I have been plagued with nummular eczema for years. It does not respond to Benadryl, prednisone, or topical cortisone ointment. I read in your column about doctors in Japan who prescribed oolong tea. So the last time I had an outbreak, I tried oolong tea with amazing results. Within 24 hours, the itching and inflammation were gone. It took a couple of days, but the lesions disappeared and left no scars. Why does oolong tea work so well? It is the best treatment for this awful skin condition I’ve ever seen!
Nummular eczema consists of coin-shaped, itchy red patches on the skin. Nobody knows what causes it, but the condition is aggravated by dry skin, stress, detergent, and cold weather. A study of more than 100 patients with atopic dermatitis showed that drinking a liter of oolong tea daily could markedly ease inflammation and itching. Researchers speculated that antioxidant polyphenols in tea have anti-allergic properties and calm the overactive immune response.2 Some people have reported that their eczema improved when they took borage or flaxseed oil orally. These dietary supplements are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Is there anything to help with pediatric eczema? My son has tried everything for my granddaughter. Topical steroids helped for a while, but I worry about long-term side effects. Probiotics were suggested, but I don’t know anything about them. Any information would be most welcome.
Research suggests that good bacteria (probiotics) may prevent or reduce the severity of eczema in children.3 American health professionals are less familiar than their European colleagues with the use of probiotics to treat conditions such as eczema, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and diarrhea.
THE PEOPLE’S PHARMACY
Favorite Food #10: Oolong Tea
Oolong, whose name is nearly as delicious as its taste, is a traditional Chinese tea. It belongs to neither the black nor the green tea families and falls somewhere between them in the amounts of both oxidation and caffeine that it delivers.
Its range of antioxidants is different from that of either tea family. Research suggests oolong tea may help control blood sugar levels, and oolong tea drinkers also appear less likely to develop hypertension.1 Some recent studies suggest that tea may contain compounds that are good for the heart; one study conducted in southern China provides evidence that drinking tea also decreases the risk for stroke.2 People who drank at least one cup of tea per week over the course of 30 years decreased their chances of stroke by 60 percent. Those who drank oolong or green tea each day cut their risk even more—by more than 70 percent.
But there’s more. Oolong tea has one benefit that no other hot beverage can claim: It is remarkably effective at conquering the pesky, scaly skin condition eczema.
More than 100 people suffering from different types of eczema participated in a study that confirmed drinking one liter (roughly three to four cups) of oolong tea each day could significantly improve their condition.3
Researchers speculated that antioxidants in the tea may help counteract an overactive immune response that results in dry, itchy, inflamed skin. This is especially good news, since many treatments for eczema carry potential hazards.
Eczema is typically treated with steroid creams, which should be taken for the shortest possible time since they can thin the skin. Several years ago, citing a possible cancer link, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warnings for two popular eczema treatments, Elidel and Protopic. Drinking tea, steaming hot in winter or iced in summer, poses none of these potential risks—and it’s tasty!
For many years I have suffered from atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema. The regimen prescribed by my dermatologist helped to some degree, but what seems to have cleared up the itching is an antioxidant supplement called Pycnogenol. After six months, my eczema is in total remission. What can you tell me about Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is extracted from the bark of maritime pine trees. The plant compounds it contains are proanthocyanidin flavonoids similar to compounds derived from cranberries, blueberries, and other plant sources. Pycnogenol has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Perhaps the effect on your eczema is related to its ability to reduce inflammation.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic