5 Holistic Tips To Ease Psoriasis & Eczema From An Herbalist
It can be incredibly difficult to find a remedy for either psoriasis and eczema. They are skin conditions with complex triggers, symptoms, and, ultimately, treatments. Whether you use Western medicine or holistic medicine, managing yours can be a confounding and complex journey.
However, as an herbalist and licensed acupuncturist, I encourage my patients with these conditions to pursue holistic measures when possible. Here's what I tell them:
Find a specialist.
Many of my patients have previously given holistic medicine a try with limited or no success. The problem was they didn't see a practitioner who specializes in skin disorders. If you were looking for a Western doctor to treat your psoriasis, for example, you'd see a dermatologist, not your general practitioner.
The same should hold true for a naturopath, nutritionist, acupuncturist, or homeopath. Many holistic practitioners have never taken a single class in dermatology, let alone treated patients with complicated skin conditions. Question any practitioner you see about his or her education and experience with eczema and psoriasis.
Start from the inside out.
It's very rare that psoriasis or eczema can be managed with topical treatment alone. True healing comes from within. In my holistic dermatology practice, I prescribe customized herbal remedies to be taken internally. Topical creams, washes, or salves certainly help, but they are rarely used on their own (except when treating babies, as babies have other specific nutrition needs).
Whether it be through diet, herbal medicine, homeopathy, or supplements, make sure that internal therapies lay the foundation for your overall plan.
Eat right for your skin type.
A basic anti-inflammatory diet will benefit any skin condition. (Even the National Psoriasis Foundation and National Eczema Association recommend this.) Eat lots of leafy greens, fresh fruits, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds, avocados, and fish oils. Keep in mind that healthy diets vary according to the condition and the individual. Experiment with an elimination diet to find out which foods are best for you.
As a general rule, people with psoriasis should avoid spicy foods, red meat, and alcohol1. Some people benefit from cutting out nightshades (like eggplant and tomatoes), while others are fine with them. Eczema sufferers should get tested for food allergies—like to cows' milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and nuts—eczema can be a symptom of a food intolerance.
Incorporate healthy teas.
Teas have many proven health benefits. Many have properties specific to certain skin conditions. For psoriasis, I recommend alternating between burdock and milk thistle. For eczema, try out oolong tea as a daily drink as it can be soothing.
Don't believe in miracles.
If you read about a holistic remedy that sounds like something you'd like to try, research it to make sure that there are no potential risks or side effects. If it's all in the clear, and it fits within your budget, give it a try! But if it doesn't work or you don't get the results that you've seen hyped up elsewhere, don't give up on holistic medicine altogether. Everyone is different, and what works for some won't work for all.
In my practice, I'm committed to letting my patients know what they can realistically expect as far as timing and results. Of course, there are always a handful of people who experience what they'd call a "miracle," or quick and dramatic results. But I'd never tell a patient to expect it.
Stay realistic, but know that with time and the right course of treatment, your skin can and will get better.
Antonia Balfour, LAc, DTCM is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine specializing in the holistic treatment of skin conditions. She is the founder of Yin Yang Dermatology in Los Angeles where she sees patients in-person and through telemedicine consultations. With over 20 years of clinical experience, she utilizes internal herbal remedies combined with topical botanical ingredients to treat chronic, inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and perioral dermatitis.
Balfour holds a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches University and a Master’s degree from Yo San University. She is a California-licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and a National Diplomate in acupuncture and Chinese herbology, board-certified through the NCCAOM.