Add-on effect of Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19

Autor: Xuqin Du et al.

Journal: PLoS ONE 16(8): e0256429, englisch

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has emerged as a global pandemic since its outbreak in Wuhan, China. It is an urgent task to prevent and treat COVID-19 effectively early. In China’s experience combating the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has played an indispensable role. A large number of epidemiological investigations have shown that mild to moderate COVID-19 accounts for the largest proportion of cases. It is of great importance to treat such COVID-19 cases, which can help control epidemic progression. Many trials have shown that CHM combined with conventional therapy in the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 was superior to conventional therapy alone. This review was designed to evaluate the add-on effect of CHM in the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19.

Eight electronic databases including PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Clinical website, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), China Science and Technology Journal Database (VIP), Wanfang Database and China Biology Medicine (CBM) were searched from December 2019 to March 2021 without language restrictions. Two reviewers searched and selected studies, and extracted data according to inclusion and exclusion criteria independently. Cochrane Risk of Bias (ROB) tool was used to assess the methodological quality of the included RCTs. Review Manager 5.3.0 software was used for statistical analysis.

Twelve eligible RCTs including 1393 participants were included in this meta-analysis. Our meta-analyses found that lung CT parameters [RR = 1.26, 95% CI (1.15, 1.38), P<0.00001] and the clinical cure rate [RR = 1.26, 95%CI (1.16, 1.38), P<0.00001] of CHM combined with conventional therapy in the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 were better than those of conventional therapy. The rate of conversion to severe cases [RR = 0.48, 95%CI (0.32, 0.73), P = 0.0005], TCM symptom score of fever [MD = -0.62, 95%CI (-0.79, -0.45), P<0.00001], cough cases [RR = 1.43, 95%CI (1.16, 1.75), P = 0.0006], TCM symptom score of cough[MD = -1.07, 95%CI (-1.29, -0.85), P<0.00001], TCM symptom score of fatigue[MD = -0.66, 95%CI (-1.05, -0.28), P = 0.0007], and CRP[MD = -5.46, 95%CI (-8.19, -2.72), P<0.0001] of combination therapy was significantly lower than that of conventional therapy. The WBC count was significantly higher than that of conventional therapy[MD = 0.38, 95%CI (0.31, 0.44), P<0.00001]. Our meta-analysis results were robust through sensitivity analysis.

Chinese herbal medicine combined with conventional therapy may be effective and safe in the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19. More high-quality RCTs are needed in the future.

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