Objective To determine whether the quality of press releases issued by medical journals can influence the quality of associated newspaper stories.
Design Retrospective cohort study of medical journal press releases and associated news stories.
Setting We reviewed consecutive issues (going backwards from January 2009) of five major medical journals (Annals of Internal Medicine, BMJ, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, JAMA, and New England Journal of Medicine) to identify the first 100 original research articles with quantifiable outcomes and that had generated any newspaper coverage (unique stories ≥100 words long). We identified 759 associated newspaper stories using Lexis Nexis and Factiva searches, and 68 journal press releases using Eurekalert and journal website searches. Two independent research assistants assessed the quality of journal articles, press releases, and a stratified random sample of associated newspaper stories (n=343) by using a structured coding scheme for the presence of specific quality measures: basic study facts, quantification of the main result, harms, and limitations.
Main outcome Proportion of newspaper stories with specific quality measures (adjusted for whether the quality measure was present in the journal article’s abstract or editor note).
Results We recorded a median of three newspaper stories per journal article (range 1-72). Of 343 stories analysed, 71% reported on articles for which medical journals had issued press releases. 9% of stories quantified the main result with absolute risks when this information was not in the press release, 53% did so when it was in the press release (relative risk 6.0, 95% confidence interval 2.3 to 15.4), and 20% when no press release was issued (2.2, 0.83 to 6.1). 133 (39%) stories reported on research describing beneficial interventions. 24% mentioned harms (or specifically declared no harms) when harms were not mentioned in the press release, 68% when mentioned in the press release (2.8, 1.1 to 7.4), and 36% when no press release was issued (1.5, 0.49 to 4.4). 256 (75%) stories reported on research with important limitations. 16% reported any limitations when limitations were not mentioned in the press release, 48% when mentioned in the press release (3.0, 1.5 to 6.2), and 21% if no press release was issued (1.3, 0.50 to 3.6).
Conclusion High quality press releases issued by medical journals seem to make the quality of associated newspaper stories better, whereas low quality press releases might make them worse.
Complementary and alternative medicine use is common among cancer patients. In many surveys, herbal medicines are among the most commonly used group of treatments. Herbal remedies are believed by the general public to be safe, cause less side effects and less likely to cause dependency.
The authors performed a literature review to assess which herbal approaches have had associated cancer case reports and determine which of these have been studied in prospective research. Eighteen case reports of patients having apparent antitumour effects from herbal therapy and 21 case reports of toxic effects of herbs used by cancer patients were identified. Clinicaltrials.gov and MEDLINE (via PubMed) were searched for each of the herbal products identified in these reports. Clinical trials in cancer populations were identified for green tea extracts or compounds (n = 34), phytoestrogens (n=27), mistletoe (n =8), Ganoderma lucidum (n=1), Noni (n = 1) and Silymarin (n = 1). Daikenchuto, PC-SPES, Nyoshinsan/TJ and Saw palmetto have also been studied prospectively.
In conclusion, some of the herbs with promising case report findings have undergone prospective clinical investigations but many others have either not yet been explored or the results have not been reported in English. Unconventional therapies, such as herbs and minerals, used in ancient medical traditions have led to the identification of active anticancer agents. Mechanisms to support prospective research with such approaches are discussed.
herbs; complementary and alternative medicine; cancer; treatment; toxicity
While corticosteroids and β-2 agonists are effective in managing asthma symptoms, a curative therapy for asthma is lacking. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), used in Asia for centuries, is beginning to play a role in Western health care as a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modality. There is increasing scientific evidence supporting the use of TCM for asthma treatment.
This review article discusses promising TCM interventions for asthma and explores their possible mechanisms of action.
We first reviewed five clinical studies of “anti-asthma” TCM herbal remedies published between 2005–2007. We then summarized possible mechanisms underlying their effects based on data in the original articles, published abstracts, and available data bases. Possible mechanisms include anti-inflammation, inhibition of airway smooth muscle contraction, and immunomodulation. Research on TCM herbal therapy for food allergy is rare, and we therefore focused on the effect and mechanism of action of Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2 (FAHF-2) on a murine model of peanut allergy and preliminary clinical study results.
Evidence from clinical studies supports beneficial effects of TCM herbal therapy on asthma. A number of mechanisms may be responsible for efficacy of these agents. Strong preclinical study data suggest potential efficacy of FAHF-2 for food allergy.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine; traditional Chinese herbal medicine; botanical drug; asthma; food allergy; Th1/Th1 balance
In Africa, herbal medicines are often used as primary treatment for HIV/AIDS and for HIV-related problems. In general, traditional medicines are not well researched, and are poorly regulated. We review the evidence and safety concerns related to the use of two specific African herbals, which are currently recommended by the Ministry of Health in South Africa and member states for use in HIV: African Potato and Sutherlandia. We review the pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these herbal medicines. Despite the popularity of their use and the support of Ministries of Health and NGOs in some African countries, no clinical trials of efficacy exist, and low-level evidence of harm identifies the potential for drug interactions with antiretroviral drugs. Efforts should be made by mainstream health professionals to provide validated information to traditional healers and patients on the judicious use of herbal remedies. This may reduce harm through failed expectations, pharmacologic adverse events including possible drug/herb interactions and unnecessary added therapeutic costs. Efforts should also be directed at evaluating the possible benefits of natural products in HIV/AIDS treatment.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), including herbal medicine, are popular in the general population worldwide. Parallel to the increasing interest in ‘modern’ CAM therapies and the historical importance of Arab medicine, there is also a similar trend in research activities dealing with the efficacy and safety of medicinal plants in our region. Historical and current studies and surveys indicate that the Eastern region of the Mediterranean has been distinguished throughout the generations with a rich inventory of natural medicinal herbs. It is well documented that indigenous Arab medicine has contributed greatly to the development of modern medicine in Europe and remains one of the closest forms of original European medicine. The rapid increase in consumption of herbal remedies worldwide has been stimulated by several factors, including the notion that all herbal products are safe and effective. This article presents a systematic review on traditional Arab medicine including historical background, medical innovations introduced by Arab physicians in the field of safety and efficacy of herbal medicine and a state-of-the-art description of traditional Arab herbal medicine in the Mediterranean region.
Arab herbal medicine; in vitro and in vivo complementary medicine; toxicity and efficacy
The sharing of information between the lay public and medical professionals is crucial to the conduct of personalized medicine using genomic information in the near future. Mass media, such as newspapers, can play an important role in disseminating scientific information. However, studies on the role of newspaper coverage of genome-related articles are highly limited. We investigated the coverage of genomic medicine in five major Japanese newspapers (Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Sankei, and Nikkei) using Nikkei Telecom and articles in scientific journals in PubMed from 1995 to 2009. The number of genome-related articles in all five newspapers temporarily increased in 2000, and began continuously decreasing thereafter from 2001 to 2009. Conversely, there was a continuous increasing trend in the number of genome-related articles in PubMed during this period. The numbers of genome-related articles among the five major newspapers from 1995 to 2009 were significantly different (P = 0.002). Commentaries, research articles, and articles about companies were the most frequent in 2001 and 2003, when the number of genome-related articles transiently increased in the five newspapers. This study highlights the significant gap between newspaper coverage and scientific articles in scientific journals.
coverage; personalized medicine; mass media; newspaper
Because positive biomedical observations are more often published than those reporting no effect, initial observations are often refuted or attenuated by subsequent studies.
To determine whether newspapers preferentially report on initial findings and whether they also report on subsequent studies.
We focused on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using Factiva and PubMed databases, we identified 47 scientific publications on ADHD published in the 1990s and soon echoed by 347 newspapers articles. We selected the ten most echoed publications and collected all their relevant subsequent studies until 2011. We checked whether findings reported in each “top 10” publication were consistent with previous and subsequent observations. We also compared the newspaper coverage of the “top 10” publications to that of their related scientific studies.
