Source School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Many patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) seek help from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM treatment is based on syndrome differentiation. This study aimed to investigate the syndrome distribution in populations of CHB patients. The pre-specific search strategy was set, and 93 studies (20,106 participants) were identified by electronic and hand searches. The methodological quality of included studies was assessed. Data on syndrome distribution and correlations between syndromes and severity of CHB, were extracted and analyzed. Forty-seven syndromes were identified under 24 different syndrome diagnosis systems for CHB. The majority of included studies reported Liver Depression and Spleen Deficiency (LDSD) (52.54% of studies) or Liver-Gallbladder Dampness Heat (LGDH)/Dampness-Heat Obstructing Middle Energizer (DHME) (32.20%) as the major syndromes in CHB patients without cirrhosis. Pooled analysis revealed that LDSD and LGDH/DHME accounted for 61.19% of participants without cirrhosis. In addition, Liver-Kidney Yin Deficiency (LKYinD) (40.99%) and Spleen-Kidney Yang Deficiency (SKYangD) (40.43%) syndromes were common in patients with severe CHB. The percentage of patients with Blood Stasis syndrome increased as the disease progressed to cirrhosis (32.09%). To conclude, LDSD and LGDH/DHME syndromes are found in a significant majority of CHB patients, particularly in the early stages. LKYinD, SKYangD and Blood Stasis dominate in patients at more advanced stages. More epidemiological studies of high methodological quality on syndrome distribution in CHB and standardization of syndrome differentiation for CHB are required to confirm the trends indicated by the studies reviewed here; confirming these trends can increase the efficacy of treatment and give guidance to doctors.