.
  9. Gallo R, Drago F, Paolino S, et al. Rosacea treatments: What's new and what's on the horizon? Am J Clin Dermatol. 2010; 11(5):299-303; PMID: 20642292 Link to research.
  10. Marks R, Beard RJ, Clark ML, et al. Gastrointestinal observations in rosacea. Lancet. 1967; 1(7493):739-743; PMID: 4164117 Link to research.
  11. Aguirre C. Hormones and Your Skin. Vol 2016: The International Dermal Institute; 2015.
  12. Pitchford P. Healing with whole foods : Asian traditions and modern nutrition. 3rd ed. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books; 2002.
  13. Yu TG, Zheng YZ, Zhu JT, et al. Effect of treatment of rosacea in females by Chibixiao Recipe in combination with minocycline and spironolactone. Chin J Integr Med. 2006; 12(4):277-280; PMID: 17361524 Link to research.
  14. Song J, Yin J, Sallam HS, et al. Electroacupuncture improves burn-induced impairment in gastric motility mediated via the vagal mechanism in rats. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013; 25(10):807-e635; PMID: 23848593 Link to research.
  15. Kastner Jr. Chinese nutrition therapy : dietetics in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). 2nd ed. Stuttgart ; New York: Thieme; 2009.
  16. Maciocia G. The foundations of Chinese medicine : a comprehensive text for acupuncturists and herbalists. 2nd ed. / foreword by Su Xin Ming. ed. Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2005.
  17. Croiset G, Heijnen CJ, Veldhuis HD, et al. Modulation of the immune response by emotional stress. Life Sci. 1987; 40(8):775-782; PMID: 3492655 Link to research.
  18. Duman CH, Schlesinger L, Russell DS, et al. Voluntary exercise produces antidepressant and anxiolytic behavioral effects in mice. Brain Res. 2008; 1199:148-158; PMID: 18267317 Link to research.
  19. Dai-zhao Z. The Treatment of Cancer by Integrated Chinese-Western Medicine. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press; 1989.
  20. Li P, Cheng Z, Du X. Management of cancer with Chinese medicine. [London] : Donica, 2003 (2004 printing).