Chinese herbs combined with Western medicine in the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Added March 19, 2020

Citation: Liu X, Zhang M, He L, Li Y. Chinese herbs combined with Western medicine for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012; (10): CD004882

What is this? The first cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) were reported in December 2002. This is an acute respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus and integrated Chinese and Western medicines may have played a role in its successful treatment. Therefore, evidence from studies of these treatments of SARS might help in identifying treatments for COVID-19.

In this Cochrane systematic review, the authors searched for randomized and quasi-randomized trials of Chinese herbs combined with Western medicines versus Western medicines alone for patients with SARS. They did not restrict by language of publication and did their searches in March 2012. They identified 12 randomized and one quasi-randomized trial (total: 640 patients), evaluating 12 different Chinese herbs.

What works: Nothing noted.

What doesn’t work: Chinese herbs combined with Western medicines did not decrease mortality in SARS patients when compared with Western medicines alone.

What’s uncertain: Weak evidence suggests that adding some Chinese herbs to Western medicines may improve symptoms, absorption of pulmonary infiltration and quality of life, and decrease corticosteroid dosage and time in hospital for SARS patients, but this is uncertain.


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