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Open AccessReview

Herbal Medicine for the Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

by Lin Ang 1,2, Eunhye Song 3,4, Hye Won Lee 5 and Myeong Soo Lee 1,2,*
1
Clinical Medicine Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 34054, Korea
2
Korean Convergence Medicine, University of Science and Technology, Daejeon 34113, Korea
3
Global Strategy Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 34054, Korea
4
Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Daejeon University, Daejeon 34520, Korea
5
Herbal Medicine Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 34054, Korea
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(5), 1583; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9051583
Received: 23 April 2020 / Revised: 17 May 2020 / Accepted: 20 May 2020 / Published: 23 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Infectious Diseases)
Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a worldwide outbreak of respiratory illness. This review aims to evaluate the effectiveness and adverse events of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19. Methods: Twelve databases were searched through 12 May 2020. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs assessing the effects of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 were eligible. The study selection and data extraction were performed by two independent reviewers. The Cochrane risk of bias tool was used for the assessment of the risk of bias in all included RCTs. Mean differences (MDs), risk ratios (RRs) and odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated, and the effect sizes of the studies were pooled. Results: Seven RCTs with a total of 855 patients were included. All included trials compared the combined therapy of herbal medicine with Western medicine to Western medicine alone. The combined therapy significantly improved the total effective rate (RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.34, p < 0.001), cough symptom disappearance rate (RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.89, p = 0.005), and sputum production symptom disappearance rate (RR 1.73, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.50, p = 0.004). Beneficial effects of the combined therapy were also seen in TCM syndrome score of cough (MD −1.18, 95% CI −1.34 to −1.03, p < 0.001), fever (MD −0.62, 95% CI −0.79 to −0.45, p < 0.001), dry and sore throat (MD −0.83, 95% CI −1.45 to −0.20, p = 0.009), and fatigue (MD −0.60, 95% CI −1.04 to −0.17, p = 0.007). The overall risk of bias of the included studies was unclear. No serious adverse events were reported. Conclusion: Significant effects of the combined therapy of herbal medicine with Western medicine were found, and revealed the potential role of herbal medicine in treating COVID-19. More high-quality RCTs are needed to further validate the effectiveness and adverse events of herbal medicine in the treatment of COVID-19. View Full-Text
Keywords: systematic review; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine; coronavirus disease; COVID-19 systematic review; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine; coronavirus disease; COVID-19
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Ang, L.; Song, E.; Lee, H.W.; Lee, M.S. Herbal Medicine for the Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 1583.

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