Traditional Chinese Medicine, commonly referred to by its acronym TCM, is a two thousand year old system of medicine that utilizes herbs, acupuncture and diet to correct imbalances in the body.
TCM methods can help treat eczema by identifying the pattern of symptoms. TCM methods take into consideration not only the appearance of the rash but also the constitution and overall health of the person.
First you need to identify the Chinese diagnosis of your eczema as the treatment is individualized to both the presentation of the eczema and the constitution of the person.
Follow the instruction below to discover your TCM eczema diagnosis and select the appropriate acupuncture points, herbs and foods for natural healing.
A Short Lesson In Chinese Diagnosis:
In TCM a diagnosis is made by interviewing a patient using an outline of 10 questions.
The answers, in combination with the appearance of the patient’s tongue and the type of wrist pulse are used to determine a diagnosis and then the subsequent treatments.
Jot down your answers to the following questions to help yourself identify your TCM diagnosis.
Does the person have pain and what is the location of that pain? What is the quality of the pain; is it sharp, dull, throbbing, stabbing or aching?
Are you a person who is generally warm or do you have a tendency to feel cooler than most people in the same environment? Do you kick the covers off at night or are you reaching for your Snuggie?
Does the patient sweat easily or never sweat? Where does the person sweat—is it only on the head or feet or is it all over? Is there an odor to the sweat: sour, sweet or putrid?
Since the eczema began, has the person been more or less hungry? Has there been any change in weight? Any particular new food cravings or aversions?
Is the patient thirsty or thirstless? Are you gulping down ice cold water or do you prefer to sip warm drinks?
6. Urination And Bowel Habits
Are you more constipated or do you have diarrhea? What is the color and consistency of the stool? Is the urine pale or yellow, is it clear or bright yellow?
What are the sleep habits of the eczema patient? Does the eczema patient have a tendency towards insomnia or are they overly sleepy?
For ladies, this question asks about the appearance of the menstrual period as well as the flow.
Are her periods typically light (called scanty in Chinese medicine) or heavy? Is the menstrual blood bright red, dark or very light?
Do you hear ringing in your ears or are you hard of hearing?
In TCM, hearing tells the practitioner much about the ears but also refers to kidney health as the kidney opens to the ears according to Chinese medicine principals.
10. Emotional Health
Is the patient angry, sad, depressed or frightened?
Different emotional states correspond with disease in an organ. For example, in TCM, depression is associated with problems in the heart or liver.
Eczema Chinese Diagnoses
Using the answers from the previous questions will help you discover which Chinese diagnosis most fits your eczema and lead to the proper selection of foods, herbal medicines and acupuncture points to treat your condition.
For advanced methods of diagnosis, using tongue appearance and wrist pulse please reference to a Chinese medicine text such as Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine or The Web that Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine.
1. Damp Heat
‣ Eczema sores have pus or fluid discharges
‣ Eczema that is painful, red and swollen
‣ Health conditions are aggravated by sugar, alcohol and fried/fatty foods
‣ People have a tendency to have cystitis (bladder irritation, infections) and bronchitis
2. Blood Deficiency
‣ Pale, anemic individuals with eczema
‣ People with blood deficiency have a weak pulse with pale tongue
‣ Blood deficient individuals have dry, itchy skin and dry, scaling eczema
‣ Symptoms appear without warning and change often
‣ People are prone to neurological conditions such as jerkiness, poor coordination or dizziness
‣ Eczema caused by a wind condition is particularly itchy and sore
4. Qi Stagnation
‣ Not a primary eczema Chinese diagnosis but can accompany other diagnoses of heat, damp heat, blood deficiency or wind
‣ People with qi stagnation often have gas: belching and flatulence
‣ Qi stagnation can manifest as a feeling of pressure or fullness. This can affect any body part but is most frequently the extremities (arm & legs), head or abdomen
It’s important to note that a person can have a combination of more than one Chinese diagnosis at a time.
If a person has signs of both wind and heat then they should look for an herbal formula and acupuncture points that address both of those conditions.
Chinese Herbs For Eczema
In Traditional Chinese Medicine herb combinations are used instead of single herbs. They are often called patent medicine or Chinese patent herbs.
1. LIEN CHIAO PAI TU PIEN – good for conditions with Chinese diagnosis of heat, wind. Contains scutellaria, jasmine, forsythia and red peony.
2. DANG QUI YIN ZI WAN – works well for anemic people (blood deficiency) with wind signs. Contains angelica, ligusticum, licorice and astragalus among other herbs.
3. XIAO FENG WAN – eczema sufferers with signs of wind and damp would benefit from this formula.
Contains the following herbs: sophora , gypsum, rehmannia, articum lappa, sesame, angelica and licorice root.
4. BI XIE SHENG SHI WAN – use this formula for eczema if you have damp heat signs. It literally translates to “subdue the dampness.”
Herbs in this formula include dioscorea, phellodendron, plantago, paeonia and gardenia fruit.
5. JIA WEI XIAO YAO SAN – the herbs in this formula are indicated for those with qi stagnation and heat signs.
Herbs commonly in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San are paeonia, poria, atractylodes, gardenia, bupleurum, ginger, mint and licorice.
None of these formulas should be taken by pregnant or nursing mothers without the advice of an acupuncturist or physician trained in traditional Chinese medicine.
What Is Acupuncture And How Can It Help My Eczema?
Acupuncture is a medical treatment that involves penetrating specific points on the skin with very thin needles.
The points correspond with different organs of the body as well as different body functions.
