Chinese herbal medicines for acute pancreatitis

  • Wang Q
  • Guo Z
  • Zhao P
  • et al.
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BACKGROUND: Acute pancreatitis is a relatively common acute abdominal emergency but there is no specific therapy for it. Traditional Chinese medicinal herbs have been used widely for many years in China to treat acute pancreatitis, and several controlled trials have been carried out to investigate their efficacy. OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy and safety of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs for acute pancreatitis. SEARCH STRATEGY: The following electronic databases were searched, in September 2002: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2002, MEDLINE, EMBASE, AHMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine Database) and SIGLE (System for Information on Grey Literature). Four Chinese journals and conference proceedings were handsearched. No language restriction was used. The searches were updated in October 2003 (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2003). SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomized controlled trials involving traditional Chinese medicinal herbs in the treatment of acute pancreatitis and published in any language, regardless of whether they were single-blinded, double-blinded, or not blinded. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were extracted independently by two reviewers. The methodological quality of trials was evaluated using the Jadad scale plus allocation concealment. MAIN RESULTS: Eleven randomized clinical trials (including a total of 658 participants) were identified in which Chinese medicinal herbs or Chinese medicinal herbs plus routine treatment were compared with routine treatment. All of these trials were published in Chinese and all included inpatients. None of the articles described the method of randomisation. The large heterogeneity of the intervention prevented us from doing a meaningful subgroup analysis. There appeared to be some benefit from Chinese medicinal herbs over control for mortality rates, length of hospital stay and operative intervention but the trials were of low quality and this benefit did not reach statistical significance. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Some Chinese medicinal herbs may work in acute pancreatitis. However, the evidence is too weak to recommend any single herb. Rigorously designed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are required.




Wang, Q., Guo, Z., Zhao, P., Wang, Y., Gan, T., & Yang, J. (2005). Chinese herbal medicines for acute pancreatitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

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