Seven of the “top 10” publications were initial studies and the conclusions in six of them were either refuted or strongly attenuated subsequently. The seventh was not confirmed or refuted, but its main conclusion appears unlikely. Among the three “top 10” that were not initial studies, two were confirmed subsequently and the third was attenuated. The newspaper coverage of the “top 10” publications (223 articles) was much larger than that of the 67 related studies (57 articles). Moreover, only one of the latter newspaper articles reported that the corresponding “top 10” finding had been attenuated. The average impact factor of the scientific journals publishing studies echoed by newspapers (17.1 n = 56) was higher (p<0.0001) than that corresponding to related publications that were not echoed (6.4 n = 56).
Because newspapers preferentially echo initial ADHD findings appearing in prominent journals, they report on uncertain findings that are often refuted or attenuated by subsequent studies. If this media reporting bias generalizes to health sciences, it represents a major cause of distortion in health science communication.
Complementary medicine is a formal method of health care in most countries of the ancient world. It is expected to become more widely integrated into the modern medical system, including the medical curriculum. Despite the perception of modern medicine as more efficacious, traditional medicine continues to be practiced. More than 70% of the developing world's population still depends primarily on the complementary and alternative systems of medicine (CAM). In rural areas, cultural beliefs and practices often lead to self-care, home remedies or consultation with traditional healers. Herbal medicine can be broadly classified into four basic systems as follows: Traditional Chinese Herbalism, Ayurvedic Herbalism, Western Herbalism—which originally came from Greece and Rome to Europe and then spread to North and South America and Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine (TAIM). There is no doubt that today the concept of Arabic traditional herbal medicine is a part of modern life in the Middle East, and it is acquiring worldwide respect, with growing interest among traditional herbalists and the scientific community. TAIM therapies have shown remarkable success in healing acute as well as chronic diseases and have been utilized by people in most countries of the Mediterranean who have faith in spiritual healers. TAIM is the first choice for many in dealing with ailments such as infertility, epilepsy, psychosomatic troubles and depression. In parallel, issues of efficacy and safety of complementary medicine have become increasingly important and supervision of the techniques and procedures used is required for commercial as well as traditional uses. More research is therefore needed to understand this type of medicine and ensure its safe usage. The present review will discuss the status of traditional Arab medicine (particularly herbal medicine), including the efficacy and toxicity of specific medicinal preparations, with an emphasis on the modern in vitro and in vivo techniques.
Arab herbal medicine; efficacy; toxicity
Stem cell (SC) therapies hold remarkable promise for many diseases, but there is a significant gulf between public expectations and the reality of progress toward clinical application. Public expectations are fueled by stakeholder arguments for research and public funding, coupled with intense media coverage in an ethically charged arena. We examine media representations in light of the expanding global landscape of SC clinical trials, asking what patients may realistically expect by way of timelines for the therapeutic and curative potential of regenerative medicine?
We built 2 international datasets: (1) 3,404 clinical trials (CT) containing 'stem cell*' from ClinicalTrials.gov and the World Health Organization's International Clinical Trials Registry Search Portal; and (2) 13,249 newspaper articles on SC therapies using Factiva.com. We compared word frequencies between the CT descriptions and full-text newspaper articles for the number containing terms for SC type and diseases/conditions. We also developed inclusion and exclusion criteria to identify novel SC CTs, mainly regenerative medicine applications.
Newspaper articles focused on human embryonic SCs and neurological conditions with significant coverage as well of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In contrast, CTs used primarily hematopoietic SCs, with an increase in CTs using mesenchymal SCs since 2007. The latter dominated our novel classification for CTs, most of which are in phases I and II. From the perspective of the public, expecting therapies for neurological conditions, there is limited activity in what may be considered novel applications of SC therapies.
