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 Causes of psoriasis

Effectiveness of       treatments

Chinese herb toxicity

Chinese herb therapy

   I. Clearing heat method

I. 清熱涼血法

  II. Blood invigorating method

  III. Blood tonifying method

Drug therapy/toxicity

Ultra violet therapy


Psoriasis        Edited by: Joe Hing Kwok Chu

Causes of Psoriasis

Causes of psoriasis have not been completely understood. The following facts have been observed:

I. Auto-immune system dysfunction: (1). the ratio of T-helper to T-suppressor lymphocytes (TH/TS) is abnormal. (2). Immune function of the body fluid overactive: IGE and IGA  are high and IGM is low.

II. Streptococcus infection: Clearing streptococcus infection has helped to relieve psoriasis because the toxin of the bacteria causes the diseased cells to speed up division.

III. Metabolism dysfunction: ration of cAMP and cGMP is abnormal. The diseased skin of psoriasis patients is low in cAMP, which is an epidermal chalone which inhibits the cells of the skin division.

Effectiveness of Treatments

Traditional Chinese herb medicine and certain qigong can balance the ratio of cAMP and cGMP.  Currently Western drugs lack the satisfactory therapy to solve this issue.

There are hundreds of treatment methods for psoriasis. There is no satisfactory western medicine for treatment of  psoriasis. Individually prescribed Chinese herbal medicines are more effective. (Acupuncture is not commonly used in China for psoriasis).

Since Traditional Chinese herb medicine is more effective for skin problem, many Westerners seek Chinese herb therapy for psoriasis; but it is difficult to locate knowledgeable Traditional Chinese herb practitioners, especially in the West.

Sometimes psoriasis can be misdiagnosed as fungus infection and vice versa.

At present true psoriasis has no effective complete cure.

Some claim certain therapies are effective cures. This can be a misconception and some skeptics even think the claims can be fraudulent. The truth is that the cycle of psoriasis comes in stages:

1. first it progresses and

2. then it goes into remission and

3. then it goes into subsiding.

Then it will be back again.

If a person uses certain therapy and it happens that it is immediately prior to the remission and subsiding stage, the patient or the practitioner may think the therapy is working. In fact the disease is running its course.

Chinese Herb Toxicity

Usually Chinese herbal medicine (not the manufactured "herbs" which might have mixed with western drugs) is much safer than modern drugs although there were cases of fatalities reported in Britain after using herbal medicine.  Under normal correct usage, the toxicity of herbs used in those prescriptions is mild and should not have caused death. The incidences of death could have been caused by extreme allergic reactions.

Chinese Herb Therapy

Since 1966 psoriasis has been officially called "yin xiao bing" 銀 痟 病 in China. 

 "Yin xiao bing" literally means "silver particles sickness". Most Chinese people call it "niu pi xian"牛 皮 癬 which literally means "cow hide fungus". But, niu pi xian mentioned in traditional Chinese medicine classics is not yin xiao bing which is psoriasis. There are many highly respectable publications in Chinese which still use the term niu pi xian for psoriasis. This can be confusing for the general public, even for medical people who read Chinese.

The Chinese herb therapy can be classified into three categories:

1. clearing heat (re),

2. blood invigorating method

3. tonifying blood method

(yu, sludge), and dry (zao)

I. Clearing Heat Methods

1. rid of heat and cool the blood method

This method is for the progressing stage. 

Symptoms : New bright red particle like or blotches of rashes. The surface is covered with white flakes and under them there are bleeding small particles.

Itchiness, restlessness, dislike of heat, yellow urine, constipation, red tongue with thin moss, strong tight (stringy) pulse.

Prescription: tu fu ling 30 g, huai hua 30 g, sheng di 30 g, mao gen 30 g, zhi cao 15 g, gan cao 6 g.

Adjustment of formula:

(1) constipation is bad, add da huang 10 g.

(2) New rashes, particle like, bright red, not many particles (flakes), dry tongue and mouth, swollen tonsils, add jin yin hua, da qing ye, ban lan gen 15 g each.

(3) When rashes become larger with more flakes, especially on the upper limbs and upper torso and on the scalp , add wind ridding herbs like jing jie, fang feng, niu bang zi 10 g each, chan yi 6 g. If the problem is mainly on the scalp and when the usual herbs for ridding of wind are not effective, try to use insects or snake type of herbs like wu gong or wu she.

