From May, a 46-year-old woman started getting hives around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and 3 to 5 in the small hours of the morning. The nocturnal itchiness of the skin, in particular, made it difficult for her to sleep. She sought medical help, taking one or two antihistamine tablets every week, but the symptoms did not improve. A traditional Chinese medicine doctor prescribed medicine based upon the patient’s “damp-heat” condition and chronomedical concepts and, after a week of treatment, the patient’s symptoms manifested less frequently and were far less itchy during the night, no longer affecting her sleep.
According to Chou Shu-yu, a Chinese medical doctor in the Hsinchu branch of the China Medical University, hives are a common skin condition twice as likely to affect women than men. Their symptoms include itchiness and rashes that can continue for a few hours to a day and, after the symptoms have abated, rarely leave any traces on the skin. They are often brought on by infections, dust mites or allergies to medicines or food, and the food allergens are often milk, eggs, nuts, peanuts, wheat products, seafood, mangoes, kiwi fruit and strawberries. Some people are affected by changes in temperature, exposure to the sun, stress, and mechanical irritants, but in many clinical cases the cause of the onset is unknown.
The treatment of hives and skin rashes in traditional Chinese medicine depends on the unique situation of each patient, requiring different medicinal ingredients. When improvements in the patient’s physical condition occur, the symptoms will naturally abate.
Photo: Liao Hsueh-ju, Liberty Times
According to Chou, the aforementioned female patient had identified the specific times of the rash’s onset. Factoring in the damp-heat nature of the woman’s constitution, and in line with principles of traditional Chinese chronomedicine — which state that qi flows to the bladder meridian between 3 and 5 in the afternoon and to the lung meridian between 3 and 5 at night, the primary treatment was to be xiaofengsan (“wind dispersing”) powder supplemented with medicinal ingredients including lily, mulberry bark and a bupleuri and ramuli cinnamomi decoction. After this was administered for a week, the condition improved, according to the patient.
(Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
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