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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 5 (2008), Issue 3, Pages 355-362
Original Article

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

1Community Medicine Research Center National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan
2Institute of Public Health, National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan
3Department of Chinese Medicine, Taipei Hospital, Taiwan
4Department of Pediatrics, Taipei Hospital, Taiwan
5Department of Internal Medicine, Chia-I Hospital, Taiwan
6Department of Radiology, Taipei Hospital, Taiwan
7Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
8Institute of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taiwan
9Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Graduate Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taiwan

Received 8 August 2006; Accepted 18 December 2006

Copyright © 2008 Chung-Hua Hsu 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.


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.