The Body-Mind Medicine Treatment of Skin Disorders
With Eyton Shalom, M.S., L.Ac.
September 13, 2006
Includes Contact Dermatitis, Atopic Dermatitis, Nummular Dermatitis, Herpetiformis Dermatitis, Eczema, and Seborrhea
"You Cannot Heal With A Pill,
What You Have Created With A Lifestyle"
"Every Disease Has A Long History"
Just as it takes the cumulative effect of many factors to create illness,
So, too, it takes the combined effect of many small steps to heal illness
Eczema the Sign of a Larger Imbalance
Eczema the Sign of a Larger Imbalance
The Tip of the Iceburg.
The starting point for me in treating the various kinds of people with the various kinds of Skin Disorers, is to assess the unique pattern that you are manifesting at this particular point in the time-space continuum.
Another words, I need to take a complete case history, examine your pulses and tongue presentation, as you the ten questions about sleep, digestion, elimination (these are two different things), menstruation,
so that I can determine your constitutional type, and your "pattern of disharmony" as defined by Chinese and/or Ayurvedic Medicines. That is the starting point of treatment, to know what it is you are treating.
The term Eczema describes nothing in Chinese Medicine. This is not our language or part of our paradyme. What tells me something I can use is "damp heat in the legs" or "wind heat lesions on the hands."
An ultimately, in Body-Mind medicine, Eczema is simply the way your body is manifesting a larger and deeper imbalance. Eczema then, is a symptom of a disease, not the disease itself. The disease is "excessive damp heat" which could just as well manifest as chronic Yeast infections , rather than eczema, if the conditions were right and the variables there. "Wind Heat" (Vatta Pitta Aggravation) might just as well cause Hay Fever as Eczema. In fact, many people with Eczema have Hay Fever.
East-West Views of Reality Are Not the Same
Another important point is this. There is more than one way to describe. the same thing. One is not more "real" than the other. Western science is no more "reality" than Eastern Science.
If I ask you how you feel, and you are doing well, you might say great! You do not respond by describing to me your pulse, blood pressure, and what your levels of neurotransmitters in the brain are. Usually I understand what "great" means. If I did not speak English, and met you on the road, and you smiled, I would know what that meant. Unless of course we were somewhere where people smile when they are angry or embarrassed. So, we use different languages when describing things from different perspectives. One is not more correct than the other.
Case in point about describing reality. We know from science that all emotions are "just" chemical reactions in the brain. Great. But let me ask you a question. When you are profoundly sad, like when a parent or child dies, where do you feel that sadness? In the chest. At the heart. A weight. Perhaps a sinking of the Qi. You were betrayed by a spouse and heartbroken. You have a whole slew of physiological reactions that you feel in different parts of your body. Diarrhea for a week. (loss of upright qi) Can't get out of bed. (loss of upright qi leads to sever dampness). Etc.
When you are really angry, where do you feel that? In the neck and shoulders. You can feel heat rising up to your head as your face gets red and starts to twitch as you continue screaming at your spouse who "doesn’t understand." Chinese medicine describes that as Liver Qi, Heat, and Wind Rising. And it describes, elegantly, the cascade of Chinese Medicine described body responses associated with these phenomenon.
Chinese medicine describes these processes in a way science can not and does not. Science is concerned with microprocesses, like what hormones are flowing when you are first in romantic love, endorphins, or what hormones flow when you look at your husband of 15 years, or your 8 year old, serotonin.
Macro Level Versus Micro Level
But, Chinese Medicine, and Ayurveda, describe what is happening on a macro level. We can look at a beautiful stream and say, look at that amalgamation of sub-atomic particles collected into oxygen and hydrogen atoms, massed in water molecules, collected in larger movements of agglomerated water molecules, or we can say, wow! What a beautiful and relaxing stream, what a sense of clear freshness I feel when I stand next to it. What a sense of movement, change, newness, and persistence. What moisture. What a smell!
So in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda we can describe when things are hot, cold, damp, dry, weak, strong, flaccid, tense, etc etc. We describe what things look, feel, smell, and even taste like.
In the case of Skin Disorders, we most often see patterns that Chinese Medicine describes as heat, damp, damp heat, dryness and blood vacuity. We see redness, inflammation, oozing, pus, flaky scaly skin, and dry skin.
Western Medicine describes the microprocesses causing these issues, without reference to overall process, like the relationship between anger, rage, frustration, and the development of heat in the body, or vitated Pitta.
Western Medicine describes these microprocesses, without reference to the variations among human beings experiencing these processes. It does not take into consideration that a person prone to heat needs a heat clearing diet. That a person prone to damp needs a damp clearing diet and vigorous exercise. Etc., etc.
Body-Mind Medicine stresses the importance of looking at the whole person experience. The garden in which the healthy plant grows. Or, sadly, the garden in which the diseased plant grows. Is it getting too much sun (heat, anger, Pitta, spicy food), too much water (damp, lethargy, kapha, sweet foods) or too much wind, (dryness, nervousness, fear, vatta, blood vacuity, excessive raw food and not enough moistening food).
As a rule, Vitamins and Minerals are taken with food. That increases absorption, since your digestive enzymes are flowing, etc.
Vit B Complex 50-100 mg 3x day with meals Sublingual Form is best
For healthy skin, circulation, and stress
Vit B6 50 mg 3x day with meals
Vit B12 200 mcg daily with food. Sublingual is best.