Given the research, regulatory, and commercialization hurdles to the clinical translation of SC research, it seems likely that patients and political supporters will become disappointed and disillusioned. In this environment, proponents need to make a concerted effort to temper claims. Even though the field is highly promising, it lacks significant private investment and is largely reliant on public support, requiring a more honest acknowledgement of the expected therapeutic benefits and the timelines to achieving them.
stem cell therapy; clinical trials; public expectations; newspaper coverage; commercialization; ethics
Herbal remedies are widely used for the treatment and prevention of various diseases and often contain highly active pharmacological compounds. Many medicinal herbs and pharmaceutical drugs are therapeutic at one dose and toxic at another. Toxicity related to traditional medicines is becoming more widely recognized as these remedies become popular in the Mediterranean region as well as worldwide. Most reports concerning the toxic effects of herbal medicines are associated with hepatotoxicity although reports of other toxic effects including kidney, nervous system, blood, cardiovascular and dermatologic effects, mutagenicity and carcinogenicity have also been published in the medical literature. This article presents a systematic review on safety of traditional Arab medicine and the contribution of Arab scholars to toxicology. Use of modern cell biological, biochemical, in vitro and in vivo techniques for the evaluation of medicinal plants safety is also discussed.
Arab herbal medicine; complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); in vitro; in vivo; toxicity tests
OBJECTIVES: To assess American newspaper coverage regarding racial and ethnic minority health disparities (MHDs). METHODS: LexisNexis was queried with specific word combinations to elicit all MHD articles printed in 257 newspapers from 2000-2004. The full texts were read and articles categorized by racial/ethnic group and specific MHD topics mentioned. RESULTS: In the five years from 2000-2004, 1188 MHD articles were published, representing 0.09% of all articles about health. Newspapers gave much attention to MHD when discussed in conferences and meetings and speeches by senior health officials and politicians. Cancer, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS were most frequent among disease-specific mentions. Articles about African Americans comprised 60.4% of all race/ethnicity-mentioning articles. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the release of major organizational reports and the publication of many studies confirming the prevalence of MHD, few newspaper articles have been published explaining MHD to the public. Because of the general public's low rate of health literacy, the health world should collaborate with the media to present a consistent, simple message concerning gaps in care experienced by all racial/ethnic minority groups. In a time of consumer-directed healthcare, if Americans understand that MHDs exist, they may galvanize to advocate for disparity elimination and quality improvement.
one of the most common chronic diseases in modern society and there is
increasing evidence to suggest that its incidence and severity are
increasing. There is a high prevalence of usage of complementary
medicine for asthma. Herbal preparations have been cited as the third
most popular complementary treatment modality by British asthma
sufferers. This study was undertaken to determine if there is any
evidence for the clinical efficacy of herbal preparations for the
treatment of asthma symptoms.
independent literature searches were performed on Medline, Pubmed,
Cochrane Library, and Embase. Only randomised clinical trials were
included. There were no restrictions on the language of publication.
The data were extracted in a standardised, predefined manner and
randomised clinical trials were found, six of which concerned the use
of traditional Chinese herbal medicine and eight described traditional
Indian medicine, of which five investigated Tylophora indica. Three other randomised
trials tested a Japanese Kampo medicine, marihuana, and dried ivy leaf
extract. Nine of the 17 trials reported a clinically relevant
improvement in lung function and/or symptom scores.
definitive evidence for any of the herbal preparations emerged.
Considering the popularity of herbal medicine with asthma patients,
there is urgent need for stringently designed clinically relevant
randomised clinical trials for herbal preparations in the treatment of asthma.
More than 15 million people in the United States consume herbal remedies or high-dose vitamins. The number of visits to providers of complementary and alternative medicine exceeds those to primary care physicians, for annual out-of-pocket costs of $30 billion. Use of herbal products forms the bulk of treatments, particularly by elderly persons who also consume multiple prescription medications for comorbid conditions, which increases the risk of adverse herb-drug-disease interactions. Despite the paucity of scientific evidence supporting the safety or efficacy of herbal products, their widespread promotion in the popular media and the unsubstantiated health care claims about their efficacy drive consumer demand. In this review, we highlight commonly used herbs and their interactions with cardiovascular drugs. We also discuss health-related issues of herbal products and suggest ways to improve their safety to better protect the public from untoward effects.
cardiovascular agents; complementary therapies; drug approval; herbal medicine; herb-drug interaction
Herbal medicine is the use of medicinal plants for prevention and treatment of diseases: it ranges from traditional and popular medicines of every country to the use of standardized and tritated herbal extracts. Generally cultural rootedness enduring and widespread use in a Traditional Medical System may indicate safety, but not efficacy of treatments, especially in herbal medicine where tradition is almost completely based on remedies containing active principles at very low and ultra low concentrations, or relying on magical-energetic principles.
In the age of globalization and of the so-called ‘plate world’, assessing the ‘transferability’ of treatments between different cultures is not a relevant goal for clinical research, while are the assessment of efficacy and safety that should be based on the regular patterns of mainstream clinical medicine.
The other black box of herbal-based treatments is the lack of definite and complete information about the composition of extracts. Herbal derived remedies need a powerful and deep assessment of their pharmacological qualities and safety that actually can be realized by new biologic technologies like pharmacogenomic, metabolomic and microarray methology. Because of the large and growing use of natural derived substances in all over the world, it is not wise to rely also on the tradition or supposed millenarian beliefs; explanatory and pragmatic studies are useful and should be considered complementary in the acquisition of reliable data both for health caregiver and patients.
evidence based medicince; explanatory trials; herbal medicine; mainstream medicine; phytotherapy; pragmatic trials; traditional medical system; traditional medicine
China is the only country in the world where Western medicine and traditional medicine are practised alongside each other at every level of the healthcare system. Traditional Chinese medicine has a unique theoretical and practical approach to the treatment of disease, which has developed over thousands of years. Traditional treatments include herbal remedies, acupuncture, acupressure and massage, and moxibustion. They account for around 40% of all health care delivered in China. The current government policy of expansion of traditional facilities and manpower is being questioned because many hospitals using traditional Chinese medicine are already underutilized and depend on government subsidies for survival. Research priorities include randomised controlled trials of common treatments and analysis of the active agents in herbal remedies. As more studies show the clinical effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine, an integrated approach to disease using a combination of Western medicine and traditional approaches becomes a possibility for the future.
The increasing global popularity of herbal remedies requires further investigation to determine the probable factors driving this burgeoning phenomenon. We propose that the users' perception of efficacy is an important factor and assessed the perceived efficacy of herbal remedies by users accessing primary health facilities throughout Trinidad. Additionally, we determined how these users rated herbal remedies compared to conventional allopathic medicines as being less, equally or more efficacious.
A descriptive cross-sectional study was undertaken at 16 randomly selected primary healthcare facilities throughout Trinidad during June-August 2005. A de novo, pilot-tested questionnaire was interviewer-administered to confirmed herbal users (previous or current). Stepwise multiple regression analysis was done to determine the influence of predictor variables on perceived efficacy and comparative efficacy with conventional medicines.
265 herbal users entered the study and cited over 100 herbs for the promotion of health/wellness and the management of specific health concerns. Garlic was the most popular herb (in 48.3% of the sample) and was used for the common cold, cough, fever, as 'blood cleansers' and carminatives. It was also used in 20% of hypertension patients. 230 users (86.8%) indicated that herbs were efficacious and perceived that they had equal or greater efficacy than conventional allopathic medicines. Gender, ethnicity, income and years of formal education did not influence patients' perception of herb efficacy; however, age did (p = 0.036). Concomitant use of herbs and allopathic medicines was relatively high at 30%; and most users did not inform their attending physician.
Most users perceived that herbs were efficacious, and in some instances, more efficacious than conventional medicines. We suggest that this perception may be a major contributing factor influencing the sustained and increasing popularity of herbs. Evidence-based research in the form of randomized controlled clinical trials should direct the proper use of herbs to validate (or otherwise) efficacy and determine safety. In the Caribbean, most indigenous herbs are not well investigated and this points to the urgent need for biomedical investigations to assess the safety profile and efficacy of our popular medicinal herbs.
Alcohol violations by airline pilots are rare yet remain a public concern. Such incidents often generate widespread news coverage. This study examines the frequency and characteristics of alcohol violation incidents involving airline pilots reported in U.S. newspapers.
The database of Lexis-Nexis™, which contains full-text articles for over 350 newspapers, was searched to identify alcohol violation incidents involving airline pilots in the U.S. between January 1990 and June 2006. Information pertaining to the pilot, flight, blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and consequence was ascertained for each incident based on the newspaper coverage.
During the study period, newspapers reported on a total of 13 incidents of alcohol violations involving 17 pilots. All but two of the incidents occurred during January 2002 through June 2006. The majority (85%) of the incidents were first identified by airport personnel, such as security screeners, based on suspicion of alcohol use by the pilot. Subsequent alcohol testing revealed a mean BAC of 90 mg/dL (ranging from 10 mg · dL−1 to 182 mg · dL−1). Of the 17 pilots, 6 were known to be prosecuted criminally, including 5 who were sentenced to jail terms.
Incidents of alcohol violations by airline pilots reported in U.S. newspapers have increased in recent years. This increase is likely due in part to increased detection resulting from enhanced aviation security and enforcement following the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
alcohol; aviation; pilots
Purpose of review
Allergic disorders represent serious public health problem in children. The chronic nature of these diseases and the fear of known side effects of synthetic drugs influence many families to seek complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This review focuses on TCM herbal products, acupuncture for treating paediatric allergies.
Given the general safety profile, reputed efficacy, TCM are well received by the general population. However, compared to the long human use history and popularity of use of TCM, research into its efficacy and safety is still in infancy. Recent 2-3 years there are more controlled studies of TCM for allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis. Several publications including ours indicate that some TCM herbal formulas are safe and produced some levels of efficacy. Some herbal formula also showed beneficial immunomodualtory effects. Several preclinical studies demonstrated that the food allergy herbal formula-2 (FAHF-2) was effective in protecting against peanut anaphylaxis in animal model. Two TCM products have entered the clinical trials in the US for treating asthma and food allergy respectively. Both of these trials include children.
Recently studies indicate that TCM therapy including herbal medicines and acupuncture for allergic disorders in children is safe. There are also promising clinical and objective improvement. More controlled clinical studies are encouraged.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine; traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture; allergic disorders in children; Th1 and Th2 balance
Constipation is a common gastrointestinal complaint in clinical practice, affecting an estimated 27% of the population. Many patients are disappointed by current conventional treatments and, therefore, seek help from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Traditional Chinese medicine, is the most important part of CAM and has been practiced for treating diseases and promoting the health of humans for thousands of years, and has become a popular alternative choice. Although there are many Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) interventions available, and some have been verified by clinical trials, their efficacy and safety are still questioned by both patients and health care providers worldwide. The purposes of this review are, first, to appraise the qualities of individual study designs in the new Cochrane approach. Second, the benefits of individual CHM interventions or individual types of CHM intervention for the treatment of functional constipation are analyzed. Finally, valid and comprehensive conclusions are drawn, if applicable, in order to make clinical recommendations.
Chinese herbal medicine; Functional constipation; Systematic review
Over the past several decades, complementary and alternative medications have increasingly become a part of everyday treatment. With the rising cost of prescription medications and their production of unwanted side effects, patients are exploring herbal and other natural remedies for the management and treatment of psychological conditions. Psychological disorders are one of the most frequent conditions seen by clinicians, and often require a long-term regimen of prescription medications. Approximately 6.8 million Americans suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. Many also suffer from the spectrum of behavioural and physical side effects that often accompany its treatment. It is not surprising that there is universal interest in finding effective natural anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) treatments with a lower risk of adverse effects or withdrawal.
An electronic and manual search was performed through MEDLINE/PubMed and EBSCO. Articles were not discriminated by date of publication. Available clinical studies published in English that used human participants and examined the anxiolytic potential of dietary and herbal supplements were included. Data were extracted and compiled into tables that included the study design, sample population, intervention, control, length of treatment, outcomes, direction of evidence, and reported adverse events.
A total of 24 studies that investigated five different CAM monotherapies and eight different combination treatments and involved 2619 participants met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. There were 21 randomized controlled trials and three open-label, uncontrolled observational studies. Most studies involved patients who had been diagnosed with either an anxiety disorder or depression (n = 1786). However, eight studies used healthy volunteers (n = 877) who had normal levels of anxiety, were undergoing surgery, tested at the upper limit of the normal range of a trait anxiety scale, had adverse premenstrual symptoms or were peri-menopausal, reported anxiety and insomnia, or had one month or more of elevated generalized anxiety. Heterogeneity and the small number of studies for each supplement or combination therapy prevented a formal meta-analysis. Of the randomized controlled trials reviewed, 71% (15 out of 21) showed a positive direction of evidence. Any reported side effects were mild to moderate.
Based on the available evidence, it appears that nutritional and herbal supplementation is an effective method for treating anxiety and anxiety-related conditions without the risk of serious side effects. There is the possibility that any positive effects seen could be due to a placebo effect, which may have a significant psychological impact on participants with mental disorders. However, based on this systematic review, strong evidence exists for the use of herbal supplements containing extracts of passionflower or kava and combinations of L-lysine and L-arginine as treatments for anxiety symptoms and disorders. Magnesium-containing supplements and other herbal combinations may hold promise, but more research is needed before these products can be recommended to patients. St. John's wort monotherapy has insufficient evidence for use as an effective anxiolytic treatment.
Complementary therapies are widespread but controversial. We aim to provide a comprehensive collection and a summary of systematic reviews of clinical trials in three major complementary therapies (acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy). This article is dealing with herbal medicine. Potentially relevant reviews were searched through the register of the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field, the Cochrane Library, Medline, and bibliographies of articles and books. To be included articles had to review prospective clinical trials of herbal medicines; had to describe review methods explicitly; had to be published; and had to focus on treatment effects. Information on conditions, interventions, methods, results and conclusions was extracted using a pre-tested form and summarized descriptively.
From a total of 79 potentially relevant reviews pre-selected in the screening process 58 met the inclusion criteria. Thirty of the reports reviewed ginkgo (for dementia, intermittent claudication, tinnitus, and macular degeneration), hypericum (for depression) or garlic preparations (for cardiovascular risk factors and lower limb atherosclerosis). The quality of primary studies was criticized in the majority of the reviews. Most reviews judged the available evidence as promising but definitive conclusions were rarely possible.
Systematic reviews are available on a broad range of herbal preparations prescribed for defined conditions. There is very little evidence on the effectiveness of herbalism as practised by specialist herbalists who combine herbs and use unconventional diagnosis.
