Acupuncture and Herbs for Atopic Eczema |Alban Acupuncture

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Atopic Eczema

Atopic eczema is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin which causes the skin to become extremely dry and itchy.  The itch in atopic dermatitis is so severe it can take over your life. And after you scratch, the skin becomes inflamed.  Eventually this leads to an inflammatory reaction which creates a cycle where the itch causes inflammation and the inflammation leads to more itching.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help eczema by reducing inflammation, itch, and restoring the body to its natural balance. Throughout my 15 years in acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice, I have helped many people with atopic eczema.

What is Atopic Eczema?

Atopic eczema is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin which causes the skin to become extremely dry and itchy. The itch in atopic dermatitis can be very severe. After you scratch, the skin becomes inflamed. Eventually this leads to an inflammatory reaction which creates a cycle where the itch causes inflammation and the inflammation leads to more itching.

Eczema frequency is rising rapidly within the last century. No one knows the exact cause of the increase in eczema, but factors include irritants, harsh soaps, over bathing, allergies, environmental pollutants, and diet.

Eczema develops because of an interaction between the person and the environment: someone has a genetic propensity for dry skin and allergies when contact with soaps and irritants trigger the development of eczema.

While the exact cause is unknown, eczema skin has distinct characteristics: dry skin, increased IgE production, a tendency for the overgrowth of staphylococcus aureus, higher skin pH, and a deficiency in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

By addressing these imbalances in the skin we can see long term improvement in the skin.  

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine treatment of Atopic Eczema

Chinese herbal medicine focuses on correcting the imbalance causing the eczema. If heat is the cause of the eczema, we will use herbs that traditionally are used to clear heat from the body. Many of the heat clearing herbs have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties. Research has shown that Chinese herbal medicine is linked to a reduction in corticosteroid use in children.

Acupuncture is very effective to control the itching in eczema. I find that auricular and body acupuncture combination to be the most effective. After the acupuncture, I often will use magnet stickers in ear acupuncture points that correspond to the specific area of the body the itch is found. It is possible that the same physiological mechanisms which acupuncture uses to reduce pain are effective for stopping itch in eczema.

For many patients, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine leads to long term reduction of symptoms. This is because Chinese medicine focuses on correcting the root imbalance causing the condition, not just masking the symptoms. The long term benefit of the herbs may be due to immunoregulatory mechanisms of Chinese medicine.

Moisturizers and Emollients for Eczema

The use of external emollients for atopic eczema (moisturizers, creams and oils) to keep the skin nourished and moist is extremely important.  Dryness of skin exacerbates the irritation and disrupts the healing process. The skin heals from the inside out and the outside in.

Acupuncture Treatment Course

Acupuncture is a powerful natural treatment for atopic eczema. The treatment course is usually 3-6 months. Please call us at 212-319-5757 or request an appointment if you have questions about how acupuncture can help you.

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    Cork MJ, Danby SG, Vasilopoulos Y, et.al. Epidermal Barrier Dysfunction in Atopic Dermatitis Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2009) 129, 1892–1908. published online 4 June 2009

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    Ruzicka T. Atopic eczema between rationality and irrationality. Arch Dermatol. 1998 Nov;134(11):1462-9.

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    PubMed Health. Atoptic Eczema. Accessed 5/14/2013.

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    Chen HY, Lin YH, Wu JC, et. al. Use of traditional Chinese medicine reduces exposure to corticosteroid among atopic dermatitis children: a 1-year follow-up cohort study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Jan 15;159:189-96.

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    Mazin Al-Khafaji. Atopic Eczema “Wind of the four crooks.” Journal of Chinese Medicine. Number 77: p5-8. February 2005.

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    Muluye RA, Bian Y, Alemu PN. Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Effects of Heat-Clearing Chinese Herbs: A Current Review. J Tradit Complement Med.2014;4(2):93-98.

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    He X, Fang J, Huang L, Wang J, Huang X.Sophora flavescens Ait.: Traditional usage, phytochemistry and pharmacology of an important traditional Chinese medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Aug 22;172:10-29.

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    Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A., et al. Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema – a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.Allergy. 2010 Jul;65(7):903-10. Epub 2009 Dec 11.

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    Li J, Zhang F, Li J. The Immunoregulatory Effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine on Treatment of Asthma or Asthmatic Inflammation. Am J Chin Med.2015;43(6):1059-1081; PMID: 26364661.

Feedback From our clients…

“Before I started the treatment by Joe, I had been suffering from eczema for more than 20 years. The skin on my face was red and irritated almost constantly, and my hand eczema prevented me to stretch my hands open. I was on heavy steroid treatments for years, and I was so frustrated that my eczema kept coming back after a couple of days of relief. Joe tailored the herbal medicine formula for my case, and after just a few months, my condition has improved significantly. Although it’s a slow progress, I prefer a gentler and more effective way of treating my stubborn eczema by herbs and acupuncture to reduce inflammation. Now my skin has a lot less bouts of irritation, and it goes away quickly without using cortisone cream..”
~ .M., BrooklynS