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Review explores the effects of traditional Chinese medicine on mild cognitive impairment


Researchers at RMIT University in Australia evaluated clinical evidence of the effects of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) on mild cognitive impairment (MCI). They reported their findings in an article published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  • According to statistics, about six to 12 percent of the world’s population suffers from MCI.
  • But research suggests that early treatment may stop MCI from progressing to severe cognitive impairment.
  • The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) is a sensitive measure used to evaluate changes in cognitive function.
  • MoCA is often used to test the effects of TCM on people with MCI.
  • The researchers searched five biomedical databases for randomized controlled trials that compared oral TCM with appropriate controls and assessed changes in cognition using MoCA.
  • They evaluated the effects of treatment by calculating mean differences and 95 percent confidence intervals. Risk of bias was assessed according to the Cochrane tool.
  • The researchers selected a total of 19 studies, 16 of which contributed to data analyses.
  • Three studies were placebo-controlled, while nine compared an herbal medicine with a conventional medication.
  • Three studies combined an herbal medicine with a modern drug, and one study combined an herbal medicine with cognitive training.
  • In two of the placebo-controlled studies, which lasted for 24 weeks, TCM herbs produced favorable results at the end of treatment.
  • Two studies that tested the combination of bu yang huan wu tang and donepezil reported improvements in the integrative groups.
  • Overall, results suggest that certain TCM formulations can improve MoCA scores by 1.76 to 2.34 points.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that TCM herbs, owing to their active components, can improve cognitive function in people with MCI.

Read the full study at this link.

Journal Reference:

Dong L, Hyde AJ, Zhang AL, Xue CC, May BH. CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE FOR MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT USING MONTREAL COGNITIVE ASSESSMENT: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 04 June 2019;25(6):578–592. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2018.0346



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