The effectiveness of combined Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in the treatment of atopic dermatitis

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct;14(8):1043-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0162.


Background: Patients with atopic dermatitis increasingly use complementary medicine.

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the combination of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

Methods: Twenty (20) patients between the ages of 13 and 48 who had mild-to-severe atopic dermatitis were given a combined treatment of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and were followed prospectively. The patients received acupuncture treatment twice a week and the Chinese herbal formula 3 times daily for a total of 12 weeks. Assessments were performed before treatment, and at weeks 3, 6, 9, and 12 of treatment. The primary outcomes were defined as the changes in the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI), and patient assessment of itch measured on a visual analogue scale (VAS).

Results: After 12 weeks of treatment, an improvement in EASI was noted in 100% of patients, when compared with the baseline. The mean EASI fell from 4.99 to 1.81; the median percentage of decrease was 63.5%. Moreover, 78.8% of patients experienced a reduction in DLQI and VAS, as compared with the baseline. The mean DLQI decreased from 12.5 to 7.6 at the end of treatment, with 39.1% improvement. Mean VAS decreased from 6.8 to 3.7, with 44.7% improvement. No adverse effects were observed.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have a beneficial effect on patients with atopic dermatitis and may offer better results than Chinese herbal medicine alone.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal