Reduce eczema symptoms with a ‘cup of tea’

From behind my laptop, a clinical study caught my eye: A trial of oolong tea in the management of recalcitrant atopic dermatitis. Treat stubborn eczema with oolong tea.

Coincidentally, I was just enjoying a cup of oolong tea at the time. The smoky and woody taste with light citrus notes provided a welcome change from coffee. But the fact that oolong tea can help against eczema immediately aroused my dermatological curiosity.

Study from 2001

In a study of 118 patients with persistent eczema, they were asked to continue their dermatological treatment. This treatment consisted of standard hormone ointments, antihistamines and avoidance of eczema triggers. In addition to their normal dermatological treatment, patients were instructed to drink oolong tea.

How to do it? One oolong tea bag of 10 grams, 1 liter of boiling water and 5 minutes of patience. The tea was then to be divided into three portions, one portion to drink after each regular meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Result: after only 1 to 2 weeks, the treatment began to bear visible results. After 1 month of supplementing the usual treatment with oolong tea, the eczema had visibly improved in 74 of the 118 patients (63%). In 64 patients (54%), treatment continued to show positive results after 6 months.

Oolong tea, what exactly is that?

This research had piqued my interest, which is why I started to dive further into the world of tea. Oolong is originally a Chinese tea and actually means “black dragon tea”. The name owes the tea to the shape of the dried tea leaves. Oolong may be well known in China, but relatively few people in the West know about it. At work I regularly get asked what I drink. Glassy looks are an obvious answer.

Oolong Tea Eczema Iconic Elements

All teas come from the camillia sinensis. An older tea leaf is used for oolong tea. What is also striking is that when processing oolong, the leaf is half oxidized, while black tea is completely oxidized and green tea is not even oxidized at all.

The taste has something woody and smoky and betrays light hints of citrus; some say the taste is akin to apricots or peaches.

What makes it so special?

In addition to caffeine, oolong tea is also rich in many other plant-based antioxidant polyphenols. These polyphenols help you control your fat metabolism and thus lose weight. But of course this doesn’t explain why oolong does what it does with eczema. We find the answer to that question in a recent study from 2019.

Oolong tea influences the beneficial intestinal bacteria and thus ensures a healthy body. The tea is a source of good prebiotics, food for your intestinal bacteria. Thanks to those prebiotics you make your intestinal bacteria happy – short chain fatty acids (SCFA). These fatty substances have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, which people with eczema can benefit from.

I would say cheers to oolong tea.


Uehara M, Sugiura H, Sakurai K. A trial of oolong tea in the management of recalcitrant atopic dermatitis. Arch Dermatol. 2001 Jan;137(1):42-3.

Liu, YC., Li, XY. & Shen, L. Modulation effect of tea consumption on gut microbiota. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 104, 981–987 (2020).

While you are here

The great importance of an intact and healthy skin barrier is evident for a number of skin diseases, including acne, psoriasis, ichthyosis (fish scale disease) and atopic dermatitis (AD). Poor skin barrier increases permeability of allergens.

Animal studies showed a poor skin barrier function and a higher penetration of allergens through the skin. The immune system is sensitized, resulting in eczema. More about (skin diseases and leaky gut)

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