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Are you curious about Traditional Chinese Medicine? Have you read the treatment overview by Dr. Peter Wood, in part one of this series? If not, definitely check that out. Next we’re going to do a little Q&A with Dr. Wood based on your questions about treating pediatric eczema with Chinese herbs.
ILW: Do you treat all ages including babies?
Wood: Yes. Typically infants are administered a glycerine based tincture herbal formula.
ILW: What sort of testing or physical is given to the child to determine the best treatment plan?
Wood: Diagnostics are determined strictly by a Traditional Chinese Medicine protocol. With eczema, often the presentation of the skin is the best determinant of specific ‘pattern’ involved in the condition. A history of the child’s health is always considered, digestive history is paramount. Depending on age, tongue and pulse diagnosis helps determine the treatment protocol as well. There are no western medical ‘lab test’ requirements and no other ‘physicals’ used in determining the protocol.
Wood: Often children who are old enough to realize it know that when they feel better, their parent suffers less too. I often find in these cases, it is easier to have the child keep taking the herbs than it is to have many adults take it! Children with eczema are often very willing to put up with a lot if they understand that it will take away their affliction. By an early age, they can see that they are suffering more than their friends are. Also, with any atopic condition, the goal is first to clear the symptoms, then to strengthen the underlying deficiency causing the symptom; treating the branch, and treating the root. Children are happy to know that they will become ‘stronger’ by taking the herbs, and it doesn’t hurt to compare how they will feel to their favorite superhero!
Enough cannot be said for the role of the parent in their child being compliant. When a parent makes it clear that the herbs will help, they tend to elicit compliance with minimal resistance. If the parent feels sorry for the child because of the taste, and feels that they are ‘forcing’ the child to drink the tea, it never goes well. I have parents question what is worse: the eczema, or the taste of the herbs? I often even ask the child that question. Inevitably they choose the herbs and then it becomes easier as they see the symptoms improving. Most children will understand that the parent is in charge and knows what’s best for him/her, even if they are told to drink the ‘horrible tasting’ herbs. Sometimes all there is to do in these cases is to try a few ‘treat chasers’ to wash it down; their favorite juice, a bit of healthy chocolate (if not a trigger of course).
ILW: How long does treatment take? Is it something that is taken on a maintenance basis after initial treatment?
Wood: Any chronic condition typically takes between 3-6 months to resolve. Treatments begin as weekly visits for the first month or so as we perfect the formula designed for the individual. Once this is achieved, we begin to stretch out visits, first to every 10 days, then to every 2 weeks. By the end of the treatment protocol, visits are every 3 weeks. The patient takes the herbs twice daily throughout. Once balance is achieved and the symptoms cleared, the patient is given a formula to consolidate such that the symptoms are less likely to return. Follow ups occur if and when symptoms reappear but typically require only a couple of weeks of treatment to resolve.
ILW: How can we be sure the herbs are non-toxic and low in pesticides? Do they sell organic herbs for Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Wood: When it is the specific request of the patient/parent, there is an outfit in BC that sells organic Chinese herbs in Canada, Organic Chinese Herbs. A good US source is Ageless Herbs. Keep in mind that the price of organic herbs is about 3X the price of herbs found in Toronto’s Chinatown.
ILW: Are there any common herbs applied topically?
Wood: Depending on the stage of the skin lesion, different topical creams/liniments are chosen. Often no topical is required, but an herbal infused emollient cream is frequently prescribed.
ILW Recommends: Eczema Ointments Made With Traditional Chinese Herbs
ILW: What are your tips on finding a reputable/trustworthy provider?
Wood: In BC, the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA) is the government body assigned to regulate the TCM profession. On their website they have a list of all registered acupuncturists, herbalists and doctors of TCM. Search for a practitioner.
ILW: I’ve heard rumors of hidden cortisone in skin treatment products. Is this true?
Wood: Some products out of China contain cortisone. This is the exception rather than the norm. In Canada, the Natural Health Products Directory (NHPD) is working hard to eliminate these cheats. None of the creams I use contain cortisone.
ILW: Can you mix a private label of FAHF2?
Wood: FAHF2 is a formula used in a recent scientific trial to treat peanut allergies in mice and then moved on to older children and adults. (Read one mom’s experience with this trial here.) They simply used a combination of a common traditional Chinese formula, Wu Mei Wan and added Reishi (Ling Zhi). FAHF2 was created by removing 2 questionably ‘toxic’ herbs from FAHF1. The limitation of scientific trials (although the formula proved very effective in the trial) is that a real TCM formula would be individualized for the patient according to specific symptoms and signs exhibited. A proper TCM diagnosis and regular monitoring of the patient would be required by any practitioner rather than simply giving out a generic prescription like FAHF2.
Thank you again Dr. Wood!
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