Objectives: our study had two objectives: a) to systematically identify all existing systematic reviews of Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) published in Cochrane Library; b) to assess the methodological quality of included reviews.
Methodology/principal findings: We performed a systematic search of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR, Issue 5, 2010) to identify all reviews of CHM. A total of fifty-eight reviews were eligible for our study. Twenty-one of the included reviews had at least one Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner as its co-author. 7 reviews didn't include any primary study, the remaining reviews (n = 51) included a median of 9 studies and 936 participants. 50% of reviews were last assessed as up-to-date prior to 2008. The questions addressed by 39 reviews were broad in scope, in which 9 reviews combined studies with different herbal medicines. For OQAQ, the mean of overall quality score (item 10) was 5.05 (95% CI; 4.58-5.52). All reviews assessed the methodological quality of primary studies, 16% of included primary studies used adequate sequence generation and 7% used adequate allocation concealment. Of the 51 nonempty reviews, 23 reviews were reported as being inconclusive, while 27 concluded that there might be benefit of CHM, which was limited by the poor quality or inadequate quantity of included studies. 58 reviews reported searching a median of seven electronic databases, while 10 reviews did not search any Chinese database.
Conclusions: Now CDSR has included large numbers of CHM reviews, our study identified some areas which could be improved, such as almost half of included reviews did not have the participation of TCM practitioners and were not up-to-date according to Cochrane criteria, some reviews pooled the results of different herbal medicines and ignored the searching of Chinese databases.