Vit A 2500 IU daily
Kelp or Other Sea Vegetable 1000 mg daily with meals
Contains minerals useful for tissue healing
Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3 and 6)
From Flax Seed Oil, Primrose, Black Currant, Borage, Fish
Promotes Lubrication of Skin and Anti-inflammatory
Vit E 400 IU daily Relieves itching and dryness
Zinc 100 mg daily, maximum.
Aids tissue healing and enhances immune function
Note on Chemicals
People with Eczema, especially of the hands, should avoid home cleaning products with strong artificial chemical fragrances.
Recommended alternatives are Ecover and Seventh Generation Brands.
The same should be said of Laundry products, especially fabric softener sheets, pefumes, colognes, soaps, etc. Start with completely unscented and natural.
Later you may like things scented with genuine and authentic essential oils, like Lavender.
Folk with eczema need to avoid extended exposure to hot water.
It is critical for eczema sufferers to use some kind of hypoallergenic hand and body lotion. Application of sesame, olive, or peanut oil are all excellent.
Frequent hand moisturizing is especially important for people that work with their hands, work in crafts such as pottery, and in the medical field where frequent handwashing is necessary.
If you need to take baths, put Apple Cider Vinegar or other Vinegar I the water. The skin likes a mildly acidic medium.
As Eczema is an auto-immune disorder, immune strengthening is critical, and an integral part in the treatment of Eczema.
My starting point is always the small and large intestine, and that means use of a strong Probiotic to restore intestinal flora that are part of the immune defense.
Secondly is the use of Trifal if there is any elimination imbalance at all, again to insure good extraction of nutrients in the small intestine.
Third is the use of the above Medicinal Mushrooms and Astragalus and other immune boosting herbals. See below under Chinese Herbs.
I also use Ashwaghanda and Shatavari, Ayurvedic immune boosters.
For those with Asthma or Allergies and Eczema:
Nettles and Quercitin or BioChem Brand "Allermax"
Most Critical Ingredients are Nettles and Quercitin.
But, if you have severe heat signs, get those ingredients separately,
since Allermax has
If your case is more damp type, as Asthma and Allergies usually are, then take Allermax
Nettles, as above, or Freeze-Dried Capsules, or as tea.
Burdock Root, as tea, and in cooking
Dandelion leaf and root, as tea or capsule
Goldenseal, Red Clover, Myrrh, and
Alternate among them
NeemPlusCapsules. Note they contain Zinc,
so need not take additional zinc
Triphal, to reduce allergic response, improve absorption, cleanse colon.
See separate handout on Triphal
Easy Lax, for severe constipation, if Triphal insufficient.
Dosha teas and Spice Churnas to help balance Dosha
If female, make sure menses is regular and smooth.
PMS and Painful Periods are common, but not normal
Rather, they indicate hormonal and energetic imbalance
Women under 40: Young Fem
Women over 40: Eleg Fem (Shatavari, plus)
The strength of Chinese Medicine is differentiation according to pattern.
As such, there are different prescriptions for each kind of eczema and with those categories, for different causative factors.
Thus there are formulas/prescriptions for
Damp Type, Heat Type, Damp-Heat Type, Wind Type, Blood Vacuity type, and various mixed patterns.
This needs to be determined by the prescribing physician, who
will make his/her diagnosis by taking a case history, and observing signs and symptoms.
I commonly use the following herbal formulas
Gentiana Combination Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
Damp-Heat Cleanser Si Miao Wan
Dang Gui and Arctii Xiao Feng San
Four Substances Si Wu Tang
which I modify according to your constitution and pattern.
To which I add the following herbs
Astragalus Huang Qi
Lycii Fruit Gou Qi Zi
And Medicinal Mushrooms like
Cordyceps, Reishi, Grifola, and others
To Boost the Immune System (Defensive or Wei Qi)
And Reduce Allergic Response
And Stregnthen Digestion
Boil Chapparal, Dandelion Root, and Yellow Dock for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Dip gauze in the liquid and cover affected areas.
Leave on for as long as possible, minimum 15 minutes
Can do the same thing with Chinese Herbals like "Three Yellows Plus"
Ointments and Pastes
Neem Oil applied at night or in morning.
Neem Oil smells quite strong, like cooked onions.
So you can mix it with Cocanut Oil with is cooling.
To relieve itching and promote healing, mix goldenseal root powder with Vit E oil, add a little honey to make a paste. Apply to affected area.
Neem Spray (smells good! Like Rose)
Can be useful, especially with itching and oozing.
Stop Itching Liquid, for itching.
Examine the issue of Specific Food Allergies. Try a gluten-free diet for six weeks, if condition improves, stay on this diet for 3 months, then add glutenfoods back one at a time, and see if condition worsens move back.
Avoid sugar, white flour, fried foods, processed foods, alcohol, orange juice, coffee, tobacco, etc.
Use Triphal to Keep the
Easy Lax Ayurvedic Senna based formula if absolutely constipated, as in when traveling, or sick.
Get enough fiber in the diet.
Good sources of water soluable fiber are beans, lentils, veggies, and fruit. Good non-soluable source are flax seeds. Match these choices to your constitution or Dosha.
Take 1 tablespoon, and soak overnight in water.
Take the next morning. If too viscous, put in a smoothy
Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac.