Chinese herbal medicines for threatened miscarriage

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 6.03). 01/2012; 5(5):CD008510. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008510.pub2
Source: PubMed


Threatened miscarriage occurs in 10% to 15% of all pregnancies. Vaginal spotting or bleeding during early gestation is common, with nearly half of those pregnancies resulting in pregnancy loss. To date, there is no effective preventive treatment for threatened miscarriage. Chinese herbal medicines have been widely used in Asian countries for centuries and have become a popular alternative to Western medicines in recent years. Many studies claim to show that they can prevent miscarriage. However, there has been no systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicines for threatened miscarriage.
To review the therapeutic effects of Chinese herbal medicines for the treatment of threatened miscarriage.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 January 2012), Chinese Biomedical Database (1978 to 31 January 2012), China Journal Net (1915 to 31 January 2012), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (1915 to 31 January 2012), WanFang Database (1980 to 31 January 2012), Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (31 January 2012), EMBASE (1980 to 31 January 2012), CINAHL (31 January 2012), PubMed (1980 to 31 January 2012), Wiley InterScience (1966 to 31 January 2012), International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (31 January 2012) and reference lists of retrieved studies. We also contacted organisations, individual experts working in the field, and medicinal herb manufacturers.
Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials that compared Chinese herbal medicines (alone or combined with other pharmaceuticals) with placebo, no treatment (including bed rest), or other pharmaceuticals as treatments for threatened miscarriage.
Two review authors independently assessed all the studies for inclusion in the review, assessed risk of bias and extracted the data. Data were checked for accuracy.
In total, we included 44 randomised clinical trials with 5100 participants in the review.We did not identify any trials which used placebo or no treatment (including bed rest) as a control.The rate of effectiveness (continuation of pregnancy after 28 weeks of gestation) was not significantly different between the Chinese herbal medicines alone group compared with the group of women receiving Western medicines alone (average risk ratio (RR) 1.23; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96 to 1.57; one trial, 60 women).Chinese herbal medicines combined with Western medicines were more effective than Western medicines alone to continue the pregnancy beyond 28 weeks of gestation (average RR 1.28; 95% CI 1.18 to 1.38; five trials, 550 women).
There was insufficient evidence to assess the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicines alone for treating threatened miscarriage.A combination of Chinese herbal and Western medicines was more effective than Western medicines alone for treating threatened miscarriage. However, the quality of the included studies was poor. More high quality studies are necessary to further evaluate the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicines for threatened miscarriage.

