Eczema is one of the more common skin disorders, presenting with itchy rashes that can prove maddening. Unfortunately, modern medicine has only managed to offer medications that suppress the symptoms of eczema rather than a method to prevent eczema from reoccurring.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is able to identify the underlying imbalances that cause eczema, and has developed effective ways to address this debilitating skin disorder. In western medicine, eczema is categorized by location; alternatively, Chinese medicine differentiates eczema by patterns of imbalance that have caused eczema; these imbalances can in turn combine with external pathogenic forces making eczema a complicated condition to treat. Because of this, herbal strategies must be blended depending on symptoms presenting and internal imbalances; keep in mind that internal organ level imbalances require many months of herbal therapy to have lasting results:
Spleen Deficiency and Eczema
The Spleen energetic organ system in Chinese medicine relates closely to digestion and the management of foods and fluids. Improper diets ladened with processed foods, fatty foods, dairy products, fruit juices, or raw cold foods can damage the Spleen function (TCM). As a result, Internal Dampness can result as the Spleen struggles to maintain its duties of managing fluids in the body. This is especially true for children since the Spleen function is not fully matured in babies and small children. It can also result in infants due to a genetic disposition to Spleen Deficiency, or a poor diet maintained by the mother during pregnancy.
This type of eczema would present with oozing rashes in most cases, but Spleen Deficiency should be addressed in chronic eczema that has progressed to a dry stage also.
Wei Qi Deficiency and Eczema
In TCM theory there is an energetic protective force called Wei Qi that circulates at the outermost level of the physical body. Wei Qi is often likened to our immune system and is a barrier preventing external pathogenic forces such as Dampness and Wind from penetrating in to our bodies and creating disease patterns. Wind relates to sudden symptom changes and sudden onset of symptoms; therefore, Wei Qi Deficiency must be present for acute eczema to occur. Even more importantly, itching is attributed to Wind.
Lung Qi Deficiency and Eczema
The Lung energetic organ is part of the Metal Element in Chinese medicine. The Metal Element also includes the skin, sinuses, and Large Intestines. In China, eczema is often referred to as “skin asthma”; this is fitting as approximately half of the children who develop eczema also suffer with asthma. Regardless of whether eczema present along with asthma or not, skin disorders are related to Metal Element imbalances. Additionally, the Lungs have a role in managing Dampness in the body and are closely associated with the Wei Qi.
Liver Heat and Eczema
The main pattern seen in Eczema according to Chinese medicine is Damp-Heat. Liver Qi Stagnation creates Internal Heat and Internal Wind. Like External Wind, Internal Wind would result in itching. This type of imbalance would be common in cases of chronic eczema with feelings of frustration and anger, possibly brought on by stress. The Liver acupuncture channel traverses the scrotum, and eczema located there would also be an indication of Liver imbalances.
Kidney Yin Deficiency and Eczema
*As mentioned above, eczema is a complicated condition. In order to better understand this portion of the disease pattern, you will want to read the Yin Yang article and Blood Deficiency article.
Chronic eczema is often marked by thickening dry, rough skin. This is due to the fact that chronic Heat will eventually consume Yin. This can also be described as Blood Deficiency, as Blood is Yin. Additionally, eczema with a genetic factor is often due to Kidney imbalances as the Kidney energetic system stores the Jing, or ancestral Essence.