TCM Treatment of Skin Disorders based on the Strategy of Professor Zhao Bing Nan

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By Dr Greta Young Jie De


Professor Zhao Bing Nan (1899~1984) is a renowned Chinese Medicine skin specialist. At the age of 14 he studied under numerous Chinese medicine specialists and at the age of 27 he established his own Chinese medicine dermatology clinic. He created many effective formulas to treat difficult-to-treat skin disorders and established a unique Chinese medicine pattern identification system for the treatment of skin diseases.

Professor Zhao’s Academic Focus and Achievement

Professor Zhao emphasized the significance of the holistic approach to treatment, explaining: “Although skin disease manifests on the exterior, in reality the core of the problem has its root in the interior. If there is no internal chaos there will be no external manifestation.” He reiterated that pattern identification must focus on yin and yang. If this important differentiation is disregarded when prescribing herbs, it is tantamount to prescribing a “calm the fetus” formula to the husband.

  • In regard to the treatment of skin itch, Professor Zhao proposed that skin itch is mainly associated with pathogenic wind, damp, heat, worms and blood deficiency.
  • In regard to the treatment of dampness, he said: “Those who focus on treating dampness are, in reality, addressing only half of the skin disease pathology”. He created many effective formulas to address the elimination of damp, including: Clear Heat and Eliminate Damp Decoction; Tonify the Spleen and Eliminate Damp Decoction; Disperse Wind and Eliminate Damp Decoction; Formula for all Parasites (Quan Chong Fang 全虫方); and “Multiple Skin” (Duo Pi Yin 多皮饮).
  • In regard to the perspective of addressing the blood aspect in treating skin disease, Professor Zhao advocated formulas adhering to the strategy of Cooling and Invigorating Blood, Invigorating Blood and Transforming Stasis, low, middle dosage and heavy dosage formulas, as well as the application of Four Aspect theory (Wei, Qi, Ying, Xue) in the identification of skin disease patterns. He also created many formulas to relieve toxicity.

Herbs Frequently Used by Professor Zhao

  • To regulate yin and yang: Ji Xue Teng; Shou Wu Teng; Gou Teng.
  • To moisten the skin and stop itch: Hei Zhi Ma; Huo Ma Ren; Yu Li Ren.
  • To tonify the middle and augment qi: Huang Qi; Huang Jing; Dang Shen; Tai Zi Shen.
  • To harmonise qi and blood: Dan Shen; Mu Dan Pi, Chi Shao and Bai Shao.
  • To clear heart fire: Lian Zi Xin; Lian Qiao Xin; Zhi Zi Ren ( Zhi Zi seed)
  • To lead the gate of fire back to its source: Rou Gui
  • To loosen the chest and regulate qi: He Gen (Lotus root); Hou Po, He Huan Hua/Pi
  • Support the zheng qi and dispel pathogen: Wu She; Qin Jiao.Bai Hua She She Cao.
  • Invigorate blood and stop pain: Da Huang; Yan Hu Suo. Ru Xiang, Mo Yao.

Frequently used Guide Herbs

  • For the head: Chuan Xiong;
  • For the face: Ju Hua; Ling Xiao Hua凌霄花
  • For the eyes: Gu Jing Cao
  • For the brow: Bai Zhi
  • For the nose: Xin Yi Hua
  • For the helix of the ear: Long Dan Cao
  • For the lips: Qian Shi
  • For the abdomen: Hou Po
  • For the breast: Ju Pi, Ju Ye
  • For the limbs: Sang Zhi
  • For the arms: Pian Jiang Huang
  • For the legs: Mu Gua

This article was first published at the Pearls of Wisdom Seminar in 2012

About Dr Greta Young Jie De

Greta Young Jie De is a registered Chinese Medicine practitioner with the Chinese Medicine Registration Board Australia, with a focus on the treatment of emotional disorders using Chinese medicine. She is an expert in the classic literature of Chinese…Read more

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