Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of ulcerative colitis: a review

Xuan Zhang, Lin Zhang, Jacky C. P. Chan, Xihong Wang, Chenchen Zhao, Ying Xu, Weifeng Xiong, Wai Chak Chung, Feng Liang, Xu Wang, Jiangxia Miao, Zhaoxiang Bian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate how the ulcerative colitis (UC) be treated with Chinese herbal medicines (CHM), using Chinese medicine (CM) pattern (zheng) identification, in the current clinical practice.

Methods: A total of 7 electronic databases were systematically searched for UC clinical studies with CHM interventions (including single herbs and CHM formulas) published in English and Chinese from the date of their inception to November 25, 2020. Descriptive statistics were adopted to demonstrate the characteristics of study design, and to collate the commonly CM patterns of UC and frequently used CHM herbs and formulas. Further, IBM SPSS Modeler 18.0 and Cytoscape 3.7.1 software were used to analyze and visualize the associations between different categories of CHM and their zheng indications.

Results: A total of 2311 articles were included in this study, of which most (> 90%) were RCTs with CHM formulas. The most common zheng of UC was Large intestine dampness-heat, while the basic type of CM patten was Spleen deficiency. The most frequently used classical formula was Bai-Tou-Weng-Tang, followed by Shen-Ling-Bai-Zhu-San, and the commonly used proprietary CHM was Xi-Lei-San (enema). Sulfasalazine and Mesalazine are commonly used as concomitant western medicines. The most frequently used single medicinals were Huang Lian and Bai Zhu, which also identified as the core herbs for different CM patterns.

Conclusion: This study examined the application of CHM interventions for UC and summarized their characteristics in clinical practice. These data indicated there were limited information about the safety assessment of CHM formulas and further RCTs including CM pattern(s) with strict design are necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalChinese Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Pharmacology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese herbal medicine formula
  • Clinical practice of Chinese medicine
  • Data mining
  • Literature review
  • Pattern identification
  • Ulcerative colitis


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