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J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Jun;17(6):539-47. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0602.

Efficacy of individualized Chinese herbal medication in osteoarthrosis of hip and knee: a double-blind, randomized-controlled clinical study.

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The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of individually designed herbal formulas according to the rules of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.


This was a randomized, controlled, double-blind study with two parallel groups.


This study was conducted at the University-centre in Gars am Kamp/Austria and was organized by the Institute of TCM and Complementary Medicine of the Danube University Krems /Austria.


The study comprised female and male patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee aged between 45 and 75 years.


Patients were randomized into a treatment with individualized, water-based herbal decoctions prepared in a standardized cooking process (Verum group) or to a treatment with nonspecific presumably ineffective, water-based herbal decoctions (Control group).


The primary outcome was the comparison of change between the intervention groups in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities lower limb global index questionnaire (WOMAC global index) between baseline and week 20. Secondary outcomes included subscales of WOMAC for pain (A), stiffness (B), and functional impairment (C) and general quality of life in the form of the SF-36 questionnaire.


Altogether, 102 patients were randomized in this trial. The demographic and medical baseline characteristics were comparable in the 2 groups. The change of the WOMAC global index and all three subscales was significant in both groups between week 20 and baseline (verum group, global WOMAC: at baseline 47 [SD ± 11.8] and at week 20: 24 (SD ± 18.3); change of mean 23; p > 0.001; control group; global WOMAC: at baseline: 48 (SD ± 14.7) and at week 20: 25 (SD ± 18.3); change of mean 23; p > 0.001). However, there was no significant difference (p = 0.783) between the treatment groups. There were significant changes in the subscales "physical functioning," "bodily pain," "vitality," "social-functioning," and "role-physical" of the SF-36 in both study groups between 20 weeks and baseline, but again no significant difference between the groups. There were no drug-related serious adverse events.


While the individual prescription consisting of medicinal herbs according to TCM diagnosis investigated in this trial tend to improve the osteoarthritis, the same effect was also achieved with the nonspecific prescription.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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