Recently, I have come across clients who are on some heavy-duty drugs.  The most common at the moment is Prednisone, and while it is a savior for many people with debilitating symptoms, it can have some devastating side effects.  The biggest problem is that once people stop taking it, their previous condition tends to come back.

What is Prednisone?

Simply, Prednisone is a synthetic hormone, a corticosteroid that suppresses inflammation.  Ultimately, it suppresses the immune system. Thus it is often used to treat hyper-immune reactions such as asthma and allergies, as well as such things as laryngitis, multiple sclerosis, nephrotic syndrome, cluster headaches, skin diseases, etc.  It is also often used in organ transplant situations so the body does not reject the new organ.


How does it Work?

The exact mechanism of how Prednisone works is not known.  Though, over time the body loses the ability to produce its own corticosteroids, causing the body to become dependent on the synthesized version.  It is extremely important that if reducing dosages, that this be done slowly and under the supervision of a medical doctor.


What are the Side Effects?

The main problem is its side effects, which can be almost as debilitating as the initial cause for taking the drug.  Some side effects include weight gain, facial swelling (click here to see this brave woman before, scroll to the end to see her face after taking steroids), swelling, abdominal pain and bloating, fatigue, lethargy, weakness, shortness of breath, depression, mania, confusion, blurred vision, hemophilia, difficulty healing, joint pain, osteoporosis, increased blood sugar, etc., etc. (the list is extremely long).


Treatment in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, the majority of the symptoms present as a Spleen deficiency.  But if we tonify the Spleen, this will increase immune system function. (Any comments are welcome).  Treatment of the underlying disease according to its differentiation is paramount.  Studies have been presented indicating that a decoction of Ling Zhi (Ganoderma) 20g, Ku Shen (Radix Sophorae Flavescentis) 9g, and Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrizzae) 3g shows the same effects of Prednisone, but without the side effects.  Adding Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) for pain has also shown promise.


Diet & Lifestyle

For more information on Prednisone and diet and lifestyle advice, please visit:



Over time, Prednisone can cause serious side effects and results in the immune system unable to regulate on its own.  A healthy diet and adjusting to a new lifestyle will help with the side effects of this drug, and Chinese Medicine can help too.  For more information, please contact us!



Caroline Prodoehl, R.Ac, R.TCMP