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Available from: Chi Chiu Wang, Oct 20, 2014
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    • "To treat threatened miscarriage, the most commonly used CHM formula is Shou Tai Wan. As described in our previous review, CHMs, including Shou Tai Wan and other formulas, when used with western medicines, were more effective than Western medicines alone for treating threatened miscarriage (Li et al., 2012). Based on clinical trials and experimental results, Shou Tai Wan is also effective for treating recurrent miscarriages (Li and Song, 1995; Tan et al., 2013a, b). "
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    ABSTRACT: Miscarriage and infertility have long been public concerns due to the mental and physical suffering they bring to potential parents. There is a strong need for effective and affordable treatments. Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) have been shown to be effective for preventing miscarriage and treating infertility; however, due to the limited knowledge of their pharmacological mechanisms and unknown potential toxicity, their use has been restricted. This paper reviews 24 clinical trials of CHMs to prevent miscarriage and treat infertility. Most of these studies did not meet the requirements of randomized controlled trials. Even when using quality assessments based on the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale to assess the quality of non-randomized studies, most studies did not meet the requirements. The reviewed papers were evaluated for maternal and embryonic adverse effects, including those in animal experiments. Slight maternal effects were noted, with some reports of severe toxic effects of CHMs for preventing miscarriage and severe adverse maternal effects of CHMs used for infertility. Owing to the poor quality of the randomized controlled clinical trials and the limited number of studies, it is not possible to draw a conclusion. From animal studies, for all three gestational periods, growth delay and congenital anomalies were the most commonly recorded adverse effects. However, baseline toxicological data and detailed mechanisms are still lacking. To gain a better understanding of the potential toxic effects of CHMs, additional high-quality randomized controlled trials should be conducted, and high-throughput in vitro screening method for baseline data should be considered. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Applied Toxicology
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    • "In our previous review [36], no placebocontrolled trial was found. The effectiveness of Chinese medicine treatments can be compared only through the comparisons amongst Chinese medicines, Western medicines, and combined medicines. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Miscarriage is a very common complication during early pregnancy. So far, clinical therapies have limitation in preventing the early pregnancy loss. Chinese Medicine, regarded as gentle, effective, and safe, has become popular and common as a complementary and alternative treatment for miscarriages. However, the evidence to support its therapeutic efficacy and safety is still very limited. Objectives and Methods. To summarize the clinical application of Chinese Medicine for pregnancy and provide scientific evidence on the efficacy and safety of Chinese medicines for miscarriage, we located all the relevant pieces of literature on the clinical applications of Chinese Medicine for miscarriage and worked out this systematic review. Results. 339,792 pieces of literature were identified, but no placebo was included and only few studies were selected for systematic review and conducted for meta-analysis. A combination of Chinese medicines and Western medicines was more effective than Chinese medicines alone. No specific safety problem was reported, but potential adverse events by certain medicines were identified. Conclusions. Studies vary considerably in design, interventions, and outcome measures; therefore conclusive results remain elusive. Large scales of randomized controlled trials and more scientific evidences are still necessary to confirm the efficacy and safety of Chinese medicines during early pregnancy.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    • "Although there is no scientific basis for the safety claim, 30–50% of pregnant women use Chinese medicines to maintain good health and reduce the need for Western medication (Westfall, 2001; Ong et al., 2005). Despite the potential beneficial effects of Chinese medicines in threatened miscarriage (Li et al., 2012), no data are available to confirm the safety of Chinese medicines and no regulations have been established to monitor and control its clinical applications in pregnancy. In our animal studies of the commonly used Chinese medicines for threatened miscarriage, we worried about the identified reproductive toxicity, including fetal resorption, growth restriction and congenital malformations (Li et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Threatened miscarriage is very common in early pregnancy. Chinese medicines have been widely used to prevent spontaneous pregnancy loss. However, the safety of Chinese medicines is still unknown. A systematic review was performed to identify and describe adverse events of Chinese medicines used for threatened miscarriage. Clinical studies of Chinese medicines for threatened miscarriage were selected. Primary outcomes were occurrence of adverse effects or toxicity of Chinese medicines. Secondary outcomes were failure of treatment and adverse pregnancy and perinatal outcomes. Thirty-two relevant articles included 9 randomized controlled trials, 1 quasi-randomized controlled trial and 2 controlled trials comparing Chinese medicines alone or combined medicines with pharmaceuticals and 20 case series with no controls. Sample sizes of each study were generally small. There was variation in Chinese medicine formulation, dosage and duration of treatment. In the pooled randomized controlled trials, dry mouth, constipation and insomnia (2-10%) and intervention failure (3.1-22.3%), diabetic complications (3%), preterm delivery (5%) and neurodevelopmental morbidity (1.8%) were recorded. Meta-analysis demonstrated that intervention failure was significantly lower in the combined Chinese medicines groups than in the Western medicines controls (relative risk = 0.46; 95% confidence interval: 0.30-0.70, I(2)= 0%). No significant differences were found between these groups for adverse effects and toxicity or for adverse pregnancy and perinatal outcomes. Studies varied considerably in design, interventions and outcome measures, therefore conclusive results remain elusive. In the absence of placebo-controlled trials, the safety of Chinese medicines for the treatment of threatened miscarriage is unknown. Rigorous scientific and clinical studies to assess the possible risks of Chinese medicines are needed.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Human Reproduction Update
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