A Holistic Approach to Psoriasis – Through Acupuncture
Jill Ellen Smith L.Ac.
Howard County Women’s Journal
She came with a chronic 12-year history of Psoriasis covering 80-100% of her body. She wanted to become pregnant as well. Karen is a young woman who had detached herself from her body due to her own shame; covering up with tee-shirts and jeans all summer long. She had been thru the Western approach for nearly a decade, and nothing seemed to touch her psoriasis. Could acupuncture help, she wanted to know. Here is her story.
We began with the initial traditional diagnostic interview/consultation. This process helped me to assess the multiple factors that were contributing to her imbalances.
The initial consultation allows me to than design a treatment plan that would uniquely address her individual and multifaceted issues. Remember…Chinese medicine, being the mother of holistic medicine is going to look for the root of all suffering.
This evaluation covered Karen’s family history, emotional history as well as her physical history.
According to Chinese medicine, psoriasis is due to heat and damp that collects in the body and the Blood. Heat and damp are common ‘pathogens’ acupuncturist refer to that are responsible for a large array of diagnostic conditions (ie.skin disorders, inflammatory disorders like colitis/ some types of arthritis/ many genitourinary disorders and more).
So, while the source of the condition may seem the same (heat/damp), the treatment approach can vary depending on how the imbalance will show up. By evaluating the appearance of the tongue and the feel of the pulses (on the wrist), an acupuncturist can determine more specifically where and how to treat (and what points to choose to needle).
We worked on a weekly basis for several months, using a needling approach called ‘clearing heat and damp’. Because her condition was so ‘embedded and chronic’ a very consistent and regular frequency of treatments was called for. In addition, Karen was willing to change how she was eating. Her diet consisted of a large amount of dairy and fried foods. These are considered very ‘damp’ foods, and they only aggravated her condition. She gradually removed these foods from her diet. She also significantly increased her water intake. This provided the natural moisture that her body needed to help put the ‘fire out’ so to speak. She also added some nutritional supplements that began to nourish her more intensely on a cellular level, and also significantly helped to decrease the inflammatory process. Finally, we added some Chinese herbal formulas to cool her off and clear damp.
Within a few weeks of treatment, Karen noticed that her sleep was improving. Gradually, over the next several weeks she was sleeping relatively soundly thru the nite. This was important because her mood improved, and optimum sleeping allows the body to maximize on its self-healing capacities.
Her psoriasis began to wane, but with the frequent summer heat, she would arrive very flushed (hot) and uncomfortable. The continual ‘clearing’ of heat allowed her body to begin to catch up to itself….her own moisturizing and cooling properties began to predominate over her heat. By autumn/winter which was historically her worst time due to painful dryness of her skin and cracking of her lesions, she noticed, with amazement, that her psoriasis was waning. Our treatments began to focus more than on clearing lingering damp and building her own cooling mechanism. We changed some herbs as well to help accomplish this.
At this juncture of her journey, Karen, is deciding whether she wants to delve into the emotional components of her condition. She has a conflictual relationship with her father that has always been an undercurrent of her skin condition. For now, Karen is enjoying her first winter in nearly 12 years, with a waning psoriatic condition.
We will continue on with clearing and building, and watch how her body reacts to the cycle of seasons with a new self-healing capacity. Beginning to restore balance in her body lays the foundation for the possibility of pregnancy as well. As Karen begins to experience her body differently, she can decide in what direction to continue in her own journey.