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The Eczema / Dermatitis Treatment Protocol

Eczema / dermatitis

Eczema / dermatitis, particularly the atopic (allergic) type suffered by children can be a nightmare, not just for the person suffering it, but for the whole family.

When I first entered practice, 30 years ago, this distressing condition proved to be a nightmare to treat as well! Today, it is no longer the 'bogey man' it used to be, and this is thanks to two treatment protocols that I have found over the years to be the most reliable and effective.

What is atopic eczema / dermatitis?


For further information and advice on the treatment of eczema / dermatitis please call Stuart FitzSimons on 07802 408146.

Basically, the 2 protocols are as follows. There may be slight changes made for individuals and creams and gels may be given for external use, but this is the basis of the protocol:

Protocol No. 1

Essential fatty acids:

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Protocol No. 2

Chinese herbs:

These are the now famous Chinese herbs that have gained such a lot of publicity and press over the last 15 years or so. The original formula was a mixture of dried herbs that the patient would take home and boil up themselves. A very user unfriendly process! I do things differently. I do all the boiling up etc myself and then put the extract into a vegetable glycerine base to produce an easy to use medicine that you take by the teaspoonful. A whole lot easier. The vegetable glycerine base also lends a sweet flavour meaning children are far more likely to take it.

Back in 1980's Dr. David Atherton, a consultant dermatologist at Great Ormond St Hospital, London discovered that several of his eczema patients had been to see a Chinese herbalist called Dr. Ding-Hui Luo in order to treat their eczema. Results were impressive and Dr. Atherton became extremely interested, eventually setting up clinical trials on the Chinese herbs. Dr. Atherton and his team were not the only people to research this formula, there were many trials and papers published during the 1990's regarding the effects of these Chinese formulas in the treatment of eczema / dermatitis.

The original Chinese formulas were based on about 10 herbs that had to be weighed out and boiled up every day, making it very difficult to use, particularly for children. Dr. Atherton and his fellow researchers therefore set about manufacturing a user friendly concentrated extract that could simply be dissolved in water for use. This was called 'Zemaphyte', it was made in the north of England and at one time it was proposed that it should be made available on the NHS. However, this never happened and 'Zemaphyte' went out of production.

The success of the Chinese herbs and the positive outcomes of the clinical trials together with the production of 'Zemaphyte' led to an avalanche of publicity in the Chinese treatments of skin disorders, but with the loss of 'Zemaphyte' press interest waned and herbalists continued providing the treatment in the traditional way.

In more recent times though there have been a few interesting reviews of the scientific literature, clinical trials etc., carried out on the Chinese eczema herbs and 'Zemaphyte'. The reviews basically take all the individual research studies that have been published and then an analysis is done of the results of them all, in order to see if there is a positive or negative result overall. This type of look at many studies is obviously more informative than looking at just one when we are trying to see an overall picture of effectiveness. Probably the best review of this type was done by a team on behalf of the 'Cochrane Library Database'. This library basically concentrates on reviewing all studies on different medical conditions and treatments etc., with the aim of making these reviews available to all in an attempt to provide an essential evidence based approach to medicine and healthcare.

The reference for this review of Chinese herbs and eczema studies, if you wish to look it up is; Zhang W, Leonard T, Bath-Hextall F, Chambers CA, Lee C, Humphreys R, Williams HC. Chinese herbal medicine for atopic eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004 Oct 18;(4):CD002291. Read abstract www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15495031.

The review team basically scoured the world for trials and studies on Chinese herbs and were concerned to identify the more rigorous ones, particularly 'randomised, controlled trials' and those that were compared to placebo or double-blind. The research team identified 14 trials that met their criteria, but even these were slashed to 4 after further critical analysis. Of these 4 studies, 3 were carried out in the UK and 1 in Hong Kong. These trials basically contained 131 patients aged 1-60. In these studies, the patients given the Chinese herbs were rated for effect on both the patients experience of their symptoms and medical rating scales for redness, itching etc. Overall, it was deduced that the Chinese herbs in crude form and 'Zemaphyte' were associated with reductions in redness, itching and surface skin damage and it was recommended that further studies be carried out. The review team also state that it is great shame that 'Zemaphyte' was no longer available as it obviously demonstrated great potential benefit for eczema / dermatitis sufferers.

Long-term follow ups on patients who continued taking the Chinese formula showed significant ongoing improvements and this was the case for both adults and children. Reviewing the studies also showed that there were no significant side-effects or problems encountered with the Chinese formulas. Blood, kidney and liver tests of the test patients remained normal during the trials.

To be critical, there are of course problems with these trials. The total number of patients in the final group analysed is quite small for example. There were dosage differences between the trials and the preparation type would vary of course. All these factors are important but the overall positive outcome simply backs up hundreds of years of traditional herbal treatment of course. It also implies that however the herbs are prepared, they are still effective.

Academic References for the use of Chinese Herbs in Eczema.


Herbs used in the Chinese Eczema Formulas and Zemaphyte.


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The information is made available with the understanding that the author and publisher are not providing medical, psychological, or nutritional counseling services on this site. The information should not be used in place of a consultation with a competent health care or nutrition professional.