Research: Chinese Herbal Medicine and Depression

Nine traditional Chinese herbal formulas for the treatment of depression: an ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, and pharmacology review.

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2016; 12: 2387–2402.

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"Eight clinical trials and seven meta-analyses have supported the theory that CHFs are effective treatments for depression, decreasing Hamilton Depression Scale scores and showing few adverse effects. Evidence from 75 preclinical studies has also elucidated the multitarget and multipathway mechanisms underlying the antidepressant effect of the nine CHFs. Decoctions, capsules, and pills all showed antidepressant effects, ranked in descending order of efficacy. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, these CHFs have flexible compatibility and mainly act by soothing the liver and relieving depression.

This review highlights the effective treatment choices and candidate compounds for patients, practitioners, and researchers in the field of traditional Chinese medicine.

In summary, the current evidence supports the efficacy of CHFs in the treatment of depression, but additional large-scale randomized controlled clinical trials and sophisticated pharmacology studies should be performed."

A meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of traditional Chinese medicine formula Ganmai Dazao decoction for depression

J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Apr 28;153(2):309-17.

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The overall results suggest that GMDZ has few side effects and the potential as an antidepressant. Adding GMDZ to antidepressants reduces side effects and enhances efficacy of antidepressants. However, due to the small number of studies and their limitations, further studies with better methodological quality and more comprehensive safety assessment are needed to determine the benefits and risks of GMDZ in the treatment of depression.

Rapid antidepressant effects of Yueju: A new look at the function and mechanism of an old herbal medicine.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 May 5;203:226-232. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.03.042.

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Preclinical and clinical studies demonstrate that Yueju confers rapid antidepressant effects. The common mechanisms shared both for ketamine and Yueju, as well as the novel mechanism specific to Yueju are examined. Yueju and GJ may have great clinic applicability and further more detailed studies are warranted.