Angina PectorisChinese MedicineCochrane Library

Traditional Chinese herbals to treat stable angina

Here’s a summary of a Cochrane review of herbals to treat stable angina — aka chronic angina.

In stable angina, chest pain occurs with activity or stress. The pain begins slowly and gets worse over several minutes before going away.

First, the details.

  • Studies included traditional Chinese herbal products vs with placebo, other traditional Chinese herbal products, or with other commonly used treatments.
  • 3 studies in a total of 216 participants were selected for review.
    • 1 good quality study compared traditional Chinese herbal products vs nitrates.
    • The other 2 studies compared 1 preparation with another preparation.
      • 1 study was of poor quality study.

And, the results.

  • Only 1 study with small group of patients showed improved angina symptoms with traditional Chinese herbal products vs nitrates.
  • Details on adverse effects of traditional Chinese herbal products were not available.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “There is currently insufficient evidence for effectively treating stable angina pectoris with any of the examined traditional Chinese herbal products in this review.”

Cochrane has also published negative reviews (here and here) of individual traditional Chinese medicines to treat unstable angina — angina that can occur at rest, is characterized by distinctive worsening of pain, and an indicator of impending heart attack.

5/16/10 18:43 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.