No Drugs Required

Some of the conditions that round out what I see in the clinic includes:


Eczema and Dermatitis



Anxiety & Depression



Acupuncture helps the signs and symptoms of acne


The combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine fights acne with fantastic results.  I also use dietary therapy as part of an acne treatment plan.  Results don’t come overnight (more like three to six months after starting treatment), but when you get results they will last.  This is a stark difference from what you’ll get with traditional Western treatments, which usually allows acne symptoms to come back when you stop treatment.

What causes acne?

From a Western medical perspective, pimples are caused by plugged or clogged hair follicles.  Dead skin cells, make up and oils on the skin mix together to create plugs in the follicles.  From an acupuncture theory perspective, Heat, Dampness and Toxins build up in the skin to cause pimples, blackheads and acne cysts.  In Chinese medicine, these causes of acne and pimples can be the result of improper diet, emotions, hormonal changes and other lifestyle factors.

Regardless of what paradigm you use to understand the causes and symptoms of acne, the effects of acne should not be understated.  While acne and pimples may occur on the chest, back and shoulders, acne most commonly occurs on the face.  That’s an awfully public place to have pimples.  Having acne lesions can cause serious emotional stress as a result.


Unfortunately, acne usually affects those most susceptible to these stresses – teenagers.  Adolescence is a time of developing identity and intense social pressures.  The effects of acne can go beyond physical acne scars and scar someone emotionally too.  This is well documented by researchers.  Additionally, people who are beyond adolescence, sometimes into their fifties, can also have acne.  Adult acne can be just as troubling because most people think you shouldn’t have adult acne at that point in your life.

The truth is 85% of teenagers and up to 40% of adults have acne.1  Those are big numbers of teenagers and adults affected by acne and pimples.  The numbers are even more astounding when you consider that $2.2 billion are spent on Western medical treatment each year in the United States.2  All evidence suggests that these numbers have been increasing over the last decade.

How is acne treated successfully with acupuncture?

If so many adults and teenagers have acne, and they’re all spending so much on treating acne, why aren’t the numbers going down?  In my professional opinion, I think the reason people are still struggling with acne is Western medical treatments rarely offer permanent results.  Most patients I’ve seen in the clinic say that symptoms resolved during treatment and lasted for a few weeks or months after finishing treatment, but then the acne came back and the patient found him or herself back at square one.

My goal when treating acne with acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary therapy is get significant reduction in acne lesions (pimples, cysts, etc.) and lasting results within three to six months of starting treatment as long as the patient adheres to the treatment plan.  If a patient doesn’t want to take herbal medicine, for example, it will take longer to get results.  Dietary therapy is equally crucial to achieving the results you want in reduction in redness, pimples, cysts and blackheads.

My treatment strategy is to evaluate each patient’s whole health to understand who he or she is as an individual and what his or her particular needs are.  I do a comprehensive first interview, medical history and evaluation of the areas affected by acne.  We also discuss diet and areas to modify.  After one or two acupuncture appointments, I prescribe herbal medicine.  This allows me to better understand the patient before giving any internal herbal medicine.  I will also prescribe herbal medicine washes to be used on the areas of the body with acne so the medicine can work from the inside out and outside in.

My additional training in dermatology allows me to customize each treatment to you, the patient, and make sure you get the results you want.   Back to Some of the Rest


1. Dréno, Recent data on epidemiology of acne, Annales de Dermatologie et de Vénéréologie, Volume 137, Issue 12, Supplement 2, December 2010, Pages 3-5.
2. Christine Laine, David R. Goldman, Susan V. Bershad; Acne. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008 Jul;149(1):ITC1-1.


Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treat eczema

In the years since World War II, eczema diagnoses have been rising dramatically. It is estimated that 31.6 million Americans have eczema, 1 in 9 will have some form of dermatitis in their lifetime, and 10.7% of all children are affected.  In my opinion, this rise is likely due to lifestyle factors, changes in diet and the quality of our food supply, cosmetics and pollution.  We live in a very different time than our grandparents, a time of food coloring, CAFOs, and GMO produce.  These things set our immune system on high alert, and sometimes an immune system on high alert will attack itself.

Regardless of the causes of eczema, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture can treat eczema.  Regular treatment with acupuncture and herbal medicine can reduce itchiness, scaling, redness, raised patches and decrease the frequency of flare-ups.  For people who experience eczema seasonally, with allergies, or in certain weather, acupuncture can also help.  When even traditional Western medications don’t seem to be working, this medicine will.

Acupuncture alone can treat complaint associated with eczema, but I  prefer to incorporate herbal medicine and dietary therapy into the treatment plan.  Using herbal medicine and dietary therapy will allow us to achieve lasting results and reduction of symptoms more quickly.  If you choose to use only acupuncture, a reduction in itchiness, redness, and other symptoms will take longer to achieve, but efficacy is still high.

What is the difference between eczema and dermatitis?

