Traditional Chinese Medicine for EczemaAdina Stanescu, R.TCMP April 1, 2014
Herbal Formulas to Clear Eczema
Eczema is a many headed beast. Some cases are textbook-clear and relatively easy to treat, while others fall between types, present paradoxically, or engage in shape shifting deception. Successful treatment of these conditions resembles a chess game, with the practitioner trying to stay a step ahead and to eventually checkmate the wiley opponent. Fortunately, in most cases the eczema has met its match in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but the first ingredients in all the successful formulas, and the ones that need to be administered at the highest dosage, are patience and persistence.
Let’s look at the most common scenarios found in severe eczema, and the famous combinations used to treat them.
This is a severe inflammatory flare of eczema that covers the entire body, from head to toe, so that the whole person appears lobster red. The great inflammatory heat scorches the skin cells, causing them to shed and flake profusely. The sufferer is feverish and chilled, extremely agitated, itchy, uncomfortable and unwell. Erythrodermic eczema can quickly become a hospital emergency, but before full onset, when an eczema is clearly on the march and getting worse, and the patient is just beginning to feel chilled, herbs can stop and reverse the inflammatory cascade.
One formula that may often be used is “Huang Lian Jie Du Tang: Coptis Decoction to Relieve Toxicity.” This famous formula was composed in the year 752 AD. It contains bitter, cold, yellow coloured roots, rich in strong anti-inflammatory constituents such as berberine. The herbs can penetrate deeply to the blood level where the fire toxin has lodged itself, to cool and detoxify.
Supportive ingredients such as the rich, black Rhemannia and Scrophularia roots are often added to moisturize and repair the skin and fluids. Many other ingredients may be added depending on the severity of the flare-up and the constitution of the patient, and on whether there may be other factors such as weeping/oozing lesions. This potent combination can bring about a visible change within a couple of days. Once the condition is controlled, the formula is changed to something less harsh for long term treatment.
Adult Atopic Eczema
This type of eczema usually has its first onset in infancy or childhood. Up to half of kids may outgrow it by adolescence, while the remaining unlucky ones continue to suffer into adulthood. The adult forms are more stubborn and tend to present with paradoxical symptoms, such as skin that looks thickened and very dry, but in fact oozes and weeps. This concurrent dampness and dryness poses a challenge in treatment, for using traditional formulas to treat one may well worsen the other. Here I rely quite heavily on self-devised, smaller herbal combinations, rather than ancient formulas, to walk a fine line in treatment. Knowing the taste classifications of the herbs we use is priceless in such cases:
Herbs such as Similacis Glabra, Lonicera stem, and adzuki bean will treat damp heat and clear toxins without aggravating dryness, due to their sweet rather than bitter taste. Other combinations are: the sweet, salty and bitter Scrophularia root encountered above, with the acrid and drying Atractylodis lancea. Together they dry dampness and moisturize the blood, and therefore the skin, and using them together will neutralize any side effects of each alone.
Another way to be effective is by careful assessment of the depth of the toxins which nearly always present with this eczema. If there is little weeping of the skin, the toxins are fairly superficial and can be treated with lighter herbs such as Lonicera flower, Forsythia fruit, and Crysanthemum. If deeper, with skin weeping and well defined very red lesions, we will use deeper acting herbs such as Dandelion root and Violet and again, Coptis and Scutellaria roots.
This eczema develops on a background of poor circulation and varicose veins in the legs, with edema – fluid swelling. The inner leg often shows spider veins and a bluish coloration. The lack of proper nourishment to the skin, combined with excess fluid accumulation predisposes the skin of the legs to dryness, irritation, ulceration and eczema. Herbal treatment must address all of these factors.
We may combine the famous lower body damp-draining, slightly diuretic formula Bi Xie Shen Shi Tang with a couple of circulatory herbs such as Carthamus flower or Peach pit, and as the condition improves we would change the proportions of herbs so that the blood circulation, rather than the dampness and swelling, are addressed more. In this way, all of the roots of the problem are treated for lasting effect.
This is also known as seborrheic dermatitis, and is dandruff’s inflammatory cousin. This condition, though it ranges from fairly mild to a very severe form that resembles psoriasis, can be very stubborn. The severe form – sebopsoriasis – requires an extra dose of the secret ingredients mentioned at the start: patience and persistence.
