Ayurvedic and collateral herbal treatments for hyperlipidemia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs.
BACKGROUND: Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in both developing and developed countries. An underlying cause of IHD involves retention and deposit of serum lipids in coronary arteries, decreasing blood flow. Drugs (conventional and herbal) are used to lower levels of serum cholesterol to help prevent IHD. The Ayurvedic medicine pharmacopoeia identified herbs that might contribute to a decrease in cholesterol and therefore reduce the risk of IHD.
METHODS: Literature searches were conducted at 3 points: 2003, 2004, and 2007. Databases searched included PubMed, the National Library of Medicine, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Ovid, and EBSCO Information Services, and other search strategies also were used. Each article was assessed for quality by 3 people, and discrepancies were resolved by arbitration using a fourth person, who also read and scored each article. Additional assessments of safety using a scale and determination of reported efficacy/effectiveness of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental designs (QEDs) were made.
RESULTS: RCTs generally received high quality scores and improved by decade of publication. More than 50% of garlic, more than 80% of guggul, and 100% of Arjuna RCTs reported product effectiveness. Safety scores did not improve by decade. The QEDs received medium and high quality scores, and 93% of them reported effectiveness. The QEDs had a higher mean score for safety reporting than the RCTs.
CONCLUSIONS: Many studies received high quality scores and noted safety information and reported effectiveness or efficacy in a clear manner. This finding was not consistent with other systematic reviews that have found the highest reported efficacy/ effectiveness in studies of poorer quality. Ayurvedic herbs reviewed here should be considered by physicians when trying to manage hyperlipidemia in their patients.