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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 426215, 22 pages
Review Article

Systematic Review on the Efficacy and Safety of Herbal Medicines for Vascular Dementia

School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

Received 15 January 2011; Revised 20 April 2011; Accepted 27 May 2011

Academic Editor: Andrew Scholey

Copyright © 2012 Sui Cheung Man et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We present a systematic review of existing research that aims to assess the efficacy and safety of herbal medications (HM), as either monotherapy or adjunct to orthodox medications (OM), mainly comprised of cholinesterase inhibitors, for vascular dementia (VaD). We included 47 studies conducted in mainland China, each testing different HM. Of 43 HM monotherapy studies, 37 reported HM to be significantly better than OM or placebo; six reported similar efficacy between HM and OM. All four HM adjuvant studies reported significant efficacy. No major adverse events for HM were reported. Heterogeneity in diagnostic criteria, interventions and outcome measures hindered comprehensive data analysis. Studies suggested that HM can be a safe and effective treatment for VaD, either alone or in conjunction with OM. However, methodological flaws in the design of the studies limited the extent to which the results could be interpreted. Thirty most commonly used herbal constituents, including Rhizoma Chuanxiong (Chuanxiong in Chinese), Radix Polygoni Multiflori (Heshouwu in Chinese) and Radix Astragali (Huangqi in Chinese). were ranked. Further multi-center trials with large sample sizes, high methodological quality and standardized HM ingredients are necessary for clinical recommendations to be made.