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Volume 15, Issue 4 (July 2013) 15, 471–482; 10.1038/aja.2012.173

Efficacy and safety of Chinese herbal medicine for benign prostatic hyperplasia: systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Chun Ho Ma1, Wai Ling Lin1, Sing Leung Lui2, Xun-Yuan Cai1, Vivian Taam Wong3, Eric Ziea3 and Zhang-Jin Zhang1

1 The University of Hong Kong, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong 852, China
2 The University of Hong Kong, Tung Wah Hospital, Hong Kong, China
3 Hospital Authority, Chinese Medicine Section, Hong Kong, China

Correspondence: Dr ZJ Zhang, (zhangzj@hku.hk)

Received 22 November 2012; Revised 16 December 2012; Accepted 5 January 2013; Advance online publication 3 June 2013


Chinese herbal medicine is commonly used as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), but its efficacy and safety remain to be examined. To compare the efficacy and adverse events of Chinese herbal medicine alone or used adjuvantly with Western medications for BPH. Two independent reviewers searched the major electronic databases for randomized controlled trials comparing Chinese herbal medicine, either in single or adjuvant use with Western medication, with placebo or Western medication. Relevant journals and grey literature were also hand-searched. The outcome measures included changes in urological symptoms, urodynamic measures, prostate volume and adverse events. The frequency of commonly used herbs was also identified. Out of 13 922 identified citations of publications, 31 studies were included. Eleven studies with a Jadad score ≥3 were selected for meta-analysis. Chinese herbal medicine was superior to Western medication in improving quality of life and reducing prostate volume. The frequency of adverse events in Chinese herbal medicine was similar to that of placebo and less than that of Western medication. The evidence is too weak to support the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine for BPH due to the poor methodological quality and small number of trials included. The commonly used herbs identified here should provide insights for future clinical practice and research. Larger randomized controlled trials of better quality are needed to truly evaluate the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine.

Keywords: benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); meta-analysis; review; traditional Chinese medicine

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Asian Journal of Andrology CN 31-1795/R ISSN 1008-682X  Copyright © 2023  Shanghai Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences.  All rights reserved.