Have a sunburn from spending too much time in the sun? Sure, aloe vera can be helpful but did you know that there are other treatments to help ease that pain. Here are a few ways that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may be able to help.
Acupuncture would focus on pain reduction and reducing inflammation of a sunburn.[1,2] Acupuncture points for reducing heat and increasing circulation of blood and qi may be used. For example, Large Intestine 11 (Qu Chi 曲池), is indicated for clearing pathogenic heat for skin conditions. Auricular acupuncture is a very effective method for reducing pain. Another acupuncture technique may be “surround the dragon” where needles are places around the area of damage to bring circulation and qi to the area. Acupuncture would not be performed directly in the area of sunburn.
2) Herbal Medicine
Herbs are an important aspect of a TCM approach to sunburns. They work to clear heat, cool blood, clear toxins, reduce inflammation, heal wounds, and generate new skin. Lian qiao (Fructus Forsythiae Suspensae) is one herb for clearing out heat and toxins from the body, and testing in mice has confirmed this herb’s anti-inflammatory properties. A TCM practitioner will customize a herbal formula to treat your sunburn, depending on its severity.
3) Topical Creams
Much like herbal medicine, topical creams with Chinese herbs can soothe uncomfortable sunburns. On top of acting as protective barriers against external irritants, creams also serve to heal damaged skin and reduce itching/inflammation. Bing pian (冰片 Borneolum), like the common aloe vera plant, is often used externally for its cooling sensation on hot, irritated skin.