Ayurvedic medicine for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review.
OBJECTIVE: To systematically review all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: Computerized literature searches for all RCTs of Ayurvedic medicine for RA in the following databases: Medline (March 1969 to March 2003), Embase (February 1985 to February 2003), AMED (March 1980 to March 2003), Cochrane Controlled Trial Register (October 1997 to March 2003), and the abstract service of Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS; 1976 to March 2003). Hand searches were performed in 1 Sri Lankan and 3 Indian journals and the authors' personal files. Key data of included studies were extracted and reviewed. The methodological quality of all studies was evaluated with the Jadad scale. RESULTS: Seven studies met our inclusion criteria. Trials tested either Ayurvedic medicine against placebo or other Ayurvedic medicines. In general, patient and physician global assessments on the severity of pain, and morning stiffness were used as endpoints. Of 3 placebo-controlled RCTs, 1 high-quality trial did not show benefit of the active treatment against placebo, while another incompletely reported study indicated beneficial effects of an Ayurvedic medicine. A further incompletely reported study showed no significant difference. The remaining 4 trials were difficult to interpret because they tested an Ayurvedic medicine against other Ayurvedic medicines whose effects were not proven. CONCLUSION: There is a paucity of RCTs of Ayurvedic medicines for RA. The existing RCTs fail to show convincingly that such treatments are effective therapeutic options for RA.
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