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Better Luck with Chinese Remedy
from Christopher K.

Ed: I revisited the P newsgroup last night, for the first time in a few years. You see, I'm about your age now and had a major P outbreak at about the age of 40, covering most of my body including face and hands. Before that, I didn't realize that I had P. It was this traumatic episode that made me aware that the small, transient red spots I'd always had on my ankles and occasionally elsewhere were not just a "rash."

The outbreak happened right after I'd washed my car one day. When it began to appear on the backs of my hands, I assumed I was having a reaction to the cleaning solution. As it rapidly spread, I guessed it was some sort of more systemic allergy. By the next day, when it reached what seemed to me to be an alarming proportion, I finally sought a doctor that then redirected me to a dermatologist. A quite compassionate one, at that.

She broke the news to me and offered up free samples of various things, as well as inviting me to come to her clinic and try the UV chamber. For free. On an ongoing basis, if it helped. As a healer, her chagrin at not being able to provide more knowing and effective treatment led her to provide a certain amount of resources to P sufferers, at no charge.

After a few months, I was using a Temovate cream and only getting temporary, varying results, but was still mostly covered like a leopard. By then, I was also pretty well into the emotional and psychological aftershocks with which so many of us must grapple. Worse, since I was still pretty spotted on face and hands, it was affecting my livelihood—as I was a business consultant and it was seriously problematic to go on either sales calls or consulting sessions looking as though I'd arrived with some sort of pox underway.

Eventually, my brother who is very involved with the Chinese internal martial arts (i.e. Tai Chi & Chi Kung) suggested that I try a treatment by one of the old Chinese doctors he knew. It was an interesting experience, as their diagnosis process is wildly different than our western materia medica. And his "prescription" was for an herbal "tea" that his wife prepared. This was unlike any tea I'd ever had, being composed of what looked more like a handful of chunky forest floor debris and requiring fairly elaborate daily preparation, tasting pungently bitter and borderline foul.

But I followed the regimen over the next couple of weeks, although this seemed much more to only add to my burdens for the first week, with nothing particularly compensatory to be said for it otherwise. Then the spots began to fade, and the itching subsided. My apportion of the stuff had exhausted after another week, but its effects continued over the following couple of weeks, finally followed by an almost complete clearing.

I've had no similar outbreaks since. It's just back to where it had always been before, with a few small spots occasionally about the ankles/shins and now and then upon the forehead. It's been a few years.

That said, my dermatologist had diagnosed mine as Guttate, advising me that it is often the least severe form. She'd ventured that I had likely had a pretty classic combo of a respiratory ailment (i.e. cold, etc.) at a time of stress and perhaps the additional irritation of the car washing solution had triggered the outbreak. She's also remained rather cooly confidant that I would eventually have a remission, although over the months of the experience I saw much less reason to expect so. Or at least feared as much.

I can't know if it was the "tea" that did it, or some measure of it, or if it was the sequence of Temovate followed by the tea, or if it was simply time. As you well know, this is an especially evasive thing. But I recount and report the matter anyway. Our sciences have come to acknowledge increasingly that the Chinese healing arts do, indeed, have their apparently effective forms, such as acupuncture, even if we can't really account for them. And I know of no real risk of harm. I have to admit that my brother led me to one of the more distinguished and notable practitioners, though, and I would counsel that any interested in trying such a thing exercise a bit of diligence in also attempting to find those with similar credentials.

Having happened upon your website, as a result of this revisit to the newsgroup, I was delighted to find both a very nice content you're providing as well as an admirably produced site. Kudos. Just wanted to share and contribute, if I might. Best, -Christopher K.

PS - I enjoyed your Dr. Singh tale quite a bit. However, I must confess that while reading I'd been anticipating maybe a more macabre twist to the tale. After all, if one crafts a creature that's been engineered to eat human skin and then propagate them into such numbers... how does one keep them fed? ;-)

*****

Ed's Response: You exercised a great deal more tolerance for your Chinese herbal remedy than I did for mine, Chris. I don't know if you read about my experience with the Chinese doctor, but it is one of the excerpts from Flake: Confessions of a Psoriatic reprinted here (see link at bottom).

Your herb tea therapy sounded exactly like what was prescribed for me, but I couldn't stand the concoction and abandoned it after only a brew or two. Sounds like your hanging in there may have paid off. We'll never know if it would have worked for me. Perhaps it works better on your Guttate P than it would have on my Plaque P (sour grapes?).

Your observations about the efficacy of Chinese medicine, and the mystery it represents in our occidental culture rings true. Psoriatics everywhere have the good fortune of having one Dr. Koo, of the University of California at San Francisco's P Treatment Center, both well-regarded as a dermatologist and a researcher into Chinese medicine. A couple of years ago NPF published some of Dr. Koo's findings about Chinese treatments for psoriasis (and Chinese medicine in general). A link to some correspondence about this is at the bottom of this file.

More recently, your philanthropic dermatologist sure caught my attention! Especially that part about her willingness to provide "a certain amount of resources to P sufferers at no charge." That's something I almost never read. If all else goes well, I'd certainly counsel holding on to that derm!

Stay in touch, Christopher. -Ed

Kudos for Dr. Koo and UCSF's P Treatment Center
Flake excerpt about my acupuncture experience (scroll down to: [from:] "The Litany of Treatments"... Acupuncture)

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