A new prescription medication Skyrizi® was approved for patients with plaque psoriasis in April 2019. However, some patients may experience negative side effects. Others may be concerned about how long-term use of an immunosuppressant might affect their health, or may be planning a pregnancy, and are curious about switching over to TCM herbal medicine.
What are possible side effects?
For patients using Skyrizi® for plaque psoriasis, the most common side effects reported were: upper respiratory infections, feeling tired, fungal skin infections, and headache. The most serious possible side effects include severe allergic reaction and, since it is an immune system suppressant, a reduced ability to fight infection.
Warnings also include that the drug may interfere with the body’s response to some vaccines, and “live” vaccines during treatment are discouraged. Skyrizi® can affect your resistance to TB – in fact your doctor will most likely test you for TB before administering this drug.
There is not yet enough information available to know how Skyrizi® affects unborn babies or infants who are breastfeeding.
Should I stop using Skyrizi® before coming to Amethyst or starting herbal medicine?
No. It is not necessary to stop your injections. Amethyst treats patients while they are still getting injections.
How do we start?
Once you decide you are ready to begin the process of switching from Skyrizi® to herbal medicine, you will meet with your Amethyst herbal medicine doctor for a full medical history intake. This helps us understand how your psoriasis story has unfolded, how it presented before taking the pharmaceuticals and the general state of your current health.
Based upon the intake findings, we will prescribe a customized herbal formula to bolster your system in preparation for while also hedging the symptoms that are likely to reappear.
How often will my Amethyst appointments be?
In general, you can expect to meet your herbal dermatology expert every 2 weeks. However, the frequency of appointments will vary depending upon your response. We do our best to see patients who find they need more frequent attention.
How do we help you discontinue Skyrizi®?
Once you have taken the initial herbal formula for a few weeks, we will work with your doctor to discuss a plan for discontinuing your injections.
The goal of treatment is to keep your skin as stable as possible, therefore, there may be a “weaning-off” period where injections are fewer and further between or at a lower dosage.
What can I expect?
This is a very difficult question to answer since everyone responds differently. The best way to approach this is to allow the process to unfold however it will for you. Amethyst will do our best to support you all along the way.
What happens after the switchover?
After any weaning-off process, the herbal medicine treatment will be adjusted to address whatever remains of your psoriasis. The goal at this point is to promote complete healing of the body and healthy skin. Once that is achieved, most patients find that they don’t need any further medicines, herbal or otherwise.
What can TCM do for Psoriasis?
TCM not only reduces the symptoms of psoriasis for many patients, it also treats the root cause by brings the whole health of the patient – including the immune system — back into balance so they can experience their healthy natural skin again. It has no negative side effects and provides results that last even after cessation of treatment, with no withdrawal symptoms.
Are there side effects with TCM?
The “side effects” of herbal medicine are actually very positive. Herbal medicine dermatology patients report that other health issues (insomnia, digestion, allergies, PMS, and more) have concurrently improved with treatment. This is because we take into consideration every system that contributes to skin health, instead of just focusing on the surface skin symptom. When we treat the whole body, it makes sense that other body functions would improve as well.
The other positive aspect of herbal medicine treatment is that its goal is returning the skin to normal function so that you can stop all treatment and maintain your healthy natural skin without assistance. TCM is interested in condition resolution, not symptom management.
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About the Author
Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, Dipl.OM, DACM, Cert. TCMDerm, is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, and TSW. Olivia treats patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia is Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Acupuncturists, serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Group sponsored by the National Eczema Association.