Study finds efficacy rate of over 70 percent in Chinese medicine treatment of chronic renal failure
The School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) recently conducted a clinical observation of traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of chronic renal failure (CRF). The results indicate that a particular type of Chinese medicine treatment that nourishes the kidneys, and removes blood stasis and turbidity is effective in improving the clinical symptoms of CRF patients and postpones the deterioration of renal function. The overall efficacy rate of this treatment is 72.7 percent.
This particular treatment is a prescription of Chinese herbs such as herba epimedii, isaria cicadae, radix salviae miltiorrhizae, rhizoma ligustici chuanxiong, and radix et rhizoma rhei. They work well in warming the kidney, protecting the patients' kidneys and liver, promoting regeneration of blood, and removing blood stasis, turbidity and detoxification.
CRF is caused by multiple chronic kidney diseases or systemic diseases that affect the kidneys, leading to chronic progressive damage. CRF patients experience decreased renal function, in which the kidneys cannot maintain the metabolism of waste and resulting in disorders of electrolyte and acid-base balance. In addition, the kidneys lose basic functions such as the secretion and regulation of hormonal metabolism, which may lead to azotemia, metabolic disorders and other clinical symptoms. When the glomerular filtration rate of CRF patients is less than 60 ml/min and serum creatinine is higher than the upper limit of the normal range, the functional unit of the kidney has been damaged more than 50 percent, suggesting the presence of kidney damage.
Cai Xunyuan, a visiting scholar of the SCM Clinical Division at HKBU, conducted a clinical observation of 33 patients attending HKBU's Chinese medicine clinics for treatment of CRF from March 2013 to August 2017. The study aimed to find the impact of this particular Chinese medicine treatment on the patients' serum creatinine, glomerular filtration rate and their clinical symptoms before and after the treatment.
Of the 33 patients, 19 were male and 14 were female with ages ranging from 18 to 70. All the patients were in the CRF diagnosis stage of three to four with serum creatinine less than 707umol/l. The observation indicated that the overall efficacy rate of the treatment for CRF was 72.7 percent, with seven patients showing obvious improvement, 17 having general improvement while nine showed no improvement.
A better therapeutic effect was observed in patients who were in the diagnosis stage of 3a (serum creatinine <200umol/l). During the observation, 16 out of 20 patients in this group recorded a decrease in their serum creatinine with an efficacy rate of 80 percent, and five of them had an upturn from stage 3a to 2, meaning that renal function was recovering from a decompensatory stage to a compensatory stage.
Mr Cai explained that the traditional treatment, with the application of specific kinds of Chinese herbs to tonify kidney and remove blood stasis and turbidity, coheres with the principle of combining enhancement of physical fitness, eliminating pathogenic factors and tackling both the principal and subordinate symptoms. Through invigorating the spleen and kidneys, the treatment helps to lower a patient's serum creatinine and urea, eliminate the factors promoting the progression of CRF, prevent further damage of the body from the toxins, increase the glomerular filtration rate, stabilise kidney function and reduce the urine protein and red blood cells. As a result, the patient's life quality is enhanced, with improved appetite and healthier body, and an improvement in clinical symptoms. This also helps to delay the progression of CRF and the time for patient undergo dialysis.
Mr Cai said that chronic glomerulonephritis was the primary cause of CRF, with 13 cases. He therefore reminded people to have regular urine tests, especially after recovery from a cold, fever, tonsillitis and boils. If the urine appears with protein or red blood cells, patients should seek Chinese medicine treatment as early as possible to avoid progression of disease and damage to kidneys. Patients already presenting with renal dysfunction should seek professional diagnosis and treatment from registered Chinese medicine practitioners. Once the condition deteriorates to renal failure and even to the stage of uremia, the vast majority of the patient's kidney units have been damaged, and it is more difficult to reverse.