Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formulas have been widely used in China since ancient times to treat certain diseases (e.g., phlegm, dampness and blood stasis). Recently, the effects of these medicines have been increasingly demonstrated to be helpful for hyperlipidemic patients.
This manuscript aims to describe the scientific evidence for the efficacy of TCM and attempts to identify potential TCM formulas for treating hyperlipidemia.
TCM formulas approved by the State Food and Drug Administration of China (SFDA) were sourced from the official SFDA website (http://www.sda.gov.cn/). Human and animal evidence for the hypolipidemic effects of herbs from TCM formulas were reviewed via the Internet (Elsevier, ACS, Wiley Online Library, SpringerLink, PubMed, Web of Science, CNKI, Baidu, and Google) and libraries up to October 31, 2011.
More than 50 TCM formulas have been used to treat hyperlipidemia. These herbs can primarily be grouped into three categories: (1) herbs promoting excretions, generally by reducing food retention, enhancing purgative effects, and promoting diuresis and choleretic effects, e.g., Fructus Crataegi (), Radix Polygoni Multiflori (), Semen Cassiae (), and Radix et Rhizoma Rhei (), Rhizoma alismatis (), and Herba Artemisiae Scopariae (); (2) herbs acting on the cardiovascular system, generally by improving blood circulation based on TCM theories, e.g., Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae (), Radix Puerariae (), Rhizoma Chuanxiong (), Flos Carthami (), and Folium Nelumbinis (); and (3) herbs that have tonic effects, e.g., Fructus Lycii (), Radix Ginseng (), and Radix Astragali ().
Three basic approaches, including excretory function enhancement, cardiovascular system improvement, and tonic effect reinforcement, are emerging among TCM formulas for the treatment of hyperlipidemia. These approaches may be useful in controlling blood lipid levels, preventing cardiovascular complications, and adjusting bodily functions in hyperlipidemic patients. However, solid evidence of the efficacy of these treatments is required.