Oolong Tea in the treatment of Atopic Dermatitis.




Arch Dermatol

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Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease that may be caused by allergies and influenced by heredity. Although researchers are uncertain how genetics specifically play a role in this condition, a family history of atopic dermatitis increases the chances of getting the disease. It is prevalent in people that have other atopic conditions such as asthma and hay fever. This condition is usually seen in children and infants, but can continue into adulthood. Atopic dermatitis causes the skin to become itchy and inflamed, and can cause the skin to become weepy, cracked, and swollen. This rash is seen on the cheeks, arms, and legs. Approximately 15 million Americans have atopic dermatitis.1

Conventional treatment of this disease includes proper skin regimens, corticosteroids, and phototherapy. These have shown promising results for some, but not all patients respond to these treatments. So researchers are studying alternatives to these standard treatments. Recently a study was published on the possible benefit of Oolong tea in atopic dermatitis. The study was conducted at the Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan. Although the study began with 121 patients who had recalcitrant atopic dermatitis (unmanageable), 118 patients completed the study.

Patients were asked to maintain their usual treatment for atopic dermatitis. In addition, they were instructed to drink Oolong tea made by steeping a 10 gm teabag for 5 minutes in 1000 ml of water. The tea was then divided into 3 equal parts, and the patients consumed 1 serving after 3 meals daily. Photographs were taken of the lesions at 1 and 6 months. After one month, 63% of the patients showed moderate improvement in their disease. After 6 months, a good response was observed in 54% of the patients. The researchers concluded, " The therapeutic efficacy of oolong tea in recalcitrant AD may well be the result of the antiallergic properties of tea polyphenols."2

This study illustrates a potential positive therapy in atopic dermatitis, but more research is needed. Many studies have been preformed on the effects of tea on dermatitis in animal, but more human studies are needed. Research is currently being conducted on new therapies for atopic dermatitis that involve diet, stress, nutritional deficiencies, and genetic links.


1. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Health. Handouts on Health: Atopic Dermatitis. Jan 1999.
2. Uehara M, et al. A Trial of Oolong Tea in the Management of Recalcitrant Atopic Dermatitis Arch Dermatol. Jul 2001;137:42-43.