Hochu-ekki-to (TJ-41) is an herbal medicine that contains a mixture of 10 medicinal plants (listed below). It’s produced by Tsumura Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, which specializes in selling Kampo medicine — the adaptation of traditional Chinese medicine to Japanese culture.

In this study, the use of topical medicines (steroids and/or tacrolimus [Protopic]) decreased when patients with atopic dermatitis took Hochu-ekki-to.

First, the details.

  • 91 Kikyo patients (delicate, easily fatigued, or hypersensitive) with atopic dermatitis were studied.
    • Kikyo condition was evaluated using a scoring system.
  • All patients continued their ordinary treatments (topical steroids, topical tacrolimus, emollients or oral antihistamines).
  • Hochu-ekki-to or placebo was taken twice daily for 24 weeks.

And, the results.

  • 77 patients completed the study.
  • The use of topical agents (steroids and/or tacrolimus) was significantly lower in the Hochu-ekki-to group vs the placebo group.
  • The overall skin severity scores were not statistically different.
  • However, significantly more patients showed improvement, and significantly fewer patients showed worsening of their condition with Hochu-ekki-to.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Hochu-ekki-to significantly reduces the dose of topical steroids and/or tacrolimus used for atopic dermatitis treatment without aggravating atopic dermatitis.”

A brochure published by the Tsumura Co. lists a “lack of clinical evidence supporting Kampo usage” as one of the most common reasons by Japanese doctors for not prescribing Kampo medicine.

Aside from the limitations of Western medicine, the “emergence of clinical data on Kampo effects” is the most common motivation among Japanese physicians to prescribe them.

The market speaks.

The components of Hochu-ekki-to (TJ-41)

  • Astragali radix (huang qi)
  • Atractyloclis lanceae rhizoma
  • Ginseng radix (ginseng)
  • Angelicae radix (angelica root)
  • Bupleuri radix (bupleurum root)
  • Zizyphi fructus (jujube date)
  • Aurantii nobilis pericarpium (mandarin orange peel)
  • Glycyrrhizae radix (liquorice root)
  • Cimicifugae rhizoma (black cohosh)
  • Zingiberis rhizoma (ginger)

2/19/08 20:11 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.