Herbal medicines for viral myocarditis

Centre for Evidence-Based Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, 11 Bei San Huan Dong Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China, 100029.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 6.03). 07/2010; 8(7):CD003711. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003711.pub3
Source: PubMed


Viral myocarditis is a disease where the muscles in the walls of the heart become infected with a virus. Herbal medicines are used as treatment for diseases such as viral myocarditis. Many clinical trials have been conducted to investigate how effective herbal medicines are for viral myocarditis, and this review aimed to find out whether they work. The review authors conducted an extensive search of the medical literature for trials where a herbal medicine was compared with a fake medicine (placebo), no intervention, or conventional medicines for treatment of viral myocarditis. Trials of herbal medicine plus a conventional drug versus the drug alone were also eligible. The review authors only included properly randomised trials, as these produce the most reliable evidence. The literature search identified 20 clinical trials, involving 2177 people, performed and published in China. Examination of these 20 trials did not reveal any benefit of herbal medicine on death from all causes. However, they did show that Astragalus membranaceus (either as an injection or granules) may have a positive effect on heart function as measured by electrocardiogram. Another herbal medicine, Shengmai decoction, improved quality of life measured by a standard questionnaire (the SF-36). Six trials provided information about adverse events, but no serious adverse effects were reported. The methods used in these trials were generally of poor quality, although all 20 trials had adequate sequence generation (randomisation). The evidence from these trials is inconclusive because they were poorly designed and of low-quality, and there was no certainty that all the participants were correctly diagnosed with viral myocarditis. Further randomised trials with a better methods are needed to investigate this area further.

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