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Complement Ther Med. 2017 Dec;35:133-139. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.11.001. Epub 2017 Nov 9.

Herbal medicines for treating acute otitis media: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials.

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Clinical Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea.
Mibyeong Research Center, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea.
Global doctor, Korea international cooperation agency, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea.
KM Convergence Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea. Electronic address:



This systematic review aimed to assess the clinical evidence for the widespread use of herbal medicines in treating acute otitis media.


Eleven electronic databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the CENTRAL were searched, without language limitations. All randomised controlled trials involving the use of herbal medicines, alone or in combination with conventional therapies, for acute otitis media were included.


We identified 4956 studies, of which seven randomised clinical trials met the inclusion criteria. The overall risk of bias of the included trials was relatively high or unclear. Treatment with Longdan-xiegan decoction or Shenling-baizhu powder, combined with antibiotics, appeared to be more effective than treatment with antibiotics alone in terms of the proportion of patients with total symptom recovery. Moreover, combination treatment of Sinupret® and antibiotics facilitated the recovery of middle ear conditions and hearing acuity.


Despite some indications of potential symptom improvement, the evidence regarding the effectiveness and efficacy of herbal medicine for acute otitis media is inconclusive due to the poor quality of trials included. Moreover, we only analysed seven trials in this review. Therefore, to properly evaluate the effectiveness of herbal medicine for acute otitis media, systematic reviews based on more rigorously designed randomized trials are warranted in the future.


Acute otitis media; Herbal medicine; Systematic review

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