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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 925069, 11 pages
Review Article

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Herbal Medicine on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases

1School of Chinese Medicine, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 10 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
2Department of Medicine, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
3Chinese Medicine Section, Hospital Authority, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Received 17 December 2013; Revised 7 February 2014; Accepted 20 February 2014; Published 26 March 2014

Academic Editor: Myeong Soo Lee

Copyright © 2014 Hai Yong Chen 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.


Herbal medicine (HM) as an adjunct therapy has been shown to be promising for the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the role of herbs in COPD remains largely unexplored. In this present study, we conducted the systematic review to evaluate the efficacy of herbs in COPD. 176 clinical studies with reporting pulmonary function were retrieved from English and Chinese database. Commonly used herbs for acute exacerbations stage (AECOPD) and stable COPD stage (SCOPD) were identified. A meta-analysis conducted from 15 high quality studies (18 publications) showed that HM as an adjunct therapy had no significant improvement in pulmonary function (FEV1, FEV%, FVC, and FEV1/FVC) compared to conventional medicine. The efficacy of the adjunct HM on improving the arterial blood gas (PaCO2 and PaO2) for AECOPD and SCOPD remains inconclusive due to the heterogeneity among the studies. However, HM as an adjunct therapy improved clinical symptoms and quality of life (total score, activity score, and impact score of St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire). Studies with large-scale and double-blind randomized controlled trials are required to confirm the role of the adjunct HM in the management of COPD.