Healthworks Hong Kong (健康工房) – Modernised Chinese Herbal Tea shop

In this post, I would like to share another recommendation of a store that I like and would visit from time to time.  This store is called Healthworks Hong Kong (健康工房) and it is actually a health shop franchise with about 20 stores in Hong Kong (See address below).

Healthworks (健康工房) is a modernised Chinese Herbal Tea shop that offers ready made herbal tea, recuperating Chinese soup, and healthy dim sum snacks.  I quite like this store as I feel this store starts with the customer experience rather than making money.  Sometimes, I would go and buy one of the herbal teas when I go and grab some sushi for lunch in the ThreeSixty supermarket.

The kind of herbal teas that Healthworks offer are generic herbal tea.  They are not specifically targeted at eczema but sometimes they are still good for cooling the body after too much fried food or detoxing from too much junk food, etc.  You can purchase them cold or warm.  In the winter, I would also go and buy some Chinese soup from them from time to time to help build up health or warm the body.

For more information about the stores, you can visit their company website below:

http://www.health-wks.com

Store Addresses and Telephone Details

健康工房 [Entrance to the Oneness World] 分店
HealthWorks Entrance to the Oneness World Shops
1.
金鐘港鐵站大堂32號舖 (C出口)
Shop 32,Admiralty MTR Station (Exit C)
2861 2062
2.
尖沙咀港鐵站大堂TST3號舖(D出口)
Shop TST3, Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station (Exit D)
2377 1378
3.
九龍塘港鐵站大堂KOT14號舖(閘內)
Shop KOT14, Kowloon Tong MTR Station (Inside gate)
2337 0031
4.
觀塘港鐵站大堂 KWT26號舖 (C出口)
Shop KWT26, Kwun Tong MTR Station (Exit C)
2389 6280
5.
荔枝角港鐵站大堂9號舖
LCK9 Lai Chi Kok MTR STN, Cheung Sha Wan Kowloon
2959 2858
6.
青衣港鐵站TSY55號舖(近青衣城大門)
Shop TSY55, Tsing Yi MTR Station
2435 0556
7.
荃灣港鐵站大堂TSW6號舖
Shop TSW6, Tsuen Wan MTR Station
2891 8209
8.
天水圍西鐵站大堂5號舖
Shop 5, Tin Shui Wai Station, West Rail Line
2663 2400
9.
沙田港鐵站SHT39號舖
Shop SHT39, Shatin MTR Station
2312 2532
健康工房 [自然般若] 分店(設有堂座)
HealthWorks “PRAJNA NATURE” Shops (With Dining Area)
1
太古城道元宮閣地下G404號舖
Shop no. G404, Yuan Kung Mansion, No 20 Tai Koo Shing Rd,
Tai Koo Shing, H.K.
2560 1288
健康工房 [都會健康茶] 分店
HealthWorks “Chinese Urban Healing Tea” Shops
1.
中環港鐵站大堂W7號舖 (環球大廈A出口)
Shop W7, Central MTR Station (Exit A Worldwide House)
2840 0518
2.
佐敦港鐵站大堂JOR12號舖
Shop JOR12, Jordan MTR Station
2730 3003
3.
葵芳港鐵站大堂KWF 9 號舖 (D出口)
Shop KWF 9, Kwai Fong MTR Station (Exit D)
2422 6698
4.
黃大仙港鐵站大堂WTS 7-8號舖 (D出口)
Shop WTS 7-8, Wong Tai Sin MTR Station (Exit D)
2321 2682
5.
九龍灣港鐵站大堂 KOB11號舖 (B出口)
Shop KOB11, Kowloon Bay MTR Station (Exit B)
2305 3823
6.
香港中環置地廣場四樓ThreeSixty (Tea & Tonic Bar)
ThreeSixty, Shop 411-413 , 4/F, The Landmark,
Central, HongKong (Tea & Tonic Bar)
2111 5174
7.
九龍站圓方1樓1090號舖 ThreeSixty (Tea & Tonic Bar)
ThreeSixty, Shop No. 1090, First Level at Elements,
Union Square, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon Station,
Kowloon(Tea & Tonic Bar)
2196 8076
健康工房 [季節自然郵] 分店(設有堂座)
HealthWorks “Nature Post” Shops (With Dining Area)
1.
香港魚則魚涌康山道2號康怡廣場(南座)
康山吉之島地下020號舖
Unit 020, G /F, JUSCO Kornhill Store, Kornhill Plaza (South),
2 Kornhill Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong.
2967 9943
健康工房分店(設有堂座)
HealthWorks Shops (With Dining Area)
1.
鴨月利洲海怡半島海怡路海怡西商場G20號舖
Shop G20, G/F, Marina Square West Comm.
Blk Comm’l Development South Horizons, Apleichau H.K.
2870 0880
2.
馬鞍山新港城中心2113-2114號舖
Shop 2113-2114, Level 2, Sunshine City Plaza, Ma On Shan, N.T.
2643 1777
3.
荃灣青山公路167-173號地下2號舖
Shop no. 2, G/F. 167-173 Castle Peak Rd., Tsuen Wan
2944 8292
4.
將軍澳欣景路8號新都城中心2期商場1119-1120號舖
Shop 1119-1120, 1/F, Comm Accommodation Metro City,
Phase 2, Tseung Kwan O,N.T.
3194 5091
Advertisements

