Author(s): Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E, Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E
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Abstract The aim of the current study was to systematically assess the effectiveness of herbal medicines in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Randomised clinical trials (RCTs) testing herbal medicines against any type of control intervention in patients with COPD and assessing clinically relevant outcomes were included. The selection of studies, data extraction and validation were performed independently by at least two reviewers. Methodological quality was evaluated using the Jadad score. Effect sizes and their 95\% confidence intervals were calculated. Fourteen eligible RCTs, testing 14 different herbal medicines, were located. Herbal medicines were compared against placebo or no treatment in six trials. Significant intergroup differences for one or more outcome were reported for several herbal medicines including Panax ginseng and Salvia miltiorrhiza. In seven RCTs, which compared herbal medicines with other herbal medicines, the results were mixed. A single trial compared a herbal medicine (Hedera helix leaf extract) with a conventional treatment (ambroxol tablet) and reported no significant difference between groups. Due to the heterogeneity of the data, statistical pooling was not performed. The median methodological quality score was 2 out of a possible maximum 5. The effectiveness of herbal medicines for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is not established beyond reasonable doubt. Currently, the evidence from randomised clinical trials is scarce and often methodologically weak. Considering the popularity of herbal medicine among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, rigorously designed studies seem warranted.
This article was published in Eur Respir J
and referenced in Journal of General Practice