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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 1 (2004), Issue 1, Pages 49-62

An Alternative Approach to Atopic Dermatitis: Part I—Case-Series Presentation

1Department of Dermatology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan
2Takahashi Dermatology Clinic, Daito City, Osaka, Japan

Received 25 December 2003; Accepted 27 February 2004

Copyright © 2004 Hiromi Kobayashi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a complex disease of obscure pathogenesis. A substantial portion of AD patients treated with conventional therapy become intractable after several cycles of recurrence. Over the last 20 years we have developed an alternative approach to treat many of these patients by diet and Kampo herbal medicine. However, as our approach is highly individualized and the Kampo formulae sometimes complicated, it is not easy to provide evidence to establish usefulness of this approach. In this Review, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method of individualized Kampo therapy, results are presented for a series of patients who had failed with conventional therapy but were treated afterwards in our institution. Based on these data, we contend that there exist a definite subgroup of AD patients in whom conventional therapy fails, but the ‘Diet and Kampo’ approach succeeds, to heal. Therefore, this approach should be considered seriously as a second-line treatment for AD patients. In the Discussion, we review the evidential status of the current conventional strategies for AD treatment in general, and then specifically discuss the possibility of integrating Kampo regimens into it, taking our case-series presented here as evidential basis. We emphasize that Kampo therapy for AD is more ‘art’ than technology, for which expertise is an essential pre-requisite.