Abstract

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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