Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
TCM herb combinations have been used to stabilize arrhythmia after viral myocarditis (inflammation of the heart). Furthermore, patients with atrial fibrillation who underwent Qi gong training walked on average more at the end of treatment. More studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
Laser acupuncture and probiotics provided a beneficial clinical effect in children with asthma. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
TCM uses over 120 different herbs in cancer treatment, depending on the type of cancer and its cause according to Chinese medical theory. Studies have reported significant benefits include reducing tumors, reducing treatment side effects, and improved response to treatment. Types of cancer that have been treated with TCM include breast, colorectal, hepatocellular, and others. More studies of stronger design are needed before TCM can be recommended with confidence as an adjunct to cancer treatment.
Cardiovascular disease / angina
TCM herb formulas as well as the traditional Chinese method of Liqi Kuanxiong Huoxue combined with conventional treatment have been reported to reduce symptoms of stable and unstable angina. However, more studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
TCM herbs have been reported to improve symptoms and improve immune function in COPD patients. However, research designs have been weak and more studies of better design are needed before recommendations can be made.
Congestive heart failure
Many studies of TCM herbs have focused on treatment of congestive heart failure. Further research of better design is needed before recommendations can be made.
Coronary heart disease
TCM herb combinations have been found to improve some markers of coronary heart disease. More studies of better design are needed before recommendations can be made.
TCM herbal combinations have been used for the treatment of dementia and reportedly improve cognitive function and activities of daily living. More studies of better design are needed before recommendations can be made.
Diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease)
TCM herbs may augment conventional Western medicine for better outcomes in diabetic nephropathy. More studies of better design are needed before recommendations can be made.
Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain)
Chinese herbal preparations, including Si-Wu-Tang (SWT) have been used to effectively decrease menstrual pain. Such herbal preparations have been reported to provide better relief than acupuncture. Further studies of higher methodological quality are needed to confirm these findings.
TCM herbs are a popular complementary therapy in HIV/AIDS. However, study results conflict. More studies are needed before the potential benefits of TCM herbs in HIV/AIDS can be established.
When compared to TCM therapy alone or Western therapy alone, a mixture of TCM and Western medicine has been shown to reduce pain and improve mobility of knee joints in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Further study is needed in this area.
TCM may provide liver protection. For example, the RDP (removing dampness and purgative) method has been shown to improve the efficacy of comprehensive treatment for chronic severe hepatitis. However, more studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
Lower back pain
TCM herbs may augment conventional Western medicine for better outcomes in lower back injury. Additional study is needed before a recommendation can be made.
TCM herbs are commonly used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Evidence is mixed. More studies are needed to explore the possible contributions of TCM herbs in menopausal symptoms.
TCM herbs have been reported to improve the therapeutic effectiveness and counteract adverse reactions to hormone therapy in treating nephrotic syndrome as well as reduce the recurrence of symptoms. More studies of better design are needed before recommendations can be made.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
TCM herbs have been reported to not reduce symptoms, but to increase pregnancy rates in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. More studies are needed to explore the possible contributions of TCM herbs in this condition.
It has been reported that TCM is more effective than Western medicine in decreasing symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. A combination of TCM and Western medicine may be a very effective treatment. More studies are necessary in this area.
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)
Currently, study results conflict, but overall results show promise for TCM in immunomodulation effects and decreasing depression associated with SARS.
Based on early data, Chinese herbal medicines may be helpful when combined with prescription medications. Schizophrenia should be treated by a qualified healthcare practitioner including a psychiatrist and pharmacist.
It has been reported that a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion, and enema of Chinese herbs in combination with Western medicine was more effective at treating stroke than Western medicine alone. However, Danqi Piantan Jiaonang (NeuroAid™), a traditional Chinese medicine a mixture of 14 herbal and natural extracts, was ineffective in treating stroke. More studies need to be conducted in this area.
Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
(jaw pain)TCM has been shown to decrease jaw pain more than naturopathic medicine or state-of-the-art specialty care. Further research is needed in this area.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
TCM has been studied for diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome but herbal formulations used in available studies have not led to global symptom improvement. Further studies may be necessary to characterize the role of TCM in the management of IBS.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional
Acne, aging, allergies, anemia (infantile chronic aplastic), antioxidant, antiviral, autism, bleeding (subarachnoid hemorrhage), blood circulation, blood stagnation, bone fracture healing, brain damage, cerebral palsy, cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix), cirrhosis (hepatic fibrosis), cognitive function, common cold, cutaneous disorders, cystitis, dental procedures, dermatitis, detoxification, diabetes, diarrhea, drug addiction (heroin), drug withdrawal (heroin), dry mouth, encephalopathy (pulmonary), epilepsy, fatigue, fever, gallstones, gastritis, Graves' disease, growth disorders, headache, hepatitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), immunomodulation, immunostimulant, infant development/neonatal care, infertility, inflammation, influenza, insomnia, irregular menstrual cycles, joint disorders, kidney disorders, lung diseases, malaria, metabolic disorders, migraine, motion sickness, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, nausea/vomiting, nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum), neck pain, neurodegenerative diseases, obesity, osteoporosis, ovulation disorders, pain, pancreatitis, Parkinson's disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, peptic ulcer, post-traumatic stress disorder, pre-eclampsia, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), psychiatric disorders, quality of life, respiratory infections, senile dementia, skin conditions, sleep disorders, sleep quality, spleen disorders (liver stagnation and spleen deficiency syndrome), tendonitis (rotator cuff), thrombocytopenia, ulcerative colitis, urinary stimulant, vasodilation, venous disorders, viral myocarditis, wound healing.Note: Since traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) covers so many different therapies and modalities, the above information includes only conditions treated with a broad TCM approach. For more detailed information on conditions that may be treated with selected herbs, supplements, and modalities, please see Natural Standard monographs on individual TCM therapies.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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