Chinese herbal medicine helpful for MS sufferers
Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been widely used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, there is no systematic review to assess the efficacy and safety of CHM.
To systematically evaluate the efficacy and safety of CHM in the treatment of MS.
Literature was searched from the China National Knowledge Infrastructure Database, the Chinese Biomedical Database (SinoMed), the Chongqing VIP Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database, Wanfang Data, PubMed and the Cochrane Library. The time limitation ran from the commencement of each database to March 15, 2011.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) testing CHM alone or in combination with Western medicine (WM) against WM or placebo used alone were included.
DATA EXTRACTION AND ANALYSIS:
Two authors collected the data respectively. The assessment of methodological quality was based on the Cochrane Handbook and the data were analyzed by using RevMan 5.1.0 software. The efficacy measure was mean difference (MD) with a 95% confidence interval (CI).
After screening of the search results, 16 eligible RCTs with 913 cases were included. The included trials were all of low quality. Thirteen studies adopted Kurtzke Extended Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and two of them showed that EDSS in the treatment group was lower than that in the control group, and the MD and 95% CI were -0.88 (-1.26,-0.50). We performed descriptive analysis on the other eight studies which showed that EDSS of the treatment group was lower than that of the control group. Five studies adopted recurrent frequency and two of them showed that recurrent frequency in the treatment group was lower than that in the control group, and the MD and 95% CI were -0.34 (-0.52,-0.16). We performed descriptive analysis on the other three studies which showed that EDSS in the treatment group was lower than that in the control group. Analyses of secondary outcomes such as clinical symptom score, neurological sign score and immune indexes showed that integrated TCM and WM was more effective than WM treatment alone. The studies displayed that the number or range of magnetic resonance imaging lesion of the treatment group was lower than that of the control group, but there was no statistical significance. The reported adverse events in the CHM group were less than those in the control group.
CHM could improve neurological signs, clinical symptoms and immune indexes, and reduce recurrent frequency. The reported adverse events in the CHM group were less than those in the control group. However, further well-designed research is needed to evaluate the beneficial effects of CHM.