Sclerodermaaccording to TCM

What is Scleroderma?

Scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis, is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. This condition is the result of overproduction and accumulation of collagen in the body tissues, leading to a range of symptoms from skin thickening to complications in internal organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys. The severity of scleroderma can vary widely from mild localized forms to systemic forms that can be life-threatening.

How does TCM view Scleroderma?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views scleroderma not as an autoimmune disorder, but as a consequence of imbalances within the body’s vital energy systems and the presence of pathogenic factors. It is believed that the body's Qi, Blood, Yin, and Yang must be in harmony for good health, and scleroderma symptoms are indicative of an underlying disharmony. TCM practitioners aim to identify the specific pattern of imbalance in each patient, which is essential for determining the most effective treatment plan.

Causes of Scleroderma According to TCM

According to TCM, scleroderma may be linked to several internal disharmonies, particularly the Stagnation of Blood and Qi, as well as the presence of internal Cold or Dampness. For instance, a pattern of Damp-Heat and Blood Stasis in the lower Burner (pelvic region) can manifest as skin hardness and tightness.

The presence of internal Cold can contribute to the circulation issues and Raynaud’s phenomenon often seen in scleroderma patients. The TCM approach to these patterns involves activating the circulation of Blood and Qi and resolving Dampness to alleviate symptoms.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Scleroderma

In managing scleroderma, TCM relies on herbal formulas tailored to the individual’s pattern of disharmony. Dang Gui Si Ni Tang, with Dong Quai as the key herb, is utilized to warm Interior Cold and treat heart vessel obstruction, addressing circulatory issues and systemic coldness.

For Blood Stagnation, Huang Qi Gui Zhi Wu Wu Tang, which contains Milkvetch Roots, is often prescribed to warm the meridians and improve circulation. Yi Yi Fu Zi Bai Jiang San, featuring Job's Tears, is chosen specifically to clear Damp-Heat and Blood Stasis in the Lower Burner, a pattern commonly associated with scleroderma symptoms. These formulas are part of a holistic strategy to address both the root causes and the manifestations of the disease in TCM practice.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address scleroderma, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that warm interior cold
  • Formulas that warm the meridians and disperse cold
  • Formulas that clear wind-Cold
  • Formulas that clear internal abscesses and sores

TCM Herbs for Scleroderma

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address scleroderma, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Tonic herbs for blood deficiency
  • Tonic herbs for qi deficiency
  • Herbs that drain dampness

"Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior" recommended for scleroderma

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) Dang Gui Si Ni Tang | Huang Qi Gui Zhi Wu Wu Tang
Ephedra (Ma Huang) Ma Huang Tang