Herbal Treatment For Skin Diseases: How Soon Will I See Results?
I have been treating patients in my private TCM practice since 1999. I have seen thousands of patients. I know most people want fast results from their treatments, regardless of what ails them. As the practitioner, I, too, want to get my patients feeling better as soon as humanly possible. As soon as HUMANLY possible. Therein lies the rub.
Traditional Chinese Medicine can sometimes seem like magic. I once treated a patient who had a cough for 20 years. After 2 sessions of acupuncture and fire cupping his cough was gone (and has not returned since). I can’t even keep track of how many cases of musculo-skeletal pain (wrist, knee, ankle, finger, etc.) I’ve treated where the pain was completely gone after only one acupuncture treatment, never to return. I have had several patients with itchy rashes who only needed to take herbs for 1 week and they were cured. While these kinds of results do happen, it is foolish to expect to achieve this for every case of every disease treated with TCM. TCM is a comprehensive tool for healing the human body and in the hands of a highly skilled practitioner, it can be an amazingly helpful tool. But it is not magic.
When we employ Chinese herbal medicine and/or acupuncture to treat a dermatological condition, many factors affect how quickly results can be expected. An acute rash that a patient has had for only a week or two will typically respond very quickly to natural treatment. But a chronic skin disease, such as psoriasis, may take several weeks of internal herbal medicine before improvements are noted. This is because the imbalances in the body that eventually manifested as psoriasis initially developed many years before the first lesion ever appeared on the surface of the skin. It cannot be expected that these imbalances will be overcome quickly. The longer someone has suffered from a skin condition or the more severe the symptoms, the longer it usually takes for improvement to be seen at the surface.
Once the patient begins to feel better (such as reduced itching or decreased inflammation, as in eczema), we do not stop treatment there. If we discontinue the herbal medicine too soon, the original imbalances will just take over again and symptoms will return. Instead, we adjust the herbal formula as symptoms change. For example, once itching has lessened, we may choose to increase the percentage of herbs in the formula that treat redness. But we do not simply try to clear symptoms, we also address the underlying imbalances that led to the skin ailment in the first place. This underlying set of energetic imbalances may differ from patient to patient, even in people with the same western diagnosis, so we must formulate our herbal prescriptions based on the needs of the individual patient.
With every dose of herbal medicine, the body becomes healthier. For a skin ailment that has existed for many years, it may take several weeks of treatment to get symptoms under control. It can take several months or sometimes longer to get the skin healthy enough that symptoms do not return when the herbal treatment is stopped. In some cases, we may never be able to cure the disease. But even for those incurable cases, TCM can be used to manage symptoms and successfully keep them to a minimum. Sometimes we use herbal medicine in conjunction with pharmaceutical meds in order to keep the dosage of the pharmaceutical to a minimum or to reduce side effects of a drug (this is common in more severe conditions, such as autoimmune diseases).
I would love to be able to tell you that I can cure every case of acne within 3 to 6 months. While those quick results can be achieved in simpler cases, sometimes it takes 9 months to a year of the patient taking herbs every day (or at least most days) to get the skin healthy enough that treatment can be discontinued. Whether we are discussing acne, eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus, rosacea, warts, vitiligo, cheilitis or any other skin ailment, expected results of herbal treatment are dependent on several factors for each case. Thus, it is not fair of me to publish an estimated time frame for the treatment of specific skin diseases. This is why it is important to consult with a skilled TCM practitioner who can examine you and study your health history to give you a working prognosis so you can understand what to expect with your treatment.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, especially Chinese herbal medicine, is a very effective natural treatment for many dermatological conditions. Choose a qualified practitioner, take your herbs, and be patient. Healing from disease, just like the development of disease in the first place, is a process that takes time.
Publish Date: February 5, 2014 *Articles may include updates since original publishing.