NYMC Faculty Publications

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Food Allergy and Eczema

Author Type(s)


Journal Title

Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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Last Page


Document Type

Review Article

Publication Date



Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology


OBJECTIVE: To summarize the recent evidence of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for food allergy and eczema.

DATA SOURCES: Published literature from PubMed database and abstract conference presentations.

STUDY SELECTIONS: Studies relevant to TCM for food allergy and eczema were included.

RESULTS: TCM is the main component of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States. Food Allergy Herbal Formula 2 (FAHF-2) (derived from the classical formula Wu Mei Wan) prevented systemic anaphylaxis in murine models and was found to have safety and preliminary immunomodulatory effects on T cells and basophils. The phase II trial of combined TCM with oral immunotherapy and omalizumab for multiple food allergy is ongoing. Retrospective practice-based evidence study revealed that comprehensive TCM therapy effectively prevented frequent and severe food anaphylaxis triggered by skin contact or protein inhalation. The traditional Japanese herbal medicine Kakkonto suppressed allergic diarrhea and decreased mast cells in intestinal mucosa in a murine model. The active compounds from TCM were found to have potent inhibition of immunoglobulin (Ig) E, mast cell activation, and proinflammatory cytokine or signaling pathway (tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 8, NF-κB) suggesting value for both IgE and non-IgE-mediated food allergy. Triple TCM therapy including ingestion, bath, and cream markedly improved skin lesion, itching, and sleep loss in patients with corticosteroid dependent, recalcitrant, or topical steroid withdrawal. Xiao Feng San and Japanese and Korean formulas were found to have effectiveness in eczema. Furthermore, acupuncture reduced wheal size, skin itching, and basophil activation in atopic dermatitis. Moreover, TCM is generally safe.

CONCLUSION: TCM has potential as safe and effective therapy for food allergy and eczema. Further research is needed for botanical drug development and to further define the mechanisms of actions.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: FAHF-2: https://ichgcp.net/clinical-trials-registry/NCT00602160; ethyl acetate and butanol purified FAHF-2: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02879006.