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Psoriasis

04 Apr 2024

By: Sheryl Tay

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition characterized by patches of red, inflamed skin with silvery scales. It affects millions of people worldwide, causing discomfort, pain, and emotional distress.

Psoriasis in Chinese is 白疕 (Bai Bi), also known as 牛皮癣 (Niu Pi Xian) or 银屑病 (Yin Xie Bing).

Overproduction of skill cells 1

Risk factors of MS

Psoriasis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, speeding up the skin cell production process. Instead of taking weeks to develop and shed, skin cells turnover in days, leading to the buildup of thick, scaly patches. These patches can appear anywhere on the body but commonly affect the elbows, knees, groin and genitals, scalp, and lower back.

The exact cause of psoriasis remains unclear, but factors such as genetics, environmental triggers, stress, and a compromised immune system are believed to play a role. Managing psoriasis involves reducing inflammation, controlling the immune response, and promoting healthy skin regeneration.

      1. Immune System Dysfunction:

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells triggering an overproduction of skin cells, leading to the characteristic symptoms of psoriasis, such as redness, inflammation, and the formation of skin plaques.

      1. Environmental Triggers:

Various environmental factors can exacerbate psoriasis symptoms or trigger flare-ups. These triggers can include certain medications, infections, injury to the skin, and exposure to cold, dry weather. Unhealthy lifestyle such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption, can worsen psoriasis symptoms. Stress is also known to exacerbate psoriasis symptoms in many individuals. High levels of stress can trigger immune system responses that worsen inflammation and lead to more severe psoriasis flare-ups.

These factors may not directly cause psoriasis, but they can contribute to the severity of the condition and make it more challenging to manage.

      1. Hormonal Changes:

Hormonal changes, particularly fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels, may impact psoriasis symptoms. Women often report changes in psoriasis severity during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Psoriasis

In TCM, psoriasis is often attributed to imbalances in the body’s internal environment, particularly related to blood circulation, heat, and dampness.

Treatment with TCM can help to reduce clinical symptoms, delay recurrence, reduce the side effects of western medicine and to enhance one’s quality of life.

Types of Psoriasis:

  1. Blood Heat (血热证) : skin lesions that are red in colour, often in dot-like pattern, dry lips and throat, constipation

  2. Blood dryness (血虚风燥证) : skin lesions that are pale red in colour, often in a patchy pattern, skin lesions are dry and will crack and bleed

  3. Blood stasis (血瘀证) : skin lesions that are dark red in colour, often thick

  4. Dampness (湿毒蕴积证) : skin lesions that are red in colour, often wet, found usually in areas of the body where there are folds; joints feel sore and swollen, and heaviness in the lower limbs

How TCM can help?

TCM Treatments aim to slow down progression of the illness, reduce the frequency and severity of flare ups, and manage symptoms such as alleviate itch and decrease skin lesions.

TCM takes on a holistic perspective, viewing psoriasis as an imbalance in the body. TCM psoriasis treatments focus on restoring harmony to the body’s internal systems, alleviating symptoms by addressing the root causes from within.

  1. Acupuncture:

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and restore balance. For psoriasis, acupuncture can help regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation. By targeting acupuncture points associated with the lungs, spleen, and kidneys, acupuncture can address underlying imbalances contributing to psoriasis symptoms.

  1. Herbal Medicine:

Chinese herbal medicine are tailored to individual needs. Herbal formulations for psoriasis often include ingredients with anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, and blood-circulating properties. Common herbs used in TCM prescriptions for psoriasis include rehmannia, honeysuckle, sophora, and dittany bark. These herbs work synergistically to alleviate symptoms and address underlying imbalances.

Systemic Therapeutic effect 4

Psoriasis is a complex and challenging condition that requires a comprehensive approach to management. It’s essential to consult with a qualified TCM practitioner to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to individual needs and preferences.