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Friday, October 26, 2007

Got Acne? Try Bletilla

Today's post on acne treatment with bletilla (bai ji) compound originally appeared in issue # 15 of Leung's Chinese Herb News, in 1998.

The formula consists of the following herbs: 6 g each of bletilla [rhizome of Bletilla striata], Dahurian angelica (Angelica dahurica root), and xin yi (flower bud of Magnolia spp.), and 3 g of huang qin or Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis root). These are all readily available from any Chinese herb shop. Pick off any dirt or extraneous matter and discard. Cut the herbs into small pieces and place them in a blender and chop them into a very fine powder. A better way is to pass them through a coffee mill a couple of times until a very fine powder is obtained. Then store the powder in a small sealed bottle so as to leave minimal amount of headspace to avoid oxidation. For prolonged storage, leave it in the freezer.

This remedy is for pimples “all over the face.” Every night before going to bed, place an adequate amount of the bletilla compound powder on the center of the palm, add an adequate amount of water, and make a paste. Gently rub this paste on the pimpled areas. [The author does not tell us whether to leave the paste on overnight or wash it off right away. But I assume you would want to leave it overnight.] According to this report, the pimples will disappear 7 to 10 days after treatment starts. After 7 to 15 days, the blackheads will also come off. The author recommends that even after pimples disappear, one should continue with this treatment 1 to 2 times during the week that follows, so as to “protect and nourish the skin and to prevent recurrence.” Sounds good to me! Looks like it’s a simple treatment for another common and often difficult to treat problem.

All the herbs in this formula have been shown to have antimicrobial activities; some also antiinflammatory (magnolia flower bud. Dahurian angelica, Chinese skullcap), and healing (bletilla). Dahurian angelica contains sizable amounts of furocoumarins that can be photosensitizing. However, since this remedy is to be used at night, this would be an unlikely problem. Still, be alert to allergic skin reactions.

F.H. Zhao, “Acne Treatment with Bai Ji Powder,” Zhongguo Kexue Meirong, (5): 17(1998); Leung, A.Y., and S. Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics, Wiley-Interscience, New York, 1995, pp. 362-364, 530, 532-533, 554-555.

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 containing the remedies mentioned above, visit the bookstore, click “Buy Now” on the newsletter, and select Issue # 15 from the drop down list.

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