Psoriasis: What’s the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Approach?
Even though we think of psoriasis as a modern condition that’s been on the rise since the industrial age, the Chinese documented psoriasis conditions over thousands of years ago.
Psoriasis Thru A TCM Lens
From early observations, the Chinese recognized that psoriasis presented on a continuum with HEAT on one end and DAMP on the other. Heat in modern terms includes: erythema or redness, bleeding, swelling, the actual feeling of warmth and; Damp in modern terms includes: weeping, oozing, crusting, edematous skin. The Chinese realized that every case of psoriasis had some combination of both elements and thus, every presentation fell somewhere on this continuum.
The Chinese also noticed that continued, aggravated or mistreated levels of Heat and/or Damp could lead the skin in two further directions: 1) TOXIN–which includes: infection, widespread erythema excessive scaling or even exfoliative scaling and body chills even though the skin has a burning sensation, or 2) YIN DEFICIENCY–which modern people would loosely translate to the drying out of bodily fluids expressed externally as dryness, scaling and lichenified skin, or internally as 3) MIDDLE DEFICIENCY expressed as digestive issues like difficult bowels, darker-hued urination, unquenchable thirst and lastly, what we now call weak gut function, food intolerances, compromised microbiome.
The last element of Psoriasis coined by the Chinese was WIND, which translates to itch or the likelihood for the condition to move from area to area.
Why Are These Factors Important?
By identifying and categorizing the characteristics of psoriasis, plotting where on the continuum a patient lands between heat and damp, determining the severity of each element and assessing its relationship with other systems and symptoms; the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) psoriasis diagnosis system identifies each patient’s presentation as unique. As such, TCM psoriasis treatment lends itself to treating each unique case with a customized approach. This is exactly how herbal medicine is administered.
In our next article, we’ll examine how TCM psoriasis treatment is customized via herbal medicine to meet individual patient’s needs.
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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 patients throughout the US in person and via video conferencing using only Chinese herbal medicine. Outside of the office, Olivia serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, the Board of Directors of the American Society of Acupuncturists and is a faculty member of the Chicago Eczema Support Group sponsored by the National Eczema Association.