A snack option for eczema / allergy sufferers – Zing Bar

In this post, I would like to share with readers a snack that I have been taking from time to time for the last six months after my recovery of chronic eczema condition.

The snack is called “Zing Bar” and it is essentially a “nutrition” bar that is made of organic certified ingredients with a good balance of protein, fibre and carbs.  There are a number of flavours, some are gluten-free, some are dairy-free, none have preservatives and all are made with 100% natural ingredients.  I have tried all the flavours, I think they taste good (so does my 5 year old son) and I think they are a good alternative to the typical over-the-counter savoury snack (chips/biscuits) or sugar-loaded snack (chocolate bars).

Nowadays, I often have a zing bar during a workout to replenish on my carbs and protein requirement and sometimes to satisfy my chocolate / sweet tooth craving.

Below is a screenshot of the available flavours.

Overview of Zing Bars

Overview of Zing Bars

For more information, you can visit their website:  http://www.zingbars.com

In the website, you will see that the Zing Bar is an American-based product and retails for about HK$20 per bar in the USA.  In some places, you can even get it by the box of 12 for about HK$12 per bar, e.g. Amazon.com.

In Hong Kong, I buy them from ThreeSixty at Elements Mall in Kowloon.  They go for HK$29 per bar (price as of Apr 2013) and if you buy 12, you get 2 free and so the price averages to HK$24 per bar if you buy 12.  Pricewise, it isn’t cheap and you probably thinking I can get 4 equivalent chocolate bars in a convenience store for that kind of money, but I think it is an good healthy alternative, especially if you want gluten-free or dairy-free products.

Additional note (as of May 2013):  If you purchase them bulk from ThreeSixty in Elements Mall, you can get HK$100 off by spending HK$1,000 in one go and join their wellness club for the first purchase.  Subsequently, you can get another HK$100 off for every HK$2,000 spent by accumulating 20 points on the wellness card (HK$50 per point).  This would take it to HK$22 per bar if you are willing to buy 48 bars in one go.  

To date, I haven’t seen the product being sold anywhere else in Hong Kong.  If any readers spot it in Hong Kong and for a cheaper price, do let me know and I will check it out and update this post.  Thank you in advance.

Greendotdot 點點綠 – Organic chainstore in Hong Kong

In this post, I would like to introduce a shop called “Greendotdot” to readers.  Greendotdot is a health and organic chain store with 18 stores located in Hong Kong.

Personally, I have not done much shopping in Greendotdot although I have done some window shopping and they seem to have a bit of everything.  Hence, I think it would be a useful reference for many people in Hong Kong, especially if you are finding it difficult to source organic / healthy food in your vicinity.  For more details of the locations of their stores, click here.

Greendotdot stock a range of goods including:

  • organic grain
  • organic honey, oil and seasoning
  • frozen organic meat
  • organic noodles, drinks and snacks

They have an online website with online shopping facilities, so users can also go and check out their products, pricing and shop online.  Their website is http://www.greendotdot.com/main.php.

I hope you find this post useful.

