New research where traditional Chinese medicine was found to safely and effectively treat patients with persistent atopic dermatitis - or eczema, as it's commonly known - could lead more physicians to prescribe complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat the allergic condition.

In the study presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York analyzed 14 patients with persistent atopic dermatitis who received traditional Chinese medicine at Ming Qi Natural Health Center in Manhattan between August 2006 and May 2008. The treatments consisted of Erka Shizheng Herbal Tea, a bath additive, creams and acupuncture.

The study authors utilized two measures: the SCORAD index to gauge atopic dermatitis severity and the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) to calculate impairment to life quality.

Baseline median scores for SCORAD and DLQI were 89 and 17, respectively. After a median of eight months treatment, the median scores fell to 11 for SCORAD and 1 for DLQI.

In all but one patient, SCORAD measures decreased between 60 to 90% after 3.3 months of treatment. More than 50% improvement in DLQI scores was documented in all but one patient after 2.4 months of treatment.

Patients also reported a reduction in the use of steroids, antibiotics and antihistamines within 3 months of being treated with traditional Chinese medicine. There were no abnormalities of liver and kidney function observed.

While the researchers concluded that the use of traditional Chinese medicine is safe and effective for patients with persistent atopic dermatitis, especially those with a severe case and significant life quality impairment, it is still recommended to speak with a physician before taking any complementary or alternative medicines.

The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.


- This study was presented during the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) on March 13-17 in Washington, DC. However, it does not necessarily reflect the policies or the opinions of the AAAAI.

- A link to all abstracts presented at the Annual Meeting is available on the AAAAI Web site

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology