Trial of Oolong Tea in the Management of Recalcitrant Atopic Dermatitis

A Trial of Oolong Tea in the Management of Recalcitrant Atopic Dermatitis
Background: Mild cases of atopic dermatitis (AD) generally improve with standard treatment. However, standard treatment fails many patients with recalcitrant AD skin lesions. Study results in animal models have demonstrated that the administration of tea (ie, green, black, or oolong) has suppressed type I and type IV allergic reactions.

Objective: To test the effectiveness of oolong tea in the treatment of recalcitrant AD.

Patients: Although 121 patients with recalcitrant AD were enrolled in the study, 118 patients completed the open study.

Methods: Patients were asked to maintain their dermatological treatment. However, they were also instructed to drink oolong tea made from a 10-g teabag placed in 1000 mL of boiling water and steeped for 5 minutes. This amount was then divided into 3 equal servings and 1 serving was drunk daily after 3 regular meals. Photographs of 2 or 3 representative lesion sites were taken at baseline and at 1 and 6 months and the severity of pruritus was assessed on a 6-point Lickert-like scale ranging from markedly improved (>50% improvement) to worsened.

Results: After 1 month of treatment 74 (63%) of the 118 patients showed marked to moderate improvement of their condition. The beneficial effect was first noticed after 1 or 2 weeks of treatment. A good response to treatment was still observed in 64 patients (54%) at 6 months.

Conclusion: The therapeutic efficacy of oolong tea in recalcitrant AD may well be the result of the antiallergic properties of tea polyphenols.

From the Department of Dermatology, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Japan.

(Excerpt from the Archives of Dermitology, Jan 2001)