HKBU clinical study finds an overall efficacy rate of over 80% in Chinese medicine treatment of eczema
25 Aug 2015
The Clinical Division of the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) recently conducted a clinical study on Chinese medicine treatment of eczema. The results indicated that the overall efficacy rate of Chinese medicine treatment of this disease is 81.3%.
Eczema is a common dermatological condition afflicting people in Hong Kong. Often triggered by allergies, the skin becomes inflamed or irritated. Due to the humid weather in the territory and the adoption of Western dietary habits, the prevalence rate of eczema in Hong Kong remains stubbornly high. Eczema can be divided into three subtypes, namely “acute eczema”, “sub-acute eczema” and “chronic eczema”. Chinese medicine treatment of eczema often involves the simultaneous prescription of herbal medicine which is to be taken orally and topical medicine which is to be applied externally.
To explore the characteristics of different syndromes of eczema and the effectiveness of Chinese medicine in treating eczema, Ms Huang Feili, Principal Lecturer, and Associate Director of the Clinical Division of SCM, conducted a clinical observation on 539 patients (316 female and 223 male, aged between 1 and 83) who attended medical consultations at three HKBU Chinese medicine clinics from January 2011 to December 2014. Among the patients, 18 of them were diagnosed with “acute eczema”, 90 with “sub-acute eczema” and 431 with “chronic eczema”. According to the observation and analysis, the syndromes of eczema were generally divided into 10 categories: spleen function deficiency, blood stasis, liver qi stagnation, wind-heat invasion, excessive heat in blood, yin deficiency, kidney function deficiency, heart and lung function deficiency, excessive heat-dampness and excessive wind-dampness.
During the period of observation, Ms Huang provided different prescriptions to individual patients according to the Chinese medicine principle of “treatment based on syndrome differentiation”. Topical use of herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment was also given to some patients. The study revealed that the overall efficacy rate of Chinese medicine treatment of eczema was 81.3% whereas an efficacy rate of 100% was achieved for “acute eczema”, 94.4% for “sub-acute eczema” and 78.2% for “chronic eczema”. In addition, an obvious therapeutic effect was observed in patients who received more treatments. An overall efficacy rate of 95% was recorded for patients who received seven treatments or above. No correlation was found between the age of the patient and therapeutic effect. The results also showed that 88.9%, 32.7%, 34.1% and 48.8% of the patients reported having spleen function deficiency, liver qi stagnation, blood stasis and invading pathogens, respectively.
In general, the observation indicated that 80% of the cases belonged to “chronic eczema” while these patients were suffering from different extents of yin and yang imbalance in their internal organs. Spleen function deficiency was found to be a common syndrome, reflecting the close correlation between the organ and eczema. Since the major cause of eczema is due to an imbalance found in internal organs, a longer treatment process is required to obtain a satisfactory therapeutic effect. The health of the individual would also be further improved when the skin allergy has been alleviated.
Ms Huang Feili explained that a patient with eczema who is found to have a disorder in their spleen and other internal organs exhibits weakened skin resistance, which makes the person susceptible to attack by external pathogens, further exacerbating the disease. According to Chinese medicine treatment, herbs that remove pathogenic wind, detoxify and clear dampness and heat, which are used to nourish spleen and organs, would also achieve better results in treating secondary infection of eczema. Herbs that help promote blood circulation and resolve stagnation are also used to relieve itchiness caused by blood stasis.
Ms Huang said that according to Chinese medicine theory, liver qi stagnation creates a certain impact on spleen and stomach function and results in blood stasis which aggravates the condition. She advised eczema patients to better regulate their emotions, steer away from negative emotions and avoid getting irritated in order to recover sooner.