, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 483-491
Date: 03 Jul 2011

Effects and mechanisms of actions of Chinese herbal medicines for asthma

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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of airways that affects approximately 300 million adults and children worldwide. Most therapy currently uses bronchodilators and corticosteroids. Systemic side effects from chronic use of these drugs are concern. Chinese medicine (CM) has a long history of human use in China and other Asian countries and well received by the patients. But as one component of Western integrative medicine (WIM), it is required that CM use is supported by scientific evidence. On the other hand, there are also suggestions that Western standardized medicine should consider personalized practice. In recent years there have been an increasing studies to narrow the gap between CM, the personalized medicine and Western medicine, evidence based medicine. This communication reviews several CM studies published in the English language in details by reviewing the effects and mechanisms of actions on asthma from clinic and experimental studies.

Chinese herbal medicines exhibit broad actions on multiple asthma pathologic mechanisms. These mechanisms may involve antiinflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, inhibiting airway remodeling and normalization of hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal (HPA)-axis disturbances. However, the mechanisms of actions of Chinese herbal medicines for asthma are not fully understood. More controlled clinical studies are warranted and some anti-asthma CM may be proved to be effective when used as monotherapy or complementary asthma therapies.