The British Journal of Psychiatry
Chinese herbal medicine for schizophrenia
Cochrane systematic review of randomised trials
John Rathbone, Lan Zhang, Mingming Zhang, Jun Xia, Xiehe Liu, Yanchun Yang, Clive E. Adams


Background Chinese herbal medicine has been used to treat millions of people with schizophrenia for thousands of years.

Aims To evaluate Chinese herbal medicine as a treatmentfor schizophrenia.

Method A systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

Results Seven trials were included. Most studies evaluated Chinese herbal medicine in combination with Western antipsychotic drugs; in these trials results tended to favour combination treatment compared with antipsychotic alone (Clinical Global Impression `not improved/worse' n=123, RR=0.19, 95% CI 0.1-0.6, NNT=6,95% CI 5-11; n=109, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale `not improved/worse' RR=0.78,95% CI 0.5-1.2; n=109, Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms `not improved/worse' RR=0.87,95% CI 0.7-1.2; n=109, Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms `not improved/worse' RR=0.69,95% CI 0.5-1.0, NNT=6 95% CI 4-162). Medium-term study attrition was significantlyless for people allocated the herbal/antipsychotic mix (n=897, four RCTs, RR=0.34,95% CI 0.2-0.7, NNT=23,95% CI18-43).

Conclusions Results suggest that combining Chinese herbal medicine with antipsychotics is beneficial.

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