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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2 (2005), Issue 3, Pages 363-368
Original Article

Blood-nourishing and Hard-softening Capsule Costs Less in the Management of Osteoarthritic Knee Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial

1Research Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China
2Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Received 20 April 2005; Accepted 3 July 2005

Copyright © 2005 Yuelong Cao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The blood-nourishing and hard-softening (BNHS) capsule is a traditional Chinese formula used in the symptomatic treatment of inflammation and pain. We conducted this randomized controlled trial to compare the efficacy of BNHS with other commonly prescribed drugs. We recruited 120 patients from two teaching hospitals; 30 patients in each hospital were randomly assigned to receive BNH In one hospital, the 30 controls were given another traditional Chinese drug; whereas a Western medicine (chondroprotection drug/Viartril-s) was used as the control in the other hospital. Intervention was carried out over a period of 4 weeks. Primary outcome measures included self-reported pain level, and changes in stiffness and functional ability as measured by the Western Ontario McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis (WOMAC) index. Mixed models were used for statistical analysis. Substantial improvements in disease-specific symptoms were observed, after 4 weeks of treatment, in patients taking BNHS capsules. As assessed by the WOMAC index, pain level of the BNHS group decreased by 57% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 50, 63], stiffness by 63% (95% CI = 55, 71) and functional ability increased by 56% (95% CI = 50, 63). No significant differences were found in any of the outcome measures between the BNHS group and either of the comparison groups. No severe adverse effects were reported. However, this study lacked a placebo group; therefore, we conclude that BNHS appears to be as effective as commonly prescribed medicines for the relief of pain and dysfunction in knee osteoarthritis patients, but costs a lot less than other Western and herbal drugs in the study.