Contact details of Doctor Mak for eczema treatment in Hong Kong

At different points in time, a number of readers have asked for the contact details of the Chinese herbalist doctor that I have been visiting over the last 2 years that have nursed me back to good health.

Please find below the latest contact details of Doctor Mak in Chinese below.  His is now based in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.  He practices his consultation in the International Chinese Medicine Treatment Centre on the 21st Floor of Good Harvest Commercial Building , 515 Nathan Road, Kowloon.  It is approximately 5 minutes walk from the Yau Ma Tei MTR station from exit B1.  He works from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday.  He is over 70 years old now, so he takes his time to diagnose, consults and explain to his patients doing so in Cantonese / Mandarin.  He can be contacted at +852 90756163 and it is advisable that you call him beforehand during the day to check his availability for an appointment.  He normally lectures on Wednesday evening as well, so it is best to avoid Wednesday afternoon or evenings.

At the International Chinese Medicine Treatment Center, you can choose to either have your medicine in powder form or utilise a service with extra courier fee where the medicine can be made and delivered to you.  Alternatively, you can ask Doctor Mak to just give you the prescription and you can goto a traditional Chinese herbal shop to pick up the medicine if you prefer old school.

Contact details of Doctor Mak in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon

Contact details of Doctor Mak in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon

Lucas Papaw Ointment & Eczema

20120828-144613.jpg

Further to prior posts on recommending moisturisers for eczema, I would like to recommend another effective ointment that I have used for my eczema. It is called Lucas’ Papaw Ointment and originates from Australia. This is a petroleum jelly-based product with fermented papaya, i.e. similar to vaseline but the fermented papaya properties (presumably rich in vitamin e) takes it to another level in terms of healing characteristics. More information about the product can be found on their website at http://www.lucaspapaw.com.au/index.php

This product can be purchased online and it is reasonably cost effective. In fact, the overseas delivery charges may cost more than the product itself. Hence, if you have friends in Australia, they may be able to help save you a few bucks through helping with the logistics.

In terms of personal experiences, I found that this was the only product that could help me during the worst of my eczema when my skin felt like planks of wood. At the time, all the water-based moisturisers that I was using was ineffective and even coconut oil would dry up within 30 minutes of application. The papaw ointment was the only product that could keep my skin moist for a good few hours and the way I would use it is to apply it on wet skin straight after a bath to lock in the moisture and keep my skin supple and protected. Additionally, the ointment is good for healing scratch cuts… Minor cuts would close overnight.

Music therapy for Eczema

When we talk about a therapy or a remedy for eczema, most of the attention is often focused on the physical aspect… be it a debate on what on cream / ointment to use, or what constitutes an effective recovery routine or recommended dietary habits, etc.  However, when you have chronic and prolonged eczema, it becomes more than a battle for physical recovery, it also becomes a psychological test & a spiritual toil.  Hence, in my mind, therapy is needed for the body, mind and soul… it could even be debated that the inner scars that eczema leaves behind are often deeper than the physical ones.

In this post, I have compiled a list of youtube videos of some of my favourite songs that I listen to as therapy, relaxation or motivation for my eczema and I would like to share the list with other chronic eczema sufferers.  A key criteria in the selection of the songs is listening to songs that gives me a positive attitude rather than a feeling of collective sorrow or sadness (I’m sure we all have our own mourning songs).

I will update the list from time to time.  If you have any song suggestions, please send me a comment and I will add it into the list if I also think it is a good time.  Relax and enjoy.

“Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.” – Ronald Reagan

Song list

My Story So Far – 30 months later – July 2012 Update – Part 1

It has been over 12 months since I started this blog and over 30 months since I’ve stopped using steroids to treat my eczema and to seek alternative methods of healing. Today, I am still on a journey seeking for a full recovery from all the skin ailments that have engulfed me beyond imagination over the last 3 to 4 years. As I speak, I am still not fully healed but I believe I am alot better than what I was 30 months ago. In this post, I am going to share with readers a summary of my journey over the last 30 months including photos of my flare outs & recovery at different points in time. I hope, through this post, I am able to convey the dangers on prolonged usage of steroids to treat eczema and also a sense of hope to eczema sufferers illustrating that the worst of eczema conditions can heal. If you are new to this blog, you can also check out the following post which gives you some background about myself.

