Lumbar disk herniation (LDH) is a common orthopaedic disorder. Many clinical and basic science researches have been conducted recently on using Chinese medicinal herbs to treat LDH. Literature review reveals that the common basic formulas include Duhuo Jisheng decoction (DHJST), Buyang Huanwu decoction (HYBWT), Shentong Zhuyu decoction (STZYT), Taohong Siwu decoction (THSWT), Yanghe decoction (YHT) and Tongdu Huoxue decoction (TDHXT). A basic formula can be modified by adding more herbs or removing some herbs from the formula according to clinical symptoms and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) syndrome differentiation. Literatures show that herbal treatment have better clinical effects, the medicinal herbs make low-back pain, sciatica and low limb numbness disappeared or alleviated; and restore normal low limb sensation, muscle strength and daily activity. These formulas have also been used to treat LDH postoperative remaining pain, postoperative discitis, postoperative recurrent LDH, and to prevent epidural scar formation and dura mata adhesion. Herbs in these formulas include 5 categories of drugs classified by TCM. They are blood circulation promoting herbs for relieving pain; liver and kidney nourishing and tendons and bones strengthening herbs; blood circulation promoting herbs for unblocking collaterals; pathogenic wind and dampness expelling herbs; and qi invigorating herbs. These herbs have actions of analgesia, anti-inflammation, immunomodulation, phagocytosis of macrophages enhancement, blood circulation improvement, nerve protection, collagen synthesis enhancement. Future research needs to focus on the effects of herbs on four aspects: to enhance collagen synthesis in the disks and inhibit disk degeneration; to promote the resorption of herniated nucleus pulposus and epidural hemorrhage; to prevent nerve cell apoptosis and promote nerve cell regeneration, and to inhibit nociception in the nerve system.
Lin XJ, Chen CY. [Advances on study of treatment of lumbar disk herniation by Chinese medicinal herbs]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2007 Feb;32(3):186-91. Chinese. PMID: 17432134.