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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis

Overview of attention for article published in this source, October 2000
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Herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis
Published by
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, October 2000
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd002948
Pubmed ID

Little, Christine V, Parsons, Tessa


The increasing popularity of the use of complementary and alternative interventions or treatments appears to be particularly evident amongst people with chronic disease. In the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, one therapy that has been identified as having potential benefit, is herbal medicine (phytotherapy). To assess the effectiveness of herbal therapies in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. We developed a search strategy using terms to include all forms of arthritis combined with herbal medicine. We searched the following electronic databases from 1966 to 2000: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CISCOM, AMED, CINAHL, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (CCTR), Cochrane Musculoskeletal specialized register, Dissertation Abstracts, BIDS ISI and the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Fields Specialized Register. This was supplemented by searching the reference lists from retrieved trials. All randomized trials of herbal interventions in rheumatoid arthritis, compared to placebo. Two reviewers independently read and selected each potential study according to the criteria published in an a priori protocol. Papers of any language were included. Data were extracted independently by the same two reviewers and an assessment of methodological quality was conducted. Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Seven of the studies compared gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) to placebo although three of these were not suitable for data pooling. The remaining studies considered four different herbal interventions and were assessed individually. All of the GLA studies found some improvement in clinical outcomes but methodology and study quality was variable, making it difficult to draw conclusive results. However, the better quality studies suggest potential relief of pain, morning stiffness and joint tenderness. With the exception of one intervention (Tripterygium wilfordii hook F), no serious side effects were reported. There appears to be some potential benefit for the use of GLA in rheumatoid arthritis although further studies are required to establish optimum dosage and duration of treatment. The single studies are inconclusive.

Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 49 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 49 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 8 16%
Other 7 14%
Student > Postgraduate 3 6%
Professor > Associate Professor 3 6%
Student > Master 3 6%
Other 12 24%
Unknown 13 27%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 16 33%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 5 10%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 5 10%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 3 6%
Unspecified 2 4%
Other 5 10%
Unknown 13 27%