Efficacy and tolerability of anti-asthma herbal medicine intervention in adult patients with moderate-severe allergic asthma

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Sep;116(3):517-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2005.05.029.


Background: Chinese herbal medicine has a long history of human use. A novel herbal formula, anti-asthma herbal medicine intervention (ASHMI), has been shown to be an effective therapy in a murine model of allergic asthma.

Objective: This study was undertaken to compare the efficacy, safety, and immunomodulatory effects of ASHMI treatment in patients with moderate-severe, persistent asthma with prednisone therapy.

Methods: In a double-blind trial, 91 subjects underwent randomization. Forty-five subjects received oral ASHMI capsules and prednisone placebo tablets (ASHMI group) and 46 subjects received oral prednisone tablets and ASHMI placebo capsules (prednisone group) for 4 weeks. Spirometry measurements; symptom scores; side effects; and serum cortisol, cytokine, and IgE levels were evaluated before and after treatment.

Results: Posttreatment lung function was significantly improved in both groups as shown by increased FEV(1) and peak expiratory flow findings (P<.001). The improvement was slightly but significantly greater in the prednisone group (P<.05). Clinical symptom scores, use of beta(2)-bronchodilators, and serum IgE levels were reduced significantly, and to a similar degree in both groups (P<.001). T(H)2 cytokine levels were significantly reduced in both treated groups (P<.001) and were lower in the prednisone-treated group (P<.05). Serum IFN-gamma and cortisol levels were significantly decreased in the prednisone group (P<.001) but significantly increased in the ASHMI group (P<.001). No severe side effects were observed in either group.

Conclusion: Anti-asthma herbal medicine intervention appears to be a safe and effective alternative medicine for treating asthma. In contrast with prednisone, ASHMI had no adverse effect on adrenal function and had a beneficial effect on T(H)1 and T(H)2 balance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Cytokines / drug effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / adverse effects*
  • Eosinophils / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Prednisolone
  • Hydrocortisone