Published In

Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare

Document Type


Publication Date



Herbal Medicine -- Chinese


Objective: Sarcopenia is a frequently observed comorbidity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) due to the chronic activation of the innate immune system. Accumulating evidence has indicated that Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) safely suppresses proinflammatory pathways and controls inflammation-associated disease, but its effect in reducing the risk of developing sarcopenia among RA subjects has not been established. We conducted a population-level cohort study to compare the sarcopenia risk in patients with RA who use or do not use CHM. Methods: Using claims from a nationwide insurance database, we recruited patients with newly diagnosed RA and without sarcopenia between 2002 and 2010. Propensity score matching was applied to randomly select sets of CHM users and non-CHM users to compare the sarcopenia risk until the end of 2013. The risk of new-onset sarcopenia was assessed using the Cox proportional hazards model. Results: As compared to non-CHM users, those receiving CHM treatment had a lower incidence of sarcopenia (7.69 vs 9.83 per 1000 person-years). CHM was correlated with a decreased chance of sarcopenia after controlling for potential covariates. Notably, use of CHM for more than two years may diminish the risk of getting sarcopenia by about 47% when taken as prescribed. Prescriptions of several herbal formulae may benefit the reduction of sarcopenia risk, such as Yan-Hu-Suo, Bei-Mu, Da-Huang, Huang Qin, Ping-Wei- San (PWS), Shu-Jing-Huo-Xue-Tang (SJHXT) and Chuan-Xiong-Cha-Tiao-San (CXCTS). Conclusion: This study produced new evidence as it is the first to show that the longer duration of CHM use was correlated to reduced risk of sarcopenia in a dose-dependent manner, implying that CHM treatment could be embraced as a routine care strategy for preventing sarcopenia.


This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (



Persistent Identifier