The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Natural herbal medicine used to complement SARS treatment

    SARS, of course, is severe acute respiratory syndrome — a viral pneumonia. There was one major epidemic in late 2002 where about 10% of those infected died.

    In this study, a concoction of natural herbal medicines (NHM) plus routine western treatment appeared to be safe, with evidence of benefit over western treatment alone.

    First, the details.

    • 28 patients with SARS received routine western-medicine treatment — Ribavirin (Robatol) plus clarithromycin (Biaxin).
    • They were also randomly assigned to one of the 2 herbal mixtures (NHM-A or NHM-B) or placebo.
    • Neither patients nor doctors knew the treatment given.

    And, the results.

    • The NHM-A group showed significantly more rapid improvement as measured by chest x-ray (7 vs 11 days with western treatment alone).
    • 3 patients developed mild diarrhea and one had abdominal discomfort after taking NHM-A.

    NHM-A included 13 herbs and was designed by a Chinese-herb consulting physician team according to the theory of Chinese medicine and their clinical experience.

    The bottom line?
    The availability of x-ray evidence of improvement with NHM-A, even though it was a small group of patients, is intriguing.

    The researchers, were from several centers in Taiwan, and are appropriately conservative in their conclusions.

    • Too few patients to be conclusive
    • HHM-A appears to be safe in non-critically ill patients.
    • Clinical trials are feasible in the setting of pandemic outbreaks of SARS.

    During the epidemic of 2002-2003, Taiwan had the 3rd highest number of cases after China and Hong Kong.

    6/22/07 09:58 JR

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