How TCM can help allergic reactions to bedbug bites

Q. I am a 57-year-old woman. I have been bitten by bedbugs.The stings have led to intolerable pain and awful black marks on my body, especially my legs. My whole body and scalp are also very itchy.

Waking up often to kill the bedbugs has made my health bad.

What medicine must I consume to stop this itchiness? What herbs can kill bedbugs?

A You are probably suffering from allergic reactions to the bedbug bites. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), this is probably due to your weak constitution resulting from deficiency in the spleen and liver.

Good circulation of sufficient blood and qi (energy), and a balance of yin (linked to coldness and moisture) and yang (linked to heat and warmth) are needed for good health.

The spleen transforms nutrients from food into qi and blood. When the spleen is weak - due to ageing, fatigue, excessive worrying and a poor diet - it turns the nutrients into internal "dampness" instead. When accumulated for a prolonged period, this will create internal "heat".

After the bedbugs bite, the "heat" and "dampness" can trigger rashes on the scalp and face, with itchiness, a dry mouth and bad breath.

The liver stores blood and regulates circulation of qi.

When the liver is weak - due to ageing, insufficient qi and blood, and negative emotions, such as anxiety, anger or depression - qi stagnates in the liver, creating "heat" and "fire".

After the bedbugs bite, the "heat" and "fire" will trigger skin rashes and itchiness in the genital area, with dizziness, bitterness in the mouth and irritability.

The "heat" and "fire" can weaken blood circulation and create blood stasis. This will trigger pain and be reflected as black marks where the rashes have been scratched.

Keeping late nights or having poor quality of sleep will cause insufficient yin.

This and insufficient qi and blood make it easy for external pathogenic (disease-causing) factors, such as "wind", "dampness", "heat" and bedbug bites, to trigger rashes and itchiness on the whole body.

Chinese medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping can help improve your condition by strengthening your organs and dispelling the pathogenic factors.

Moxibustion involves burning a small herb above acupuncture points to help healing. Cupping involves placing heated cups on the skin to enhance blood and qi circulation.

Chinese medicine, such as cablin patchouli herb, fortune eupatorium herb and Indian bread, strengthen the spleen and dispel "dampness".

Dwarf lilyturf tuber, blackberrylily rhizome, common anemarrhena rhizome, giant knotweed rhizome and white peony root dispel "heat".

Mulberry leaf, honeysuckle flower, dandelion, weeping forsythia capsule, densefruit pittany root-bark, baical skullcap root and liquorice root reduce itch from insect bites.

Tree peony bark, cape jasmine fruit, Chinese angelica, Chinese thorowax root and red peony root strengthen the liver.

Gambir plant and puncturevine caltrop fruit enhance qi circulation in the liver and dispel "wind".

Eat easily digested food, such as barley, green beans and winter melon, and avoid oily and spicy food to strengthen your spleen.

To minimise skin irritation, avoid excessive bathing and scratching.

Take showers at room temperature and moisturise your skin after that.

Sleep early and exercise regularly to enhance your qi and blood circulation. Avoid negative emotions to reduce "fire" in the liver.

You can boil your bed linen and clothes with stemona root and hot water to kill the bedbugs.

You should engage a pest control firm to get rid of the bedbugs.

Otherwise, dismantle your furniture, suck up the bedbugs with a vacuum cleaner and dispose of its contents in a sealed bag. Use insecticide spray designed to kill bedbugs.

MS LIM LAY BENGTraditional Chinese medicine practitioner at YS Healthcare TCM Clinic at The Adelphi

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