Skin. It is the only organ that we can easily see and feel every day. When something starts affecting the skin, we know it immediately, because it is brought to our attention. We can see and feel our skin differently that any other organ. No special cameras needed. Even though skin conditions are often very visible, it can also be very difficult to find effective treatments, often because conditions are often seen throughout different areas of the body.

Eczema literally means inflammation of the skin and can cause skin to be itchy, dry, red and overall very uncomfortable. Eczema can refer to inflammation after contact with poison ivy, or inflammation caused by an allergy; however, most often in society, eczema refers to a chronic skin irritation. There are many different types of eczema, and each has its own characteristics, causes, and treatments.

In Chinese Medicine (acupuncture), skin is though to be an extension of the Lungs. Although we don’t ‘breathe’ through our skin like many reptiles do, our skin does help us take in our surroundings and expel waste materials. This is similar to how the lungs work – taking in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. The Large Intestine also has a permeable lining that allows useable nutrients back into the bloodstream while working to send waste material out of the body. As I discussed in my last blog entry, both the Lungs and the Large Intestine are associated with the Metal Element. Although in modern medicine, we think about the Liver playing a key role in detoxification of the body (which it is), in acupuncture the Lungs & Large Intestine and all of their correspondences are equally important.

Using acupuncture theory, eczema (and many other skin conditions) is the result of toxins that the body is not able to dispose of properly, that are in return affecting the skin. Using 5 Element Theory (a subset of acupuncture), this impermeability is an imbalance of the Metal Element with the other Elements within the cycle. These elemental imbalances can be identified based on the other symptoms involved. Most often, I see eczema that manifests as dry, red areas, but eczema can also appear as weeping sores. Each manifestation shows an imbalance with a different element, Fire & Water, respectively. By treating the Elemental imbalance, permeability across the layers of skin regulates, which allows waste to move more effectively out of the skin layer, and not get “stuck” within the skin.

Important: If you suspect that you have eczema, please consult with your primary care physician.