How useful is traditional herbal medicine for pulmonary fibrosis?
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IPF, despite considerable advances in clinical management and understanding of its complex pathophysiology, is still a fatal disease without effective treatment. Herbal medicine has been used for more than 5000 years and is the central component of medical practice in many parts of Asia. Not surprisingly, traditional and herbal medicine is also widely applied for treatment of IPF. This review describes the most important herbal medicines that are used for IPF treatment. The relevant experimental studies investigating potential mechanisms of these drugs are discussed. The best conducted clinical studies which have reported beneficial effects of some herbal medications in the management of IPF are also evaluated. Overall, there is considerable experimental support from preclinical studies for some of these herbal medicines, but the translation into clinical practice appears difficult. The clinical trials evaluating their anti-fibrotic potential are not fulfilling the standards expected from 'Western' medicines. Systematic clinical research in this field is still in its infancy, and as such, the routine use of traditional and herbal medicine cannot be recommended for patients suffering from IPF.
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