Treatment of chronic conditions with traditional chinese medicine: Findings from traditional chinese medicine hospitals in Hubei, China

Yi Cai, David L. Boyd, Remy R. Coeytaux, Truls Østbye, Bei Wu, Zongfu Mao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: This study aimed to document clinical use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for chronic conditions in all TCM hospitals in a Chinese province and to recommend treatments most in need of evaluation for use in community health centers. Design: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in the summer of 2010. It included 119 of 132 TCM hospitals in Hubei Province, China. TCM physicians were asked to recommend specific TCM treatments for common chronic conditions. Nine types of chronic conditions recommended more than 3.7 times (mean of frequencies of chronic conditions) are included in this analysis. Frequency of each TCM treatment and the number of visits by type of chronic conditions were calculated. Results: The total number of recommendations by TCM physicians was 411. For seven types of treatments, six were recommended for musculoskeletal pain, five for soft tissue injuries, four for visceral pain and fractures, three for stroke and asthma, two for hemorrhoids, and one for hypertension. The most frequently recommended treatments for specific conditions include orally ingested herbs for visceral pain (n=3), type 2 diabetes (n=5), and hypertension (n=7); herbs for external use for soft tissue injuries (n=10), asthma (n=6), and hemorrhoids (n=8); acupuncture for musculoskeletal pains (n=43) and for stroke (n=10); and Chinese external fixation for fractures (n=24). The number of visits for recommended treatments per year of was 671,759. The most frequently recommended treatments for specific chronic conditions have most visits, except for chronic conditions such as musculoskeletal pains, visceral pains, soft tissue injuries, and asthma. Conclusions: Patients with musculoskeletal pain have more treatment options than other patients. Herbal medicine is the option most commonly used for chronic conditions. These treatments for these conditions should be targeted for further evaluation of effectiveness and, only if found effective, considered for use in primary care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-45
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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