Why I love treating Skin Disorders

So far, I've finished 3/4 of my Traditional Chinese Medicine Dermatology Diploma course in NYC, and I can say with confidence that I have effectively solutions to treat many skin disorders including Perioral Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Rosacea, Acne, Foot Fungus, Sebborheic Dermatitis, and Eczema. Many joyful moments are shared with patients in my clinic as their skin clears. It never gets old.

My love for Chinese Herbal Dermatology started many years ago. My mother in Michigan was suffering with Psoriasis and nothing seemed to be helping her. Her skin itched so badly that it kept her up all night. She would pace around as a distraction from the itch. Psoriasis affected her legs, torso, and arms, and they it spread to her hands and face. She became so self-consious that she didn't want to go out of the house. It affected her mood as well and I could sense she was becoming depressed. Steroid cream provided temporary relief but as it can permanently thin the skin, it's not a good long-term solution. Immune suppressing medication didn't help. She tried all kinds of elimination diets with no relief. I knew there had to be an answer.

I knew of this Chinese Herbalist in the UK that was world renowned for successfully treating difficult skin disorders and had wanted to take his course since before the birth of my son, 8 years ago. In Chinese Medical School, Dermatology was superficially covered in just one course and didn't really give me the strategies to effectively treat skin problems. Chinese Medical Dermatology books are few and mostly in Chinese, so they only provided limited benefit. So I searched out the treatment methods of the leading expert in the field, herbalist Mazin Al-Khafaji, and worked on a chinese herbal prescription for my mom.

Her Psoriasis was turning erythrodermic, which can be a medical emergency, so I treated her twice per day when I could with acupuncture, gave her topical herbs, and had her drink tea made from raw chinese herbs that she cooked every other day. Her skin gradually improved and six months later, it was clear.

I can't even express the joy (and relief) I felt after hearing about her improvements with every phone call. Her healing path wasn't a strait line; it rarely is. She stuck with her herbs and had a remarkable result.

Now more than two years later, her skin is still clear. Every once in a while, she might have a miniscule flare up with one patch here or there, but she uses topical herbal cream and it settles down quickly.

In 2015 I was able to begin my studies with the master herbalist, Mazin Al-Khafaji and now I can give hope to so many people who suffer with many different skin problems. There are answers, and the best part is that because we treat the root causes of the problem, many times the skin problem won't come back.

Chinese Herbal treatment takes some effort on the part of the patient, but it's so worth it to be free from skin problems that can cause so much suffering. From my mom's case, and my own case of acne which I'll share in a later post, I know how skin problems take a toll on our self-confidence and general mood. So much so that we don't want to leave the house or wear short sleeve shirts. Sometimes we don't even want to acknowledge the problem and it can take years before visiting a specialist. Or we feel defeated once we see a specialist and try treatments that give little or temporary results or make the problem worse.

There is hope. There are answers out there. Sometimes we just need stay open minded, be open to exploring different solutions, and sometimes we just need to hold our nose and chug bitter herbal tea.

Dr. Mary Claire Dilks and her mom, photo by Olivia Gird, click image for details

Dr. Mary Claire Dilks and her mom, photo by Olivia Gird, click image for details

Eczema and the Gut

Did you know that eczema affects 30 million Americans? Eczema literally refers to several types of skin swelling, but the most common type is Atopic Dermatitis. It makes skin red, very dry and itchy and often affects babies and children. It can even cause blisters ti form under the skin in certain types of Eczema.

What causes Eczema? It’s cause is not known in western medicine but some suggest it could be an immune disorder. In Chinese Medicine we know this disorder can be a combination of factors such as heat, wind, and dampness. Heat makes the skin red, wind causes it to itch, and dampness can be present if there is oozing or blisters. When we recommend Chinese Herbs to treat this disorder, we aim to treat the root cause so that the symptoms do not return. Chinese medicine has been treating Eczema for hundreds of years using both internal herbs and external herbs.

Another factor to consider is diet. Evidence suggests that improving the gut “microbiome” can positively affect eczema symptoms. Nourishing all of the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract through diet helps to regulate the immune system. This in turn can keep our skin healthy. Avoiding sugar, increasing intake of fiber and adding probiotic rich foods like raw pickled vegetables are a few ways to improve the gut flora. A high quality probiotic can also be useful. The strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus is one to look for on the label. This one has shown to have immunomodulatory effects and lower the incidence of eczema in children by 44%.

Inflammation of the lining of the intestine due to stress, inflammatory foods, preservatives and chemicals in food can create a condition known as Leaky Gut syndrome. This leads to a situation of increased intestinal permeability where intestinal contents can then leak into the system. When this happens our bodies mount an immune response, creating more sensitivities and inflammation. Leaky Gut is suggested to be the cause of many diseases including eczema, so healing the gut is crucial. For more information about leaky gut, check out this article written by Leo Galland, MD. http://huff.to/1ib3ooZ

Topical treatments can be very helpful either on their own or in combination with internal herbs. Dermatologists often prescribe topical steroids. These can cause PERMANENT thinning of your skin, so extreme caution should be taken when using these. There are many options out there, and some products work for some but not others.

Pearl Apothecary by emerging energy offers 3 different creams for eczema. I formulated these to be very simple creams with high concentrations of natural oils and healing botanicals. All of these creams use an ECO CERT preservative system that is free from harsh chemicals and Parabens. No fragrance is used, and the color of the cream is all natural, from the herbs used to make it. These are safe to use on children and adults.

Calming Cream with Zi Cao uses one herb, Zi Cao, which is known for centuries to treat red rashes. It imparts a dark pink color to this cream. Shea and Kokum butters deeply moisturize and help the skin barrier, while Evening Primrose Oil provides a rich dose of GLA which has been shown in studies to be very effective for Eczema.

Ultra Moisture Cream with Gan Cao uses Gan Cao, or licorice. Many of the other ingredients are the same, except for the main herb. Licorice has shown to have an action similar to a steroid, so this makes it a great substitute to the harsher prescription creams. Traditionally it is said to moisten the skin.

Yellow Frost Skin Cream is a Chinese topical formula that is especially useful for itching. It can be used for pustular eczema, more active eczema, rashes in folds of skin such as groin, or in combination with Calming or Ultra Moisture Creams. This one can leave a temporary yellow color to the skin due to one very yellow herb! No fragrance is added to this highly effective cream.

All of these are available at our office or on emerging energy’s etsy shop. Share this with any one you know who suffers with eczema!