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Psoriasis is more than a skin condition, it impacts people’s daily lives in social situations and has a significant emotional impact. In addition, psoriasis may cause itching and is often associated with arthritic joint pain. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been commonly used to treat psoriasis throughout Asia.

Psoriasis is caused by dysfunction and deregulation of the immune system, leading to an auto-immune reaction.Psoriasis causes the formation of round and oval raised plaque, often with a silvery white scale over these lesions. Chinese medicine describes this as imbalances which disrupt the body and keep it from healing. Once the imbalances are corrected, your body can work to heal itself and stay healthy.

Psoriasis in Chinese Medicine

herbal ingredients 1For autoimmune conditions like psoriasis, the concept of imbalances makes sense. The immune system is overactive and the body attacks itself.

The diagnosis of the specific imbalance is based upon the appearance of the psoriasis and other symptoms, such as itch, pain, or irritation. The most common imbalances are blood heat, dryness, and blood stagnation. Damp heat can also be a factor, particularly in pustular psoriasis.

Chinese medicine doctors have long said that removing these imbalances is like hitting the reset switch. In this case, resetting the immune system. One of the phenomenal aspects of Chinese herbal therapy is that it can lead to long term reduction in psoriasis. We describe this as correcting the imbalances in the body rather than masking the psoriasis symptoms.

Chinese Medicine Psoriasis Types

Blood Heat- Blood heat is characterized by acute onset of psoriasis with possible severe itching. The lesions are often bright red, irregular patterns of plaque. The size and extent of the lesions suggest the amount of heat. The greater number and larger the lesions, the greater amount of heat.

Blood Dryness- Blood dryness occurs with chronic cases of psoriasis. Itching may or may not be present. The lesions can appear pale or dull red in color. The scales may appear to be dryer with blood dryness.

Blood Stagnation- Blood stagnation also occurs when there is long-term chronic psoriasis. It often is characterized by remission and relapses. The plaques are irregular, hard, and thick and may be purplish in color.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbs are given in formulas, which contain 10-15 herbs. They are most often boiled in water and drank as teas. The ingredients are chosen specifically for your imbalance. For example, if there is blood stagnation and blood dryness, the formula would focus on moving the blood stagnation and nourishing the dryness.

The Immunological Effects of Herbs for Psoriasis

handful of herbs 1Herbs used for psoriasis have many immuno-regulatory effects by reducing the inflammatory responses of the body.
Three of the most powerful and commonly used herbs for psoriasis are Sheng di huang (Rehmania glutinosa), Dan shen (Salvia miltiorriza), and Zi cao (lithospermum erythrohizon).

Sheng di huang is used to cool the blood and clear heat. It is effective for many types of psoriasis, including psoriasis y cools the blood and is often used with psoriasis.

Some of the herbs work synergistically with other herbs in the formula to enhance their action.

Licorice root, or gan cao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), is widely used in Chinese medicine for psoriasis, as it boosts qi and harmonizes the effects of other herbs. It has long been known for immuno-regulatory abilities. Studies show that it can also reduce possible toxicity and help to repair damaged liver cells.

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Joseph Alban, L.Ac.

Joseph Alban is a New York Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Herbalist providing the highest quality Acupuncture and Chinese medicine care tailored to your needs.

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