Eczema is skin disorder that falls under the umbrella of dermatitis. Eczema causes inflammation, irritation and itchiness.  The most common kind of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, refers to the skin condition coinciding with other allergic conditions, like asthma, food sensitivities, and hay fever.  There are other forms of eczema besides atop dermatitis. These are described below.

What are the different kinds of dermatitis?

In most cases of dermatitis, rashes appear in the crooks of the elbows and knees, neck, hands and feet. Changes in skin color, inflammation, blisters (sometimes oozing, then crusting over), inflammation and thickening (also known as lichenification) can occur. Below is a list of types of dermatitis and their specific symptoms.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic dermatitis is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction in the skin. This is kind of like an allergy, but dermatitis is not caused by allergies.  The result is inflammation and redness, sometimes with itching.

 Atopic dermatitis is most common in infants younger, some of which outgrow eczema as they enter adulthood. It is very common for people with atopic dermatitis to also have asthma or seasonal allergies, a family history of asthma, allergies or eczema, or food sensitivities/intolerances.  Atopic dermatitis is not caused by allergies, but there is a connection between the two.  We often see in the clinic that dermatitis gets worse when exposed to the substances to which they are allergic.

Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis, also known as dandruff, seborrheic eczema or cradle cap (in infants), is a very common condition in which the skin becomes inflamed, flaky and oily.  White or yellowish scales are often present. Redness of the skin is not always present.  This is most often observed in areas of the skin that are naturally oily, like the scalp or ear.  Other commonly affected areas are the eyebrows, eyelids, creases of the nose, lips, behind the ears, and middle of the chest.

Pompholyx Eczema and Dyshidrotic Eczema
Pompholyx eczema is also known as dyshidrotic or vesicular eczema. It is so named because vesicles (blisters) form on the skin of people with this kind of eczema.  The hands are the most commonly affected site, and in this case is called cheiropompholyx. The feet may also be affected.

The first (acute) stage shows tiny blisters (vesicles) deep in the skin of the palms, fingers, instep or toes.  The blisters are often intenesly itchy or have a burning feeling.  The condition may be mild with only a little peeling, or very severe with big blisters and cracks which prevent work.  There are multiple stages of pompholyx eczema:

  • During the acute stage, we see tiny blisters known as vesicles appear deep in the skin of the palms, fingers, sole of the foot or toes.  The vesicles are very itchy and are accompanied by an intense burning feeling.  There may be some peeling and cracking of the skin, which prevents normal movement of the hands.

  • During the chronic stage, there is more peeling, cracking of the skin and crusting of the blisters.  After the skin affected by the initial flare-up heals, another break out may occur.  Different sites may be in different stages of blistering.

Severe case of pompholyx eczema often show changes around the nail, and may cause nail dystrophy.  This results in ridges and chronic paronychia (nail fold swelling).

Nummular Eczema
Nummular eczema, like atopic dermatitis, is related to allergies and allergic conditions. In nummular eczema, coin-shaped spots or patches appear on the skin.  The most commonly affected areas are the arms and legs, though spots and patches may spread to the middle of the body.  Spots and patches may ooze and crust over. Itching and redness are very common.

Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a result of the skin coming in contact with either an irritant or an allergen, which causes redness and sore, inflamed, weeping/oozing rashes.  Allergic contact dermatitis often presents as red, streaky, or patchy rashes, which are often delayed 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Irritant contact dermatitis typically presents as rashes which are dry, red, and rough.

Lichen Simplex Chronicus
Lichen simplex chronicus (LSC) is a skin condition characterized by thickening of the skin with scaling (flaking).  This is caused by repetitive scratching or rubbing of the affected area.  Lichen simplex chronicus is what is called a “secondary process” because it comes after the scratching instead of causing the itching and scratching.  The mechanical trauma caused by chronic scratching causes lichenification.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, there are a number of causes of eczema. Illness arises as a result of some kind of imbalance in the body.  The main causes of these imbalances are stress, improper diet, toxin buildup, and other lifestyle and emotional factors.  From a modern perspective, we also have to consider hormone imbalances and infection.


What causes eczema?

From a Western biomedical perspective, the cause of eczema is unknown.  What scientists believe is happening is the immune system reacts to an irritant, allergen or other offending substance, or even a phantom substance.  Once the immune system is activated, it fails to shut off when the substance is removed.  The immune system then acts on the body itself, in this case the skin.

Regardless of the cause, I use acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to restore the natural balance of the body.  My treatments include long-term planning so that you can maintain your symptom relief through diet and lifestyle after you stop seeing me regularly.  Most people continue to come for tune-ups now and again because they feel so great after acupuncture treatments.  I encourage seasonal (quarterly visits) and during particularly stressful times as most people have flare-ups during these periods.

How does acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treat Eczema?

As I mentioned above, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine work by restoring the natural balance of the body.  We do this by reducing what is in excess and building up what is deficient.  Part of this, from a very modern perspective, is settling down the overactive immune system causing dermatitis.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine also help cool red, inflamed skin and stop itching.  Using topical herbal medicine soaks can strongly stop itch, helping support acupuncture treatments between visits.


