Complementary Approaches to Eczema and Psoriasis Management: discussion on the Western Biomedical Understanding and Chinese Medical Theory

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

Eczema and psoriasis are two chronic skin conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Western medicine approaches these conditions by managing the symptoms through topical creams, oral medications, and other interventions. However, Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach, focusing on the underlying causes and imbalances in the body that contribute to these conditions. In this article, we will touch on the Western biomedical understanding of eczema and psoriasis, as well as the Chinese medical theory and approach to managing these conditions.

Western Biomedical Understanding and Treatment Approach

Eczema and psoriasis are both autoimmune diseases that cause inflammation and irritation of the skin. Eczema is characterized by red, itchy patches of skin, while psoriasis causes thick, scaly patches that can be itchy and painful. In Western medicine, these conditions are managed through topical corticosteroids, oral immunosuppressants, and other medications that target the immune system. [1]​

Chinese Medical Theory and Approach

In Chinese medicine, eczema and psoriasis are viewed as a result of imbalances in the body’s energy systems. These imbalances can be caused by a variety of factors, including diet, lifestyle, and emotional stress. Chinese medicine focuses on restoring balance to the body, which in turn can help to alleviate the symptoms of these conditions.

Chinese herbal medicine is often used to manage the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. There are many different formulas available, each designed to address specific imbalances in the body as seen in the chinese medical paradigm. One such formula aims to cool the blood and expell the element of wind and damp from the skin layer- a Chinese Medicine’s way of describing the effect on the skin by the internal environment of the body, the terms used are metaphoric in nature, whilst having a very specific and strong eatiological and functional explination for their presence according to Chinese medical theory. Itchy skin conditions are often attributed to internal wind, moist leisions to the condition of internal dampness and redness or swelling to internal heat conditions that affect the blood and skin. Other formulas focus on promoting the circulation of blood and to reduce inflammation.

Acupuncture is another tool that Chinese medicine practitioners use to manage the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. By stimulating specific points on the body, acupuncture can help to balance the body’s energy systems, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. TUNG acupuncture points such as the “Four Horses” and “SanChaSan” are often used. Since Chinese medicine provides an individualised approach to handling situations, one never knows what approach or set of points may be selected on the day. This primarily depends on the presentation and a complete diagnosis from within the Chinese Medical lense as far as patient hisory, body constitution, and presentation on the day and the signs of transforms over time.

Chinese medical theory also emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle for managing the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to reduce inflammation and support overall skin health. Stress reduction techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can also be helpful in managing these conditions.

Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to managing the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. Rather than simply treating the symptoms, Chinese medicine practitioners work to identify and address the underlying imbalances in the body that contribute to these conditions. By restoring balance to the body, symptoms can be alleviated, and overall health can be improved.

Encouraging a complementary approach to managing eczema and psoriasis, combining Western and Eastern medicine may provide a more comprehensive approach to treating these conditions and managing their symptoms. By working with both a Western medical doctor and a Chinese medicine practitioner, individuals can manage their symptoms safely and effectively, with a focus on restoring balance and promoting overall health and wellbeing.


  1. Feldman, S. R., & Balkrishnan, R. (Eds.). (2007). Textbook of atopic dermatitis. CRC Press.Huang, K. C. (1999). The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs, 2nd Edition. CRC Press.
  2. Kaptchuk, T. J. (2000). The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine, 2nd Edition. Contemporary Books.
  3. Wu, P., & Liang, J. (2016). Diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases in Chinese medicine. China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  4. “Treatment of Psoriasis and Eczema with TCM” by Xue-jie Han, published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2009.
  5. “Traditional Chinese Medicine for Treatment of Psoriasis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials” by Yiqun Li et al., published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2019.
  6. “Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Eczema of Children: A Systematic Review” by Vivian Taam Wong et al., published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2019.
  7. Chen, Y., Guo, J., Qiu, J., & Li, J. (2020). Advances in research on the skin microbiome and its implications for the treatment of dermatitis. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 10, 587377.