A randomized trial of chinese herbal medicines for the treatment of symptomatic hepatitis C

Mrudula Jakkula, Tacey A. Boucher, Ulrich Beyendorff, Shirley M. Conn, Jennifer E. Johnson, Christopher J. Nolan, Craig J. Peine, Jeffrey H. Albrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Many patients with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) cannot be successfully treated with interferon-based regimens. Chinese herbal medicines have been widely prescribed for HCV in Asia, and many infected patients in the United States have used these agents. However, data to support the efficacy of these medications are limited and, to our knowledge, no published trials have been conducted in a US population. Methods: In a double-blinded design, 45 patients with HCV and fatigue were randomized to receive a combination of Chinese herbal medications or a matched placebo for 12 weeks. The main outcome measures were changes in health-related quality of life using the role physical and vitality scale scores from the validated Hepatitis Quality of Life Questionnaire and alanine aminotransferase levels. In addition, other Hepatitis Quality of Life Questionnaire variables, HCV load, and adverse effects were monitored. Results: In patients with HCV, the herbal medications had no effect on any quality-of-life variables, as measured by the Hepatitis Quality of Life Questionnaire. In addition, no significant changes in alanine aminotransferase or serum HCV RNA levels were noted. No significant adverse effects were observed. Conclusions: In this study, a regimen of Chinese herbal medicines did not improve quality of life, liver chemistry results, or viral load in a cohort of patients patients with HCV. Patients and practitioners should remain cautious about the use of herbal medicines for HCV, because studies have not shown a clear benefit of these agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1346
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 28 2004


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