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Table 4 Systematic reviews of clinical trials of herbal medicines

From: Systematic reviews of complementary therapies – an annotated bibliography. Part 2: Herbal medicine

      Features   
Author Indication Intervention Comparisons Studies 1/2/3/ Results Author's Conclusion
Year      4/5   
Vogler 99 various aloe placebo, other 6 RCT,4 y/y/y/ Positive results for genital Promising results, but overall
[54]    & no treatment CCT y/n herpes, psoriasis, hyper- evidence insufficient
       lipidemia, diabetes;  
       contradictory for wound healing  
Pittler 98 cholesterol artichoke placebo 1 RCT y/y/y/ Effects over placebo only in the More trials needed
[55] lowering leave    n/n subgroup of participants with  
   extract     serum cholesterol > 210 mg/dl  
Morse 89 atopic evening placebo 9 ?/n/n/ Epogam significantly better No conclusion drawn
[56] eczema primrose oil   RCT/CCT y/y than placebo for most  
   (Epogam)     outcomes  
Vogler 98 migraine feverfew placebo 5 RCT y/y/y/ Majority of trials favor feverfew Effectiveness has not been
[57]      y/n over placebo established beyond reasonable
        doubt
Ernst 2000 nausea and ginger root placebo, 6 RCT y/y/y/ 2 of 3 trials on postoperative Evidence promising but insufficient
[58] vomiting   metoclopramide   y/p nausea positive (best to draw firm conclusions
       negative), trials on  
       seasickness, morning sickness  
       and chemotherapy-induced  
       nausea positive  
Vogler 99 various ginseng root placebo, other 16 RCT y/p/y/ Contradictory results re. The efficacy of ginseng root extract
[59]   extract treatment (1   y/n physical performance (7 trials), is not established beyond
    trial)    psychological function (5), reasonable doubt for any of these
       immunomodulation (2), indications
       positive results in diabetes and  
       herpes simplex (1 trial  
       respectively)  
Pittler 98 venous horse placebo, other 13 RCT y/y/y/ Significant effects over placebo horse chestnut seeds seem to be
[60] insufficieny chestnut treatment   y/n and similar effects compared to effective; further tials needed
   seeds     other treatments (confirmation, long-term results,
        combination)
Pittler 2000 anxiety kava placebo 7 RCT y/y/y/ All trials suggest superiority Available data suggest that kava is
[61]      p/p over placebo; 3 trials with data a treatment option for anxiety.
       for meta-analysis show sign. Further studies needed
       superiority  
Lawrence liver milk thistle placebo, other 33 RCT, y/y/y/ Variety of conditions studied, Efficacy is not established.
2000 [62] diseases   & no treatment 1 CCT y/y studies often poor quality. Possible benefit shown most
       Mixed and inconsistent findings frequently for aminotransferases.
Ernst 99 musculoskel. Phytodolor® placebo, other 10 RCT y/p/y/ Placebo-controlled trials show The data suggest that the
[63] pain populus, treatments   y/n superiority over placebo and combination is effective in the
   fraxinus,     similar effects as NSAIDs symptomatic treatment of
   solidago      muskuloskeletal pain
MacDonald ben. prostata rye grass placebo, other 4 RCT y/y/y/ Signif. improvement over Available evidence suggests that
2000 & hyperplasia pollen therapy   y/y placebo in subjective, but not Cernilton® is well tolerated and
Wilt 2000   extract     objective symptoms; no modestly improves subjective
[64, 65]       differences compared to symptoms. Further studies needed
       tadenan and paraprost  
Ernst 2000 dermatologic tea trea oil placebo, other 4 RCT y/y/y/ 2 trials vs. placebo positive, 3 Data promising but insufficient
[66] conditions   treatment   y/n trials vs. other treatments  
       similar effects  
Stevinson insomnia valerian root placebo 9 RCT y/y/y/ Highly heterogeneous studies Available evidence is promising but
2000 [67]      y/n with sometimes contradictory not fully conclusive. Further,
       and inconsistent findings rigorous trials needed
Renfrew breast cabbage usual care 1 RCT y/y/n/ fewer women stopping breast Further research desirable
84 [68] engorgement leaves    y/n feeding among those receiving  
       cabbage leaves  
Armstrong atopic Chinese placebo 2 RCT y/y/n/ 2 positive studies by the same Evidence encouraging but
99 [69] eczema herbal    y/n   insufficient given the potential of
   therapy     treat analysis relevant side effects
Ernst 97 hypoglyc. all plants no treatment, 7 RCT, 4 y/p/n/ Most studies low quality. Most Use of hypoglcemic plant remedies
[70] activity   placebo, none CCT, 10 y/n papers report positive effects not supported by rigorous
     UCS   on a variety of plants research. Further studies required
Ernst 2000 analgetic or various placebo 18 RCT y/y/y/ Trials on evening primrose oil, The results suggest that several
[71] inflamm.     y/n blackcurrant seed oil, borage herbal remedies have potential in
  treatment      oil, harpagophytum, willow alleviating the pain of rheumatic
       bark, feverfew, and 3 diseases. More research urgently
       combinations; almost all trials needed
       positive  
  1. legend see table 1