Published on 07-13-2011
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine have long been used to aid in the treatment of Alzheimer's among other dementia related conditions. While clinically we see significant benefit, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood in pure western terms. To help highlight these changes researchers from the department of neurology at the first affiliated hospital within Harbin Medical University, China, performed a pilot study using a commonly used herbal formula.
Within this study 10mg/day of the Chinese Herbal Formula Fuzhisan was administered over 12 weeks to better understand the changes that happen within the chemistry of the brain in mild-moderate Alzheimer's patients. Fuzhisan is a complex Chinese Herbal Formula (individual herbs are rarely used within Chinese Medicine) comprised of Radix Ginseng Rubra (Ren Shen)(Araliaceae family), Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi (Labiatae family), Angelica sinensis (Oliv) Diels (Umbelliferae family), Anemone altaica Fisch. Ex C.A. Mey (Araceae family) and Glycyrrhiza uralensis (Leguminosae family).
Within this pilot study 22 patients were selected 10 of which were in a placebo group. PET scans were used to analyze the metabolic rates of glucose consumption both at the beginning of the study and at the end of week 12. Further analysis on an individual level was performed using the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale Cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog) and the Neuropsychiatric Index (NPI).
Within the treatment group, researchers found significant improvement in the ADAS-Cog and NIP scores. There were also significant improvement in rCMRglc (metabolism) within the bilateral temporal and parietal cortices, hippocampus, and posterior cingulate gyrus.
Researchers conclude that while larger studies would need to be performed this herbal formula exhibits positive changes on cognition, behavior and brain function in alzheimers patients.
As always it is best to work with a practitioner and there are other herbal formulas that may be better suited to a particular individual. Furthermore, clinically a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine often appears to be the most effective but further studies would have to be done to show significant differences between combinations of techniques and/or other herbal formulas.
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