Note: contains material derived from Chinese hawthorn (shanzha) for treating facial brown patches (melasma) [Hubei Zhongyi Zazhi, 16(5): 47(1994)].
Results are described for shanzha treatment of 12 patients with melasma, afflicting mostly the forehead and cheeks, and less so the nose and upper lip. Patients’ ages ranged from 23 to 45 years. Shortest duration of illness was 5 months and longest 12 years. Method: Grind 300 g of dried raw shanzha to a fine powder and reserve for later use. Wash face with warm water and wipe dry with towel. Mix 5 g of shanzha powder with an adequate amount of fresh egg white to form a paste and apply it to the face to form a thin film. Let it sit for 1 hour, during which time the face can be massaged to help the herb’s absorption. Do this once in the morning and once at night. Sixty (60) applications constituted one course of treatment. Results: After treatment, pigmentation disappeared in 6 patients, whose skin color had returned to normal; it turned lighter in 4 patients; and 2 did not respond. A case example was described for a 23-year-old single woman with melasma on her cheeks, which had been unsuccessfully treated for 6 months and had started to spread to her forehead and bridge of the nose. After 2 courses of shanzha treatment (120 applications; 2 months), the patient’s melasma was completely resolved.
In western medical practice, melasma is usually treated with bleaching agents such as hydroquinone, which is rather harsh. Chinese hawthorn fruit has never been known to be toxic and is a common food and medicine. If it doesn’t work, it certainly won’t hurt. You can buy shanzha from any Chinese herb shop and probably many food markets in Chinatown. But be sure to get the dried raw kind (usually in twisted slices of 1-2 cm in diameter and about 0.5 cm thick), and not the shanzha candy that comes in thin wafers stacked 3-4 cm high and wrapped in paper. If the raw shanzha is not dry enough for grinding, you can dry it in the oven at low heat until it is brittle.
These and more herbal remedies are available from the volumes of Dr. Leung’s newsletter, of the same name as this blog (Leung’s Chinese Herb News). This newsletter was published and sent to subscribers (most were industry-insiders) from 1996 to 2004. The collected works now serve as an excellent reference work, created with Dr. Leung’s frank, honest opinions and down-to-earth communication style.
For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit www.earthpower.com. To order the newsletter mentioned above, visit the bookstore, click “Buy Now” on the newsletter, and select Issue # 10 from the drop down list.