Thursday, February 19, 2015

Research Highlights: Review of Jian Ling Decoction Efficacy for Treating Hypertension Shows Inconclusive but Potentially Promising Results

Review of Jian Ling Decoction Efficacy for Treating Hypertension Shows Inconclusive but Potentially Promising Results

Hypertension is a massive public health issue today. It leads to increased risk for cardiovascular and renal disease, and is currently ranked as a leading risk factor for mortality globally despite being largely preventable. It is thus vital to develop effective treatments for hypertension to relieve symptoms early. In East Asia, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine often prescribe Jian Ling Decoction (JLD), a mixture of eight common herbs, to treat essential hypertension.
Recent trials have suggested that JLD may effectively relieve hypertension symptoms, but these trials are small and their results are often unclear or inconclusive. A recent study published in the British Journal of Medicine (BMJ) has compiled a comprehensive review of many trials to better evaluate the overall efficacy of JLD as a hypertension treatment.
This study reviewed ten randomized controlled trials with 655 participants total. Trials were only included in this review if they focused on patients who met the diagnostic criteria for essential hypertension, and if they tested the effects of JLD against the effects of another drug for hypertension treatment. JLD produced no serious side effects in patients in any of these trials.
After compiling the results of all these trials, researchers found some evidence to suggest that JLD can greatly reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients, but this result was only significant in trials where JLD was combined with an existing hypertension treatment in the experimental group. Trial results also suggested that JLD may improve long term quality of life in hypertensive patients. Overall, though results were inconclusive, there is some evidence that JLD may ameliorate certain hypertension symptoms and future studies are needed to explore these findings further.
This study was not without limitations. The trials looked at were varied in their methods and scope, and they often had small sample sizes. The number of trials reviewed was also fairly small. This review is still important, however, as it paves the way for further research into the potential efficacy of JLD and explores the vital issue of treating hypertension globally.

BMJ Open. 2015;5:e006502 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006502

Caroline Russell-Troutman is the 2014-2015 Research Highlights Editor.
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