Lichen Sclerosus/Lichen Planus

Holistic approach to Lichen Sclerosus and Lichen Planus

Lichen Sclerosus(LS) and Lichen Planus(LP) are both conditions that are often very painful and difficult to treat.  Many people with these conditions hide their suffering as they often affect the genitals.  It can be so debilitating and painful that sufferers cannot work, may not be able to be sexual, may not be able to sleep and find daily activities difficult.  There is itching that cannot be satisfied by scratching, burning, bleeding, cracking and scarring.  There is nervous system involvement in the form of tingling, pin-pricks and even the sensation of being electrically shocked.  Utilizing a functional, whole person approach to treatment often results in improvement or resolution in the symptoms of these conditions, which can then be managed returning the patient to a good quality of life.

As with most chronic conditions and autoimmune diseases, there are multiple factors that lead to the development of symptoms.  There is certainly a deep disturbance in the underlying biochemistry, but also, even before symptoms develop, there are life/environmental stressors that create imbalances altering physiology and setting the stage for the development of disease.  These stressors affect us not only psychologically, but also physiologically.  How we learn to cope with difficulties growing up has a very powerful impact on our health.  Often by addressing these coping mechanisms, by find new ways to adapt and by utilizing a targeted approach with nutritional and dietary interventions, there is improvement in overall health and many symptoms resolve or remain well managed.

It is likely that Lichen Sclerosus and Lichen Planus also have a genetic origin, but genetics alone do not have to determine the diseases that we develop as can be understood with epigenetics. Epigenetics proposes that we can influence our gene expression by how we are and what we do; for instance what we eat or do not eat and by our lifestyle choices.  Even though I may have diabetes in my family, I may not get the disease or maybe it will show up late in life if I make good food choices and live a healthy lifestyle.

It is well documented that stress in childhood increases the incidence of autoimmune disease and affects our immune system. Under stress, any condition including Lichen Sclerosus and Lichen Planus are worsened.   In some cases there may be viruses or bacteria involved such as Epstein Barr virus or Lyme Disease.  Exposure to toxins such as plastics, heavy metals and solvents can alter immune responses.  Trauma, both acute and even more importantly chronic, causes stress and not only affects the local immune response in the involved tissues but also affects the immune system systemically long term. Trauma also creates stress that increases the likelihood that disease will surface earlier in life than might otherwise.

Metabolic intervention and body centered therapy along with other gentle management tools like low dose topical steroids if necessary and homeopathy provide relief for many individuals with Lichen Sclerosus and Lichen Planus.   This approach to healing looks at each person as an individual and treatment needs to be based on the individual presentation and, at different times the same individual may need different interventions. There is no one size fits all and there is no magic bullet!

A multidimensional approach to to Lichen Sclerosus and Lichen Planus as with any chronic disease can be essential in the resolution of symptoms. Having LS/LP itself is so upsetting, isolating and hard to tolerate, that therapy is helpful not only to address the underlying causes of the condition, but also to provide support. The stress of being ill itself is painful.  In addition to working psychologically, treating LS and LP by looking at what is happening on a cellular level through the chemistry and more specifically the cell membrane, is an essential part of getting well.