By Doctor Holly Thompson
Eastern medicine has always considered skin conditions to be external indicators of internal conditions, and recognized the importance of the gut in all aspects of health. All Chinese herbal formulas for skin problems are based on resolving the internal disharmony that is behind the outbreak.
The long and very successful history of Chinese herbal medicine for dermatological issues speaks to the efficacy of this approach. Like all problems in Chinese medicine, the signs and symptoms and details of the whole person are taken into account to determine a particular pattern that is at the root of the problem. Treatment is designed to address the problem at both the level of the root and the symptom. Typically, this is done with both internal (herbal formula) and external (topical medicine and/or acupuncture) treatment.
Western medicine has traditionally looked to resolve skin issues with topical medications or steroids, and not looked for internal reasons for conditions such as acne.
But, it wasn’t always this way.
Seventy years ago, two dermatologists, John Stokes and Donald Pillsbury, proposed a gastro-intestinal mechanism for overlapping anxiety, depression, and skin conditions such as acne. Stokes and Pillsbury hypothesized that emotional states might alter the normal intestinal microflora, increase intestinal permeability and contribute to systemic inflammation. They experimented with probiotics to correct the microbiome.
For whatever reasons, Stokes and Pillsbury’s work fell by the wayside.
The microbiome (mostly gut flora-the good and not-so-good bugs that live in our intestines) and all its possible influences are currently amongst the most researched areas in medicine. As part of that research, the gut-brain-skin connection is again being studied. There have been a number of studies in Europe that indicate probiotics can be effective in the treatment of acne. Studies done in Russia and Italy found that giving the probiotic bacteria L. acidophilus and B. bifidum to acne sufferers improved outcomes and accelerated the time needed for standard therapies to work.
Another study found that giving a lactobacillus-fermented dairy drink improved acne over the course of 12 weeks. While all this research is wonderful and confirms what we have known in both Chinese medicine for some time, the problem is that it will be years until this knowledge will be put into use in standard conventional medicine. We have the ability, today, to use time-tested Chinse Medicine Dermatolgy to treat skin problems at the root for lasting results.
If you are suffering from acne, or other skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, or unexplained rashes and want to deal with it at the root cause level, give the office a call or send me a message today!