At SuperFeast we receive a lot of questions on skin issues, so we have decided to share our perspective on how tonic herbs can help manage inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
We also have an in-depth PDF 'Cultivate Beauty From Within' that dives deep into the Taoist approach to beauty and how the health of our organ systems is the key to radiant, glowing beauty.
What Causes Eczema and Psoriasis?
Your skin is your largest organ, and in TCM the skin is an extension of the Lung channel. Both eczema and psoriasis are correlated to heat in the Lung channel and weak Lung Qi. There is often Dampness in the body as a factor to consider with these conditions, usually exacerbated by food allergies or sensitivities (gluten, dairy, salicylates, amines / histamines etc), especially in the case of eczema.
Stress is also a factor, usually making eczema and psoriasis symptoms worse, or triggering outbreaks. Stress puts us into survival mode, weakening our immunity by diverting energy (Qi) away from the immune system (part of the parasympathetic nervous system and the enteric nervous system) towards the sympathetic nervous systems of the body. This is wise if we’re in real-life danger, but if we’re just stressed at work or school, this is a problem. Read our article 'Stress, What Is It & What Is It Doing In Your Body?' to learn more about the autonomic nervous system.
Eczema: an immune response to an internal or external irritant that triggers a skin reaction.
Psoriasis: an expression of the pathological heat from the bones (governed by the Kidneys in TCM).
Other factors are overall toxic load (if the liver is struggling with Phase 2 detoxification or is exposed to a lot of environmental toxins, flare-ups can be more common), gut health (leaky gut is often implicated in these conditions and psoriasis appears to be a T-cell mediated pathology) and genetic factors (some genes may inhibit certain essential vitamins and minerals from being absorbed, worsening the condition).
What is cool about understanding these conditions from Chinese medicine perspective is that healing and managing them really boils down to three simple things:
- Remove all inflammatory (Dampening) foods from the diet and slowly reintroduce to work out what your triggers are (we recommend working under the supervision of a good naturopath or nutritionist). As a general rule, the four whites: SUGAR, WHEAT, DAIRY and PROCESSED SALT are best to avoid. Work on healing any gut issues first - you may wish to try bone broths, collagen, aloe, chlorophyll-rich juices and foods and a low-irritant diet. We love The Healthy Skin Diet by Karen Fischer.
- Rest! Stress will do your healing no favours. Take some space. Learn to relax. Do less. Burnout is no way to live.
- Support the Kidney, Liver and Lungs - we love Jing herbs that cultivate Jing (our JING blend is an easy way to take them), MSM and Lung-supporting herbs like astragalus, tremella and cordyceps.
What we’d recommend from the SuperFeast range:
JING - supports your adrenal health (Kidneys) and will help your body manage stress.
MSM - supports Phase-2 liver detoxification, which will prevent salicylates from building up in your system.
Mason’s Mushrooms - supports a healthy gut microbiome by feeding the gut bacteria; also supports the immune system and helps prevent flare-ups. Contains vitamins and minerals that support gut health. Contains mushrooms that support the Liver, Kidneys and Lungs.
Chaga - contains super special beta glucans which allow the body to recognise and label potentially problematic cells. This allows the immune system to elevate its response against undesirable rapidly growing cells. Research has shown a 76% remission rate of psoriasis, when taking chaga.
Astragalus - supports the immune system, helps reduce inflammation and supports the Lung channel. Astragalus is a Qi tonic that helps assist healing and blood circulation to the site of the outbreak.
Tremella - useful in cases of Lung Yin deficiency with Heat (a common pattern for these conditions). Tremella also contains a polysaccharide which is able to hydrate and plump the skin better than hyaluronic acid and can help make skin beautiful and dewy.
Cordyceps - both a Kidney and Lung tonic and removes Phlegm (created by Damp Heat).
Each condition has its own unique set of causes and expressions, so we recommend experimenting to see what works best for your body. We would love to hear any tips you use to heal any skin issues you have experienced, have you managed to heal psoriasis or eczema?
Is Your Skin Driving You Mad? A Classical Chinese Medicine Perspective on Psoriasis and Eczema by Salvador Cefalu, M.S., L.Ac.
Understanding Stress and Auto Immune Disease Through TCM Theory by Celeste Houvener
Xie's Chinese Veterinary Herbology edited by Huisheng Xie, Vanessa Preast
The Healthy Skin Diet by Karen Fischer