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Keywords:

  • Allergic rhinitis;
  • atopic eczema;
  • complementary medicine

Abstract

Objective

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a conservative and increasingly popular approach to atopic diseases for both patients and medical providers. Over the past few decades, there has been increased research activity into the use of CAM therapies for allergy. In this overview, current evidence, possible mechanisms of action and clinical approaches for treating the triad of atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and asthma with CAM techniques are summarised and discussed.

Methods

The information for this overview was gathered from a literature search in the databases Medline and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 1 January 1951 to 1 December 2012.

Results and conclusion

Promising therapies include Petasites hybridus and acupuncture for allergic rhinitis; probiotics during pregnancy; the herbal product Zemaphyte and acupuncture (to control itch) for atopic dermatitis; and physical training, weight reduction, physiotherapy, correct intake of vitamins A, C and D as well as different Chinese herbal formulas for asthma. However, further research is needed to more clearly identify the mechanisms of action of these therapies, and whether these clinical effects are above and beyond any placebo effect.