“Chinese herbs combined with Western medicines made no difference in decreasing morbidity versus Western medicines alone,” the review’s authors, led by Dr. Xuemei Liu of the West China Hospital in Sichuan, concluded. “It is possible that Chinese herbs combined with Western medicines may improve symptoms and quality of life,” for SARS patients, and may reduce their need for steroids and decrease the inflammatory cells in their lungs, the reviewers found.

The review comprised 12 randomized controlled trials of 654 patients with SARS. They were treated with Chinese medicines — either a single herb or various combinations of 12 Chinese herbs — combined with Western therapy such as oxygen, antibiotics, corticosteroids and ribavirin or they were given Western therapy alone.

In some patients treated with Chinese herbs along with Western medicine, fever, cough and breathing difficulty lasted a shorter length of time. SARS patients receiving both types of treatment also had smaller collections of inflammatory cells on chest x-ray. Dose and duration of corticosteroid use and length of hospital stay were also decreased for those on both types of treatment, and quality of life was improved in those on combined treatment, according to some of the studies included in the review. None of the studies showed significant side effects from taking herbal therapy.

Liu said that the review shows further study is needed on the role of Chinese herbs in treating SARS. “Chinese herbs have served millions of Chinese patients, including SARS patients,” he said, “I hope we don’t see another SARS outbreak, but [more] research on this disease is needed.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Health Behavior News Service