銀 痟 病 醫 治 法

I. 清 熱 涼 血 法  銀 痟 病 進 行 期 ,  新 疹 出 現 , 色 鮮 紅 ,

點 滴 或 班 狀 ,  表 面 覆 蓋 白 色 鱗 痟 , 基 底 有 出 血 小 點 ,

痒 , 心 煩 , 怕 熱 , 尿 黃 赤 , 便 秘 , 舌 紅 苔 薄 , 脈 弦 有 力 。

處 方 ﹕  土 茯 苓 30 克 ,  槐 花 30克 , 生 地 30克 , 茅 根 30克 ,

紫 草 15克 , 甘 草 6克 。

加 減 ﹕

(1) 便 秘 甚 者 加 大 黃  10克 。

(2) 皮 疹 初 起 , 呈 點 滴 狀 , 疹 色 鮮 紅 , 鱗 痟 少 , 口 乾 舌 燥 ,

扁 桃 腺 腫 大 者 , 加 銀 花 , 大 青 葉 , 板 藍 根 各 15克 。

(3)皮 疹 由 點 滴 狀 丘 疹 散 大 , 變 為 斑 塊 , 表 面 鱗 痟 較 多 ,

以 上 肢 或 軀 幹 上 部 為 甚 , 尤 有 分 布 頭 皮 者 ,  加 去 風 的 荊 芥 ,

 防 風 , 牛 蒡 子 各 10克, 蟬 衣 6克 。

(4)頭 皮 為 銀 痟 病 好 發 部 位 , 用 一 般 驅 風 藥 無 效 時 ,

試 加 蟲 類 驅 風 藥 如 蜈 蚣 , 烏 蛇 之 類 。


2. 清 肝 膽 濕 熱 法


 來 源 ﹕ 俞 熄 純 。


2. clearing damp heat of liver and gall  method


II.  Blood invigorating method

III.  Tonifying blood method


Note: Chinese herbal medicine is a completely different branch of Traditional Chinese medicine by itself. Traditionally it is practised by specially trained Chinese herb doctors and not by acupuncturists. An herb doctor is not necessarily a trained acupuncturist. In America, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture were grouped together by some of the law making bodies to save administrative expenses. A licensed acupuncturist in America is not necessary a trained herbalist.

Modern Drug Therapy and its Toxicity

During the sixties, the Western drug aminopterin caused many cases of death in China.

During the seventies, bimolane (AT-1727) was used. Reports in China mentioned that it caused more than 200 deaths.

Psoralen (补 骨 脂 素)  is an extract of the medicinal part of a Chinese herb, bu gu zhi (补 骨 脂) which is also known as po gu zi (破 故 子). It is being used for treatment of psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo. It is a modern version of an old Chinese herb.

Click here to go to ultra violet therapy with psoralen.

Methoxypsoralen (甲 氧 补 骨 脂 素) is another extract of the medicinal part of a Chinese herb, bu gu zhi. It is being used for treatment of psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo. Its use is similar to that of psoralen, and it is considered more effective than psoralen in psoriasis therapy.

Click here to go to ultra violet therapy with methoxypsoralen.

Steroids: When given in oral applications or injections, steroids can cause full moon face, whole body water retention, osteoporosis, weight gain, bleeding ulcers, memory loss, diabetes, and worsening of lung TB.

Aminopterin and ethylenediamine tetraaccetylimide can cause decrease of white cell count, thus lowering the immune system, and even cause leukemia.

Retinoic acid (Retin-A, Vitamin A Acid) has caused many cases of deformed fetuses.

Prolonged usage of methotrexate, a folic acid antagonist and cancer drug, can cause cirrhosis of the liver.

Dithranol (Anthralin) can cause tumors.

Ultra Violet Therapy (Phototherapy), a Complementary Method

(1) Ultra Violet with Psoralen (补 骨 脂 素)

Take 40 to 80 mg of psoralen orally  (patients with lighter body weight should take lesser amount). Two hours after taking the medicine, use ultra violet light for the whole body for about 15 to 30 minutes at a distance of 7 to 17 cm and at shorter distance for areas that are more serious. Treatment should be applied daily or every other day, three to six times per week. After symptoms are gone, continue the treatments, gradually spacing them further apart.


(2) Ultra Violet with methoxypsoralen (甲 氧 补 骨 脂 素)


The method of light therapy of using methoxypsoralen is the same as that of using psoralen.

Oral dosage is 30 to 50 mg to be taken after a meal. One hour later, soak the whole body in water from a mineral hotsprings for 20 to 30 minutes. After two hours, apply long wave ultra violet light, starting from a small dosage of light, and gradually increasing the amount. External application of 0.5% of methoxypsoralen tincture can also be used.


Treatment record: Under this method, therapy was applied once a day (except Sunday).  It was continued until symptoms gradually subsided, then the frequency of therapy was decreased to once a week, then down  to once a month, then long term treatments were continued to secure long term remission. Total patients: 46.  Healed: 45. Obviously improved: 1.   The effectiveness of therapy showed after 9 treatments, and patients were totally healed after 60 treatments.


Warning: Methoxypsoralen can affect the blood producing function of the bone marrow. It may decrease the total white cells.


(3). Ultra Violet with Psoralen (补 骨 脂 素) and Bai Zhi (白 芷 )


Inject 2 ml (1 mg of psoralen), and apply externally 30% bai zhi tincture. After 2 hours, use light therapy as above, once a day.

Treatment record: 20 patients.  Healed:15. Obviously improved: 5. Follow up investigation: 3 months to 1 year with no relapses.

Side effects: minor headaches, nausea, decreased appetite and itchiness.


Available dosage forms and strengths:

Injection liquid (oil base): 2 ml per tube, with 1 mg of psoralen.

Solution for external use: 50 ml per bottle with 25 mg of psoralen.

Capsules: 40 mg of psoralen each.


Caution: when using ultra violet therapy (phototherapy)

(1) Do not apply to patients who are allergic to sunlight.

(2) Discontinue the treatments if after sunbathing or receiving ultra violet therapy, local areas become swollen and inflamed.  After the inflammation has subsided, continue with the treatments but shorten the sunbathing or the ultra violet therapy time.

(3) If the injection liquid of psoralen shows crystallization, place the tube in boiling water until the crystals have dissolved.  Cool the liquid before using. If the liquid becomes cloudy during heating, it is because of the increased density of the solution. After cooling off, it should become clear again.

(4) Store the medicine in a dark place and avoid freezing.

(5) Long term exposure to sun light (or ultra violet lamps) may cause damages the DNA and cause skin cancer.


Other Therapy

Folk therapy includes using: evening primrose oil, witch hazel, tea tree oil, mahonia aquifolium, capsaicin.


Other psoriasis sites:

National Skin Center, Singapore

National Psoriasis Foundation

MedlinePlus/NIH Psoriasis Page

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