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Chinese Herbal Medicine Didn’t Work
from Trish S.

I'm not quite sure how to word this email so forgive me if it comes out garbled (I'm dashing it off during my lunch break at work). 

I've had the dreaded P for 24 years now.  It started off on the scalp, progressing to the elbows where it stayed contained for a number of years, not attacking my hands until about 10 years ago. 

Last year I decided to have a go with Chinese herbal medicine (November 2002).  The doctor (who didn't speak English very well) prescribed 6 bags of herbs a week.  By Christmas I started to get lesions where they had never been before — all over my stomach (guttate), inside of elbows, wrists, groin, buttocks, back, underarms, behind knees, inside of thighs, ears and on top of my hands.  The accompanying pain and discomfort has been pretty miserable. 

Every time I told the herbalist that the itching was getting worse he would tell me "your blood stimulating."  When I told him the psoriasis was spreading alarmingly I was told "it would spread even more if you stopped Chinese medicine."  Finally I'd had enough and changed herbalists to an English speaking herbalist.  He told me that the itching should have ceased within weeks of taking Chinese herbs.  He also told me, as my bowels were stubborn, that could be making things worse.  I've suffered chronic constipation for about 6 years now, and that's because 6 years ago I joined AA because of my excessive and out of control drinking.  I think that must prove that alcohol is definitely a natural laxative! 

Has anybody ever had any success at all with Chinese medicine?  There isn't much on your site about P sufferers who have gone the whole course of it.  Most people give up after a few weeks, and who can blame them, the taste of the stuff is foul, but I'm pretty strong willed and determined.  I'm still taking the medicine and this time the itching has calmed down.

Eventually though, enough is enough and I've now decided to go and see a dermatologist next week and God knows what he'll prescribe.  I've had every steroid ointment and cream known to mankind over the years and they just don't work any more.  I've also had Dovonex which is a waste of time in my opinion.  There are quite a number of people I see who are on methotrexate.  My question is, does anyone know if methotrexate is prescribed for P in the UK?  I think the majority of contributors to your web site are in the States aren't they and usually what's available there isn't available in the UK?

By the way, I've just joined the website and have been wandering around the various forums and it would seem that a few people have had some success with the Lemonade Fast Diet.  I'm not ready to try that one yet though as it looks pretty tough :-(



Ed’s Response:  Thanks for spending your lunch hour with us, Trish. Your email was not at all garbled. I hope my response won’t be.  I’ll move backwards through your letter. 

Had never heard of the “Lemonade Fast Diet.”  For other readers, if you’re interested in learning about this diet, which is also called a “master cleanser” diet and appears similar to many purgative diets promoted by naturopaths and chiropractic doctors, here is a page from which to start at

Regarding methotrexate, I do believe it has been long-prescribed for psoriasis in the U.K.  Your dermatologist (whom you’ve seen by the time you read this) will have filled you in on it and, perhaps, prescribed it for you.  For whatever it’s worth, in the U.S. many dermatologists are hesitant to prescribe systemics like methotrexate unless a flaker’s P is severe or they are having major emotional problems dealing with less severe P.  Before prescribing it, your derm will probably have your blood tested to determine if your liver functions are normal.  He will also want to be assured that you will not use alcohol while undergoing methotrexate therapy. 

Regarding Chinese herbal therapy, I don’t think I can point to a piece of correspondence or hearsay from anyone who has “gone the whole course” with this therapy and achieved clearance.  Several years ago, Dr. Koo, who practices conventional western medicine at the University of California at San Francisco's Psoriasis Treatment Center in San Francisco, wrote about Chinese therapy in a National Psoriasis Foundation newsletter (click here for more correspondence about this).  Koo concluded after his study that it would probably be wise for westerners to stick to western remedies.  He inferred that Chinese herbal treatments were so dependent on physiological and cultural variables (like diet) unique to China it was unfair to assume someone with significantly different physiology and diet would react predictably.

Best of luck, Trish.  Do let us know what your derm prescribes and how you respond.  -Ed

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