Acupuncture for Psoriasis: A Research Study

Acupuncture for Psoriasis61 cases of psoriasis were treated with acupuncture, including 25 patients with complications of joint involvement, and two cases of scleroderma additionally. All of the patients had failed to respond to their western medical treatments. 25 patients were males and 36 were females. Their ages ranged from 22 to 84 years, with an average of about 52 years. Most of them (about 61%) had a large areas of their bodies affected. The average duration of their illness was over 16 years, ranging from 2 to 65 years.

They received an average of about 9 acupuncture sessions.

With the acupuncture treatment, about one-half (30) of the 61 patients had complete or almost complete clearance of the skin lesions. About a quarter (14 patients) of them had a clearance of about two-thirds of the skin lesions. Eight of them had a clearance of one-third of the skin lesions. Only nine patients had minimal improvement. This shows that acupuncture is an effective therapeutic modality for psoriasis, particularly when western, conventional treatment was ineffective.

“When I had a severe skin rash from psoriasis on my arms and hands I sought help from my medical doctor who was able only to prescribe steroids. The steroids worked and well – but – their effect lasted only about 5 days and then the rash was back in it full glory. As Steven began the acupuncture treatments, soon there was improvement. The improvement continued over time, slowly but surely. Patience was needed, but improvement continued as time went on and in time the treatment was fully successful. Thank you Steven!” Roberta Hodges, patient at Complete Oriental Medical Care in Minneapolis, MN

What Causes Psoriasis?

Psoriasis can affect both the skin and joints. It is a dermatological autoimmune condition that manifests on the skin as the eruption of red, scaly patches. The problem usually occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp and trunk. These lesions or bumps can become thick and pus filled resulting in peeling and skin irritation. These (psoriatic plaques) are areas of excessive skin production and inflammation. When psoriasis affects the joints it is called psoriatic arthritis.

The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown but here is what some scientists have postulated:

  • Autoimmune condition: In psoriasis, a type of white blood cell, called a T-cell, are put into action by mistake and become so active that they can trigger other immune responses, which lead to inflammation and rapid turnover of skin cells. The skin cells rise quickly from their origin below the surface of the skin and pile up on the surface before they have a chance to mature. Usually this takes about a month in the average person, but in psoriasis, it may only take a few days.
  • Family history: in one-third of cases researchers have found genes linked to psoriasis after studying a large number of families affected by the disease.
  • Emotional stress – usually a causative factor with various skin problems
  • Skin damage
  • Cold weather or changes in climate
  • Physical illness – from a Chinese medicine prospective this wears down a person’s vital life energy leaving them vulnerable
  • Some medications including gold, lithium, beta blockers and those that treat high blood pressure and inflammation can trigger an outbreak or worsen psoriasis

Typical Western Medical Treatment for Psoriasis

Western medicine commonly treats psoriasis with topical medications and/or oral medications and injections that are directed towards the immune system. Over time, your skin can become resistant to treatment and may no longer work, especially when topical steroids are used. Also, many psoriasis sufferers say that they have either not yet found a treatment that really works or they are afraid of the adverse reactions they will have to the medications.

What is the best treatment for psoriasis? In most cases, the patient has tried every medication and ointment without success and is seeking an alternative. In the initial visit, the patient is asked many detailed questions and we talk with them about the course of treatment. Acupuncture is recommended several times per week initially. In all cases, patients are advised about their diet and nutritional supplements are recommended. Chinese herbal medicine is a very important part of a natural treatment for psoriasis. We use herbal formulas that inhibit inflammatory cytokines associated with psoriasis.

According to the Chinese medicine theory, psoriasis is due to heat and dryness in the blood giving rise to wind toxins which flow into the skin. This may also be mixed with dampness. Therefore, the treatment principles are to dispel wind and reduce dampness, clear the blood and moisten dryness.

How Quickly Can You See Results?

The results of Chinese medicine treatments may differ per individual, but some patients see visual changes within 2 – 4 weeks. It is very important that patients comply with all treatment recommendations for maximum effectiveness including dietary recommendations and Chinese herbs.

Discover what the natural remedies of acupuncture and herbal medicine can do for you.

Schedule your first appointment for relief of psoriasis today by calling our Minneapolis acupuncture clinic at 612-866-4000 or visit our contact page here.

Written by Steven Sonmore

For more than 20 years, Steven Sonmore, L. AC, Dipl. AC., has been helping people transform their lives and maintain better health through Chinese medicine. Steven is a licensed acupuncturist, Oriental bodywork therapist, and herbalist. He offers complete health care through acupuncture, Chinese herbs and nutritional counseling. Steven’s patients come from all different ages and walks of life and he has extensive experience treating a spectrum of dis-ease ranging from physical pain and discomfort to emotional stress and anxiety. His extensive experience is evident by the high success rate he consistently has with patients and is licensed by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. Steven is also certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

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