In relation to my skin ailment condition, I have read through many eczema articles and websites as I seek for a life-lasting solution to my condition (see Useful Links for some references). Interestingly, I recently came across a website that reinforces my suspicions that my problem is not atopic dermatitis eczema as commonly diagnosed to most eczema sufferers but steroid-induced eczema (also known as “red skin syndrome”) caused by topical steroid addiction. More details about “red skin syndrome” are available on the International Topical Steroid Addition Network (“ITSAN”) website. For the remainder of this post, I will continue to write in the manner of a “red skin syndrome” sufferer, where upon the stoppage of topical steroid usage, the sufferer would go through cycles of topical steroid withdrawals resulting in widespread skin inflammation & flare outs; the length and frequency of which is correlated to the amount of topical steroids that the sufferer had used and accumulated into their body in the past (in my case over 20 years with the last 10 years being particularly excessive).

Jan – June 2010 – Topical Steroid withdrawal cycle 1

When I first stopped using topical steroids 30 months ago, I recall I experienced the following on a daily basis for the first few months:

  • An intense itching sensation that originated not from the skin but an irritable sensation in the blood flowing through the entire body. This intense itching sensation was always coupled with an intense sensation of heat and it would be most pronounced after a shower / bath (even after a cold shower). I recall I would typically, on a daily basis, spend up to an hour locked up in my air-conditioned bedroom after a shower trying to control the intense itching sensation and moisturize myself but would always succumb to scratching my neck, my chest and my body all over & ending the session red and inflamed. Over time, I accumulated a lot of scratch wounds from the scratch sessions and daily showering became a torture in itself. I continued to be red and inflamed from neck downwards and at times, the skin was so raw it was painful to put on clothes and to undertake any active physical exercise. I continued to work during this time but sometimes I had to hide in the office toilet as the pain / itch completely consumed me.
  • In addition to the intense itching sensation, I would sometimes get pins and needles all over my body. This was most pronounced when I was in a densely populated situation, e.g. in a tightly-packed crowd. The feeling would be so sudden and intense that I had to stop walking and stand still as I found it hard to catch my breath. These unusual sessions would last perhaps 15 minutes and I noticed I also had high blood pressure whenever I had these pins and needles sessions.
  • These first few months were particularly difficult for me as I was on my own with no guidance on what to expect.   I went seeking for an answer going from doctor to doctor & trying out all kinds of alternative remedies.  The western doctors / specialists I went to visit during this time all continued to advise me that eczema was incurable and it was ok to use steroids.  Hence, I didn’t get any help through this route and I pretty much wrote off all western medical advice.  I also went to see a recommended Chinese herbalist doctor who was working in the Chinese medicine faculty of a public hospital.  I persisted with this doctor for 6 months drinking foul tasting Chinese medicine everyday until she went and pursued further studies overseas.  I made little progress with the prescribed herbal medicine by this Chinese doctor.  Her ongoing diagnosis was I had very “heaty” blood but the medicine didn’t do any magic in terms of addressing my heatiness and itchiness.  I also tried juicing and detoxing during this period.  The juicing experience did seem to help relieve the intense heat sensation somewhat but I also found out later (from my present Chinese doctor) that the juicing experience had also considerably weakened my health because taking a daily cool glass of juice of cucumber, carrot, granny apple, green pepper & bitter gourd was too cooling for the internal system weakening the spleen over time.  The symptoms of sudden shivers and feeling cold that I now have (as advised by my present Chinese doctor) is a consequence of taking too much cold drinks in an attempt to cool myself, particularly taking cold drinks in the morning including the daily raw juice routine that I tried for 2 months.  Hence, I would caution users with care when trying out raw vegetable juicing.  Perhaps, it should be a weekly routine rather than a daily routine.
  • In terms of alternative remedies, I have also tried a HK off-the-counter chinese medicine product called “Eczema Clear” (濕疹清) and I also went to visit the doctor who produced the product.  In summary, I would not recommend this product because the healing process is too painful though I would imagine it might have done the trick if I persisted.  I tried the treatment for about 8 weeks entailing daily cleansing of the mixed “Eczema Clear” solution in hot water (as hot as possible) but stopped due to the increasingly disabling pain I experienced.  My experience  on using the cleansing solution was it would clear up any immediate redness and inflammation in the first week with a skin depeeling process making the skin smooth-looking.  However, on continued use to continue the detox process, redness and inflammation would reappear (including in places where you never had eczema) and the theory is this skin inflammation and depeeling process would continue until all the toxicity were removed from the body.  By the 4th week of treatment, I had redness & inflammation appearing in every part of my body except for my face.  I recall it completely freaked out my family who had never seen me look so much like a red indian and I was wondering if I was really making any progress myself.  The catch to this remedy that tore me apart & led me to stopping the treatment was that after each daily cleanse, the drying off of the solution would also dry off all the moisture from the skin.  You could actually feel the sensation of moisture being pulled out of your skin and this sensation intensified in the later parts of the treatment where the skin felt so tight, it was painful to move and no moisturizers would give you any relieve.   I recall that, by the 8th week, a cleansing shower would take me over 2 hours because it was so painful and that my skin would be so tight afterwards, I would often shrivel into a wreck of pain and misery in bed after every shower.

