In a nutshell
This analysis investigated the use of Chinese herbal medicine for recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The authors concluded that Chinese herbal medicine, used on its own or with antibiotic treatment, may be more effective than antibiotics alone for relieving UTIs and preventing recurrent infections.
Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem among women. Although preventative antibiotic treatment can help reduce the amount of infections, many express concerns about long-term antibiotic use. Therefore, alternative treatments such as Chinese herbal medicine are commonly tried and investigated.
Methods & findings
The effectiveness and safety of Chinese herbal medicine for treating recurrent UTIs was examined among seven randomized studies involving a total of 542 women.
Among the studies included, three studies involving 282 women compared Chinese herbal medicine to antibiotics. These studies suggested that Chinese herbal medicine was more effective for treating acute UTIs (active infections), and reduced episodes of recurrent UTIs.
Two studies involving 120 women compared Chinese herbal medicine plus antibiotics to antibiotic treatment alone. These found that combined therapy had a higher rate of effectiveness for acute UTIs and resulted in lower rates of recurrent infection for up to six months.
Analysis of one study comparing different types of Chinese herbal medicine showed that formulations specifically designed for recurrent UTIs were more effective in reducing episodes of recurrent infection.
Only two studies investigated the rate of adverse events with Chinese herbal medicine. Neither study reported any adverse events.
The bottom line
The authors of this study concluded that Chinese herbal medicine used either on its own or with antibiotic treatment may be more effective than antibiotics alone for relieving acute UTI episodes and preventing recurrent episodes.
The fine print
The studies investigated in this analysis were small, and were assessed as having poor statistical significance. In addition, most of the women included were post-menopausal. Therefore, results should be interpreted cautiously.
Published By :
Cochrane database of systematic reviews
Feb 10, 2016
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