Objective: To discuss quality control of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and to provide suggestions for improving this aspect in future clinical study in this therapeutic area. Methods: A search of the Cochrane Library was conducted to identify RCTs of CHM. Quality control information reported in those RCTs was then assessed independently. Results: The search yielded a total of 167 RCTs of CHM for a variety of conditions. A total of 11 CHM preparations were used in those RCTs. Only one trial discussed quality control of the CHM interventions used. Issues affecting the safety and efficacy of CHM products used in RCTs were discussed including standardization of raw herbal materials, processing methods, screening for product contamination, and effects of combination products. Conclusion: The overall quality of reporting of RCTs of CHM was poor, reflecting the need for improvements in reporting future clinical trials in this area. Recommendations: To improve quality control of CHM used in RCTs in future, we recommend developing and implementing guidelines such as Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for Chinese crude drugs, and current Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) specific to CHM products. Chemical analyses of individual herbs of CHM and combination products are also recommended to provide reference standards for quality control.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Chinese herbal medicine
- Quality control
- Randomized controlled trial