To be continued…

Eczema and supplements

In this blog article, I would like to cover the use of supplements to strengthen the body to deal with eczema.

Essential fatty acids (omega 3)
High quality omega 3 oil is a good source of anti inflammatory fatty acids taken as a supplement for eczema. Essential fatty acids must be ingested because the body cannot synthesise it. Omega oil also helps to soften the skin. If the reader is taking an Omega 3-6-9 supplement set, the reader should note omega 6 is an inflammatory fatty acid.

From experience, I found it makes a big difference ingesting omega 3 oil. The skin heals more quickly and subject to less dry cracks. All eczema sufferers should consider taking it.

Vitamins and minerals
I use to take an A to Z supplement everyday but research has proven that the human body absorbs minerals and vitamins most effectively as complex forms rather than as synthesised forms. Hence, I would not advocate taking any vitamin supplement but to focus on eating nutrient rich foods.

Vitamin E is an important vitamin for eczema because it protects the skin from UV damage, keeps skin soft and limits oxidative stress. Food rich in vitamin e includes
1. Broccoli
2. Red pepper
3. Spinach
4. Kiwi fruit and papaya

Vitamin C is another important vitamin because it restock vitamin E supplies as well as protect cells from free radicals. Food rich in vitamin c includes
1. Kiwi fruit and papaya
2. Broccoli
3. Strawberries
4. Chillies
5. Oranges

Probiotics
Depending on your dietary habits, I would advocate the intake of high quality probiotics to help maintain a good balance of microorganism in the gut.

Bee Pollen
Although I don’t take A to Z vitamin supplements, I do take 10g of bee pollen everyday. Bee Pollen is one of the most nutrient-dense food offered by mother nature containing minerals, vitamins, folic acid and enzymes.

From experience, I also found that ingesting bee pollen also has a positive effect on my well being. Energy level as well as overall well being is generally better.

Cranberry juice
During eczema recovery, I would take half a cup of pure unsweetened cranberry juice everyday. It is a good tonic for cleansing the lymph nodes and liver.

Eczema and Horse Oil

It has been a good while since I’ve last updated my eczema blog. There had been a number of topics I wanted to cover. In this blog article, I will cover the remedial use of horse oil for eczema.

Horse oil was recommended to me by my Chinese doctor as an alternative to lotions. At first, I thought…. what…are you serious… but after some research I now realise the practice is an ancient one documented in the Chinese book of herbs (草本科目) as an effective moisturiser thousands of years ago.

Horse oil is also rich in medium fatty acids and quickly absorbs into the body. Personally, I’ve had positive experiences with it and I find it has stronger healing properties than lavera lotion series.

Nowadays, horse oil is available in Hokkaido Japan where the Japanese have imported the practice and kept the tradition alive. Readers can find more information by typing “Hokkaido horse oil”. Based on my experience, you can get different horse oil products from HK$50 to HK$500 for a container but most are cheap knock offs. Pure horse oil or high quality medicated horse oil should probably be around HK$400 to 500 a container. In hong kong, you can purchase the product online or at Sogo.

Below is a photo of medicated horse oil. Note: Pure horse oil will smell a little like pork oil.

