Research on Chinese Herbs and Asthma

One of the most promising uses of Chinese herbal medicine comes from Dr. Xiu-Min Li at Mount Sinai University.  Dr. Li has published several papers on the positive outcome of clinical trials using an herbal formula consisting of three herbs which have proven to be the most effective at lowering allergic responses.  

 

In 2009 Li & Brown published an article summarising the effects of their anti-asthma formula ASHMI (anti-asthma herbal medicine intervention), which consists of the following three ingredients:

 

    Ku Shen - Rx. Sophorea flavescentis

    Ling zhi - Ganoderma lucidi (Rei Shi mushroom)

    Gan cao - (Rz. Glycyrhizae uralensis

 

Their double blind, randomised study compared the effects of their formula to oral prednisone on 91 subjects with moderate to severe asthma.  Results showed the following:

  •  both prednisone and ASHMI were equally effective in reducing asthma symptoms, although the effects were achieved somewhat quicker in the prednisone group

  •  Both ASHMI and prednisone decreased inflammatory markers - peripheral blood eosinophils, serum IgE, and Th2 cytokines (IL-5 and IL13) levels. Inhibition was greater in the prednisone group

  • Prednisone suppressed immunity (both Th1 and Th2 responses were suppressed), whereas ASHMI merely modulated the immune system (suppressing only Th2, and leaving Th1 responses intact).

  • Prednisone suppressed IFN-gamma, while ASHMI increased it

  • Prednisone treated patients had reduced cortisol after treatment, whereas ASHMI treated patients had enhanced cortisol levels after treatment.

  • Prednisone group experienced significant weight gain during treatment, ASHMI group did not.

 

The results are impressive because the following benefits can be deduced:

 

  • ASHMI is equally effective in alleviating allergic asthma symptoms without the potential side      effects of oral corticosteroids.

  • Cortisol levels are enhanced and not suppressed (as in corticosteroid treatment), which would make for a lesser likelihood of relapse, since low cortisol levels seem to be a problem in asthma patients to begin with

  • Leaving the Th1 immune response intact, ASHMI is more regulating, rather than just suppressing immune function, thereby leaving the patient less susceptible to infections.

  •  both prednisone and ASHMI were equally effective in reducing asthma symptoms, although the effects were achieved somewhat quicker in the prednisone group

  •  Both ASHMI and prednisone decreased inflammatory markers - peripheral blood eosinophils, serum IgE, and Th2 cytokines (IL-5 and IL13) levels. Inhibition was greater in the prednisone group

  • Prednisone suppressed immunity (both Th1 and Th2 responses were suppressed), whereas ASHMI merely modulated the immune system (suppressing only Th2, and leaving Th1 responses intact).

  • Prednisone suppressed IFN-gamma, while ASHMI increased it

  • Prednisone treated patients had reduced cortisol after treatment, whereas ASHMI treated patients had enhanced cortisol levels after treatment.

  • Prednisone group experienced significant weight gain during treatment, ASHMI group did not.

 

The study has also been corroborated in murine models, which showed that ASHMI  reduction of histamine and leukotriene release, airway hyperreactivity (AHR), pulmonary inflammation and airway remodeling, which was accompanied by down-regulation of Th2

responses. 

 

In addition Hoang et al (2007) reported 14 cases of refractory asthma treated long-term with Rx. Sophora flavescentis extract with very good results.  Within 4 weeks patients had improved significantly, and between 3 months to 3 years of taking the herbal extract all patients had become free of ICS use, and beta2-antagonist use was reduced by 97%.  

 

 

Sources:

 

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 July ; 120(1): 25–31

Traditional Chinese herbal remedies for Asthma and Food Allergy

 Xiu-Min Li, MD

 

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Feb; 123(2): 297–308.

Efficacy and mechanisms of action of traditional Chinese medicines for treating asthma and allergy

Xiu-Min Li, MD and Laverne Brown, PhD

 

Mt Sinai J Med. 2011 ; 78(5): 697–716.

TREATMENT OF ASTHMA AND FOOD ALLERGY WITH HERBAL INTERVENTIONS FROM TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE

Xiu-Min Li, MD

 

Phytother Res. 2007 Jun;21(6):554-7.

New approach in asthma treatment using excitatory modulator.

Hoang BX1, Shaw DG, Levine S, Hoang C, Pham P.