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Unpicking a complex immunological skin problem

  • 12:32 reading time (ish)
  • 2383 words

A case study by Simon Mills


Chronic immunological and inflammatory problems feature largely in the modern herbal case load. They are very daunting: there are always entangled layers of trouble and they often present after many years of contributory problems. Autoimmunity is the norm and I remember wondering in my early years of practice, that if we claim our remedies optimise health, how do we step in when the damage to the body is being done by a (moderately) healthy immune system? We know the medical approach is to suppress the immune response. How do we frame an alternative that does not do that?

In almost 45 years of practice these conditions have been the most substantial challenges, and also the most rewarding work. In the initial hour in the presence of the sufferer, the task is to unpick the tangled web of symptoms, to figure our as far as possible the ‘primary lesion’ and then secondary and further exacerbations, and then to target treatment, as far as possible in the same order. This usually ends up doing things that are a long way from addressing the symptoms the patient complains of. However the first reward is to share this ‘thought mapping’ with the patient at the time. Almost always they take this as revelatory, that their disruptive chaotic symptoms and fragmentary medical interventions over the years start to make sense! We emerge with a plan, even a schedule, taking one step at a time, ‘peeling away the layers of the onion’, always looking for signs we are making progress along the way, even within a day or so, checking in, tweaking, feeding back again. Mostly it is a long slog, although usually worth doing, with some improvements to be expected.

Occasionally we get a ‘hole in one’. This is one such case, years of very concerning and confusing symptoms gone within a couple of months. That is so rewarding it is worth sharing!

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