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Complement Ther Med. 2012 Jun;20(3):143-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2011.12.004. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Clinical efficacy and safety of Chinese herbal medicine for Wilson's disease: a systematic review of 9 randomized controlled trials.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, China.


Wilson's disease is an autosomal recessive disorder of copper metabolism. Despite being treatable, there is no universally accepted treatment regimen. Currently, various Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) are widely used in the treatment of Wilson's disease in China, but there is a lack of reliable scientific evidence for the effectiveness of such therapies. The objective of this systematic review is to assess the clinical efficacy and safety of CHM as an alternative or/and adjuvant therapy for Wilson's disease. A systematic literature search in different medical databases was performed to identify randomized controlled trials comparing CHM as monotherapy or CHM as adjuvant therapy with western conventional medical therapy in the treatment of Wilson's disease. A total of 687 participants were included in nine eligible studies. The main findings are that CHM as monotherapy or adjuvant therapy for Wilson's disease may be able to improve the clinical symptoms, to promote the urinary copper excretion, to ameliorate liver function and/or liver cirrhosis, and has fewer adverse effects in comparison with western conventional medication. Furthermore, CHM generally appeared to be safe and well tolerated in patients with Wilson's disease. However, the evidence presented in this review are insufficient to warrant a clinical recommendation due to the generally low methodological quality of the included studies. In conclusion, CHM seems to be beneficial and safe for Wilson's disease, but high-quality evidences are still needed to further evaluate this therapy. Therefore, additional well-designed, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials are needed.

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