We’ve been hearing more and more about the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine in treating many health ailments. Can it really help eczema? Western doctors think it’s certainly possibly. There is a phase 2 study being conducted right now on the benefits of Chinese herbs to help relieve the symptoms of eczema. So, with all this interest in TCM, I asked Dr. Peter Wood, to shed some light on how he uses ancient Chinese medicine to treat children with eczema.
Bio: Peter is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He specializes in the natural treatment of Asthma, Allergies and Eczema. He holds an undergraduate degree in human kinetics (BPE) from the University of Manitoba. He completed the 5-year Dr.TCM program at the International College of TCM of Vancouver in 2006, followed by an internship in the An Hui Hospital in He Fei, China. He then pursued further continuing education training in the treatment of asthma, allergies and eczema and has adopted a highly effective protocol to have these patients come safely off their pharmaceutical drugs and to live symptom free. www.drpeterwood.com
Treating Pediatric Eczema with Traditional Chinese Medicine
It is heartbreaking to see an infant suffering through a flare-up of eczema, especially for the child’s parent. Eczema, otherwise known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common skin disease in children, affecting nearly 25% of children worldwide. Over 2 million Canadians and 15 million Americans suffer from eczema. Since 1970, the prevalence of eczema has nearly tripled.
More common in children who have family members with asthma, allergies and/or eczema themselves, eczema often begins in babies when food is first introduced or when new foods are introduced. The current treatment by modern medicine helps control the eczema, but is not curative. The corticosteroid creams used to treat it have adverse effects over the long-term.
The lives of those affected by eczema are further challenged by the complications of loss of sleep, and commonly they lack confidence and have low self-esteem.
Studies & Research
Many studies have shown the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s herbal formulas in treating eczema. Often these studies are not accessible in North America because they are performed in China, and translation is slow in bringing us the information. However, many studies have been conducted and reported in British medical journals. One such research project (placebo-controlled double-blind trial) was a one-year study1 of 37 children suffering from eczema conducted at the Hospital for Sick Children, London, England. At the end of the study, 18 children had at least a 90% reduction in the severity of their eczema after 8 weeks of treatment.
The beauty of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it gives the trained practitioner the ability not only to treat the condition, but also to understand why the condition is there, such that we can then address and treat the cause of the symptoms. We call this “treating the branch (symptoms) while also treating the root (cause of the symptoms)”. The digestion always plays a role in causing the symptoms associated with atopic dermatitis and so treatment involves regulating the digestion.
The practitioner is able to differentiate between the various ‘TCM Patterns’ involved in the condition of eczema in order to select the most appropriate herbs to back out the pattern. Not only is TCM treatment effective, it is quite rare to experience any adverse effects from the medicine.
Administration of the herbal medicine through an eyedropper is the common method in treating infants. The use of an oral syringe is the most common approach for young children. As children reach the age of 3-6 years old, they become able to consume the tea as a drink.
It is often also necessary to use topical herbal creams to bring the acute symptoms under control. It is highly important to stop the itch cycle, especially at night when the patient will scratch unconsciously during sleep.
Effectiveness of the treatment will be contingent on the skill of the practitioner and the ability of the patient to be compliant in taking the medicine regularly. Typically amelioration of the symptoms will occur within the first few weeks of treatment.
Due to the drastic improvement in a patient’s quality of life, and in the quality of life of the patient’s family members, I find it extremely fulfilling to treat eczema, and am happy to educate the public on how effective TCM can be in resolving such conditions.
Reference: 1: Sheehan, M.P., Atherton, D.J., One-year follow-up of children treated with Chinese medicinal herbs for atopic eczema. British Journal of Dermatology (ENGLAND) Apr 1994, 130 (4) p488-493.
Post written by Dr. Peter Wood
If you’d like to find a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner near you, try these resources:
The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (California practitioners must also have this accreditation)
This is part one of a two-part series. Take a look at part two, our Q&A with Dr. Wood to answer some of the most common questions about TCM.
Have you tried TCM? What kind of results did you see?