Copyright ©2009 The WJG Press and Baishideng. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Oct 21, 2009; 15(39): 4886-4895
Published online Oct 21, 2009. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.4886
Systematic review of Chinese herbal medicine for functional constipation
Chung-Wah Cheng, Zhao-Xiang Bian, Tai-Xiang Wu
Chung-Wah Cheng, Zhao-Xiang Bian, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China
Tai-Xiang Wu, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Chinese Evidence-Based Medicine Centre, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan Province, China
Author contributions: Cheng CW and Bian ZX made contributions to the study design, data analysis and interpretation, and writing the manuscript; Wu TX provided critical comments for amendments of the manuscript prior to publication.
Supported by Health and Health Services Research Fund of Hong Kong Health, Welfare and Food Bureau, No. 05060161
Correspondence to: Zhao-Xiang Bian, PhD, Associate Professor, Director, Clinical Division, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China.
Telephone: +852-34112905 Fax: +852-34112929
Received: June 19, 2009
Revised: August 13, 2009
Accepted: August 20, 2009
Published online: October 21, 2009

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal complaint in clinical practice, affecting an estimated 27% of the population. Many patients are disappointed by current conventional treatments and, therefore, seek help from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Traditional Chinese medicine, is the most important part of CAM and has been practiced for treating diseases and promoting the health of humans for thousands of years, and has become a popular alternative choice. Although there are many Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) interventions available, and some have been verified by clinical trials, their efficacy and safety are still questioned by both patients and health care providers worldwide. The purposes of this review are, first, to appraise the qualities of individual study designs in the new Cochrane approach. Second, the benefits of individual CHM interventions or individual types of CHM intervention for the treatment of functional constipation are analyzed. Finally, valid and comprehensive conclusions are drawn, if applicable, in order to make clinical recommendations.

Keywords: Chinese herbal medicine, Functional constipation, Systematic review