Systematic review of Chinese herbal medicine for functional constipation

World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Oct 21;15(39):4886-95. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.4886.


Constipation is a common gastrointestinal complaint in clinical practice, affecting an estimated 27% of the population. Many patients are disappointed by current conventional treatments and, therefore, seek help from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Traditional Chinese medicine, is the most important part of CAM and has been practiced for treating diseases and promoting the health of humans for thousands of years, and has become a popular alternative choice. Although there are many Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) interventions available, and some have been verified by clinical trials, their efficacy and safety are still questioned by both patients and health care providers worldwide. The purposes of this review are, first, to appraise the qualities of individual study designs in the new Cochrane approach. Second, the benefits of individual CHM interventions or individual types of CHM intervention for the treatment of functional constipation are analyzed. Finally, valid and comprehensive conclusions are drawn, if applicable, in order to make clinical recommendations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / drug therapy*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / adverse effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Gastrointestinal Agents