Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 242–253

Integrative Medicine as Adjunct Therapy in the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis—the Role of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dietary Supplements, and Other Modalities



Atopic dermatitis (AD) is becoming increasingly prevalent in the pediatric population, with rates reportedly as high as 18–25 %. Westernized medicine has traditionally used a combination of emollients, antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immunomodulating agents to combat this often frustrating disease. Of late, integrative medicine has become the subject of more research as concerns grow regarding prolonged use of corticosteroids and their side effects in pediatric patients. Probiotics have been extensively studied to define their role in the treatment and prevention of AD in children. Unfortunately, results are varying showing significant improvement in some patients but not all. With regard to prevention, studies show that the use of probiotics during pregnancy does decrease the incidence of AD in children. Prebiotics and synbiotics are also a conceivable option for prevention of AD. A number of studies on Chinese herbal medicine have been performed, with a collective result of symptom improvement and decreased levels of inflammatory cytokines. However, there were reports of asymptomatic transaminitis in a few patients that warrant further testing. While the herbs tested in more recent randomized clinical trials were free from corticosteroids, a previous study showed high levels of dexamethasone in unlabeled herbal eczema creams. Vitamins and minerals have also been suggested as an alternative treatment of AD. Studies however have not yet demonstrated improvement of AD with vitamin or mineral supplementation. Topical vitamin B12 is the exception to this; however, no topical vitamin B12 preparation is available for use. Finally, relaxation techniques are also being investigated as adjunctive methods of treatment, but well-designed scientific studies are lacking.


Atopic dermatitis Eczema Pediatrics Alternative medicine Prebiotics Probiotics Supplements Traditional Chinese medicine 



Atopic dermatitis


Complementary and alternative medicine


Children's Dermatology Life Quality Index


Corticosteroid creams


Dendritic cells






Investigator's Global Atopic Dermatitis Assessment


Pentaherbs formulation


Polyunsaturated fatty acids


Randomized control trial


Relative copy units


Randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial


Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis


Traditional Chinese medicine


Toll-like receptor




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Allergy, Asthma and ImmunologyThomas Jefferson UniversityWilmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for ChildrenWilmingtonUSA

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