Traditional Chinese Medicine is really making it’s way out of the shadows. More and more people are getting acupuncture and using herbal medicine for a number of wellness and health concerns. What’s not well known is the vast specialization of Chinese Medical Dermatology. There are a few comprehensive programs that practitioner’s undertake to become an expert in this field of study, and that’s on top of the 4 to 6 years of University to become a doctor of Chinese Medicine.
People who have chronic skin issues have to deal with both physical pain and discomfort as well as the emotional shame or embarrassment in their social lives. Western doctors and medications can and do help, but can also lead to dependence on these drugs as well as unwanted side effects. Chinese medicine seeks to treat the root problem and not just the symptom.
How does Chinese Medicine see and treat the individual?
Chinese Medicine starts with the theory that at our core being we are balanced and whole. The YinYang symbol represents a perfect whole. When disharmony arises there can be a disruption of the flow and disease can take hold.
Chinese medicine’s aim is to recognize the individual and what makes them unique. We treat the person not just the symptoms or the disease. The goal is to understand the disorder specifically within the context of the whole person. Chinese medicine addresses the root cause or the reason for this within the individual. The task is to re- establish health and harmony within and then the symptoms of the disease have no place to manifest without.
How does Chinese Medicine Treat Through the lens of dermatology?
These theories hold true in the treatment of the skin or Chinese Medical Dermatology. Diseases of the skin manifests on the exterior, but they come from within. In the treatment of dermatological disorders,The practitioner completes a very thorough intake and carefully examines the skin to detect and decipher the best diagnosis for the patient. Imbalances of heat, dampness, dryness, toxicity or wind just to name a few, can cause a multitude of skin disorders. People with too much heat in their bodies are given cooling herbs. Those with too much dampness are brought into balance by herbs that are drying. There are countless signs and symptoms that are investigated to be able to comprehensively diagnose and treat the skin.
What are the most common skin conditions that Chinese Medicine treats and what methods are utilized to treat them? The journey to the treatment of skin disorders all begins the same way. The most commonly reported and treated skin conditions are: Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Rosacea. Treatments vary depending on the individual’s pattern but here is an idea of what might happen in the treatment of one of these common disorders at a Chinese Medical dermatology appointment.
What might I except during an appointment with an herbal dermatologist?
Below is an average example of how acne may be treated by Chinese Medicine. Other disorder’s such as Psoriasis, Eczema and Rosacea have individually and specific ways they are treated based on the nature of the disease and the individual’s constitution.
A thorough and close examination of the skin is performed, many practitioner’s will also take photos to course the progress of the treatment.. The look of the skin and the nature of the eruptions enables the doctor to gain information about what may be happening internally. Acne can often be due to hormonal imbalances and the location of the acne can be a clue to whether hormones are a factor. Symptoms like bloating, gas and bowel function can also be an indication of the origin of the outbreaks. Understanding of these symptoms are helpful in determining the treatment plan.
In fact any chronic or ongoing symptom in a patient helps in the diagnosis and treatment. In the consultation with the acupuncturist and herbalist everything from environmental factors, family history, physical and emotional signs and symptoms are discussed.
The most effective treatment is a custom herbal formula. There are multiple ingredients in each person’s herbal formula to address each of these patterns. The ingredients in the formula change over time as the skin evolves and heals. Topical treatments such as an herbal wash, toner, masque or cream’s are also prescribed. And in all cases of health and wellness food can be seen as medicine or poison. Knowing what to eat to aid in recovery for acne is essential.
How can acupuncture help with skin disorders?
Acupuncture like herbal medicine helps the body create balance and harmony within. There are point prescriptions that like herbal medicine, clear heat, dispel wind, reduce toxicity, nourish yin and dryness, transform damp and have many more beneficial uses. Acupuncture is usually implemented one or perhaps two times a week, that’s only two hours a week so it has limited benefit for treating chronic skin issues. Taking an herbal remedy happens a few times a day. Once harmony is achieved and results are evident, acupuncture can certainly help prevent a reoccurrence of a skin disease by decreasing emotional stressors that can activate or exasperate symptoms. Acupuncture can also be helpful when there is pain or severe itch as part of the picture or when stress is causing flare-ups.
Does Chinese Medicine have Dermatology Specialists?
Many acupuncturists and herbalist’s treat skin conditions, but there is also a vast and entire study of this specialization that most doctor’s of Chinese Medicine don’t do a deep dive into. Fortunately some do!
Antonia Balfour is a Los Angeles based acupuncturist and herbalist and a founding member of the International Chinese Medicine Dermatology Association. Antonia co- wrote an e book along with Chinese Medicine doctors, licensed acupuncturists, MDs and Naturopathic Doctors all with specialized training in Chinese Medicine dermatology. The ebook is an in-depth look into Chinese Medicine’s treatment of skin conditions. A link to this ebook can be found on her website https:// www.yinyangdermatology.com
-Dr. Jill Harrison Landsman, L.Ac. DAOM
About the Author:
Dr. Jill Harrison is an acupuncturist and herbalist practicing in Los Angeles, California. She is the founder and president of Joyful Life Healing, a Chinese medical practice that consciously invites and guides the individual through a journey toward wholeness in body, mind, and spirit.
Harrison holds a Master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine from Yo San University and a doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Dr. Harrison first became interested in Chinese medicine while working at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as a psychotherapist in their Division of Adolescent Medicine.
Harrison has practice meditation for 30 years and coaches her patients and clients in the practice. She was the director of religious exploration for a Unitarian fellowship for six years, where she mentored youth toward understanding themselves and the importance of understanding world religions and encouraging a conscious spiritual path.
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