20120206-222512.jpg

Local organic chicken in Hong Kong

In one of my prior articles, I mentioned switching to organic food to lead a more healthy lifestyle.  I also gave more information on the availability of local organic pork – Wah Kee pork in my prior article.  In this article, I will cover off the availability of local organic chicken in Hong Kong.

Ka Mei chicken is not only available at organic BB in Shatin but also at over 30 different sales point dotted throughout Hong Kong.  For more information, please click here (NB: in chinese).

As for more information on Ka Mei chicken, readers can visit their website by clicking here (currently in chinese only).  On purchasing Ka Mei chicken, my own experience is price can vary widely at different sales point.  I have seen a Ka Mei chicken going for HK$400+ at ThreeSixty (Kowloon ICC), HK$200+ at Organic BB (Shatin) and ~HK$150 at Sheung Shui market.  Hence, it is probably most economical to purchase it from the local wet market where I assume the lower cost of rent is keeping the price competitive.  However, readers do also need to be careful they are purchasing the chicken with their feet tagged. There have been newspaper stories of authorized sales point selling off non-organic chicken as Ka Mei chicken.  Somehow, the customer could taste the difference, made a complain to the farm, had leftover samples sent to a lab for testing to catch out the mischief.

Local organic pork in Hong Kong (Updated March 2013)

  1. In one of my prior articles, I mentioned switching to organic food to lead a more healthy lifestyle.  This included purchasing local organic pork (Wah Kee Pork) from Organic BB.  Since then, it has come to my attention that Wah Kee farm maintains an online blog in chinese.  To visit the blog, click here.

As a quick summary in english, wah kee farm is a local farm in yuen long with over 50 years of history.  In 1996, the 2nd generation of wah kee’s farmers started to focus on raising pigs/hogs and began to introduce modern hygiene management practices as well as UK’s Bath Berkshire hog raising best practices to run the business.  Wah Kee is now a iso 9001 certified farm.

For information of authorized sales points to purchase wah kee’s pork, click here. (NB:  in chinese).  Below is a translation of the sales points in English for those who cannot read Chinese.

New Territories

  1. Yuen Long, Liu Lok Square, Yuen Long Government & Tai Kiu Market, Ground Floor, Shop M29/30
  2. Tai Po, Heung Sze Wui Street, Tai Po Complex, Ground Floor, Shop M37/38
  3. Tai Po, Tai Po Tai Wo Road, Tai Po Mega Mall, Yata Supermarket
  4. Fo Tan, 1 Tsun King Road, Ascot Plaza, Shop G31 – Organic B (Telephone is +852 2104 1000)
  5. Shatin, Pak Hong Ting Street, New Town Plaza, Yata Supermarket
  6. Shatin, CityOne, Ngan Shing Commercial Centre, Shop 108 – Organic B (Telephone is +852 2683 1333)
  7. Tseung Kwan O, Po Lam, MetroCity Plaza Phase 3, 1st Floor, Shop 151 – Organic B

Kowloon

  1. Hung Hom, 11 Ma Tau Wai Road, Hung Hom Municipal Services Building, Hung Hum Market, 1st Floor, M13
  2. Cheung Sha Wan, No.863 Lai Chi Kok Road, Banyan Mall, 1/F, Shop 14 – Organic B (Telephone is +852 2802 3283)

Hong Kong Island

  1. Sai Wan Ho, 111 Shau Kei Wan Road, Sai Wan Ho Market, Ground Floor, Shop M12 

Remark:  Please click here to goto the prior post for more information on Organic B.

Eczema and Chinese herbal medicine

It has been about a month since I last wrote on this blog as I have been preoccupied with my chinese herbalist medicine treatment that is truly helping to cure my eczema. After 6 weeks of herbal medication, I am no longer consumed by the insane itch that comes with chronic eczema and 80% of my skin has now cleared up and is beginning to look normal. The healing that I am witnessing has been truly uplifting and god-sent.  Hence, while I am no expert (please seek you own medical advice), I am going to share my thoughts and experience on the use of traditional chinese medicine for eczema in this blog article and hope that you can also find a good chinese doctor to help yourself.

First of all, some reassurance to the hesitant reader, chinese herbalist medicine has been around for thousands of years as a profession and it has prevailed in China for a reason. In China, hospitals still currently approach medical treatment through the combined use of both chinese medicine and western medicine. Generally speaking, chinese medical treatment (herbal tea, acupuncture and bone setting) is widely accepted within the chinese community and it is also becoming more prevalent in the western communities as well.