Depending on how the needles are inserted, the acupuncturist is working to either tonify (build up) or release energy to improve health and treat diseases.
If you do not have access to an acupuncturist then an alternative is to stimulate those points by either rubbing, applying pressure or by using acupressure beads that stick to the points.
These are different forms of acupressure and patients can reap considerable benefit. Seeing a licensed acupuncturist for treatment is the best option if you are able to do so.
Acupuncture For Eczema: The Most Important Points
All of these points are bilateral, meaning that they are found on the same place on both the right and left side of the body.
These descriptions will help guide you to the general location of the eczema points but please consult an acupuncture text, acupuncture mannequin or a web resource such as acupuncture.com’s point finder or pointfinder.org to help you more precisely locate the indicated point.
This point helps regulate qi and blood, particularly in the chest. It’s used for congestion, cough and asthmas in addition to eczema.
Location: This point is found on the inner aspect of your biceps muscle on your upper arm. Lung 4 is located 5 thumbwidths (use your own thumb for best accuracy) above the crease your arm makes when your elbow is flexed.
Use this point to heal wind eczema conditions. It can also help with nose bleeds, asthma and fainting.
Location: Just below the lower thumbnail, in the cuticle. It’s the side of the thumbnail farthest away from your pointer finger.
Location: Located on the little finger, just below the nail, in the cuticle on the side closest to your ring finger.
Stimulating this point helps to clear heat from the body. Use it in eczema with a diagnosis of heat or damp heat.
It’s also used in fevers, gout, constipation and stomach pain.
Location: This point is on the big toe, just behind and slightly below the first joint. It’s on the side closest to the midline of your body (closest to your other foot, too).
Look for the section of skin which transitions from whiter (or darker depending on ethnicity) skin to pinker skin as Spleen 2 is located on this transition point.
An essential point for women’s health and digestion, Spleen 6 is also a major acupuncture point for skin conditions. Use it in eczema with blood deficiency or dampness.
Location: Spleen 6 is located just above the inner ankle. It is directly 3 thumb widths above the medial malleolus, which is the boney bump of your inner ankle.
Urinary Bladder 54
Also abbreviated as UB 54, urinary bladder 54 is a point that helps with lower back pain, urinary problems, hemorrhoids and constipation.
For eczema, it works to move stagnation and promote elimination of toxins.
Location: UB 54 is located in the lower part of your sacrum, which is the boney structure connecting your spine to your hips.
It’s 3 thumb widths away from the midline of your spine. You’ll feel an indentation/depression, which is your 4th sacral foramen (a hole that nerves and other vessels can pass through).
UB 54 is on the hiatus of the sacrum, therefore, it’s located in the last indentation (the lowest, closest to your tailbone).
This point is used to regulate the blood and is used in menstrual difficulties in addition to eczema. Use it for eczema diagnoses of blood heat or qi stagnation.
Liver 11 is often stimulated in eczema conditions aggravated by hormonal fluctuations such as puberty, pregnancy, the menstrual cycle or menopause.
It is also useful for eczema secondary to a sluggish liver function and environmental toxicity.
Location: This point is located on the beginning part of the thigh. Trace along your pubic bone and find the point where it bulges up a little (called the pubic tubercle).
Liver 11 is two thumb widths below the pubic tubercle, on the edge of a muscle called the abductor longus.
This point is used to tonify qi. It’s indicated for people who are depleted and exhausted. Kidney 12 is used to treat eczema but it’s also recommended for impotence and uterine prolapse.
Location: Find your belly button and then go four thumb widths down towards your feet and ½ of a thumb width to the right and left.
The right and left Kidney 12 points are only one thumbwidth away from each other.
Large Intestine 4
This point is traditionally used to decrease pain and for conditions affecting the face. It is also a great mover of qi and blood in the body.
Use it for eczema on the face or neck. Also very important to use it for eczema with wind heat or qi stagnation.
Location: LI 4 is found on the hand in the fleshy mound of tissue between the thumb and pointer finger when you are holding the thumb firmly against the hand.
It’s anatomical location is between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones.
Large Intestine 11
LI 11 is the abbreviated name for large intestine 11. It is a huge point in TCM, helping to clear wind heat, heat, blood heat and dampness.
It is used with many skin conditions but is particularly good at clearing up eczema with any signs of damp heat.
This point is also used to clear redness, help reduce hypertension and improve symptoms of arthritis in the upper body.
Location: Flex your elbow with your palm pointed upward and LI11 is located at the very outer edge of the crease (lateral).
TCM Diet Recommendations for Eczema
1. Black soybeans: Helps to detoxify and move blood. Benefits the kidney and spleen.
2. Egg yolks (chicken): Nutrition for the blood, benefits the heart and kidneys.
3. Clams, freshwater preferably: Detoxifies, benefits the kidney and liver.
4. Mung beans: Cooling bean, benefits eczema with heat signs. Helps detoxify and benefits the heart and spleen.
5. Potatoes: Decreases inflammation, builds up qi. Benefits the spleen (digestion in TCM).
6. Olives: Beneficial to the lung and stomach. Helps build up qi and blood.
7. Fresh young coconut, including the firm meat and shell: Brings moistures, improves dry eczema.
8. Fava beans in their pod: Decreases swelling and builds up qi. Good for the stomach and spleen.
The ebook Eczema Free is a great resource to find additional natural strategies to eradicate eczema. It’s an easy read and offers clear, simple suggestions that actually work.
Two easy to read TCM books are Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine and The Web that Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine.Photo credits : acupuncture.com