Intended for healthcare professionals


Traditional Chinese medicine for eczema

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 19 February 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:489
  1. J Harper

    Chinese medicines have produced impressive responses in cases of atopic eczema that have proved resistant to conventional treatment.1,2 But with their increased popularity has come fears about their toxicity, together with uncertainty about what they contain.

    The treatment involves taking a “tea” prepared from a decoction of plant materials. Usually 10 or so plant materials are included, and each prescription is tailored to the individual patient. Although the constituents and amounts of plant material may differ in many of these remedies, placebo controlled trials have been performed with a specific formulation. They have shown a beneficial response in children3 and adults4 with atopic eczema. Nevertheless, the effect is usually temporary, with relapse after treatment is stopped. Even if the treatment is continued its effectiveness often wears off after a variable period, usually around six to 12 months.

    The …

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