Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) are often used in managing cancer related symptoms but their effectiveness and safety is controversial.
We conducted this overview of meta-analyses to summarize evidence on CHM for cancer palliative care. We included systematic reviews (SRs) with meta-analyses of CHM clinical trials on patients diagnosed with any type of cancer.
Methodological quality of included meta-analyses was assessed with the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) Instrument. Fifty-one SRs with meta-analyses were included. They covered patients with lung (20 SRs), gastric (8 SRs), colorectal (6 SRs), liver (6 SRs), breast (2 SRs), cervical (1 SR), esophageal (1 SR), and nasopharyngeal (1 SR) cancers. Six SRs summarized evidence on various types of cancer. Methodological quality of included meta-analyses was not satisfactory.
Overall, favorable therapeutic effects in improving quality of life among cancer patients have been reported. Conflicting evidence exists for the effectiveness of CHM in prolonging survival and in reducing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy related toxicities. No serious adverse effects were reported in all included studies. Evidence indicated that CHM could be considered as an option for improving quality of life among patients receiving palliative care. It is unclear if CHM may increase survival, or reduce therapy related toxicities.
Evidence showed that the combination of CHM and chemotherapy significantly reduced leucopenia, nausea and vomiting, thrombocytopenia and anemia in NSCLC, gastric cancer patients. It also significantly reduced nausea and vomiting in liver cancer patients. In general, CHM appears to be useful in improving leucopenia, thrombocytopenia and anemia among various types of cancer.
Base on the evidence we identified, CHM may be considered as an adjuvant option to improve QoL among cancer patients.
Chung, V. C.H. et al. Effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine for cancer palliative care: overview of systematic reviews with meta-analyses. Sci. Rep.5, 18111; doi: 10.1038/srep18111 (2015).
Ried K1, Stuart K. Complement Ther Med. 2011 Dec;19(6):319-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Oct 5.
Review suggests that management of female infertility with Chinese Herbal Medicine can improve pregnancy rates 2-fold within a 4 month period compared with Western Medical fertility drug therapy or IVF. Assessment of the quality of the menstrual cycle, integral to TCM diagnosis, appears to be fundamental to successful treatment of female infertility.
Chinese herbal medicine for female infertility: an updated meta-analysis.
Ried K1.Complement Ther Med. 2015 Feb;23(1):116-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.12.004. Epub 2015 Jan 3.
We searched the Medline and Cochrane databases until December 2013 for randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses investigating Chinese herbal medicine therapy for female infertility and compared clinical pregnancy rates achieved with CHM versus WM drug treatment.
Forty RCTs involving 4247 women with infertility were included in our systematic review. Meta-analysis suggested a 1.74 higher probability of achieving a pregnancy with CHM therapy than with WM therapy alone (risk ratio 1.74, 95%CI: 1.56-1.94; p<0.0001; odds ratio 3.14; 95%CI: 2.72-3.62; p<0.0001) in women with infertility. Trials included women with PCOS, endometriosis, anovulation, fallopian tube blockage, or unexplained infertility. Mean pregnancy rates in the CHM group were 60% compared with 33% in the WM group.
Our review suggests that management of female infertility with Chinese herbal medicine can improve pregnancy rates 2-fold within a 3-6 month period compared with Western medical fertility drug therapy. In addition, fertility indicators such as ovulation rates, cervical mucus score, biphasic basal body temperature, and appropriate thickness of the endometrial lining were positively influenced by CHM therapy, indicating an ameliorating physiological effect conducive for a viable pregnancy.
Jongbae J. Park, K.M.D., Ph.D.J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Feb; 16(2): 193–198.
The standard therapeutic package for unexplained infertility in women studied here is safe for infants and the treated women, when administered by licensed professionals. While it remains challenging to have the target population complete a 6-month treatment course, during which most patients have to pay out of pocket, the extent of successfully achieved pregnancy in those who received full treatment provides meaningful outcomes, warranting further attention. A future study that includes subsidized treatment costs, encouraging the appropriate compliance rate, is warranted.
