Thursday, September 22, 2011

Healing acne from the inside out

     One of the most common skin complaints seen in clinics is acne.  This all too common skin problem seems to plague most teenagers during a vulnerable time in their lives.  But then there are those whose acne can continue into adulthood.  For others, the acne may clear during adolescence and then reemerge later in their life.  Most of these patterns tend to have a component of hormonal changes that may trigger the emergence of acne.  However, when looking at the onset and history of the acne, the times that flares occur, and the appearance of the lesions on the face and/or body, we are able to further understand the underlying cause of the acne when utilizing Chinese medicine.  By doing so a personally tailored formula can be made to address the specific triggers of the patient's acne.  Occasionally, two different formulas will be utilized when flares are revolving around the menstrual cycle and the state of the body at a specific time needs to be addressed to control the flares.  It is these sometimes subtle changes that allow the herbal treatment to take the body back to a state of hormonal balance.   Also, during a course of treatment, the presentation of the acne will change, so the formula must be modified to reflect these changes in the skin.  Once again these subtle changes to the formula allow for the acne to move in the direction of resolution. 
     When teenagers or adults are seeking out help with their acne, they often want quick results.  From my clinical experience, I often see patients noticing immediate changes in their skin when beginning herbal treatments.  These changes vary depending on the patient but are significant enough to the patient that they can recognize that the treatments are beginning to improve their skin.  More significant shifts in the skin can be seen within 3 weeks of initiating treatment.  Most patients should prepare for a 4 to 6 month treatment period. 
     Considering the enormous impact that acne can have on an individual's self esteem, it is comforting to know that Chinese Herbal medicine can offer an effective solution.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chinese herbs to treat my skin?

     Skin complaints account for approximately 20% of patient visits to health clinics every year.  Unfortunately, most people seeking out care for their skin complaint often don't think of Chinese herbal medicine as a means of addressing the issue.  This form of medicine can play a strong role in the treatment of a variety of skin disorders that are typically difficult to treat with conventional medications.  In fact, it is often the patients who have tried conventional treatment routes without success that venture on to explore these other treatment options such as Chinese herbs. 
     In my practice I've seen patients who have tried conventional treatments to no avail, at which time they decide to address the issue from a new perspective.  Not only did their skin lesions clear through the use of Chinese herbs but their skin remained stable once completing the course of treatment.  The ability to stabilize the skin and keep it in equilibrium without flares is an aspect of the treatment that makes it a far superior option compared to conventional treatments.  For example, in the case of steroid treatments the inflammatory process causing the skin flare is suppressed.  However, long term use will weaken and thin the skin.  This type of treatment requires continual reapplications of the steroids to prevent any rebound flares.  Discontinuing the use of steroids topically will usually result in an exacerbation of the skin condition once the suppressing agent is removed.  So the underlying problem is never dealt with when using a conventional steroid treatment.