The essence of chinese herbalist medicine is about maintaining balance to achieve good health and thus treatment to illnesses is focused on strengthening and revitalizing the key organs to facilitate their proper functioning to achieve good health. As a consequence, chinese herbal treatment not only requires the patient to drink (often foul-tasting) herbal tea but to also to follow a restricted diet to facilitate the revitalization of the key organs, e.g. it’s no good taking the medicine if you are also taking the poison straight afterwards. In addition, as the chinese medical philosophy is based on helping the body to heal itself, the process will be progressive rather than instant gratification, i.e. the longer the illness, the longer the recovery process.

On the above note, I recall my current doctor emphasized to me in our first meeting that the most common failure during chinese herbal treatments is the inability for patients to maintain a restricted diet. “If I wanted to be cured [and it can be cured], I must restrict the diet.” This is an important point to note if you are going to try chinese herbalist medicine.  Later on, my doctor also advised that given my prolonged condition, my course of treatment would probably be 4 to 6 months depending on the recovery process.

Secondly, not all chinese doctors are equally skilled. Personally, I have tried 3 traditional chinese doctors before my current doctor over the last 3 years to try to treat my eczema. I saw no significant progress with the prior doctors even after months of treatment. Based on my own experience, I would advise that when one seeks out a chinese herbalist doctor, one should try to look for an old chinese doctor with a lot of field experience who attained his/her profession through traditional means over a chinese herbalist doctor who attained his/her accreditation through modern academic studies (something that is becoming more and more popular in Hong Kong). In addition, try to seek out a chinese herbalist doctor that specialize in skin ailment although my current doctor there aren’t that many around anymore. Personally, I feel very lucky to have met my current doctor who is both western and chinese professionally qualified, in his 70’s with lots of experience, specialize in skin ailment who practices his trade during the day and lecture doctors in the evenings. He has shared many stories with me on how he had treated and cured eczema, psoriasis and even vitiligo.  I believe he is on course to curing my eczema an hopefully my vitiligo all over the back of my neck and sparingly on my cheek.

When undergoing chinese herbalist medicine treatment, there are a few points to note. Nowadays, one can take chinese herbal medicine in processed powder form (modern convenience) as well as traditional form where one need to boil the herbs. However, my present doctor had explained to me that for optimum results, it is best to stick with traditional herbs and that the boiling of herbs should not take longer than 90 minutes. Additionally, chinese herbalist medicine treatment is based on observing the symptoms (via pulse reading, facial and tongue observation) and my present doctor had explained that it is important to conduct the consultation every few days rather than over longer periods. Hence, while it is likely a desired compromise for many people with modern lifestyle and commitments to only see your chinese herbalist doctor say once a week, the reality (as explained by my present doctor) is that in such a situation, the prescribed medicine will not be tailored to your conditions since one will react to the herbal medicine and the herbal medicine needs to be continually adjusted according to the observed symptoms. Thinking back, this was the mistake I made with my first chinese herbalist doctor. I recalled he had requested for consultations every 3 days max (preferably 2) but I could only commit to seeing him once a week. This is also an important point to note if you are considering using a chinese herbalist doctor, time commitment & patience is required. Currently, I am seeing my present doctor every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. On using chinese herbalist medicine to treat eczema, I am certainly not qualified to write on the topic. However, I will share specific experiences & learnings relating to my own recent treatment for reader’s reference. (If the reader is considering seeking treatment, they should consult a qualified chinese doctor). Firstly, a recap of my eczema condition as highlighted in the “my story so far” article. I have had eczema since I was a child. In the last 3 or 4 years, my eczema had worsen and taken on a whole new lease of life that significantly impacted everyday activity. Quick fix western medicine wasn’t working and thus, I turned to alternative treatment for a solution.

On my eczema, the diagnosis from my present doctor is that I have a dysfunctional spleen and weak blood.

