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Psoriasis and Acupuncture

Causes of Psoriasis

Skin cells have a life cycle. Your body produces new cells in your lowest skin level and these skin cells gradually move up through the layers of your skin until they reach the outermost level. Then they die and flake off. This whole process normally takes around 21 to 28 days.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder driven by the immune system, especially involving a type of white blood cell called a T cell. Normally, T cells help protect the body against infection and disease. In the case of psoriasis, T cells are put into action by mistake and become so active that they trigger other immune responses, which lead to inflammation and to rapid turnover of skin cells. As a result, cells build up rapidly on the surface of the skin, causing red, flaky, crusty patches covered with silvery scales. These patches are then shed easily. It can occur on any part of your body although it's most commonly found on the elbows, knees, lower back and the scalp. It can also cause itching and burning.

Why does acupuncture help?

Acupuncture uses ultra-fine needles inserted into the skin to help unblock the flow of what is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as “life-energy”; or “chi”. When there is an imbalance in life-energy, problems develop and an acupuncturist looks to restore balance, which in turn allows the body to heal itself. Scientific explanations to the results of acupuncture suggest that the needles stimulate deep sensory nerves that release natural pain-killing chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins give pain-relief and may also trigger anti-inflammatory mechanisms that ease the redness and irritation of psoriasis. Acupuncture needles also aid relaxation, which is an important part of relieving stress and anxiety. As both these factors are known to trigger psoriasis, acupuncture prevents them occurring which in turn can help stop the psoriasis flaring up.
Acupuncture takes a holistic approach (meaning the whole body) to target the underlying problems of skin conditions so expect the treatment to focus on areas of the body that may not be naturally associated with the area affected. Acupuncture also utilizes electro-acupuncture (needles stimulated by electricity), drinking herbs, washing herbs and cupping (relieving tension and improving circulation with glass cups on the skin).

Research & Evidence

Acupuncture treatment for psoriasis: a retrospective case report. Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research, 1992 Jul-Sep, 17(3):195-208. (UI: 93034519) AT: UCLA siomed wl AC999T (PE title: Acupuncture & electro-therapeutics research.)
Abstract: We treated 61 cases of psoriasis with acupuncture, including 25 patients with complications of joint involvement and two cases with scleroderma additionally. All of the patients had failed to respond to their prior conventional western medical management. 25 patients were males and 36 were females. Their ages ranged from 22 to 84 years, with an average of about 52 years. There was no significant difference of the average ages between the sexes. Most of them (about 61%) had quite extensive involvement of the body. The average of duration of their illness was over 16 years, ranging from two to 65 years.
They received an average of about 16 sessions of acupuncture treatment, ranging from one to 26. With the acupuncture treatment, about one-half (30) of the 61 patients had complete or almost complete clearance of the skin lesions. About a quarter (14 patients) of them had a clearance of about two thirds of the skin lesions. Eight of them had a clearance of one third of the skin lesions. Nine patients had minimal or no improvement.
Conclusion: Acupuncture is an effective therapeutic modality for psoriasis, particularly when the western medical management is unsuccessful.

Other Treatments

There are two kinds of herbs for psoriasis: drinking herbs and washing herbs. They are always combined together to treat psoriasis effectively. Herbs are used to treat psoriasis because they are believed to help stimulate bile production in the liver and regulate the immune system, as well as to detoxify the body, keep the blood clean and protect the liver. It also helps to ward off depression and anxiety, which are the main triggers of psoriasis.

Cupping affects the body’s tissue up to four inches deep. This causes tissue to release toxins, clears blockages, activates the lymphatic system and helps to clear the veins and arteries. Cupping is thought to be the best form of deep tissue massage available and is safe and reliable for most people.

How long will the treatment take?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary depending on the severity of the condition and how long you have had it. Typical treatments for psoriasis last 30 minutes, with the patient being treated twice a week. Ten to twenty treatments per course are standard. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.


Female, aged 62, suffering from psoriasis for 20 years.
Treatment: Acupuncture, drinking and washing herbs
Result: Complete cured after 16 sessions treatment.

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