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Bing gan tang
Generic Name: Bing gan tang
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Bing gan tang is a Chinese herbal formula, which may have a possible role in improving chronic hepatitis when taken in combination with other agents. Hepatitis is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver. It is carried and passed to others through blood or sexual contact. Also, infants born to infected mothers may become infected with the virus.
There is little available evidence of the safety and efficacy of Chinese herbal formulas in the United States. However, Chinese herbal experts have used these therapies for thousands of years with success in individuals with certain constitutions.
In a review of 13 randomized trials (N=818), which evaluated 14 medicinal herbs, the herbal mixture of bing gan tang and interferon-alpha was found more effective at treating hepatitis C (HCV RNA) than interferon-alpha alone. However, the results do not appear to be significant, and the authors conclude that more studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of any combination remedy.
A positive HCV RNA indicates the hepatitis C infection. A higher viral load may not necessarily be a sign of more severe or more advanced disease, but it does correlate with likelihood to respond to treatment. HCV RNA tests can also be used to monitor response to hepatitis C treatment. For example, if the viral load decreases during treatment, this suggests that treatment is working and should be continued. Conversely, if the viral load remains the same, it suggests that the patient is not responding to treatment.
The ALT test is a blood test that measures levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), a liver enzyme that is produced in higher amounts when the liver is inflamed. High ALT levels can be a sign of hepatitis C, but other conditions can also cause an increase in ALTs.
The quality of most of these studies done with above Chinese herbal medicine was quite poor, and there have also been many incidents when Chinese herbs appear to have caused liver damage. Therefore, bing gan tang should only be used under the supervision of a physician.
This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Canadian Guidelines for Health Care Providers. 8 May 2006. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hepc/hepatitis_c/pdf/nutritionCareGuidelines/chapter6.html
Liu J, Manheimer E, Tsutani K, et al. Medicinal Herbs for Hepatitis C Virus Infection: A Cochrane Hepatobiliary Systematic Review of Randomized Trials. Amer Jl of Gastroenterol. 2003;98(3):538. View Abstract
Verucchi G, Calza L, Attard L, et al. Acute hepatitis induced by traditional Chinese herbs used in the treatment of psoriasis. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2002;17:1342-1345.