Traditional Chinese Dermatology

Traditional Chinese medicine  is an alternative method of therapy that can be administered in oral, topical, or injectable forms. It emphasizes the importance of using many herbs that are combined in different formulations for each individual patient. Since it is not possible to discuss all applications of TCM in every skin disorder, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis are used as the prototypes in illustrating the use of TCM. A number of studies have shown the usefulness of TCM in the treatment of these skin conditions, and thus it is worthwhile for dermatologists throughout the West to gain some familiarity with this method. We attempt to provide a general overview of TCM through a discussion of efficacy, mechanisms of action, and side effects of various TCMs. A warning regarding the possible contamination of TCMs is also included. In the future, perhaps a better understanding of TCM will be gained through more systematic analysis and controlled studies with a placebo arm. It is our hope that this article will provide dermatologists with a more complete understanding of the role and ramifications of TCM therapy.

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