Chinese herbal medicine can help sufferers of atopic dermatitis, a study team from three London hospitals has discovered.
The team decided to carry out a double blind, placebo controlled study because of the great interest in Chinese herbal therapy as a treatment of the condition.
Forty adult patients with longstanding and widespread atopic dermatitis were randomly selected into two groups to receive two months' treatment of either a formula of 10 herbs or placebo herbs. The second group were then switched to the active herbs formula after a four week "washout" period.
The active herbs had a beneficial effect, the team revealed. Patients showed a rapid and continued improvement. Of the 31 patients who completed the study and expressed a preference, 20 preferred receiving the Chinese remedy and just four preferred the placebo. No side effects were reported, although many said the concoction was unpalatable.
The research team said that the safety of the herbs still needs to be assured, and that they need to be made more palatable. They strongly recommended that sufferers should receive liver and kidney testing before embarking on a herbal treatment, while all patients with a history of jaundice or alcohol misuse should be excluded.