Background: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience progressive pulmonary decline with each acute exacerbation of disease. Current therapy is focused on treating acute symptoms of COPD, but there are no medications that have been implemented to delay the progression of the disease. Herbal therapies have been developed by researchers to supplement baseline therapy for COPD with the goal of prolonging healthful pulmonary states, thereby slowing disease progression.
Methods: Exhaustive search of available medical literature from Medline, CINAHL, Web of Science, EBMR and NIH websites was conducted using the keywords: COPD, herbal therapy, and treatment outcomes.
Results: The search produced nine articles for evaluation. Two articles were chosen that met the inclusion criteria of this systematic review. Both studies are randomized controlled trials, which support the use of herbal remedies as a supplement to baseline COPD therapy. One study investigated the use of Pelargonium sidoides, an African geranium, for effective supplemental therapy. The second study performed research on the use of three unique traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formulations as supplemental therapy for stable COPD. While the results of both studies reflect data that indicates that these herbal supplements are effective in extending the length of duration between acute exacerbations, and decreasing the length of acute exacerbations, further research is necessary to increase confidence in their use.
Conclusion: Use of herbal therapies such as P. sidoides and TCM are promising modalities to maintain wellness in patients with stable COPD when used as a supplement to baseline therapy for COPD to delay progression of disease.
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