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Why use Chinese medicine for psoriasis or eczema?


Dermatology: Treating the Root and the Branch

When I began my private practice, most of my patients had pain: migraines, muscle pain, back pain. I enjoyed relieving their pain (often when Western medicine did not) and they were very grateful. As I was broadly trained in internal medicine I was also able to treat those patients who had acid reflux, anxiety, diabetes, painful menstruation, or polycystic ovary disease. In addition,  some patients had skin conditions: e.g., acne, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis and pityriasis lichenodes that responded well to treatment. I discovered I had an affinity for diagnosing and treating skin conditions and enjoyed helping my patients.

Mazin al-Khafaji is a British acupuncturist and herbalist who completed advanced studies in dermatology in China. His clinic in Brighton, England attracts patients from the United Kingdom, Europe and even North America. He offered a rigorous postgraduate course in dermatology in London for Chinese and Western medical professionals for many years; when he offered it in New York recently for the first time, I was thrilled to enroll.  Mazin is a gifted teacher; I learned much from my postgraduate studies with him.  We studied diagnosis and treatment for 20 common skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, acne and rosacea. His course featured slides of his patients before, during and after treatment.  His results, without using steroids, are impressive.

Mazin treats his patients with custom combinations of Chinese herbs, not acupuncture. Unlike most Western medicines and Western herbology, Chinese herbal therapy almost always uses formulas with multiple herbs---never single herbs.  Accurate diagnosis according to Chinese medical theory is key to constructing a good formula and knowledge of the many possible permutations of a condition is very important.  In fact, formulas are routinely altered during treatment as symptoms change. 

Key differences between TCM and Western Medicine in general and I think in dermatology in particular,  is their focus regarding symptoms.  The origin of the symptoms is not always examined in Western medicine.  By contrast, it is a major tenent of Traditional Chinese Medicine to always consider the underlying reasons for the symptom.  We treat the root, not just the branch. It’s not enough to eliminate a sinus infection with antibiotics if it is chronic.  We diagnose holistically, identifying the cause of the sinusitis and treat both the contributing factors and the infection.

Eczema, for example, in Chinese medicine, could have five different etiologies.  Identifying the correct one will result in the proper treatment that resolves the symptoms and corrects the underlying imbalance that causes the eczema. Chinese medicine’s focus on correcting the root of the illness explains its success in treating chronic conditions.  Eczema typically resolves with treatment. If minor flare-ups occur, patients can self-treat with topical Chinese medications. By contrast, standard Western treatment for eczema often requires long-term use of steroids, sometimes oral steroids in ever increasing dosages that have unpleasant side effects and high dose topical steroids that are harmful to the skin.

Aside from oral herbal formulas, we also have topical medicines created with Chinese herbs that aid healing. Mazin al-Khafagi has created his own line of products, Dermatology M, that licensed practitioners of Chinese medicine can supply to patients.  These preparations are reasonably priced compared with Western topical prescriptions and have few if any side effects.

Please call me to schedule a complementary phone consultation.


NEW ADDRESS!! Beth Steinberg, L.Ac.

at the office of Performance Health and Wellness

978 NYS Route 45, Suite 109A
Pomona, NY 10970
917 359-0430