Herbals are ‘safe and effective’ for vascular dementia, say researchers

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chinese herbology

Herbals are ‘safe and effective’ for vascular dementia
Chinese herbal medicines appear to be safer and more effective than control measures in battling vascular dementia, according to a new meta-analysis from China.

The meta-analysis looked at data from 31 clinical studies, in order to investigate the efficacy and safety of Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of patients with vascular dementia – a common disorder among the elderly, and the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

Led by Dr Liyuan Kang from the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China, the research team pooled data from more than 2,800 people in 31 clinical studies on vascular dementia – finding that those receiving Chinese herbal medicine did better on a range of disease measures than those receiving either a placebo or Western medical treatment (which were counted together as a control group)

 “Chinese herbal medicine appears to be safer and more effective than control measures in the treatment of vascular dementia,”​ said Liyuan and colleagues. “However, the included trials were generally low in quality.”

“The results are promising; however, evidence provided in this study may not be reliable owing to the poor quality of the included trials,”​ they commented. Indeed, the team called for more ‘well-designed, high-quality trials’ that would provide better evidence for the assessment of the efficacy and safety of Chinese medicines.

The team noted that the global prevalence of dementia is predicted to double every 20 years – reaching an expected 66 million in 2030, and 115 million in 2050.

Study details

Writing in Neural Regeneration Research​, Liyuan and his team identified 1,143 articles studying the effects of Chinese medicine on vascular dementia – of these 31 were met the inclusion criteria and were used in the final meta-analysis.

These 31 studies involved a total of 2,868 participants – 1,605 patients took Chinese herbals while 1,263 took either Western medicine or placebo.

Results of the meta-analysis revealed that Chinese herbal remedies in the treatment group were more efficacious than the control intervention.

Mini-Mental State Examination scores were higher in patients taking Chinese herbal medicines than in those in the control group, while those receiving herbal treatments were also found to have better disease amelioration than those in the control group, said the team behind the analysis.

“There were also considerably fewer adverse reactions among those in the treatment group compared with those in the control group,”​ they added.

The authors cautioned that their analysis had several important weaknesses, including the fact that all of the included trials were conducted in China, and that only nine of the 31 studies were blinded. Furthermore, only five were double-blinded, double-dummy studies.

“Even these studies did not detail the randomization method,”​ said the authors. “Moreover, few of the studies used allocation concealment, and some did not report adverse events.”

Source: Neural Regeneration Research
Volume 8, Issue 18, doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1673-5374.2013.18.006
“A meta-analysis of Chinese herbal medicines for vascular dementia”
Authors: Xiude Qin, Yu Liu, Yanqing Wu et al

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