Int Rev Neurobiol. 2017;135:233-247. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2017.02.011. Epub 2017 Apr 12.
Jiang D1, Li L2, Zeng BY3
1 Hallam Institution of TCM in Sheffield UK, Sheffield, United Kingdom. Electronic address: [email protected]
2 St. Mary’s Hospital Paddington, London, United Kingdom.
3 Neurodegenerative Disease Research Group, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King’s College, London, United Kingdom.
Female infertility is when a woman of reproductive age and sexual active, without contraception, cannot get pregnant after a year and more or keeps having miscarriages. Although conventional treatments for infertility such as hormone therapy, in vitro fertilization and many more, helped many female patients with infertility get pregnant during past a few decades, it is far from satisfactory with prolonging treatment time frames and emotional and financial burden. In recent years, more patients with infertile problems are seeking to alternative and complementary medicines to achieve a better outcome. In particular, Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is increasingly popular for treating infertility due to its effectiveness and complimentary with conventional treatments. However, the mechanisms of action of CHM in treating female infertility are not well understood. In this chapter authors reviewed research development of CHM applied in many infertile models and CHM clinical studies in many conditions associated with female infertility, published in past 15 years.
The data of review showed that CHM has either specific target mechanisms of action or multitarget mechanisms of action, via regulating relevant hormone levels in female reproductive system, improving ovary function, enhancing uterine receptivity. More studies are warranted to explore the new drugs from CHM and ensure safety, efficacy, and consistency of CHM.
1 Hallam Institution of TCM in Sheffield UK, Sheffield, United Kingdom. Email: [email protected]
2 The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, Harlow, United Kingdom.
3 St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, London, United Kingdom.
4 Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King’s College, London, United Kingdom.
Int Rev Neurobiol. 2017;135:297-311. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2017.02.014. Epub 2017 Apr 12.
Male infertility normally refers a male’s inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female partner after 1 year of unprotected intercourse. Male infertility in recent years has been attracting increasing interest from public due to the evidence in decline in semen quality. There are many factors contributing to the male infertility including abnormal spermatogenesis; reproductive tract anomalies or obstruction; inadequate sexual and ejaculatory functions; and impaired sperm motility, imbalance in hormone levels, and immune system dysfunction. Although conventional treatments such as medication, surgical operation, and advanced techniques have helped many male with infertility cause pregnancy in their female partners, effectiveness is not satisfactory and associated with adverse effects. Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been used to improve male infertility in China for a very long time and has now been increasingly popular in Western countries for treating infertility. In this chapter we summarized recent development in basic research and clinical studies of CHM in treating male infertility.
It has showed that CHM improved sperm motility and quality, increased sperm count and rebalanced inadequate hormone levels, and adjusted immune functions leading to the increased number of fertility.
Further, CHM in combination with conventional therapies improved efficacy of conventional treatments. More studies are needed to indentify the new drugs from CHM and ensure safety, efficacy, and consistency of CHM.
This study did not use acupuncture or herbs, but it is interested to include it here as a way of managing early pregnancy in women who have had previous miscarriages. There is currently no known prevention therapy for unexplained recurrent miscarriage, but this study showed that emotional support and close supervision helped improve outcomes in subsequent pregnancies.
One hundred and thirty three couples were investigated at a recurrent miscarriage clinic. In their next pregnancy 42 women (Group 1) with unexplained recurrent miscarriage were managed with a programme of formal emotional support and close supervision at an early pregnancy clinic. Two women were seen in 2 pregnancies (44 supervised pregnancies); 86% (38 of 44) of these pregnancies were successful. Four of the 6 miscarriages had an identifiable causal factor. Nine women (Group 2), also with unexplained recurrent miscarriage, acted as a control group. After initial investigation they were reassured and returned to the care of their family practitioner and did not receive formal supportive care in their subsequent pregnancy; 33% (3 of 9) of these pregnancies were successful (p = 0.005; Fishers Exact Test). Whilst acknowledging that there is a significant spontaneous cure rate in this condition, emotional support seems to be important in the prevention of unexplained recurrent miscarriage, giving results as good as any currently accepted therapy.