A controlled trial of traditional Chinese herbal medicine in Chinese patients with recalcitrant atopic dermatitis

Authors

  • Adrian Y. P. Fung MRCP,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • Paul C. N. Look,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • . Mrcpi,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • . Fhkam,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • Lai-Yin Chong FRCP,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • . Fhkam,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • Paul P. H. But PhD,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • Eric Wong,

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • . Ma

    1. From the Social Hygiene Service, Department of Health, the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Center, and the Center for Clinical Trials & Epidemiology Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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Adrian Fung, mrcp
Yaumatei Dermatology Clinic
12/F Yaumatei Specialist Clinic Extension
143 Batery Street
Kowloon
Hong Kong
Phytopharm Plc, Cambridge, UK, supplied both Zemaphyte® and placebo sachets. Drs Brian Whittle, K.W. Lai, and Joseph Lau assisted in the trial.

Abstract

Background There have been published reports from the United Kingdom of good responses to the use of traditional Chinese herbal medicine (Zemaphyte®, Phytopharm Plc, Cambridge, UK) in treating recalcitrant atopic dermatitis. We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study among Chinese patients with recalcitrant atopic dermatitis using this same herbal preparation.

Methods Forty patients were recruited. They were given Zemaphyte® and placebo in random order, each for 8 consecutive weeks with a 4-week wash-out period in between. Scores based on the severity and extent of four clinical parameters (erythema, surface damage, lichenification and scaling) were recorded at baseline and at 4-weekly intervals throughout the 20-week trial period.

Results Thirty-seven patients completed the trial. There was a general trend of clinical improvement with time throughout the trial period in both patient groups, irrespective of whether they received Zemaphyte® or placebo first. Zemaphyte®, however, offered no statistically significant treatment effect over placebo for all four clinical parameters, except for lichenification at week 4. There were no significant carry-over effects. Blood tests for hematologic, renal and liver functions were all normal throughout the trial.

Conclusions Zemaphyte® did not seem to benefit Chinese patients with recalcitrant atopic dermatitis in our study. Further research is required to evaluate its efficacy.

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