Chinese Medicine Treatment for Psoriasis
From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, psoriasis is mainly caused by an excess of heat which can manifest as blood heat, blood dryness and blood stagnation. Blood heat can be caused by many factors such as stress, hormonal changes and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Many studies suggest that drinking too much alcohol can trigger psoriasis or make symptoms worse in a person who already has the condition. Blood dryness can be caused by qi deficiency in stomach and spleen. Blood stagnation can be caused by liver problem. TCM practitioners identify the cause of psoriasis by examining the color and form of skin lesions. Healthy diet is often recommended. People with psoriasis should avoid spicy food, seafood, red meat and alcohol.
Common Causes of Psoriasis
1) For blood heat, it resembles guttate psoriasis which can occur after a bacterial infection in Western medicine. Skin lesions are bright, red that can spread quickly and have an irregular and guttate pattern. Itching may be intense. Symptoms often get worse in the summer. An herbal formula can be prescribed to clear the heat, cool the blood and remove toxin.
2) For blood dryness, it resembles plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) in Western medicine, the most common type of psoriasis. About 8 in 10 people with psoriasis have this type. Skin lesions tend to be thicker and hard to peel off. In addition, the skin is dry and cracked. Other symptoms may include dizziness, pallor, poor memory and foggy thinking. An herbal formula can be prescribed to nourish the blood and moisten dryness.
3) For blood stasis, it does not have a clear counterpart in Western medicine. Skin Lesions are dark or hyper-pigmented, covered by thick, hard scales that are difficult to scrape off. Long-standing lesions may overlap. Lesions may become fissured (cracked) and painful. An herbal formula can be prescribed to move and activate the blood.
Chinese Herbs for Psoriasis
After the pattern of psoriasis is identified, TCM practitioners will prescribe an herbal formula based on your condition and constitution. For psoriasis caused by blood heat and blood dryness, Liang Xue Xiao Feng Tang, an herbal formula can be prescribed. It contains herbs include Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia), Sheng Shi Gao, Bai Mao Gen, Xuan Shen, Zhi Mu and more.
It’s not easy to find a TCM practitioner to prescribe the right herbal formula. Some of the formulas have to prepare in the traditional way, which is a very time-consuming process. Many people will try to take one single herb instead of herbal formula. For herbal formulas to treat psoriasis, many of them contain Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia), which is commonly used to treat psoriasis in China. A study suggests that it can be used to treat psoriasis vulgaris (1).
Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia) is a Chinese herb which has been traditionally used to clear heat, cool blood, remove toxin and moisten dryness.
Where to buy: Rehmannia Extract
How to use: Rehmannia can be used in the forms of liquid extract, powder and capsules.
Chinese Herbal Bath for Psoriasis
Itching is the most common symptom of psoriasis. For people with psoriasis, the immune system incorrectly triggers inflammation, which leads to itching. Scratching the itchy patches will make the plaques worse and increase the risk of infection. In Chinese medicine, Ku Shen (Sophora Root) is known for its ability to reduce itching.
Bathing once a day (for 15 minutes) in a decoction made from the following ingredients:
60g Ku Shen (Sophora Root)
30g Tu Fu Ling (Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae)
30g Yin Chen Hao (Artemisia Capillaris)
30g Da Huang (Chinese Rhubarb)
30g Ye Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi Indici)
30g Zi Hua Di Ding (Herba Violae cum Radice)
30g Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae)
Acupuncture Treatment for Psoriasis
Acupuncturist may use needles around a psoriasis flare, attempting to bring more qi to the affected area and balance the immune system. This is called “surrounding the dragon”. There is no strong evidence support that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for psoriasis. Some studies have shown acupuncture helps to relieve psoriasis symptoms. Some studies claim that there is no benefit from acupuncture. Many TCM practitioners believe herbal medicine often generate better results for skin conditions.