CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE MAY IMPROVE ANGINA SYMPTOMS
Tongxinluo, an herbal medicine used to treat cardiovascular diseases in China may improve angina symptoms when integrated with conventional treatment, according to a new systematic review in the October 18 issue of The Cochrane Library. Tongxinluo, composed of eight herbs and insects in capsule form, was found in several of the review studies to reduce the frequency of unstable angina symptoms, such as irregular chest pain, and improve angina patients’ electrocardiogram (ECG) results.
The review authors analyzed data from 18 randomized controlled trials of 1,413 angina patients aged 25 to 88. Conducted in China, a majority of the trials examined the effect of tongxinluo when used in addition to traditional angina treatment in comparison to traditional treatment alone. In seven of the review studies, patients with unstable angina treated with tongxinluo and conventional treatment had improved ECG results compared to patients treated with conventional treatment alone. Findings from 10 of the studies indicated that the herbal medicine improved angina symptoms. In three of the studies, tongxinluo appeared as effective as conventional nitrate medication.
“Tongxinluo is one of the most successful traditional Chinese medicines on the market in China,” said lead author Wu Taixiang, an associate professor at Sichuan University, West China Hospital, in Chengdu, Sichuan. Taixiang and other co-authors said that they felt a “social responsibility” to investigate possible clinical benefits of tongxinluo, after seeing the popularity of this medicine among cardiovascular patients in Asia.
Prior to the current review, evidence on tongxinluo’s effect has not been thoroughly analyzed. The authors concluded that tongxinluo in combination with routine angina therapy appears to reduce the frequency of angina attacks and severity, improve symptoms and ECG results, but that further trials are necessary to determine recommendations for tongxinluo’s use for angina patients. Taixiang considered the review “an encouraging exploration” regarding tongxinluo’s beneficial effects for patients experiencing unstable angina.