Chinese medicines may be helpful in treating side effects of chemotherapy and symptoms of flu

New research reviews hint that traditional Chinese medicines may be helpful in treating side effects of chemotherapy and symptoms of flu. For now, however, the findings remain more tantalizing than conclusive.New research reviews hint that traditional Chinese medicines may be helpful in treating side effects of chemotherapy and symptoms of flu. For now, however, the findings remain more tantalizing than conclusive.

In both cases, the reviewers caution that the eligible studies were small in size and poor in quality. Nevertheless, they conclude that the evidence is sufficient to merit further, large-scale trials of both interventions.

One review investigated whether a Chinese herb known as Haungqi can help reduce common side effects of chemotherapy in patients with colorectal cancer. Four trials with a combined 342 patients showed that compared to chemotherapy alone, the traditional medicine seems to decrease the incidence of nausea and vomiting, promote production of white blood cells and stimulate the immune system. Although there was not enough solid evidence to recommend use of the herb in clinical practice, the authors found no harm in it. The review was led by Wu Taixiang, of West China Hospital at Sichuan University.

Another review found that when it comes to improving flu symptoms, traditional Chinese herbs might be as effective as chemical drugs.

The review team, led by X.Y. Chen, found 11 eligible studies of herbal treatments for uncomplicated influenza. All were conducted in China, and they include a total of 2,088 people of all ages.

In the various trials, control and intervention groups received assorted combinations of herbs only, western medicines only, or herbs plus western medicine. Most of the studies show no significant difference between treatments. There was not enough evidence to determine if there is harm to patients from using herbs.

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