An Evaluation of the Additive Effect of Natural Herbal Medicine on SARS or SARS-like Infectious Diseases in 2003: A Randomized, Double-blind, and Controlled Pilot Study

Chung-Hua Hsu; Kung-Chang Hwang; Chung-Liang Chao; Steve G. N. Chang; Mei-Shang Ho; Jaung-Geng Lin; Hen-Hong Chang; Shung-Te Kao; Yi-Ming Chen; Pesus Chou

Disclosures

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;5(3):355-362. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Natural herbal medicine (NHM) has been used to control infectious diseases for thousands of years. In view of the possible beneficial effect of NHM on SARS, we conducted this study to examine whether NHM is of any benefit as a supplementary treatment of SARS or SARS-like infectious disease. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Twenty-eight patients fulfilled the WHO inclusion criteria and our exclusion criteria. All enrolled patients received routine western-medicine treatment. Patients were randomly allocated to one of the three supplementary treatment groups: NHM A (Group A, n = 9) NHM B (Group B, n = 9) or placebo (Group C, n = 10). Chest X-ray was done every 1 or 2 days for every patient. Reading radiologists use a standard 0–3 scoring system (0: no infiltration; 1: focal haziness or even small patchy lesion; 2: ground glass picture; 3: lobar consolidation) according to the severity of infiltration in each lung field (three lung fields in both right and left lungs). The main outcome measurements were the improving chest radiographic scores (IRS) and the duration (days) till improvement (DI). One patient from the placebo group passed away. Patients from NHM A took less days before showing improvement (6.7 ± 1.8) compared with placebo group (11.2 ± 4.9), which showed statistical significance (P = 0.04). The cases were too few to be conclusive, the initial observations seem to indicate NHM appears to be safe in non-criticallly ill patients and clinical trials are feasible in the setting of pandemic outbreaks.

As of August 15, 2003, the cumulative SARS cases reported to the WHO from 29 countries were 8098, with 774 deaths.[1,2] A novel coronavirus is the cause of this disease.[3–5] Because the pathogenesis is still under study, there is no effective treatment as yet.[6] Although many guidelines or protocols have been proposed,[7,8] there are few well-designed studies. Natural herbal medicine (NHM) has been used to control infectious diseases for thousands of years. In view of the possible beneficial effect of NHM on SARS or SARS-like infectious diseases, we conducted this randomized, double-blind clinical trial with placebo-control to examine its effectiveness.

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