The Japanese traditional herbal medicine, Kampo, has gradually reemerged and 148 different formulations (mainly herbal extracts) can be prescribed within the national health insurance system. The objective of this article is to introduce Kampo and to present information from previous clinical studies that tested Kampo formulae. In addition, suggestions on the design of future research will be stated. The literature search was based on a summary, up until January 2009, by the Japanese Society of Oriental Medicine and included only those trials which were also available in either Pubmed or ICHUSHI (Japan Medical Abstracts Society). We included 135 studies, half of these studies (n = 68) used a standard control and 28 a placebo control. Thirty-seven trials were published in English [all randomized controlled trials (RCTs)] and the remaining articles were in Japanese only. The sample size for most studies was small (two-third of the studies included less than 100 patients) and the overall methodological quality appeared to be low. None of the studies used Kampo diagnosis as the basis for the treatment. In order to evaluate Kampo as a whole treatment system, certain aspects should be taken into account while designing studies. RCTs are the appropriate study design to test efficacy or effectiveness; however, within the trial the treatment could be individualized according to the Kampo diagnosis. Kampo is a complex and individualized treatment with a long tradition, and it would be appropriate for further research on Kampo medicine to take this into account.
Herbal remedies and dietary supplements have become an important area of research and clinical practice in orthopaedics and rheumatology. Understanding the risks and benefits of using herbal medicines in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatic diseases, and musculoskeletal complaints is a key priority of physicians and their patients. This review discusses the latest advances in the use of herbal medicines for treating osteoarthritis (OA) by focusing on the most significant trends and developments. This paper sets the scene by providing a brief introduction to ethnopharmacology, Ayurvedic medicine, and nutrigenomics before discussing the scientific and mechanistic rationale for targeting inflammatory signalling pathways in OA by use of herbal medicines. Special attention is drawn to the conceptual and practical difficulties associated with translating data from in-vitro experiments to in-vivo studies. Issues relating to the low bioavailability of active ingredients in herbal medicines are discussed, as also is the need for large-scale, randomized clinical trials.
Osteoarthritis; Rheumatic diseases; Musculoskeletal complaints; Inflammation; Herbal medicine; Ethnopharmacology; Ayurvedic medicine; Nutrigenomics; Clinical trials; Articular cartilage; Synovium; Mesenchymal stem cell; Phytochemicals; Flavonoids; Catechins; Treatment
In Mexico, local empirical knowledge about medicinal properties of plants is the basis for their use as home remedies. It is generally accepted by many people in Mexico and elsewhere in the world that beneficial medicinal effects can be obtained by ingesting plant products. In this review, we focus on the potential pharmacologic bases for herbal plant efficacy, but we also raise concerns about the safety of these agents, which have not been fully assessed. Although numerous randomized clinical trials of herbal medicines have been published and systematic reviews and meta-analyses of these studies are available, generalizations about the efficacy and safety of herbal medicines are clearly not possible. Recent publications have also highlighted the unintended consequences of herbal product use, including morbidity and mortality. It has been found that many phytochemicals have pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interactions with drugs. The present review is limited to some herbal medicine that are native or cultivated in Mexico and that have significant use. We discuss the cultural uses, phytochemistry, pharmacological and toxicological properties of the following following plant species: Nopal (Opuntia ficus), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Chaparral (Larrea divaricata), Dandlion (Taraxacum officinale), Mullein (Verbascum densiflorum), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Nettle or Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), Passionflower (Passiflora incarmata), Linden Flower (Tilia europea), and Aloa (Aloa vera). We conclude that our knowledge of the therapeutic benefits and risks of some herbal medicines used in Mexico is still limited and efforts to elucidate them should be intensified.
Use of herbal medicine in the treatment of liver cancer has a long tradition. The compounds derived from the herb and herbal composites are of considerable interest among oncologists. In the past, certain herbal compounds and herbal composite formulas have been studied through in vitro and in vivo as an anti-hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) agent, enhancing our knowledge about their biologic functions and targets. However there is a significant distinction between the herbal medicine and the herbal production even though both are the plant-based remedies used in the practice. In this article, for the sake of clarity, the effective herbal compounds and herbal composite formulas against HCC are discussed, with emphasizing the basic conceptions of herbal medicine in order to have a better understanding of the prevention and treatment of HCC by herbal active compounds and herbal composite formulas.