Chinese medicinal herbs for influenza

  • Review
  • Intervention




Influenza is an acute respiratory communicable disease which, during epidemics, can cause high morbidity and mortality. Traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, often administered following a particular theory, may be a potential medicine of choice.


To assess the effect of Chinese medicinal herbs in preventing and treating influenza, and to estimate the frequency of adverse effects.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2007, issue 1), which includes the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Review Group specialised register; MEDLINE (January 1966 to January 2007); EMBASE (January 1988 to January 2007); CBM (Chinese Biomedical Database) (January 1980 to January 2007); and the Chinese Cochrane Center's Controlled Trials Register (up to January 2007). We also searched Current Controlled Trials ( and the National Research Register ( for ongoing trials and reference lists of articles. For more information we telephoned and wrote to researchers in the field, as well as trial authors of studies evaluated in the review

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing traditional Chinese medicinal herbs with placebo, no treatment, or chemical drugs normally used in preventing and treating uncomplicated influenza patients.

Data collection and analysis

Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality.

Main results

Two studies involving 1012 participants were reviewed. The methodological quality of both studies was 'poor'. Included RCTs separately compared two medicinal herbs with two different antiviral drugs, precluding any pooling of results. 'Ganmao' capsules were found to be more effective than amantadine in decreasing influenza symptoms and speeding recovery in one study, (in which adverse reactions were mentioned in the amantadine group although no data were reported). There were no significant differences between 'E Shu You' and ribavirin in treating influenza, nor in the occurrence of adverse reaction.

Authors' conclusions

The present evidence is too weak to support or reject the use of Chinese medicinal herbs for preventing and treating influenza. More RCTs with good methodological quality, larger numbers of participants and clear reporting are needed in the future. We recommend that all the clinical trials registered in the Chinese Clinical Trial Register and Chinese journals join in the Joint Statement of Establishing Chinese Clinical Trial Registration and Publishing System.








我們搜尋了Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Clinical Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2007, issue 1),其中包含了Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infection Group's Specialised Register、MEDLINE(1966年1月至2007年1月)、EMBASE (1988年1月至2007年1月)、Chinese Biomedical Database (1980年1月至2007年1月) ,以及Chinese Cochrane Center's Controlled Trials Register (直到2007年1月) 。另外我們也搜尋了登錄在Current Controlled Trials(www.controlled 和National Research Register (http://www.update上正在進行中的試驗及其參考文獻清單,同時電洽及寫信聯繫該領域中的研究者、以及本篇文章收錄的試驗作者。


我們收錄了比較中草藥與安慰劑、未經治療、或其他常用的化學藥物,在預防與治療無併發症流行性感冒之療效的Randomised controlled trials (RCTs)。




共2個試驗、包含1012個病人被收錄,但這2篇文章的實驗設計及方法學的品質都不好。這兩篇文章各自比較了兩種不同的中草藥與兩種不同的抗病毒藥物,以至於無法將結果做綜合分析。其中一篇文章發現Ganmao膠囊比Amantadine更能減少感冒症狀並縮短恢復時間,並同時提及了Amantadine組發生的副作用,但詳情未被交代。另一篇文章則比較了E Shu You及Ribavirin,但結果是兩者之間沒有顯著的差異或副作用的發生。


目前並沒有足夠證據支持或否定將中草藥用在流行性感冒的治療上,我們在未來將需要更大規模、設計更好以及結果更明確的RCT來解答這個問題。我們建議所有Chinese Clinical Trial Register登記在案的臨床試驗以及其他中文期刊,都能加入Joint Statement of Establishing Chinese Clinical Trial Registration and Publishing System。



此翻譯計畫由臺灣國家衛生研究院(National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan)統籌。



Plain language summary

Chinese medicinal herbs for patients with uncomplicated influenza

Influenza can cause high morbidity and mortality in an epidemic. Many Chinese medicinal herbs are used for this condition. This review assessed the prophylactic and therapeutic effects as well as safety of Chinese medicinal herbs as an alternative and adjunctive medicine to other commonly used drugs for uncomplicated influenza. Two studies involving 1012 participants were included in the review. The trial quality and evidence were poor and do not support or reject the use of any Chinese herbal preparations for influenza. Well-designed trials are required.