Acupuncture and herbal therapy have been used by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners for thousands of years to treat a wide range of maladies from internal health diseases to skin conditions such as alopecia, psoriasis, acne, eczema, and others. A lot of practitioners these days still utilize these modalities to treat their patients who choose a safer, less invasive and drug-less treatment.
Good health is deemed by Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a balance between the environment we live in and the body’s internal systems. Balance displacement in yin and yang, blood and Qi (energy) lead to the rise of diseases. The impact of dryness, dampness, cold, heat, wind, and other environmental conditions also aid in the development of the illness. Furthermore, TCM considers the mind as a powerful influence on the health of the person.
Dermatology has four realms where TCM is used: Hsa Bing (gangrene, stomach conditions, and other disorders), Gan Men Bing (anus or rectal disorders such as hemorrhoids), Pi Fu Ling (warts, eruptions, and other disorders of the skin), and Chang Yang (skin sores).
The herbal formula San Wan Hsi Ji (Three Yellow Cleanser) is utilized by Traditional Chinese medicine to treat around 60% of skin disorder including psoriasis, rashes, dermatitis, eczema, and acne. Used for many hundreds of years, the Three Yellow Cleanser, is made up of four cleansing herbs with “cold attributes” that prevents Shou Se (secretions) from oozing further, halts Shi Yang (itching), and dispels Qing Re (internal heat). The name of the formula is derived from the yellow hue that three of the four herbs possess.
The four herbs – Wang Qin (Skullcap), Wang Bai (Phellodendron), Ku Shen (Sophora), and Dai Wang (Rhubarb) — were scientifically scrutinized and were discovered to possess antiviral, antifungal, and anti-bacterial attributes. Clinical studies suggest that Wang Bai (Phellodendron) is totally effective in resolving eczema.
TCM recommends acupuncture besides the liberal use of Chinese herbs, as a parallel therapy for skin conditions. Acupoint stimulation activates the endocrine and immune systems, and adds to the production of endorphins simultaneously. Acupoints or acupuncture points are specific nerve endings that provide certain access to the energetic meridian systems, which perform a number of functions depending on their location.
Acupoints located on the torso, legs, and arms are stimulated to treat skin disorders. Single use, surgical high-grade and fine steel needles are used by acupuncturists to stimulate the acupoints. Depending on the desired effect, the needles are left inserted in the skin for as short as 5 minutes to as long as a full hour. Electricity or heat may be added using small alligator clips or heated needles (three fire needles) connected to the needles. A light electrical charge travels to the needles from a small power source.
A number of small-scale clinical studies focusing on acupuncture’s capacity to resolve skin disorders were cited in the 2002 publication of the WHO (World Health Organization) although there still has yet to be a long-term comprehensive study to corroborate the positive results of acupuncture cited on the WHO published studies.
Most of the WHO studies were random clinical trials showing acupuncture’s ability to treat neurodermatitis, pruritus, herpes zoster, and chloasma. One cited study done in 1996 involve 60 patients with chloasma who got well after being treated with acupressure and auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture). The treatment showed superior results compared to vitamin C and E therapy.
The healing effects of laser acupuncture on a viral infection (human alpha virus) was such that it brought about scar tissue formation and relief of pain quicker than a treatment of polyinosinic acid according to a study reported in the 1994 edition of the World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion.
The 1987 publication of the British Journal of Dermatology cited a study that proved acupuncture’s viability as an anti-pruritic modality. The 1998 publication of the Journal of Guiyang Chinese Medical College showed how the three-step seven-star needling technique can be used to effectively treat neurodermatitis.
Besides acupuncture and herbs in Portland, TCM also suggests modifications in one’s diet. People suffering from skin maladies should abstain from crab, shrimp, fish, and alcohol. Highly recommended for eating are fruits and leafy green vegetables.