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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017, Article ID 3925903, 9 pages
Research Article

The Antidepressant and Cognitive Improvement Activities of the Traditional Chinese Herb Cistanche

1State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, Institute of Aquatic Economic Animals and Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Aquatic Economic Animals, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
2Food and Health Engineering Research Center of State Education Ministry, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Li Gu; nc.ude.usys.liam@9ilug

Received 20 February 2017; Revised 11 May 2017; Accepted 28 May 2017; Published 28 June 2017

Academic Editor: Ki-Wan Oh

Copyright © 2017 Dongfang Wang 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.


More than ten percent of people suffer from at least one episode of depression and related mental disorders in a lifetime, and depression and related mental disorders are one of the world’s greatest public health problems. A multiple system theory holds that dysregulation of the multiple systems underlies the pathogenesis of depression and related mental disorders, and new therapies based on the multiple system dysregulation theory are urgently needed. In this study, the antidepressant effect of decoction from herb Cistanche deserticola Y.C.Ma and Cistanche tubulosa was examined. Herb Cistanche decoction reduced the immobility period significantly in the mouse tail suspension test. Mice treated with herb decoction showed an improved ability of spatial learning and memory in the Morris water maze test. Groups treated herb decoction displayed a downregulated monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity; the dopamine (DA) concentration in the brain was upregulated, indicating herb Cistanche decoction improved the nerve excitability; the serum concentration of corticosterone (CORT) was downregulated, showing that mice benefited from a reduced stress level. Hence, the antidepressant efficacy and mechanism of traditional Chinese herb Cistanche were explored in this study. Herb Cistanche showed a potential to be developed as a complementary and alternative therapy for depression.