Psoriasis According to Chinese Medicine (1 of 4: Heat in the Blood)

Zi Cao (lithospermum) - my favorite herb for treating skin conditions due to Heat in the Blood

Psoriasis is a chronic, recurrent skin disease that (according to western scientific medicine) has no cure.  There are many resources on the web that address the general types of psoriasis and their signs and symptoms.  What I am  presenting here is how we view and understand this disease in Chinese medicine.   I will break it down into a series of posts, each one discussing one differential diagnosis (pattern) of psoriasis according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).   The goal is to help you identify which pattern(s) most closely match your skin.  In future posts I will give you pattern-specific tips to help you manage your symptoms better.  Be aware that more than one pattern may be present in your skin at any given time.  Also, your skin can change so perhaps different patterns will present themselves at different times.

In the clinic, the most common pattern of psoriasis that I see is what we call Heat in the Blood Stirs Up Wind (don’t worry about understanding the diagnosis name).  This is seen in common psoriasis.  It occurs in the early stages of an initial attack or during a flare-up.  In this acute stage, the lesions appear abruptly and are usually bright or dark red.  This stage is progressive, meaning the lesions are increasing in size and/or number of lesions.  They eventually develop white or silvery scales that shed easily when dry, revealing the characteristic Auspitz’s sign (little dots of blood).   The skin often will be itchy, too, but this may not be true in every case.  The lesions can spread to normal skin if scratched.  Other accompanying symptoms may include: constipation, dark urine, thirst, and irritability.  The patient’s tongue will likely be red with a yellow coat.

Examine your own tongue, Sam!!

Please be aware that the info I have presented here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of advice from your medical provider.  Understanding additional information about a condition you suffer from is one thing; self-diagnosis is something else and usually will lead to trouble.  It is very important that you see a dermatologist for an evaluation if you suspect you may have psoriasis.

If your skin lesions are not very red and they are not getting bigger in size and you are not getting more of them, then stay tuned for our next few blog posts.  I’ll cover other presentations of psoriasis according to TCM and then give you some at-home tips for healthier skin.  In the meantime, check your tongue in the mirror: What color is it? Is there any coating?  Do the sides have little teeth marks in them?  This info could come in handy.  If not, making silly faces at yourself in the mirror will make you smile 🙂

Tags: Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, dermatology, herbal skin care, psoriasis, rashes, skin care

Topics: Chinese Medicine, Psoriasis

Publish Date: June 16, 2010     *Articles may include updates since original publishing.

About the Author ()

Diana Hermann is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She received her Master Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR and trained in China at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Diana treats patients in her Fort Collins, Colorado clinic and hand crafts herbal skin care products for her company Zi Zai Dermatology. In 2015, she completed the Diploma In Chinese Medicine Dermatology program from Avicenna in London, UK. She completed the program for a second time in 2019 in Chicago.

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