According to the chinese medical school of thought, the function of the spleen acts very much like the internal logistics department of the body. It is responsible for transporting nutrition to different parts of the body and toxic waste to the digestive system. When the function of the spleen is compromised, metabolism and nutrition absorption is also compromised and as toxic waste cannot be channelled effectively into the digestive system, the body responds by diverting the toxic waste to the skin as an alternative means to try and process it out of the system. However, as the body was never designed to function in such a way, toxicity will start to build up over time depending on your dietary and lifestyle habits, visible symptoms include pimples/acne, bloating & skin irritation. If the situation is left unchecked, the toxicity (the chinese doctors call it “dampness”, “heat” & “wind”) will continue to build up in the spleen and then in the blood, visible symptoms include poor metabolism and blood circulation, inflammation, redness & dry skin (heat), weeping wounds (dampness), and itchiness (wind). As such, my understanding is the chinese herbalist medical course of treatment is focused on expelling these three elements, cleansing & regenerating the blood, strengthening the spleen and nourishing the skin.  At the same, an experience chinese doctor will also protecting the body from the medicine that you’re taking, e.g. not purely focused on the illness but also take account of the overall well-being to ensure to patient is coping with the medicine during the course of treatment.

During my course of treatment, I am required to stick to the following dietary & daily habitual requirements:

Dietary restrictions advice from chinese doctor during treatment

  1. No eggs of any kind (“a culprit of inflammation and flare ups”)
  2. No prawns and crab (“a well-known eczema allergy trigger”)
  3. No pan-fried, deep-fried and roasted food (this basically cuts out junk/fast food, biscuits, chocolate & barbecue food…yes no chocolate – waaaah 😦 )
  4. No mushrooms (“patients with prolonged illness should not eat mushrooms”)
  5. No cold drinks / food (“cold food and drinks is one of the worst evils for the spleen”). This means no ice-cream and ice lollies – waaah 😦  .
  6. No melons of most kinds (“watermelon, bitter gourd, cucumber, etc are too cooling foods in nature and further weakens the spleen”)
  7.  No lychee, mango, pineapple, durian, guava & longan (“fruits that are hot in nature that can lead to further irritation/flare up”)
  8. No spicy / chilli food

Do’s and don’t advice from my current chinese doctor during treatment

  1. No hot showers / bath.  Keep it lukewarm.
  2. Moisturize straight after a shower/bath while wet.  If the body is extremely dry to the point that it is painful to move as I was during the initial stage of treatment.  One can consider using medicated vaseline or horse oil as a moisturizer.
  3. No steroid creams (it was reassuring to hear from my present doctor (both western and chinese professionally qualified) that steroid was a bad idea.
  4. Can consider taking vitamin & omega oil supplements.
  5. Try to drink the chinese herbal tea 1 hour after a meal and at least 4 hours between the prior herbal tea intake.
As a final note, readers can check out the following websites for more information on Traditional Chinese Medicine in english:

Eczema and snacks

20110915-015413.jpg

Since my eczema has taken a turning for the worst 2 years ago and spread to every part of my body, I have been progressively very careful with my diet and try to only eat nutritious and healthy food so that I am not further intoxicating my body. For the last 3 months, I have now completely switch to organic food only, cut out grain 90% of the time and haven’t had any junk food. However, I am a sweet tooth and love my chocolate indulgence. I bought some ice lollies I saw in green at heart lately and just tried one. It was delicious and comforting…chilled coconut dipped in chocolate…no additives, preservatives, colouring, gluten…just basic ingredients…if only I can get these in 7-11.

Eczema and Aloe Vera

20110914-112444.jpg

When I take my daily bath in coconut oil and tea tree oil for 20 minutes, sometimes I would have a Aloe Vera mask if my facial eczema is really bad.

I would basically cut a leaf of aloe vera, skin it and just use the clear jelly, blend it with a little water and a spoon of honey. Put it in the fridge and use it as needed. It is very soothing and immediately calms down redness / inflammation. I would recommend this to users and just in case, you should try a little first to see if you are allergic to either honey or aloe vera.

Regarding the aloe vera, there are actually many kinds and it is easy to grow (plenty of sunshine and a little water in fertile soil). The picture illustrates the aloe Vera that I have. As it grows, siblings drop off and grow on the side and you can replant them as another aloe plant. Alternatively, I do notice you can get them in park n shop for HK$20 a leaf but it would much cheaper to grow it yourself. Also, be careful if you are thinking of eating it as not all aloe plants are edible.