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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2021, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (1): 50-55.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2020.10.004

• Original Experimental Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Are the release characteristics of Erzhi pills in line with traditional Chinese medicine theory? A quantitative study

Jie-yu Zuo, Chulhun Park, Michael Doschak, Raimar Löbenberg   

  1. Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E1, Canada
  • Received:2020-05-22 Accepted:2020-07-29 Online:2021-01-12 Published:2021-01-22
  • Contact: Michael Doschak; Raimar Löbenberg;


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been widely used throughout China to prevent and cure diseases for thousands of years, and now it is a part of the integrative medicine field that is available in Western societies. To ensure the safety and quality of the herbal medicines that are a major part of the TCM tradition, they must be held to modern pharmaceutical standards. Erzhi pill (EZP) is a Chinese Pharmacopeia-listed herbal preparation that is used in the long-term clinical management of post-menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis and menstrual disorders. Until now, whether the drug release mechanism of EZP is in line with its intended TCM usage has not been studied.


The release of specnuezhenide from three EZPs (self-made, Leiyunshang and Renhe) in simulated gastric fluid (SGF), acetate buffer (pH 4.5 buffer) and simulated intestinal fluid (SIF) was investigated in a dissolution test. The water uptake capacity and erosion extent of the three EZPs were investigated using swelling and erosion studies. The drug release mechanism was further assessed through statistical model fitting, using DDSolver software.


The release of specnuezhenide from all three EZPs in SGF was less than 50% within a 4 h period. However, over 70% of the specnuezhenide was released from each EZP in both pH 4.5 buffer and SIF in the same time. Analysis of the swelling and erosion behaviors and the drug release mechanism of the three EZPs confirmed that the release rate from EZP followed a sustained release profile, which was an interactive combination of swelling and erosion. 


This study showed that the release pattern from the pills was in line with the intended TCM use of EZP. TCM had not only theoretically considered sustained release from the pills, but also formulated them to achieve this release pattern. When establishing quality control standards for pills, the theoretical TCM usage and the actual release patterns need to be considered.

Key words: Traditional Chinese medicine, Dosage form, Herbal preparation, Dissolution, Drug release mechanism, Erzhi pill

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