When a patient comes in for treatment of a skin condition, I tell them to expect to need 3 to 6 months of regular treatment with acupuncture and herbal medicine.  Without herbal medicine, treatment to resolve redness, itching and flaking will take longer.  If a patient is unwilling to change his or her diet, a complete resolution in eczema symptoms is unlikely.  After eczema symptoms are resolved, I continue treatments for an additional 4 weeks or so to consolidate the treatments.  This helps to ensure symptoms won’t recur.    Back to Some of the Rest


Acupuncture helps to treat Psoriasis

Skin conditions affect a person’s quality of life.

 Acupuncture treats psoriasis.  No one should have to suffer with skin problems like psoriasis.   Psoriasis is not contagious, but so many patients tell me people recoil and act like they might “catch psoriasis” if they touch any scales or plaques.

Patients using acupuncture and herbal medicine together with dietary and lifestyle modifications will see significant changes to their psoriasis symptoms in 3 to 9 months.  Most patients begin to see changes in psoriasis symptoms within 3 months of starting intensive treatments.  If acupuncture is used without herbal medicine, symptoms may take significantly longer to resolve, and in some cases of very stubborn psoriasis there may only be a partial change in psoriasis symptoms.  For a tough skin problem like psoriasis, a multi-part treatment plan is the only way to get lasting results and reduction in psoriasis symptoms.

What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a very common skin condition. Anyone can develop psoriasis, but the onset is mostly seen in 15 to 35 year olds.  As I mentioned, psoriasis is not contagious.  Psoriasis is commonly passed down through families, so if your parents or grandparents had psoriasis, you might develop it too.

Scientists don’t know the exact cause of psoriasis.  What they think is going on is the body’s immune system starts to attack skin cells instead of invaders.  The type of immune cell that is active is called a T-lymphocyte.  The presence of these cells causes other immune responses, which leads to a more rapid than normal turnover of healthy skin cells.  Rather than skin cells changing over in weeks, they change over in days.  This is what creates psoriasis plaques and scales.  The skin cells become heaped up, the surrounding skin becomes red or even purple and there can be pin-prick bleeding when the scales are scraped off (Auspitz sign).

Scientists have identified some triggers for the development of psoriasis, in addition to the genetic pre-disposition.  The triggers for a psoriasis attack are:

  • Bacteria or viral infections, like strep throat

  • Dry skin

  • Skin damage, including cuts, burns, and insect bites

  • Some medications, like antimalaria drugs, beta-blockers, and lithium

  • Stress

  • Too much or too little sunlight

  • Over-consumption of alcohol

People who have a weakened immune system may develop more severe cases of psoriasis.  Psoriasis may accompany arthritis, and is known as psoriatic arthritis.  In psoriatic arthritis, there are changes to the joints, as in rheumatoid arthritis, and causes changes in the finger and toe nails.  Psoriatic arthritis can affects the spine (spondylitis), the cartilage and tendons.

Psoriasis mostly occurs on the outside of the elbows and knees, the trunk, and also the scalp, but psoriasis can affect any part of the body. Plaque psoriasis is most common.  Plaque psoriasis lesions are red with silvery scales.  Guttate psoriasis (guttate is Latin for drop) shows up as small, pink or red bumps on the skin with a very slight scale.  The two least common types of psoriasis are pustular psoriasis and erythrodermic psoriasis.  Pustular psoriasis occurs with clearly defined, raised bumps on the skin filled with pus.  The surrounding skin will be pink, red or even purple.  Erythrodermic psoriasis can be very serious, sometimes requiring hospitalisation.  In this condition, a very large area of the body, perhaps even the entire body, turns bright red and inflamed.  The lesions appear as a rash that may also be peeling.  The redness is due to an increased blood flow to the skin, which can put a strain on the heart. What are the different kinds of psoriasis?


Where does it show up?

Scalp psoriasis, while not entirely its own condition, deserves its own attention. Scalp psoriasis is characterised by raised, red or even purple, scaly patches.  There can be one patch of scalp psoriasis or many covering the whole scalp.  Scalp psoriasis can affect the forehead, the back of the neck and behind the ears.

How does acupuncture treat psoriasis?

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine together are a powerful pair.  I use these two modalities to help restore the balance of the body.  When imbalances arise, so does disease. So by bringing the body’s systems back into harmony, disease can be resolved. In addition to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, I use dietary therapy and lifestyle modifications to help reduce psoriasis symptoms.  Regular treatment for 3 to 9 months will reduce the number and size of plaques, scales, redness, and other psoriasis symptoms.  But you have to commit to treatment.  If treatment is stopped before symptoms of have resolved, there will be a recurrence.

It is important to consolidate the treatment after the clearing treatment to ensure there will not be a recurrence.  This consolidating treatment allows me to nourish the new skin back to health by restoring the normal blood flow and moisture.  Some people choose to come in for seasonal tune-ups, too, but this isn’t necessary.  My goal is to treat your psoriasis so you can get on with your life instead of having to come for treatments and take medicine for the rest of your life.    Back to Some of the Rest

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