In our last article, How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Approach Eczema? we learned that TCM differentiates each patient’s eczema presentation using terms like HEAT, DAMP, WIND, TOXIN, YIN DEFICIENCY and MIDDLE DEFICIENCY. By doing so, TCM looks at each patient and identifies the unique contributing factors that make up that person’s presentation. This system lends itself to customized treatment and Chinese herbal medicine is set-up to do so.
Matching Herbs to Issues
The Chinese herbal pharmacopeia is made up of nearly 10,000 different naturally occurring ingredients derived from the plant, mineral and animal kingdom. Each ingredient is classified by its ability to address a specific issue like HEAT, DAMP, WIND and many other characteristics that are not related to eczema. Each herb category contains numerous ingredient options that can address the severity of that characteristic, the source of that characteristic and even the location of that characteristic.
For example, HEAT, as defined by TCM, can be derived from eight different sources and can exist on four different levels of severity. There are multiple herbal ingredients that can address each HEAT source as well as multiple herbal ingredients that can address each HEAT level. As such, an herbal prescription can be made by matching a patient’s exact issues with the ingredients that best address those issues.
Another feature of some herbs is their ability to best perform in specific regions of the body. An herbalist can choose specific herbs that treat eczema presenting on the hand versus foot, upper body versus lower body, head or neck versus the torso. Additionally, some herbs can guide the entire herbal formula to a specific region of the body.
The last unique feature of herbal medicine is its flexibility in addressing individual sensitivities and individual healing time frames. As there are many ingredients to choose from in each category, an herbalist can build a prescription that best suits each patient’s individual system. During the course of treatment, eczema will evolve and heal at different rates on different parts of the body, on different people. The herbalist has the flexibility of changing out herbs that are no longer needed while adding herbs that address the current state of the eczema
In our next article, we’ll provide a case study about one of our patients who healed her eczema with TCM.
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About the Author
Dr. Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, DACM, Cert. TCM Dermatology is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats eczema, TSW, acne, and psoriasis patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, is the Chair of the American Society of Acupuncturists Board of Directors, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Support Group sponsored by The National Eczema Association.