Current Hepatology Reports

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 316–321 | Cite as

The Role of Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) and Other Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) in the Management of Chronic Hepatitis B

  • Guqi Wang
  • Peng Liang
  • Ping Li
  • Yang Hui Tan
  • Herbert L. BonkovskyEmail author
Hepatitis B (JK Lim, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Hepatitis B


Purpose of Review

To provide a review and update of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches to the management of chronic hepatitis B, with particular emphasis upon traditional Chinese medicines (TCM).

Recent Findings

The major findings are as follows: (1) TCMs were better than interferons [IFN] in lowering serum HBeAg and normalizing serum ALT, and equivalent to IFN in clearing serum HBV DNA; (2) TCMs were equivalent to lamivudine [LAM] in lowering serum HBeAg, normalizing serum ALT, and clearing serum HBV DNA; (3) TCMs along with IFN or LAM significantly lowered serum HBeAg and improved the clearance of serum HBV DNA and the normalization of serum ALT, compared with IFN or LAM alone; (4) no serious adverse reactions of TCM were reported in all cited clinical trials. Although the composition of traditional medicines in the TCMs varied among RCTs, about 60% of the used herbs were homologous. Our major overarching conclusion was that TCMs seem effective as alternative remedies for patients with CHB. Other CAM approaches also are widely used, especially in east Asian countries, and there is limited evidence of benefit for some.


CHB continues to be a major health problem worldwide. Although nucleosides such as tenofovir and entecavir are highly effective at suppression of HBV replication, they are expensive and often beyond reach of patients, especially in resource-limited nations and regions. Many such patients will continue to rely upon CAM and TCM for management of their chronic hepatitis B infections. Additional carefully done, placebo-controlled prospective randomized trials of CAM and TCM in chronic hepatitis B should be performed.


Chronic infection Complementary and alternative medicines Hepatic cirrhosis Hepatitis B Hepatocellular carcinoma Traditional Chinese medicines 



Supported in part by cooperative agreements with the US National Institutes of Health, which provided support for Dr. Bonkovsky: U01 DK065201 and U54 DK083909.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Drs. Liang, Li, Tan, Wang, and Bonkovsky declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this work.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guqi Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Peng Liang
    • 4
  • Ping Li
    • 4
  • Yang Hui Tan
    • 5
  • Herbert L. Bonkovsky
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Section on Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Molecular Medicine & Translational SciencesWake Forest University School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Management Committee of Shangrao National Chinese Medicine Health Tourism Demonstration ZoneShangraoChina
  3. 3.Whole Pharm BiotechnologyCharlotteUSA
  4. 4.Beijing Key Lab Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases, Institute of Clinical Medical ScienceChina-Japan Friendship HospitalBeijingChina
  5. 5.Guangzhou Ren Ai Tianhe HospitalGuangzhouChina

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