In recent decades Chinese herbal medicine has been increasingly subjected to investigation using modern methods of research. A Department of Health steering group report in 2008 stated “some rigorous trials have been carried out in the West, and have demonstrated positive benefits from CHM intervention”. The RCHM has collated information about the most robust research into Chinese medicine and has outlined the challenges facing herbal medicine researchers. Read this document here .

The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, the Southampton Complementary Medicine Trust and the Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Cochrane Centre is working to improve access to over 17,000 trials that have been published in Chinese. A system has been set up to identify high quality trials and these will be translated into English and reviewed. The following conditions are currently being reviewed:

- polycystic ovarian syndrome
- multiple sclerosis
- graves disease (hyperthyroidism)
- eczema
- irritable bowel syndrome

Scoping the Evidence Base for Herbal Medicines (a document produced by the EHTPA)

Research studies into the efficacy of Chinese Herbal Medicine (in alphabetical order)

A Chinese herbal formula, based on magnolia flower, can help reduce the symptoms experienced by people who are allergic to dust mites and pets (perennial allergic rhinitis), according to research published in International Immuno-pharmacology.

CANCER - relieving side effects from cancer treatment
Forty-nine trials that included 3,992 participants were reviewed at the University of Mancheste . Researchers found that “CHM reduced side effects, improved quality of life and performance status, and in some cases showed enhanced tumour regression and increased survival rates" according to the report.

CHOLESTEROL - high levels
Red Yeast Rice an alternative to statins for people with statin-intolerance
For people suffering from high cholesterol the common treatment is to take one of several statins; a class of drug proven to lower cholesterol levels.
However, statins are increasingly being associated with adverse effects such as muscle cramps and loss of energy. Dr Richard Karas of Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, has stated that in the real world, although as yet unproven in a study, statin-associated muscle problems are a common and difficult problem for clinicians.

In a small study held at the University of Pennsylvania scientists have discovered that the Chinese Medicine Red Yeast Rice (Hong Qu) has similar benefits to the statins but without the risk of the side effects.

Red yeast rice has been used in China for patients with circulatory and digestive problems for centuries and has been shown to lower plasma LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels.

"Statin-associated myalgia (muscle pain) is an important clinical problem that will likely become more prevalent owing to the ever-expanding indications for statin use," write lead author Dr Steven Halbert (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA) and colleagues in the January 15, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. "Although no definitive conclusions could be drawn, our data showed that red yeast rice.achieved clinically significant levels of LDL-cholesterol reduction in a population with previous statin intolerance."

For more information see the The American Journal of Cardiology.

Hawthorn extract 'helps blood flow'.
Hawthorn extract can significantly ease the symptoms of chronic heart failure, research suggests. Researchers looking at several studies found the extract made patients better able to exercise and reduced tiredness and shortness of breath. For the full report visit the or OnMedica.

Female infertility
Measuring the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in improving female infertility - TrevorA.Wing & Elke S.Sedlmeier

Irritable bowel syndrome. Please click below for a study done on IBS
IBS trial

This endometriosis review suggests that Chinese herbal medicine may be useful in relieving endometriosis related pain with fewer side effects than are experienced with conventional treatment

Atopic dermatitis
Research published in The Lancet indicates that traditional Chinese herbal medicine "seems to benefit adults with atopic dermatitis".

Atopic eczema in children
Research published in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that "response to active treatment was superior to response to placebo, and was clinically valuable. There was no evidence of haematological, renal or hepatic toxicity".