Objectives: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy for nonerosive reflux disease (NERD) remains controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of TCM regimens in NERD treatment.
Methods: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of TCM treatment for NERD through September 31, 2017, were systematically identified in PubMed, Wanfang Data, CNKI, VIP, CBM, Ovid, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases. Quality assessment was performed by employing the Cochrane Risk of Bias assessment tool.
Results: A total of 725 and 719 patients in 14 RCTs were randomly divided into TCM alone and conventional Western medicine groups, respectively. The clinical total effective rate of the TCM group was markedly higher than that of the single proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or Prokinetics therapy group (RR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.07-1.31, and P = 0.0008), while it was comparable to that of the combination of PPIs and Prokinetics therapy group (RR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.00-1.29, and P = 0.05). Compared with Western medicine group, the TCM group showed improved symptom relief through a reduced RDQ score (SMD = -0.91; 95% CI = -1.68--0.15; and P = 0.02). Additionally, TCM clearly decreased the recurrence rate (RR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.28-0.52, and P < 0.00001). Adverse events, such as constipation, sickness, fever, abdominal distension, and stomach noise, were slight for both the TCM and Western medicine groups and disappeared after the easement of pharmacological intervention; in particular, TCM possessed fewer side effects.
Conclusion: Compared with PPIs or Prokinetics therapy alone, TCM single therapy can better improve the clinical total effective rate and symptom relief and decrease the recurrence rate and adverse events in the treatment of NERD. Our results suggest that TCM will be a promising alternative therapy for NERD patients in the future.