Psoriasis can be an uncomfortable and unbearable disease physically and emotionally because of its unpleasant blemishes. It is characterized by bright or dark red lesions with a shiny, waxy or scaled coating. It occurs in many different areas of the body, most commonly the flexor surfaces of the arms and legs and on the scalp. The condition varies in severity and can cause changes in the finger and toe nails and in severe, chronic cases can develop into an arthritic condition. Because of its complications and chronic nature, complementary therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be helpful.
How does Chinese Medicine Treat Psoriasis?
According to Chinese medicine, there are several key ways that psoriasis develops. Research on psoriasis has shown it may be caused by hereditary, immunologic, metabolic or endocrine factors. When you visit your acupuncturist, she/he will ask you several questions about your health history that will help determine how your psoriasis developed and what treatment strategy will be most helpful in resolving it. On your first visit, your acupuncturist will consider the following factors:
- Any childhood illnesses or infections
- Recent toxic exposures
- Dietary irregularities and gastrointestinal function
- Unresolved emotions, stress or trauma
- Moisture quality and health of your skin overall
These subjects, many seemingly unrelated to psoriasis, actually have an important role in diagnosing and treating your condition. In Chinese medicine, when the skin is unhealthy, it is a reflection of a deeper, long standing problem lodged somewhere else in the body. By bringing the cause of the condition to light, the problem can be healed and the psoriasis can be resolved.
What Results can I Expect with Treatment?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs work together to help eliminate psoriasis. Healing of the disease takes place in stages. A series of initial visits help determine the cause of the problem and the treatment plan that will best eliminate it. In general, this initial process takes about 1 month. In that time you will receive weekly acupuncture treatments and a Chinese herbal formula as well as any suggestions for supplements and skin care that may help speed the process. Dietary changes are also a key component to resolving psoriasis and your acupuncturist will guide you toward a diet that will help your progress. Depending on your response to treatment in this first month, you can begin to taper off treatment if desired, while continuing with your herbal formula on a daily basis. This can serve as a general guideline for treatment but of course, the severity of the problem and compliance with herbs and dietary changes determine the necessary length of treatment. There is never a “quick fix” with psoriasis, but this treatment strategy does provide hope for a full recovery.
An elimination diet may cut to the root of the problem, since there appears to be anecdotal evidence that diet and nutrition are causal factors for psoriasis flare-ups.