Psoriasis According to Chinese Medicine (4 of 4: Disharmony of the Ren and Chong Vessels)

I know what you are asking:  What the heck are the Chong and Ren Vessels?  (and what do they have to do with psoriasis?)

The pathway of Qi in the Ren Mai (Conception Vessel)

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the energy (Qi) in the body circulates through a network of vessels (also called “channels” or “meridians”).  The Chong and Ren vessels are particularly important in woman’s health because fertility and the menstrual cycle depend on the flow of Qi and Blood through these channels.  In women whose psoriasis seems to be related to their menstrual cycle, pregnancy or childbirth, there is probably Disharmony in the Ren and Chong Vessels.  (This pattern of disharmony is not exclusive to women, but it is much less common and less obvious to diagnose in men).

In this pattern, the psoriasis lesions often appear before pregnancy but disappear during pregnancy only to reappear after giving birth.   In some patients, the condition becomes aggravated before the period (or possibly immediately after).   The lesions are typically bright or pale red with silvery scales.  They are widely distributed over the body.  Itching is usually not as severe as in other patterns.  Accompanying signs and symptoms can include PMS, painful or irregular periods, general malaise, or dizziness.  The tongue can vary but usually will be red or purplish with a thin coating.   I might also suspect this pattern in women who are perimenopausal or when there are fluctuations in hormone levels that seem to affect the psoriasis.  This pattern can combine with other TCM patterns, too.

Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae sinensis) - my favorite herb to put in formulas that regulate the Chong and Ren

The four TCM patterns related to common psoriasis that I have discussed in these recent posts are not the only possible pattern differentiations for this stubborn skin ailment.  But they are the most common ones encountered in the clinic.  You may have more than one pattern present at the same time or your condition may phase from one pattern to another over time.  Other forms of psoriasis (pustular, erythrodermic and psoriatic arthritis) will have different TCM patterns associated with them and they can be more complex to treat.  Don’t fool yourself: no form of psoriasis will be cured by applying topical treatments (well, I suppose I can’t rule out miracles, but…).  So it is important to get a clear diagnosis from your dermatologist and if you seek out complimentary care, your TCM practitioner will most likely prescribe an internal herbal formula.  In the next blog entry we will cover some helpful things you can do for yourself to manage your psoriasis.  If you have some tips that you are already doing that seem to help, I would love to hear about it – email me or post a comment below…

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

Topics: Chinese Medicine, Herbs for Skin Care, Psoriasis

Publish Date: July 9, 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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  1. Jackie P says:

    I am a 33 year old woman with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. I am currently on several medications to keep my symptoms under control, but have really begun to notice a pattern of flare ups associated with my menstrual cycle. This was the first article I have found that made some sense as to why, so thank you! Knowing nothing about Chinese Medicine, I found it very interesting and informative!

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