Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and “Leaky Gut”

Psoriasis is a common skin disorder, not only of cosmetic concern, but generates itching, skin ulcerations and occasional pain. Some patients develop psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, generating antibodies to attack our own skin and joints.

Mindy is a 53 year old female who has had psoriasis for 15 years with mild symptoms. Her skin condition worsened two years ago after having a bout of severe intestinal infection causing bad diarrhea. The psoriasis mainly affected her heels, side of feet and soles, making it difficult to walk.  Interestingly, she has been very constipated after the episode of diarrhea. Methotrexate, an oral chemotherapy drug, was recommended to her. The anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factors) monoclonal antibodies are also available for her condition. Both options are cost prohibitive since her insurance policy only covers these drugs if the area of skin involved is greater than 10% of the body surface.

On initial examination, she was hot to the touch, face very red, pulse big and pounding, tongue bright red with thin yellowish coating.  Putting all these together, it is fire/excess heat in the body. Of note, the constipation might be correlated with worsening of her skin condition. With slow transit of food residues and slow elimination, more toxins or antigens were absorbed through the intestinal wall, making her autoimmune phenomenon worse.

After two acupuncture sessions and one bottle of mixed Chinese herbs, she was 60% better. She started exercise again and no longer complained about constipation.

A kindergarten teacher with long-standing rheumatoid arthritis has been under my care for several years. She, too, scared with the idea of long term use of Methotrexate, chose more natural therapy. She benefited tremendously from intermittent acupuncture. Strikingly she lost 64 lbs by eating healthy and her joint pain is 90% better with only occasional flare now.

Recently many studies have pointed the link between bad standard American diet (SAD), overweight with the severity of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and other types of arthritis. My advice is to try to achieve normal weight or normal body mass index (BMI), at least try to get the BMI down to 29, 30 if you are way over it. Kick as much carbs off your dinner plate as possible. Keep half your plate meat/protein/seafood and the other half green leafy vegetables for 12 weeks. Stay away from fruits, fruit juice, cola and artificial sweeteners.

Chinese herbs can be very powerful, work much faster and have long and durable benefit compared to OTC supplements and laxatives. I prescribe the special herbal blends to balance your body constitution by reaching the root cause of the problem. In Mindy’s case, the herb was used to quickly resolve the constipation and heat excess problem.

I believe there is link between the gut and a lot of health problems, skin disorders and arthritis included. “Leaky Gut” is a popular medical term used by integrative practitioners and functional medicine doctors. In Mindy’s case, Chinese medicine has worked quickly for her leaky gut problem.

Dr. Peter Sheng
Cincinnati Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Integrative Medicine & Holistic Health Care