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Why You Should Try Chinese Herbs for Eczema In Infants and Children

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By Dr. Peter Wood (bio below)

Its 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.

Read more: Children with Eczema Suffer from Lower Self Esteem 

Studies & Research

Many studies have shown the effectiveness of traditional Chinese herbs for 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.

Treatment Philosophy

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.

Chinese Herbs for Eczema

Administration of the herbal medicine through an eyedropper is the common method in treating eczema in 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 a topical Chinese eczema cream 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.

Read More: How to Prevent Baby & Toddler Scratching with Eczema Clothing

 

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.

 

If you’d like to find a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner near you, try these resources:

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Acufinder.com

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 in healing eczema in infants and children.

Have you tried a Chinese eczema cream? Or Chinese herbs for eczema? What kind of results did you see?

Bio:  Dr. Peter Wood 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.

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.

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. sarah #

    there has been cases of children suffering from liver problems after being given traditional chinese medicine for ezcema provided by practitioners giving these treatments. How safe are herbs which contain natural steriods? how do know that a treatment is safe? can you get this treatment from your GP? and if not why not?

    Like

    May 21, 2013
    • Hi Sarah – Thank you so much for your comment. I’ve asked Dr. Wood to provide a response to your questions, so here it is:

      A reply from Dr. Peter Wood…”Some rare cases of liver toxicity due to the use of TCM herbs do exist. If a practitioner is unlicensed, is unaware of dosage specifications, or is not vigilant about getting quality, clean herbs, one can get into trouble.

      When used appropriately by individual case pattern differentiation, TCM herbs are safe at their recommended dosage, granted they are thoroughly screened for toxic substances and quality control is sufficient. Plants containing natural sterols, for example, would only be used by a qualified practitioner at the recommended dosage and only if it fit the patient’s pattern.

      I can only speak for practitioners in British Columbia in that, if they are registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA – http://www.ctcma.bc.ca) as either a TCMH (TCM Herbalist), a TCMP (TCM Practitioner) or a Dr.TCM (Doctor of TCM), then they have been sufficiently trained in herbal dosage and pattern discrimination that one could feel safe receiving treatment from them.

      GP’s are not licensed in the province of BC to prescribe TCM herbs as it is not part of their scope of practice and they are most likely not even educated in the area. If an allopathic MD did opt to become educated in TCM herbology, they would then legally need to pass the CTCMA’s licensing exam and become registered in any of the aforementioned designations in order to prescribe TCM herbs.

      Here is a good article I found discussing this topic: http://www.acupuncture.com/herbs/toxicherbs.htm

      Thank you Dr. Wood!

      Sarah, does that answer your questions? If not, please let me know.
      Thanks, Jennifer

      Like

      May 28, 2013
  2. I looked into the FAHF-2 clinical trial. http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00602160?term=fahf-2&rank=1 To be precise, it is being done to examine the effect on food allergy, not eczema.

    Can Dr Wood point to any rigorous studies more recent and larger in scope than his reference, which is from nearly 20 years ago?

    Also, what herbs do TCM practitioners commonly use to treat eczema patients?

    Like

    May 21, 2013
    • Hi there – You may find this guest post interesting – it explains more about the relationship between different types of eczema and the Chinese Herbs used to help heal them. Keep in mind, this is from an external perspective and I’m sure the same herbs won’t apply internally, but it’s possible there is some overlap.

      https://itchylittleworld.com/2013/03/12/new-eczema-ointments-made-with-traditional-chinese-herbs/

      And I wasn’t able to find the actual studies referred to here in this WebMD article, but you may be able to with some more digging. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/news/20090317/can-chinese-herbs-relieve-eczema

      Also, I’m sure Peter wouldn’t mind if you reached out to him directly – really nice guy. He’d love to help answer your questions I’m sure. kitsacupuncture@gmail.com Also, you may want to direct some questions to Dr. Peter Lio as well – he’s a big fan of Acupuncture (as you know) and Traditional Chinese Medicine too I believe.

      Like

      May 21, 2013
      • Hmm, I read that post–thanks for the link–I am suffering cognitive dissonance from the clash between TCM theory and the way I think. But I remain open to the possibility that some of these therapies might work. I’d just like to see some evidence to back up the talk. I do think talking to PW is a good idea. Thanks!

        Like

        May 22, 2013
      • Trust me, I understand. Most natural medicine goes against everything we’ve ever been taught and much of it seems like quackery. Like homeopathy for example. Like so many others I just figured it was sugar water pretty much, but upon desperation we tried it for my son. First time it didn’t work for us. Second time we tried something completely different and the homeopathy actually worked. I was shocked. I even stopped the homeopathy to see if it was really working – when we stopped it, within two days my son’s eczema flared up. I tried this test on three different occasions – all with the same results. After 1.5 years on the treatment, he has been able to cut out the homeopathy for good, but it really did work for us. Now, explain that 🙂 I sure can’t. And the studies certainly do not back it up. So, I’m all for natural treatments that don’t have scientific studies to back them up – IF they are not harmful or hurtful in any way.

        Like

        May 22, 2013
  3. Denise mejia #

    What does he knw about flax seed oil?
    Is so how does it work and how much of a dose to give my 18 month son

    Like

    May 22, 2012
    • Hi Denise –

      Flax can be great, but fish oils (low in mercury) are better omega oils for eczema. Check with your pediatrician to determine the brand and dose that will be best for your child. Jennifer

      Like

      May 25, 2012
  4. Denise mejia #

    Where can I get this done for my 18month son.

    Like

    May 17, 2012
    • Hi Denise – Dr. Wood suggested these resources. It’s also always best to ask around for a referral as well. You may be able to find some recommended practitioners by asking at a natural health food store.

      National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
      Acufinder.com
      The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (California practitioners must also have this accreditation)

      Good luck!
      Jennifer

      Like

      May 17, 2012

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