May 02, 2007

An Integrative Medicinal Approach to Schizophrenia Studied

Integrative medicine combines a scientifically-based approach to treatment that uses proven conventional medical and pharmaceutical treatments alongside other therapeutic practices (such as nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, lifestyle changes, etc.) for maximum benefit. Sometimes referred to "complementary", these additional approaches are used to augment or "complement" the benefits derived from "mainstream" medicinal practices - rather than replacing the treatment (such as augmenting chemotherapy for a cancer patient by using nutritional supplements to shore up the patient's own immune system).

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry performing a systematic review of randomised trials has shown that combining Chinese herbal medicine with antipsychotics may be beneficial for the treatment of some people with schizophrenia.

Chinese herbal medicine has been used to treat millions of people with schizophrenia for over 2000 years. Although antipsychotic drugs are the mainstay of treatment both in China and in the West, they have serious side effects, and about one fifth of people do not respond adequately to treatment.

The 7 studies reviewed were identified from the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's register of trials, as well as a range of Chinese databases. Most studies evaluated Chinese herbal medicine in combination with Western antipsychotic drugs.

The results, published in the May issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, tended to favour combination treatment compared with antipsychotic treatment alone.

The authors of the study comment that the results are broadly encouraging. They suggest that combination treatment might be beneficial in terms of certain measures of improvement in schizophrenia, although results are based on only 2 small studies of a total of 103 people.

Medium-term data on the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as withdrawal, were more robust, with 3 studies of a total of 741 people favouring the herbal plus antipsychotic combination group.

The researchers conclude that there is some evidence that Chinese herbal medicines, combined with antipsychotics and given in a way that is not in keeping with their normal use within traditional Chinese medicine, may be beneficial for people with schizophrenia across a range of outcomes.

If these medicines are used within their usual context, which differentiates cases of schizophrenia into syndromes, the positive effects could be greater, they say.
Even the gains seen in this review would still be important for the millions for whom these treatments are used.

Both West and East need well-reported randomised trials that are adequately powered, blinded and of sufficient length for researchers to detect meaningful treatment effects.

Original Source Abstract: Chinese herbal medicine for schizophrenia: Cochrane systematic review of randomised trials

Related Reading:
A New Direction for Schizophrenia Treatments?
Diet and Nutrition May Play Key Role in Fighting Depression
Medicine Safety Checklist
Glycine for Schizophrenia - Report


Integrative medicine is standard care in all other areas of medicine - sad to see psychiatry still at the back of the pack.

Posted by: psych at May 2, 2007 07:27 PM

What is a chinese herbal medicine? The only herbal medicine I know of that has been shown to help is Ginkgo Biloba, and I think that is just 1-2 studies when combining it with Haldol. There is speculation that bacopa may help too, but aside from those I haven't heard of any others.

Posted by: Todd at May 19, 2007 01:31 PM

My son bharat 39, single is suffering from scizophrenia,presently he is on homoeopathic treatment,I am also single and both are looking after each other . Will you pl extend your support to cure my son. n.l.jain,jabalpur,mp, India

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