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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 902578, 16 pages
Review Article

Prescription of Chinese Herbal Medicine and Selection of Acupoints in Pattern-Based Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment for Insomnia: A Systematic Review

1Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
2School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
3School of Chinese Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
4Chinese Medicine Section, Hospital Authority, Hong Kong

Received 13 July 2012; Revised 13 October 2012; Accepted 20 October 2012

Academic Editor: Jianping Liu

Copyright © 2012 Wing-Fai Yeung 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.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatments are often prescribed based on individuals' pattern diagnoses. A systematic review of Chinese and English literatures on TCM pattern differentiation, treatment principle, and pattern-based treatment for insomnia has therefore been conducted. A total of 227 studies, 17916 subjects, and 87 TCM patterns were analyzed. There was a limited consistency in pattern-based TCM treatment of insomnia across practitioners. Except for Gui Pi Tang, An Shen Ding Zhi Wan, and Wen Dan Tang which were used more commonly for deficiency of both the heart and spleen, internal disturbance of phlegm-heat, and qi deficiency of the heart and gallbladder, respectively, the selection of herbal formula for other patterns and pattern-based prescription of individual herbs and acupoints were not consistent. Suanzaoren (Semen Z. spinosae), Fuling (Poria), Yejiaoteng (Caulis P. multiflori), Gancao (Radix Glycyrrhizae), Baishao (Radix P. alba), Shenmen (HT7), Yintang (EX-HN3), Sanyinjiao (SP6), Baihui (GV20), Anmian (EX-HN22), and Sishencong (EX-HN1) were commonly used, but nonspecifically for many patterns. Treatment principles underlying herb and acupoint selection were seldom reported. Although many studies were reviewed, the study quality and diagnostic process were inadequate. More high quality studies are needed to examine the additional benefits of pattern differentiation and pattern-based TCM treatment.