Is oral administration of Chinese herbal medicine effective and safe as an adjunctive therapy for managing diabetic foot ulcers? A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)

PubMedID: 20673140

Chen M, Zheng H, Yin LP, Xie CG. Is oral administration of Chinese herbal medicine effective and safe as an adjunctive therapy for managing diabetic foot ulcers? A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(8):889-98.
OBJECTIVE
This meta-analysis aimed to assess the effectiveness and safety of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) as an adjunctive method to standard therapy for patients with diabetic foot ulcers (DFU).

METHODS
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of CHM to treat DFU were searched in the following electronic databases: MEDLINE; EMBASE; Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM); Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); Allied & Complementary Medicine Resources (AMED); and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). Two (2) researchers independently assessed the quality and validity of included trials and extracted outcome data for synthesis.

RESULTS
Six (6) trials were included for analysis. Compared to using standard therapy alone, CHM combined with standard therapy significantly increased the number of patients whose ulcers healed (risk ratio [RR], 0.62, [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.39-0.97]) and number of patients with at least a 30% reduction in the ulcer area (RR, 0.81 [95%CI, 0.71-0.92]). In addition, the two therapies combined significantly decreased the number of patients without any improvement (RR, 0.34 [95%CI, 0.21-0.53]). However, with respect to blood flow volume in the dorsal artery of the foot, no significant difference between the two therapies was observed (standardized mean difference, 1.71 [95% CI -1.25-4.67]), but the result favored the CHM combined with standard therapy group. Only 2 of 6 trials reported adverse events, which included nausea, epigastric pain, and dry mouth.

CONCLUSIONS
CHM may be effective and safe as an adjunctive therapy for treating DFU. However, a firm conclusion could not be reached because of the poor quality of the included trials. Further trials with higher quality are justified.