Review article: herbal treatment in gastrointestinal and liver disease--benefits and dangers

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001 Sep;15(9):1239-52. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.2001.01053.x.


Herbal medicines are now used by up to 50% of the Western population, in a substantial minority of instances for the treatment or prevention of digestive disorders. Although most indications for the use of such remedies are anecdotally or traditionally derived, controlled trials suggest some benefits for ginger in nausea and vomiting, liquorice extracts in peptic ulceration, Chinese herbal medicine in irritable bowel syndrome, opium derivatives in diarrhoea and senna, ispaghula and sterculia in constipation. Herbal preparations contain many bioactive compounds with potentially deleterious as well as beneficial effects. There is clearly a need for greater education of patients and doctors about herbal therapy, for legislation to control the quality of herbal preparations, and in particular for further randomized controlled trials to establish the value and safety of such preparations in digestive and other disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / adverse effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Prevalence


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal