Gerard Wherity


Chinese Herbal Medicine

Dover House, 2 Dover Close,
Poole, BH13 6EA (map)

Tel: 01202 798616
Mobile: 07513 340681

In China a long tradition of insight into different aspects of skin disorders has led to the development of sophisticated herbal treatments for a wide range of dermatological conditions. Treatment typically involves herbs which are taken as a drink twice a day, often augmented by herbal creams and washes. All the herbs used are plant products which can be prepared beforehand so that they are easy to take. They are supplied by pharmacies which have been accredited as Approved Suppliers by the British professional body the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Steroids are never used.

Did you know?

Doctors in Great Ormond Street Hospital for sick children in London carried out a placebo controlled double-blind trial after observing that treatment with Chinese herbs resulted in a "substantial benefit". The children were given daily drinks containing herbs for a period of 8 weeks. The doctors found a "clinically valuable" response, and concluded that the "findings anticipate a wider therapeutic potential for traditional Chinese medicinal plants in this disease, and other skin diseases". There was "no evidence" of toxicity.
The opportunity to continue treatment for a further year was offered to the parents of 37 of the children. They all accepted. "At the end of the year, 18 enjoyed at least 90% reductions in eczema activity scores, and five showed lesser degrees of improvement. Fourteen children withdrew from the study, 10 due to lack of response, and four because of unpalatability of treatment or difficulty in the preparation of treatment. By the end of the year, seven of the children were able to discontinue treatment without relapse. The other 16 required treatment to maintain control of their eczema, but only four of these still required daily treatment."
A trial of adults with longstanding and widespread dermatitis at the Royal Free Hospital in London found a reduction in both the extent and severity of erythema (redness) and surface damage, together with a "subjective improvement in itching and sleep". The results were published in the Lancet. The herbs were taken for two months and no side-effects were reported by the patients. Their main criticism was that the herbs were unpalatable, a disadvantage that most sufferers would agree was a price well worth paying.

17 of the Royal Free patients then took part in a follow-up trial. After a year 12 of the patients "had greater than 90% reduction and the remaining five had greater than 60% reduction in clinical scores compared with baseline values".

All the above results were achieved despite the fact that the prescriptions were standardised and took no account of the individual requirements of patients.

A study in a Taiwanese hospital published in the Archives of Dermatology found that treatment of patients suffering from plaque psoriasis with the Chinese herb qing dai resulted in "significant reductions in the sum of scaling, erythema (redness), and induration (hardening), and plaque area". The doctors applied an ointment containing the herb to the plaques on one side of the body, and an ointment without the herb to those on the other side. After 12 weeks nearly three quarters of the patients experienced clearance or near clearance of their lesions.

The lead researcher added that "current steroid-based medication may cause side effects like thinning of the skin, but this (qing dai) has much less side effects."


Nearly 1500 years ago a Chinese doctor, Sun Si-Miao, wrote a book describing almost 200 different medicinal substances that could be used to treat skin conditions. Many were herbs that are still in use today, and the list has been extended by many generations of doctors over hundreds of years.

Gerard Wherity is a fully qualified member of the British Acupuncture Council and the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. He practises in the Poole and Bournemouth area.

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Lime flower photograph by Kilian (source).