Many elements need attention here: regulating the secretion of waxy fat (sebum) from our scalp; treating the opportunistic yeast infections with Malasezzia species which feast on the oils in our scalp and leave them degraded (essentially turning healthy fat into bad fat); the abnormal turnover of cells causing plaque or crust formation; and itching and inflammation. Phew. No single formula can form the basis for such a complicated treatment, rather we start with one that is customized as much as possible to signs and symptoms. For instance, some seborrheic dermatitis cases are very dry, while some cases are greasy and weepy. For the dry type, burdock seed , rhemannia root and wild crysanthemum are useful ingredients. The greasy versions, on the other hand, may require gentian, scutellaria, and alisma, as in the famous formula Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, first published in 1682.
Careful and well considered herb combinations can save the day for many stubborn eczemas. But while many herbs have been named here, self treatment is highly discouraged. For skin disease, close supervision is required to navigate through the intricacies of treatment and yield the best and safest results.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Success Story – Chinese Herbs Cured My Hemorrhoids – by Carmine Bello
I found a statistic online that may give you pause: by age 50, one out of every two individuals will suffer from clinical hemorrhoids. Some will be asymptomatic – which is to say, not burdened by the condition through the suffering of symptoms. The rest, however, will be downright miserable.
There’s more. If you already endure rear-end woes, the odds are that your situation will, over time, develop into multiple conditions – each meriting its own medical diagnosis – even though you may only perceive a single source of pain. That’s exactly what happened to me.
I am a reasonably healthy and fit male in my forties and (I say without modesty) better read than most on the topic of health and wellness. But this didn’t do me any good when I started to experience serious derriere discomfort in the mid-1990s. A routine trip to the washroom caused me agonizing pain – both during and after bowel movements – and the regular presence of blood only added to my misery.
The diagnosis from my doctor was clinical hemorrhoids (essentially, varicose veins in the rectal area) as well as a possible fissure (crack or tear directly in the anal ring, often accompanied by infection). This diagnosis was later confirmed by a top-ranked clinic in Toronto. (Pain, especially extreme pain after having a bowel movement, is a classic fissure symptom. Since that area involves muscle tissue, the late-onset pain is actually a delayed spasm deep within the muscle. Untreated, infection usually develops to the point where the pain becomes so intense that even walking is difficult.)
However, diagnosis is one thing – treatment is another. I soon learned that these problems are not easy to fix. I tried every ointment, poultice, and cream I could get my hands on, but nothing offered long-term relief. I also made lifestyle changes – an ongoing series of dietary adjustments – which often gave temporary respite, but that was all.
The “top” doctors at the “top” clinics told me that the only long-term solution was surgery. They also told me that the surgery itself was painful, tended to interfere with one’s ability to control the sphincter thereafter, and often required repeat surgery in the years to come. I was not a happy camper.
Chinese Medicine to the Rescue
Then after more than a decade of suffering, I chanced upon an ad from a clinic in the Toronto area called the “NATCM Hemorrhoid Institute.” I learned that its sister clinic had already been operating in Vancouver for several years. The two clinics are jointly run by Guoyi Chen and his son, Alan. Both are recognized in B.C. as Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or “TCM,” but not in Ontario because TCM remains unregulated here. In his native China, TCM Dr. Guoyi Chen has multiple titles, and has been both recognized and publicly honoured by the Government of China for his role as the “eradicator” of hemorrhoids. The Chens, father and son, run over 50 hospitals and clinics in China that uniquely specialize in their proprietary formulas and treatments.
The treatment I ultimately received was like nothing I had come across before. The Chen family has been treating hemorrhoids (and associated medical conditions) in China for five generations. They claim to have developed a specific regimen rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine which, over time, compels the body to heal the condition naturally, while simultaneously sloughing off the diseased tissue.
I also discovered that Traditional Chinese Medicine – a style of treatment that relies on natural, holistic remedies and considers surgery only as a last resort – is thousands of years old. In comparison, our best medical knowledge here in the West is the work of mere upstarts – young whippersnappers who, arguably, make up in arrogance what they lack in hard data and experience.
In their native land, the Chen family has treated three million patients with a success rate in the 90+ percentile, and some of the most prominent government officials in China are former patients, and active proponents of, the Chen protocols.
The above is excerpted from a longer article posted on Vitality Magazine’s website. To read the complete article go to: http://bit.ly/1jnPxsb
For more information on the NATCM Hemorrhoids Centre, see ad on page 91, or call (905) 415-1777.