traditional Chinese medicine

First-ever trial to study effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine on stroke recovery

This first large high-quality clinical trial to assess the effects of traditional Chinese medicine in patients who have suffered a stroke has successfully completed the first stage of set-up, with 170 patients enrolled across 15 centres in China. The target is for 1,500 participants to be recruited through a network of hospitals across the country in this multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Stroke is a major cause of death and disability around the world, with few proven treatments. The most serious type of stroke is spontaneous bleeding within the brain, called intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH), which is particularly common among Chinese people, where hypertension is very prevalent.

Co-sponsored by Guangdong Province Traditional Chinese Medical Hospital and The George Institute for Global Health China, the Chinese Herbal Medicine in Acute INtracerebral Haemorrhage (CHAIN) trial will examine the effect of a particular traditional Chinese medicine called Zhongfeng Xingnao, which has shown promise in treating ICH patients by promoting blood reabsorption and reducing swelling in the brain. It may also help patients avoid developing pneumonia by improving their immune function.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to discover a new and effective treatment for ICH, which is a serious and common condition in China and throughout the world,” said Professor Craig Anderson from The George Institute for Global Health, the study’s co-principal investigator.

Patients suffering ICH frequently require expensive life-saving surgery and intensive care unit management. Loss of productive life, and the socio-economic and personal costs of ICH, are much greater than the more common ischaemic stroke, because ICH is more likely to affect adults of working age.

“Traditional Chinese medicine has enormous potential to reduce hospital and societal costs by improving the chances of recovery from ICH,” said CHAIN co-principal investigator Professor Jianwen Guo from the Guangdong Province Traditional Chinese Medical Hospital. “Because traditional Chinese medicine is low-cost, this study could lead to a simple, widely applicable, therapy to improve survival and recovery for many millions of people who suffer an ICH each year across the globe.”

The CHAIN trial focusses on patients with moderate-to-severe ICH and will measure the effects of Zhongfeng Xingnao on functional outcome and stroke-associated pneumonia. The trial’s results have the potential to not only guide clinical practice in China but also more broadly across the world.

“The research value of this innovative trial is highly significant,” said Professor Zhimin Yang, Vice President of Guangdong Province Traditional Chinese Medical Hospital. “We look forward to supporting the development and implementation of the CHAIN trial, and we express our sincere thanks to all the researchers and patients who are participating in this very important project.”